New Orleans Travel Guide

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Cityscape

Cityscape

lwitko

With the hits of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, New Orleans is rebuilding and many people have already completed at least one New Orleans trip and many more are planning to take a New Orleans vacation. 90% of the businesses in the main areas of interest to tourists such as the French Quarter, the shopping district on Magazine, and Downtown are open for business as these areas are naturally on higher ground and therefore sustained less damage. Water, air, and land tests in these areas have also proven that it is safe. New Orleans is still a destination that should be considered and sought after. The spirit in the city is unlike ever before. This spirit teamed with its world-renowned reputation for being fun and free makes it a great place to visit.

Practically everything in New Orleans is different and special. It's a city that never ceases to amaze its visitors as well as its inhabitants.

Start your New Orleans vacation by taking a streetcar to the French Quarter. A walk through the Quarter gives you the opportunity to admire the lacy, wrought iron balconies or to be mesmerized by a street musician playing on the Moonwalk across from Jackson Square.

One of the main attractions of the area is the Old U.S. Mint. Here you can tour a world-renowned exhibit that will take you back to the days when jazz was born. There's always a party on Bourbon Street or an antique you can't live without on Royal or Chartres. The list of must-dos here is as long as the main parade route on Mardi Gras day. You can check out the always-changing exhibits at the Aquarium of the Americas, visit Louis Armstrong at the wax museum, or you can just park yourself on a bench in Woldenberg Park and watch the river roll by. It's the Big Easy, dawlin'. You have to do nothing sometime.

Don't make the mistake of thinking there's no reason to venture outside the French Quarter during your New Orleans vacation -- we can think of several. A tour of the Louisiana Superdome is always a winner. The home of the New Orleans Saints has hosted five Super Bowls -- more than any other facility. Or how about a visit to the Degas House? In the 1870s, the French impressionist Edgar Degas resided in this elegant mansion where he created at least seventeen works of art, including one of the most significant paintings of modern times, Portraits in an Office: The New Orleans Cotton Exchange (1873). This was the first painting by a member of the Impressionists ever to be purchased by a museum.

Feel like shopping? Head toward the Warehouse District, famous for its chic art galleries. At the Louisiana Children's Museum you can take a seat and let your kids serve you some plastic bacon and eggs at the cafe. Afterwards, let them fill up a cart and then check themselves out at a mini grocery store.

From the Warehouse District, get on the St. Charles Streetcar and head for the Garden District and the Uptown area. Some of the most opulent homes in the country are here in every color and with every kind of curlicue imaginable. This is the way to the Tulane and Loyola University campuses, which are across the street from Audubon Park. Behind the park is Audubon Zoo, with an updated Louisiana Swamp Exhibit and two new white tigers. It's one of the top zoos in the country. On the way back to town, go down Magazine Street, where you'll find six miles of antique and gift shops, art galleries, restaurants and more. Be sure to stop at Mignon Faget ( www.mignonfaget.com), on Magazine Street for a new ring or necklace.

As far as dining goes, you might wish to consider avoiding the French Quarter. While it's true that some of the nicest New Orleans restaurants are there (Court of Two Sisters, Stella, and others), outside of these high-class (and high-cost) locations, the businesses are largely targeted at tourists, which means that since they're not hoping for repeat business anyway, food and service are put second to location and atmosphere. Instead, you might try a few of the other culinary hot spots of the city. The aforementioned Magazine Street area has a number of excellent restaurants, as does St. Charles St. If your New Orleans hotel is in or around the French Quarter and are looking for something closer, Tchoupitoulas, which intersects Poydras near Harrah's Casino, has restaurants ranging from pricey upscale Emeril's to a place called "Lucy's Retired Surfers' Bar & Grill," as well as hosting nightlife options for those who prefer something a bit more subdued than raucous Bourbon St. Lastly, just because you're in New Orleans doesn't mean you should stick to Cajun and Creole! Some of the best places around serve foreign cuisine: Sweet Ginger (Camp St. near Canal) is excellent Thai, the Sake Cafe (Japanese) on Magazine Street is expensive but well worth it, and there are small but worth-seeking-out Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cafes sprinkled liberally throughout the city, such as Lebanon's on South Carrollton.

One of the things that fascinates tourists most in New Orleans is the "Cities of the Dead," the above ground cemeteries. They had to inspire vampire writer Anne Rice, who lives in the Garden District (and, by the way, sleeps in a bed). Visitors are also impressed by the dueling oaks in City Park where many an argument was "settled like gentlemen" in the old days. City Park is also home to the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Botanical Gardens, Storyland (for little ones), and a much-beloved carousel. Out this way, you'll also find the historic New Orleans Fair Grounds, site of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival every spring.

Want to see a plantation but don't have time to go too far? Why not visit Longue Vue House and Gardens? This Greek-Revival style mansion  is surrounded by enchanting gardens with a variety of themes.

Can't get enough of Mardi Gras? Take a ferry to the West Bank of New Orleans and tour Mardi Gras World, where you can try on elaborate costumes and see the famous floats close up. Also on the West Bank is Gretna, where you can tour the David Crockett Fire Museum. Bayou Segnette State Park has a great wavepool. And in Harvey, Boomtown Belle Casino offers gaming fun with a Western flavor.

In New Orleans East, Jazzland was replaced by Six Flags New Orleans in 2003.  The amusement park offers the Looney Tunes and Batman rides among many others.  Six Flags New Orleans opens on weekends beginning at the end of March 2005.

If you're a history buff, head for Chalmette, where the Battle of New Orleans was fought by future president (Andrew Jackson) and a patriotic pirate (Jean Lafitte). At the southernmost point of this region is Venice -- a great spot to get in a little charter fishing on the Gulf of Mexico. Fort Jackson is also down here. It was built in 1822 under the command of General Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans. Woodland Plantation, featured on the label of Southern Comfort® blended whiskey, is open for overnight guests.

The Big Easy is very comforting because it allows you to be yourself. Note: If you are freaked out about large crowds, avoid Mardi Gras. New Years Eve is crazy down there as well. The most important thing we can say about New Orleans is that there is no ordinance for open alcohol containers: the most frequently visible sign in the Vieux Carre is probably "Cocktails to go!"

Top Ten Things to do in New Orleans

Jackson Square - Founded in 1718, Jackson Square is home to a large number of New Orleans historic buildings and landmarks. Major highlights include a statue of Andrew Jackson, Faulkner House, St. Louis Cathedral, and the attractive 1840s Pontalba Buildings located on both sides of the square. This gorgeous park also attracts artists and street performers of all kinds. Jackson Square is located in the heart of the French Quarter. If you plan to drive, parking is available daily from 8:00 a.m.-Dusk.

Emeril's - No visit to New Orleans would be complete without a visit to world famous celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse's flagship (bam!) restaurant. The menu features azn excellent mix of Modern American and Creole cuisine. If you want to secure a table at Emeril's, reservations (way in advance) are an absolute must! Emeril's is located in New Orleans' Warehouse District at 800 Tchoupitoulas Street. Ph: 504-528-9393, www.emerils.com. 

Aquarium of the Americas - After Hurricane Katrina, the Aquarium of the Americas had lost more than 7,000 of the aquariums sea animals. After nine months, $3.5 million in repairs, and help from aquariums around the country, Aquarium of the Americas reopened in May 2006. The aquarium features four major exhibit areas including: the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean Reef, the Mississippi River, and the Amazon Rain Forest. On site visitors to the aquarium will find a tasty café and a unique little gift shop. 1 Canal Street, New Orleans LA, 70130, Ph: 504-581-4629 or 800-774-7394, Website: www.auduboninstitute.org. Hours vary, so please visit the website for up-to-date information.  

Woldenberg Riverfront Park – Woldenberg Riverfront Park overlooks the mighty Mississippi River and it is home to the Holocaust Memorial. The memorial includes nine sculptures by Jewish artist Yaacov Agam, a statue of the parks benefactor Malcom Woldenberg, and a sculpture by New Orleans artist John T. Scott called Ocean Song. Woldenberg Riverfront Park is located between Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue, French Quarter.

Canal Place - Located near the Aquarium of the Americas, Canal Place  is an excellent place to shop upscale designer fashions such as BCBG, Coach, Kenneth Cole, and Ann Taylor as well as unique arts and crafts by local artists at Rhino Gallery. This shopping destination is also home to Canal Place Cinema, the Southern Repertory Theater, the Wyndham New Orleans at Canal Place and Saks Fifth Avenue. 333 Canal Street, New Orleans LA, 70130, Ph: 504-522-9200. Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., Sunday 12:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.

New Orleans Voodoo Museum - The Voodoo Museum is a must during any trip to New Orleans. On display are a large collection of African artifacts, portraits by Voodoo legends, and portraits of voodoo legends. Visitors to the museum can also purchase a gris gris -- an amulet that protects the wearer from evil, and voodoo dolls. 724 Dumaine Street, Ph: 504-680-0128, www.voodoomuseum.com.

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) - Not only has the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts churn out some of the most talented musicians around, it's teachers and alums are well-known around the country -- if not the world. Just a few NOCCA alums include Harry Connick Jr., Donald Harrison, Nicholas Payton, Trombone Shorty, the Marsalis Brothers, and DJ Hollygrove. NOCCA host's free concerts frequently, so inquire within. 2800 Chartres Street, Faubourg Marigny, Ph: 504-940-2800, www.nocca.com.

New Orleans City Park - This 1,300-acre, 150-year-old park is just as majestic today as it was before Hurricane Katrina ravaged it. Joggers and bikers come here to workout while admiring the parks gorgeous landscape, which includes giant oaks and tranquil lagoons. Picnic areas and playgrounds abound as well as beautiful gardens including The New Orleans Botanical Garden. Other major highlights include: Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) and Besthoff Sculpture Garden, and Equest Farm Equestrian Center. Although the park's three golf courses are still damaged and in the process of rebuilding, the golf driving range is open if you want to hit a few balls during your New Orleans vacation. 1 Palm Drive, New Orleans LA, 70124, Ph: 504-482-4888, E-mail: info@nocp.org, Website: www.neworleanscitypark.com.

St. Louis Cemetery - St. Louis Cemetery, one of the many "Cities of the Dead," is the oldest in cemetery in the city. This aboveground burial place features decorative vaults and family tombs and it is the final resting place for famous figures such as infamous voodoo woman Marie Laveau, Etienne Bore, and Homer Plessy. The cemetery has also made cameo appearances in many films, most notably Easy Rider. Tours take place every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Ph: 504-525-3377 or 888-721-7493, E-mail: soc@saveourcemeteries.org, Website: www.saveourcemeteries.org.

Audubon Zoo - Excellent area zoo featuring a family of rare albino alligators, an impressive butterfly exhibit, and everything from lions and tigers to bears in natural habitat settings.There is also a popular children's petting zoo onsite. Please visit the website for hours. 6500 Magazine Street, New Orleans LA, 70118, Ph: 504-581-4629 or 800-774-7394, Website: www.auduboninstitute.org.

Part or or all of this text stems from the original article at: Desiree Young

Contributors

June 07, 2008 change by mcburton

August 07, 2004 change by chaospimp

June 09, 2005 new by quentinaxan

May 11, 2006 change by uproar

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