New Orleans is one of America’s most famous cities. It is the origin and home of Jazz, a uniquely American style of music. It is also famous for its celebration of Mardi Gras, the day before the begining of the Christian period of Lent, a time for sacrifice and denial. Mardi Gras, the last time for enjoyment before the forty days of fasting, has become a time of debauchery and excess, and the city of New Orleans has captured this spirit. It is also a great southern city and recalls the days when the South displayed its elegance and sophistication for all to admire.
1. Stroll the French Quarter – This area is the essence of New Orleans, the oldest part of the city, and the major tourist location. Its architecture, cuisine and music are famous all around the world. A walking tour of the area is necessary for any visitor to the city.
2. Listen to great Jazz at Preservation Hall – This venue showcases one of New Orleans’ greatest gifts to the world, jazz music. There is no better place to hear "true" jazz than here. Many of the famous jazz musicians had their start on this stage. Nightly concerts take place at this 726 St Peter Street location.
3. Take a Paddleboat Cruise on the Mississippi River – A must-do activity while in New Orleans is to take a cruise along the Mississippi River. Various companies offer narrated rides along the waterfront and several miles up or down river.
4. Board the St Charles Avenue Streetcar for a look at New Orleans’ Garden District – This famous streetcar traverses New Orleans’ Garden District, noted for its many mansions. The ride along tree-lined St Charles Avenue is pleasant and ends near Tulane University.
5. Sample Cajun and/or Creole Cuisine – New Orleans is also famous for it culinary styles. Cajun and Creole food are both distinctive and popular all over the world. Notable cajun dishes include Gumbo and Jambalaya. Galatoire’s is probably the most famous creole restaurant in the city.
6. St Louis Cathedral – This easily recognized symbol of the city sits prominently on Jackson Square (see below). The present structure dates to the late 18th century although there has been a church on this spot since 1718. It has had its share of damage from both storms and man-made violence but has always been lovingly restored.
7. Stroll Jackson Square – This historic park in the French Quarter showcases an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, famous here for winning the Battle of New Orleans. It is attractively landscaped and bordered by the St Louis Cathedral (see above) and the Pontabla Buildings, apartments which house shops on the street level.
8. Join the Crowds on Bourbon Street at Night – This quintessential avenue in the French Quarter is famous for its bawdiness — there are numerous strip clubs and nightclubs. At night much of the street becomes pedestrian-only, and is packed with tourists. Since there is no law against possessing open containers of alcohol in the city, revelers sport bottles of beer or mixed drinks as they wander up and down.
9. Have Coffee & Beignet at Cafe du Monde in the French Market – This culinary institution features cafe-au-lait (the coffee in New Orleans contains chicory, making it rather distinctive-tasting) and beignets, a type of French doughnut. Frequently, musicians serenade the customers with smooth, New Orleans jazz.
10. Take a walk through the Metairie Cemetery – In New Orleans, because of the flooding and high water table, coffins cannot be buried underground. This cemetery displays some of the most elaborate and fanciful tombs in the city. Among the notables buried here are P.G.T. Beauregard (a confederate general), Al Hirt (famous jazz trumpeter), and Mel Ott (baseball legend).
Other sights considered:
Aquarium of the Americas
Chalmette Battlefield & National Cemetery