How can you not love a city where the main attractions are its music and always colorful and vibrant Mardi Gras parades?
With jazz bands playing live in the streets, colorful modern art galleries all over the city, and crowds being amused by all types of street performers, New Orleans emerges as a live joyful place where the party never ends.
It is all this great vitality that makes it so hard to imagine the misery and destruction New Orleans suffered by the unwanted visit of Hurricane Katrina a few years ago.
Like many say, “if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger”. I think that’s exactly what happened to New Orleans. Today the outlook appears to be very positive and the city is more alive than ever.
And if you thought this city didn’t have enough to celebrate, the New Orleans Saints just won the NFL Super Bowl. This will definitely be the super icing on the Mardi Gras cake!
So what to do…
Whether you have just a day to visit New Orleans or an entire week, I would say start at the French Quarter, the heart and soul of the city.
Start your day with a café au lait and a fresh-made beignet topped with powder sugar. The most popular spot that serves the state doughnut of Louisiana is Café Du Monde, right across from Jackson Square.
After breakfast, go for a walk on Woldenberg Park along the river front or head to historic Jackson Square.
Here, take a photo of the St. Louis Cathedral (see picture), built in 1727 dedicated to King Louis IX of France.
Walk around Royal Street and admire the unique architecture of the French Quarter. You will find out the artistic spirit of New Orleans is almost everywhere when you discover lots of colorful modern art galleries and antique shops.
If you want to satisfy your curiosity on the mysticism of Voodoo, just a block away (on Bourbon Street) you can find the famous Marie Laveau House of Voodoo.
And speaking of Bourbon Street, may I remind you this place at night is so contrasting from what you see during daylight. Oh yes, people party all night long.
Bourbon Street stretches for 13 blocks with plenty of bars, restaurants and nightclubs that offer live jazz music. The streets are packed with people wearing shiny beads and there’s music everywhere. It gets so wild my only philosophical inquiry was, “who let the dogs out?”
Fun for everyone
Whether you are traveling as a couple or bringing the entire family, there are many activities for everyone that will ensure your trip to New Orleans is a memorable one.
A real treasure is the Audubon Zoo, ranked among the best zoo parks in the country filled with some of the rarest and most beautiful animals in the world. Don’t miss the white tigers; they are one of the top attractions.
Feel Mardi Gras all-year-round and learn about the history and traditions of this event at Mardi Gras World! This is a building facility that holds more than 80 percent of the floats that participate during the carnival season.
Close to the Mississippi River at the end of Canal Street is the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.
Besides the thousands of sea-life creatures you can admire there, they have a very unique white alligator with blue eyes.
But if you want to enjoy a romantic evening or afternoon with your loved one, hop on an elegant carriage ride and tour the historic French Quarter.
New Orleans for Wine Lovers
Check our previous entry on W.I.N.O., the Wine Institute of New Orleans… click here.
Mardi Gras 2010
This weekend is the last of the Mardi Gras festivities which conclude next Tuesday, February 16. So if you are still looking at what events are going on and where to check the parades, click here.
Just like Jazz is a musical expression that incorporates improvisation, I would recommend you to do the same, be spontaneous and let the magic of New Orleans guide your way.
Have you visited New Orleans? Please comment and share your experiences.
Wine lovers have a place to rejoice when they visit New Orleans, and it’s not in the French Quarter!
We recently traveled to New Orleans and found our own personal haven (heaven?!) at the Wine Institute of New Orleans (W.I.N.O.).
Think of W.I.N.O. as a destination because it’s one of those places you’ll want to spend the evening. Once you’re there, you won’t want to rush off somewhere else. Customers tend to gather in the cozy front room, but if you want more space for your wine and cheese spread, grab a table in the back room. The place itself feels chill (as in chillax), unpretentious, and a bit like your contemporary neighborhood wine bar.
W.I.N.O. offers more than 300 labels in stock with the opportunity to taste about 120 thanks to their “enomatic” wine tasting system. Make a quick trip to the cash register, purchase a card, select a wine, choose the amount, and enjoy!
Each wine has a different price per ounce, but they average anywhere from $1-7/ounce. We put $20 on our card and found this a great starting point. Most of the wines are from either the United States or Europe and they have a very broad selection (more reds than whites) for every taste.
If you’re in love with stinky European cheeses like I am, I highly recommend the assorted cheese plate. For only $15, it’s a great way to get your kicks and try cheeses you probably wouldn’t buy on your own.
The menu has a basic, yet delicious assortment of appetizers such as hummus, olives, pate, or the crostini plate. For a light dinner, try their sandwiches or salads.
If Bourbon Street isn’t your scene, you can breathe a sigh of relief as W.I.N.O. attracts a totally different, and dare I say more refined crowd. As I mentioned before, this place isn’t in the French Quarter, but it’s still within walking distance of Bourbon Street. W.I.N.O. is located in the Warehouse/Arts District just on the other side of Canal Street and a few blocks down. We stayed at the Omni Royal Orleans (great hotel, by the way!) and enjoyed the evening stroll to W.I.N.O.