New Orleans’ ABC’s
Welcome to New Orleans…where the motto of Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler (Let the Good Times Roll) sums up the celebratory atmosphere of the city while paying tribute to its French heritage. The Crescent City’s European and Caribbean influences date back more than 250 years and can be felt, seen, heard and tasted in its music, architecture and cuisines.
New Orleans is also proud to be a part of the great American South with historical architectural gems such as antebellum plantations along the Mississippi River and mansions in the Garden District, as well as a steamboat paddlewheel that harkens to another time.
Visitors can stroll through New Orleans’ diverse neighborhoods, experience Mardi Gras, listen to jazz, eat Cajun favorites, shop for antiques, and embrace life the New Orleans way.
Treat Your Senses
Food and music are a big part of the New Orleans experience especially since it’s the birth place of jazz, the blues, and even the po’boy sandwich. Here you can listen to live music and dine on delicious delights day and night. You can even combine both treats—eating savory and sizzling dishes while listening to live music at clubs and restaurants throughout the city.
Jazz performances in New Orleans can range from Dixieland, the earliest form of jazz, to “trad” jazz (traditional jazz) where an instrumental solo gets the crowd cheering. Besides jazz, visitors can listen to live gospel, zydeco, Cajun, Latin, R&B, country, folk, the blues, bluegrass, brass bands, alternative, reggae, and rock in the city’s large selection of music clubs. Some of music’s greats have called New Orleans home including Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Ellis Delfeayo, Wynton Marsalis, Professor Longhair, the Neville Brothers, Allan Toussaint, Dr. John, Harry Connick Jr., Better than Ezra, and Cowboy Mouth.
The love of food is inherent in the people of New Orleans and it thrills them to pass that passion along to all whom visit their city. With more than 1,400 restaurants, there are plenty of diverse offerings with fine dining, celebrity chefs, and casual eateries serving up some of the world’s most creative dishes. New Orleans has received six James Beard nominations in 2014.
Must-tries along the way are the New Orleans po’boy, a sandwich set in a long, submarine-style French bread, overfilled with meat or seafood and topped with a choice of accoutrements. The “French Donut” also known as the beignet is a fried square piece of dough covered with powdered sugar that can go from dessert to appetizer when filled with all sorts of savory choices, such as crawfish or shrimp.
Nightlife & Cocktails
Visitors can enjoy a wide variety of choices when it comes to nightlife in New Orleans, but the hotel cocktail bars are ideal spots when it’s time to start the night right or top the night off. The most well-known is the Carousel Bar and Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone. Built in 1949, the spinning 24-seat circus-themed merry-go-round makes a full rotation every 15 minutes and offers live music every weekend. Another top choice is the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel. Among the cocktails to try, the previously men’s-only lounge serves up the favorite drink of Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long, the Ramos Gin Fizz, and the New Orleans’ signature cocktail, the Sazerac.
New Orleans by Neighbourhood
New Orleans’ numerous historic neighborhoods each have their own personality and must-see sites.
The oldest neighborhood in New Orleans is the famed French Quarter, which was established in 1718 by the French. Here, visitors will find a melting pot of cultures and atmospheres, from the party-focused Bourbon Street to the bohemian elegance of Royal Street. The historic architecture exhibits the French Quarter’s European heritage with Spanish cast-iron balconies and courtyards filled with flora, fauna and fountains.
The Warehouse District and Central Business District (CBD) is the city’s downtown. Located near the French Quarter, it stretches from Canal Street to Poydras and from Claiborne Avenue to Tchoupitoulas Street, the area is where visitors will find many of New Orleans’ hotels, bars and top restaurants.
The two districts of Faubourg Marigny and Bywater, located east just down the river from the French Quarter, are the locals’ well-kept hip, bohemian secret spots. The Marigny’s Frenchmen Street is actually considered the Bourbon Street for the locals with its various clubs and musical styles including traditional jazz, blues, reggae and rock. The area around the Bywater’s St. Claude Avenue is home to more than 30 visual and performance art locations, as well as artisan craft venues, cafes and restaurants.
Certainly one of New Orleans—if not the country’s—most beautiful neighborhoods, the historic Garden District is filled with antebellum mansions, lovely gardens, towering oak trees and a true sense of the city’s southern charm.
The Tremé, separated by the French Quarter and by Rampart Street, is the cultural center of New Orleans with contributions to dance, music and architectural design. Its African-American and Creole heritage is also celebrated here with museums, tours and landmarks. (Move this photo under Garden District description)
Along the riverfront, visitors can head to Harrah’s Casino. It was in New Orleans that America’s first casino opened in 1822, and Harrah’s brought back gaming in 1999. Open 24/7, today’s Harrah’s has more than 2,100 slots, over 100 table games, plus a 20-table poker room.
Visitors from all over the world can enjoy a long list of attractions and activities to keep their days and nights filled during their stay in New Orleans.
Fun Around Every Corner…
An easy and entertaining way for any age to explore and get a good overall feel for New Orleans is with a live guided tour on a Hop on, Hop off City Sightseeing New Orleans double-decker bus. Visitors can hop-on, and hop-off at locations near the city’s top attractions, looping from the French Quarter to the Garden District, with buses picking up passengers every 30 minutes.
The authentic Steamboat Natchez sails along the Mississippi River, offering a step back in time to the antebellum era with elegant furnishings and antiques. Passengers can even visit the steam engine room of the paddlewheeler during a music and food-filled Harbor Jazz Brunch or Dinner Jazz Cruise.
Multiple days can be spent exploring the Audubon Nature Institute, home to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, and the Audubon Zoo. All three institutions rank top five within their categories.
One of the top five aquariums in the country, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is located on the Mississippi River adjacent to the French Quarter. Sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, and a rare albino alligator, as well as a 400,000 gallon Gulf of Mexico Exhibit, are among the wonders found below the sea that can be seen here. A few blocks away, the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is North America’s largest museum dedicated to the insect world. The Audubon Zoo in Uptown New Orleans is one of the top five U.S. zoos with its more than 2,000 native and exotic animals set in natural habitats.
Uniquely New Orleans
Many of New Orleans’ attractions simply are a part of what makes it a distinct city. Mardi Gras is synonymous with New Orleans and at Mardi Gras World visitors can discover more about the celebration any time of year. The tour offers the chance to learn the history and traditions of the famed event, as well as get an upclose look at some of the parade floats.
Another Mardi Gras tradition is the parade of the Mardi Gras Indians. Residents of New Orleans’ inner city African-American communities dress and parade as Native Americans tribes as a way to commemorate the historical relationship between slaves and Native Americans, who helped slaves escape and incorporated them into their tribes during the antebellum era. The routes and times of the parades are never disclosed to the public in advance, although they do tend to take place in the same locations every year. They also celebrate on Indian Sunday or Super Sunday, which is the third Sunday in March at A.L Davis Park.
Second Line Parades can happen any time, any place and for any reason. Descendants of Second Line funeral processions, these parades happen sans caskets and exchange the mourning for merriment. They feature brass bands, dancing in the street and participants dressed in brightly-colored outfits with sashes, parasols and bonnets.
Voodoo is a part of the culture and history of New Orleans starting with the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, who conducted Voodoo ceremonies in the 1800s. A cemetery and Voodoo tour offers background on the mysticism and takes visitors to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the final resting place of Marie Laveau. The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum explores the ancient and modern Voodoo rituals.
Every visit to New Orleans must include a stroll down Royal Street in the French Quarter. One of the most photographed areas of New Orleans; it boasts beautiful, elaborate, and historic architecture and flora. The street transforms into a pedestrian mall that is closed to cars from sunrise to dusk each day, which is an excellent time to walk along and enjoy the street performers showing off their talents.
Off the Beaten Path
Whether it’s a first time or return visit to New Orleans, there is much to see of unexpected New Orleans.
Kayaking along the historic bayou St. John takes visitors through a number of neighborhoods and numerous historic sites in a new way. Other sightseeing choices not to be missed are the 57 sculptures in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, the New Orleans African American Museum and the eight-acre Longue Vue House and Gardens. Travelers can shop for potions at the Voodoo Authentica of New Orleans Cultural Center and Collection; and place their bets at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Freret Street is New Orleans’ hidden secret destination that all guests must visit! Located in Uptown New Orleans near Tulane and Loyola Universities, it boasts an eight bock Arts & Entertainment District and plenty of walkable parks and family-friendly playgrounds. Magazine Street is best known to serious shoppers, but it is also filled with museums, art galleries, cocktail lounges and restaurants. Oak Street is in the middle of the Carrollton neighborhood of Uptown New Orleans and offers all that makes New Orleans a top destination: shopping, restaurants and live music venues.
Beyond New Orleans
Even though there is so much to do right in New Orleans, visitors can discover even more about the region with half- or full-day excursions. They can use the Crescent City as a base for exploring Louisiana’s history and geography with tours of its great southern plantations, the wild and plant life of the bayou, and more.
Flatbed boats slowly move through the murky waters during a Swamp Tour that offers a glimpse into both the people of the bayou and its unique plant and animal life. Boat captains eagerly tell tales of the bayou, and identify egrets, great blue herons, turtles, alligators, and other animals that live in the swampland.
Once home to hundreds of plantations, Louisiana has several estates that have been restored and are within 75 miles of New Orleans. They welcome guests with the opportunity to take a tour, stay overnight or enjoy a meal. Many of the antebellum estates boast the magnificent architecture of the times, including intricate cast iron balconies, Doric columns, and wraparound verandas. River Road along the mighty Mississippi River is where some of the most beautiful homes, such as Oak Alley Plantation, San Francisco Plantation, Laura Plantation, Destrehan Plantation and Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, are located.
Visitors can combine a tour of the famed pepper sauce factory and a stroll through beautiful gardens at McIlHenny Company TABASCO Factory and Jungle Gardens. Located on Avery Island, a 2.5 hour drive from New Orleans, the 170-acre Jungle Gardens are home to a variety of azaleas, camellias and bamboo.
The New Orleans & Beyond course can offer more details on all that can be found in the region.
The streets of New Orleans are lined with independent shops and boutiques where visitors can find such treasures as antiques, contemporary to 19th century jewelry, regional designers, artisan handmade clothes, and artwork including folk and early American art. Carnival costumes, linen suits and straw hats can be found in vintage shops and offer visitors the chance to take a piece of iconic New Orleans home. And to top it all off, international guests to Louisiana benefit from “tax-free” shopping at nearly 900 stores. They can shop “tax-free” at well-known retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Best Buy, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Sears, Coach and Tiffany’s, plus manufacturer outlets, computers and electrical appliance stores and hundreds of smaller specialty shops.
The city boasts key tax-free zones that include the Shops at Canal Place, the Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk, the French Market District, and the Lakeside Shopping Center that showcase clothing stores to signature New Orleans souvenir shops.
The Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk in the Warehouse Arts District is the first upscale outlet center in a downtown setting within the country. More than 75 retailers and restaurants are located along the Mississippi River and offer discounts from 25 to 65 percent at stores such as Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio, Coach, Kenneth Cole, Forever 21, The PUMA Store and the Gap Factory Store.
The six-block-long French Market District, originally a Native American trading post, sits along the riverside of the Lower French Quarter. Enjoy unique retail boutiques, a top flea market, and a newly-renovated farmers market offering top selections of produce and seafood.
In the city, top shopping spots include Magazine Street, boasting six miles of stores selling antiques, trendy clothing, jewelry, footwear, cigars, home furnishings, formal wear, toys, beauty supplies, and more. The main shopping area begins at the intersection of Magazine and Felicity, known as “Lower Magazine,” and continues until the Washington and Jefferson intersection on Magazine.
Art galleries, antique shops, designer clothes, thrift stores, footwear, estate jewelry, hats and more can all be bought along Royal Street in the heart of the French Quarter. Visitors can eat flavored pralines as they shop or take some home with them. Royal Street is right in the middle of the action, with a choice of cafes and restaurants and top hotels at the ready for serious shoppers needing a break.