Revel in the home of Mardi Gras and fine cuisine
Before you even step foot on New Orleans soil, you'll feel the beat of the music, catch the scent of French delicacies and enjoy the taste the scrumptious seafood gumbo. This mostly low-lying region has a culture that is overflowing with merriment and legendary cuisine. As the home of the Mardi Gras parades and proving ground for prominent Cajun flavor, New Orleans will brighten your year with riverfront attractions, family-friendly tours and museums and some truly palatable French and Cajun cuisine.
Known as the greatest free show around, Mardi Gras began in 1872 as a time of boisterous merriment before the 40 days of lent. Locals have perpetuated the festivities of this fun, family-friendly annual event over the decades, each year adding new traditions. If you miss the dates for Mardi Gras on your trip, you should check out the local Mardi Gras Museums and New Orleans' oldest neighborhood on Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter.
With its lively nightclubs, beer gardens, sports bars, live shows and more, the French Quarter always proves to be a good time. You'll want to pace yourself here, considering this part of New Orleans never has a "last call" and stays open around the clock. Finally, for a sweet ending to the night, take a carriage ride through the picturesque French Quarter before heading back to your bed and breakfast or hotel.
Cruise the Town
In the morning, after your coffee and chicory (the only way to drink coffee in New Orleans), embark on a walking tour or shop your way through the flea markets, cafes and farmers markets at the unique French Market on the riverside of the Lower French Quarter. When you get hungry, you'll be inclined to try New Orleans' unique version of a sandwich: the po'boy. Whether it comes with fried seafood, sausage or hamburger, you'll want to get it "dressed" with all the yummy fixings. Or you can eat at the famed Acme Oyster House to enjoy the best, fresh, hand-shucked oysters in the Gulf and make sure to stop by Muriel Jackson's Square to check out the table they keep set for a ghost every day.
Before leaving the French Quarter, stop in at the charming Café DuMonde and savor one of their delicious beignets (like a doughnut) and top it off with a delicious chicory coffee.
Next, visit the National World War II Museum, one of 45 fantastic museums throughout the city, for an in-depth look at the story of America at war. The eye-opening exhibits and interactive experiences offered at the museum activate your senses, mind, heart and soul in such a way that it makes your visit unforgettable. Check out the "behind-the-scenes" tours that will enhance your visit.
One great option is the "New Orleans History and Heritage Tour." This excursion is actually a dinner cruise on the Mississippi River aboard the famed Steamboat Natchez. The guide will then lead you back to the shore for a trip around the architectural masterpieces of the French Quarter. Sports fans will later want to visit the Superdome and take an informative tour of this amazing structure. Discover the history and records of the Crescent City's own Super Bowl-winning NFL team, the Saints.
One of the most memorable aspects New Orleans is its soundtrack. The incredible music that seems to be playing nonstop everywhere you go. The rhythm of the city can be felt throughout. There is always blues, jazz, gospel or Zydeco playing anywhere you go in this romantic city. Many visitors fall under the spell of the music that plays here, from live bands at the bars in the French Quarter to music in the streets and at the festivals. Enjoy the wide range of incredible talent at any of the jazz clubs. New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, after all. Put on your dancing shoes and partake in some authentic Cajun dancing, then fill your plate with some delicious Cajun food at one of the many lively Cajun places, like Mulate's or The Maison.
Don't forget to book a New Orleans cemetery tour to view the final resting place of characters like Voodoo Bloody Mary at the Lafayette Cemetery, a popular site for shooting movies. Since this uniquely situated city is all below sea level, the burial sites are all above ground, which makes for fascinating cemetery tour.
Another excellent way to see the city is by street car, aboard one of three lines: St. Charles, Canal Street, or the Riverfront. The oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world, the St. Charles line, offers mahogany seats, exposed ceiling light bulbs and brass fittings, which embody the charm and romance of this one-of-a-kind city.
For More Information:
New Orleans CVB
Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism