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The Funkiest City on the Mississippi

Uncover history in the French Quarter and on Jackson Square (home to St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo), then explore the arts at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Get spooked on a cemetery tour and indulge in the city's exceptional eats, like beignets at Cafe du Monde. As night falls, take in a zydeco, funk or jazz show on Frenchman Street.

What to Do

Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, New Orleans
Houmas House

Houmas House

An hour's drive west of New Orleans, enjoy a grand tour of the antebellum high life at Houmas House. This Louisiana plantation of yore, with a Greek Revival-style mansion at its center, unfolds across 38 verdant acres of gardens, ponds and one very picturesque live oak alley. Tour 16 rooms filled with period antiques and Louisiana artwork, such as a room-size mural featuring a sugar cane motif in the main hallway. 960 1280

Houmas House  

Chalmette Battlefield

Chalmette Battlefield

Fewer than 10 miles from the French Quarter, historic Chalmette Battlefield offers visitors a moment of quiet peace. This 17.5-acre site is so much more than a local treasure: It’s where the last land battle ever fought on American soil occurred between the US and a foreign power, back in 1815. Today, the grounds are the final resting place for more than 15,300 veterans, from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War. 960 1280

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Degas House

Degas House

What does French Impressionist master Edgar Degas have to do with New Orleans? Turns out, Degas’ mother and grandmother were both born in the Big Easy; Degas spent a year with members of his family in the city from 1872 to 1873. Tour the historic 2-story Degas home, now a bed and breakfast, on Esplanade Avenue, just 11 blocks from the French Quarter. 960 1280

Shermian, flickr  

Superdome’s Champions Square

Superdome’s Champions Square

Give it up for the Saints at the Superdome! And once you’re hoarse from all the cheering, take time to explore the stadium’s Champion Square, a lively 121,000-square-foot outdoor festival and concert venue just steps from the stadium. The square opens 3 hours prior to each Saints home game to accommodate your needs -- think lots of food and cold drink options. 960 1280

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French Market

French Market

Cajun Café, anyone? Find this charming restaurant among the many cafes, bars and food stalls in New Orleans’ French Market. Spanning 6 blocks in the city’s French Quarter, this stretch of town is not only home to savory Creole and Cajun dishes, but also plenty of history. The area was founded in 1791 as a Native American trading post; it endures as one of the oldest markets of its kind anywhere in the US. 960 1280

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Rock N Bowl

Rock N Bowl

Loving bowling and music? Take in some great sounds, in between scoring a 300, at Rock 'n' Bowl. This live music venue, located on New Orleans’ bustling Carrollton Avenue, has been a city fixture since 1941, and in its current location, since 1989. Live musical performances include Cajun, rock, blues, R&B and jazz; today the venue is widely recognized by music lovers as a respected part of New Orleans music scene. 960 1280

fw_gadget, flickr  

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

Find this colorful little critter at Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. This museum is the largest American museum dedicated to all things insects. Explore more than 50 live exhibits -- including the termite gallery, where Formosan termites nibble their way through a wooden skyline of New Orleans. Hungry, yourself? Enjoy some deep-fried crickets at the museum’s café … yum? 960 1280

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium   

St. Louis Cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral

The majestic St. Louis Cathedral -- the oldest continuously operating cathedral in North America -- stands in the center of spacious Jackson Square. The cathedral opened its doors in 1794 (and again in the 1800s, after a botched renovation). Take a self-guided or group tour of the grounds; you can also enjoy a free classical concert put on by the local Catholic Heritage Center. 960 1280

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Mardi Gras Exhibit

Mardi Gras Exhibit

Once you’ve seen St. Louis Cathedral, check out the Presbytere right next to it. Designed in 1791, this structure was originally called the Casa Curial (Ecclesiastical House). However, the residence never did end up housing clergy; instead, the building was mainly used for commercial purposes until 1834. Today, the museum houses an extensive collection of Mardi Gras artifacts and memorabilia -- check out the Crown Jewels Vault, home to dozens of tiaras, scepters, necklaces and other baubles. 960 1280

Louisiana State Museum   

America’s National WWII Museum

America’s National WWII Museum

Just why is the National WWII Museum located in The Big Easy? It goes back to one big contribution: The amphibious landing craft that proved so decisive on D-Day was designed by New Orleans’ own Andrew Jackson Higgins. Learn the story in exhibits like The Home Front (pictured), and a recreated WWII train depot, at America’s national museum dedicated to telling the story of the Greatest Generation. 960 1280

The National World War II Museum  

The Old Ursuline Convent

The Old Ursuline Convent

Tour the oldest building not only in New Orleans but in the entire Mississippi River Valley. The Old Ursuline Convent was designed in the French Neoclassical vein and opened in 1745; today, the stucco-covered brick building endures as the “finest surviving example of French colonial public architecture in the country,” according to the National Park Service. 960 1280

Wally Gobetz, flickr  

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

“To all whose desire is to be rich and to live a short life, but a merry one, I have no hesitation in recommending New Orleans.” The words of Henry Bradshaw Fearon, a 19th-century British scholar, came to pass for many laid to rest at Lafayette Cemetery. Established in 1833, the cemetery is one of the oldest in New Orleans, with many headstones a testament to lives cut short by a yellow fever epidemic that swept through the city in 1853. 960 1280

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Longue Vue House and Gardens

Longue Vue House and Gardens

Longue Vue House and Gardens has been a city landmark for decades. The Classical Revival mansion was built in 1939 for the married daughter of a millionaire. Tour the 8-acre grounds, home to landscaped gardens of Louisiana irises, tulips and more, and step inside the mansion itself for a tour of rooms adorned with modern art by the likes of Kandinsky and Picasso. 960 1280

Ryan Lips  

New Orleans Museum of Art

New Orleans Museum of Art

Enjoy a free audio tour of one of the most important sculpture installations in the entire US. In addition to the Besthoff Sculpture Garden, which is home to more than 60 sculptures from artists from around the world, the New Orleans Museum of Art hosts a permanent collection of almost 40,000 objects, spanning French, American, African and Japanese works. 960 1280

Richard Sexton, courtesy of The New Orleans Museum of Art  

Historic New Orleans Collection

Historic New Orleans Collection

Ever wondered how New Orleans cuisine got started? What the Battle of New Orleans was all about? And how the city has bounced back since Hurricane Katrina? Learn these fascinating stories at the Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum in New Orleans’ French Quarter, that’s home to drawings, paintings and other artifacts that tell the story of The Big Easy’s transformation over the centuries. 960 1280

The Historic New Orleans Collection  

New Orleans Plantation Tour
New Orleans Plantation Tour

New Orleans Plantation Tour

Explore New Orleans’ antebellum past on a plantation tour. More than 400 plantations once lined the banks of the Mississippi between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Today only a handful remain. Among them is The Houmas and the Destrehan Plantation, the closest plantation from New Orleans, located just 25 miles upriver. 960 1280

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NOLA Cocktail Crawl

NOLA Cocktail Crawl

Did you know America’s oldest known cocktail, the Sazerac, got its start in The Big Easy? Explore New Orleans’ rich cocktail history on a bar crawl, swinging by the French Quarter’s best bars, like Pat O’Brien’s, whose motto since 1933 has been, “Have Fun!” We’ll drink to that. 960 1280

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Big Easy Neighborhood Tours

Big Easy Neighborhood Tours

Get a feel for The Big Easy’s diverse communities on a New Orleans’ neighborhood tour. Top of our list is the Vieux Carré, the famed French Quarter and oldest neighborhood in the city. Right next to the Quarter is New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood, which was originally settled by “Free People of Color,” often referred to as Creoles. 960 1280

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New Orleans Garden Tour

New Orleans Garden Tour

Love gardens? You’ll find no shortage of plant and flower varieties at the New Orleans Botanical Garden. A city fixture since 1936, the grounds are home to more than 2,000 species of native and exotic plants, including the largest palm collection in Louisiana. Step inside the garden’s conservatory (pictured) for an exhibit on fossils of prehistoric plant life. 960 1280

Tom Bastin, flickr  

Big Easy Aerial Tour

Big Easy Aerial Tour

For a truly unique view of New Orleans, take an aerial tour of the famed city by the banks of the Mississippi, and prepare to go, “Wow.” From up high, get a whole new perspective of city landmarks such as St. Louis Cathedral and Chalmette Battlefield. 960 1280

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Culinary Tour, Big Easy Style

Culinary Tour, Big Easy Style

Crawfish etouffee, Southern oxtail soup, jambalaya … ah, worked up an appetite yet? Satisfy your taste buds for New Orleans’ dining best on a culinary tour. With more than 1,300 restaurants to choose from, you may have a hard time choosing -- we suggest including classic New Orleans restaurants like Arnaud’s on your tour. 960 1280

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Louisiana Swamp Tour

Louisiana Swamp Tour

Set foot in one of Louisiana’s wildest swamps. Just 50 minutes from New Orleans, the New Orleans Honey Island Swamp comprises nearly 70,000 acres of permanently protected wildlife area. The waters are home to fish such as bluegill, largemouth bass and warmouth, as well as alligators and … maybe even a Bigfoot-like creature. Ask your swamp tour guide about the Honey Island Swamp monster. 960 1280

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French Quarter Tour

French Quarter Tour

See where legend and history intersect on a tour of the French Quarter. New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood spans roughly 70 city blocks, home to some of the best-preserved architecture in the US, including the Pharmacy Museum (pictured), which was constructed in 1823 for the first licensed pharmacist in the US. Also check out Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, which, according to legend, was once owned by a pirate. You decide. 960 1280

Ryan Lackey, flickr  

Spooky New Orleans

Spooky New Orleans

Believe in ghosts? Explore The Big Easy’s spooky side on a tour of haunted New Orleans. Must-see stops include LaLaurie Mansion. Located on the corner of Royal Street, the 3-story property was where Louisiana-born socialite and serial killer Delphine LaLaurie tortured and murdered slaves, before an outraged mob intervened. 960 1280

LaLaurie House, Tom Bastin, flickr  

Mardi Gras Tour

Mardi Gras Tour

See where all the magic surrounding New Orleans’ biggest annual celebration happens. Take a tour of Mardi Gras World, the massive 400,000-square-foot warehouse where parade floats -- more than 500, each year -- are made for the grand event. Open 7 days a week, Mardi Gras World tours last about 1 hour. 960 1280

ScubaBear68, flickr  

Big Easy Sounds

Big Easy Sounds

Savor Big Easy sounds in the city where jazz was born. Top of any New Orleans jazz tour list should be Preservation Hall, a music venue in the heart of the French Quarter that features jazz concerts nightly. And just outside the French Quarter, tour the 2-block Frenchmen Street, home to some of New Orleans' most epic jazz. 960 1280

Richard Martin, flickr   

Mississippi Riverboat Tour

Mississippi Riverboat Tour

Board a paddlewheel steamboat to see the Mighty Mississippi. Up to a century ago, steamboats like this were the only way to reach New Orleans. Step into the past, as you board from the French Quarter to embark on a 2-hour riverboat cruise. New Orleans' only steamboat, Steamboat Natchez, provides tours with live jazz accompaniments for extra-smooth sailing. 960 1280

Thinkstock   

Romantic NOLA

Romantic NOLA

Where there’s jazz and good food, romance isn’t far behind. Board a mule-drawn carriage for a view of New Orleans' romantic side. You’ll find local company Royal Carriages on Decatur Street at Jackson Square and on the corner of St. Louis and Royal streets. Bring the champagne. 960 1280

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Where to Eat

Gumbo
Gumbo

Gumbo

A steaming bowl of seafood gumbo, a traditional stew that originated in southern Louisiana. Most varieties have onions, bell peppers and celery, and many contain also andouille sausage or ham. Creole gumbo often has tomatoes, while Cajun gumbo is made with a dark roux and is typically much spicier. 960 1280

Southern Foodways Alliance through Flickr Creative Commons  

Beignets

Beignets

Beignets at Café du Monde, a New Orleans institution since 1862. The pastries are made of fried dough and covered with a pile of powdered sugar. 960 1280

alaina.buzas through Flickr Creative Commons  

Shrimp étouffée

Shrimp étouffée

Shrimp étouffée, a Cajun dish that typically consists of shellfish and is served over rice. Étouffée is thicker than gumbo, and another common Cajun ingredient is crawfish. 960 1280

istock   

Frozen daiquiris

Frozen daiquiris

Frozen daiquiris in ' 'to-go' cups, of course! 960 1280

Robyn Lee  

Jambalaya

Jambalaya

Similar to Spanish paella, jambalaya is a Creole dish made with rice, meat and vegetables. 960 1280

istock  

Red beans and rice

Red beans and rice

Red beans and rice, an iconic New Orleans dish. 960 1280

istock  

yakamein

yakamein

A bowl of yakamein, a beef noodle soup that is known as 'old sober' for it's supposed hangover-healing powers. 960 1280

Aaron Stidwell through Flickr Creative Commons  

Okra

Okra

Okra, a common ingredient in many southern dishes. You might even find a piece in your morning bloody mary! 960 1280

Bart Everson through Flickr Creative Commons  

Crawfish boil

Crawfish boil

The spoilings of a crawfish boil, a Louisiana tradition. 960 1280

istock   

Fried chicken

Fried chicken

Fried chicken from Willie Mae's Scotch House, a New Orleans establishment that has been dishing up these moist and crunchy wings for more than 50 years. 960 1280

Scaredy_kat through Flickr Creative Commons  

Huge ass beer

Huge ass beer

Don't forget to pick up a 'huge ass beer' for your walk down Bourbon Street. 960 1280

vxla through Flickr Creative Commons   

Bananas Foster

Bananas Foster

Bananas Foster, a dessert made with vanilla ice cream, bananas and a dark-rum and sugar sauce. The dish is a N'awlins original, and was first served at Brennan's Restaurant in 1951. 960 1280

vxla through Flickr Creative Commons  

Shrimp po'boy

Shrimp po'boy

A shrimp po'boy from Domilise's, an unassuming little sandwich shop and bar that serves up some of the best po'boys around. 960 1280

Oliver Cox  

King Cake

King Cake

A Mardi Gras King Cake, a cinnamon-roll-like cake decorated with sugary icing and Mardi Gras-colored sprinkles. The cake is often baked with a tiny plastic baby inside, and traditionally, whoever winds up with the baby is in charge of baking the next king cake. 960 1280

Jenni Field, flickr  

Muffuletta

Muffuletta

Muffuletta, another New Orleans classic. The sandwich is made with a muffuletta loaf, covered with a marinated olive salad, and layers of capicola, salami, pepperoni, ham and provolone. 960 1280

Emily Cavalier through Flickr Creative Commons  

Shrimp and grits

Shrimp and grits

No slideshow of Southern cuisine is complete without a mouthwatering photo of shrimp and grits, an iconic Southern specialty. 960 1280

vxla through Flickr Creative Commons  

See All

Where to Stay

Melrose Mansion, hotels in New Orleans French Quarter
Melrose Mansion

Melrose Mansion

Once you’ve arrived in New Orleans, find this recently restored Victorian mansion just 1 block from the French Quarter. Located on historic Esplanade Avenue, Melrose Mansion showcases this swanky pool (one of the largest in the French Quarter), as well as 14 suites furnished with cozy high-count linens, down comforters and all-marble bathrooms. 960 1280

Melrose Mansion  

Royal Sonesta

Royal Sonesta

Located on Bourbon Street, in the heart of the French Quarter, this property offers a mix of Big Easy flair with European sophistication. The Sonesta’s big standout is its menu: Upon rising, enjoy a lap in one of the outdoor pools, then a traditional brunch of red beans and rice, or a roast beef po’ boy sandwich, alongside additional menu options such as French bouillabaisse, Spanish zarzuela and Tuscan cacciucco. 960 1280

Royal Sonesta Hotel  

W New Orleans

W New Orleans

A short walk from Harrah’s Casino and the Warehouse District, W New Orleans is home to 410 stylishly comfortable rooms. Once you’ve made yourself at home in a “Wonderful Room” (think silky sheets and fluffy hypoallergenic pillows), enjoy some home-style comfort food at W’s Zoe restaurant, a AAA 4-diamond award winner, year after year. 960 1280

W New Orleans   

Dauphine New Orleans

Dauphine New Orleans

This French Quarter boutique hotel offers an elegant, historic feel: Among the Dauphine’s properties is the Audubon Room, where the famous naturalist painted his “Birds of America” series. Another big draw is the hotel’s suites: Brick walls and wooden posts are the backdrop to modern comforts like an en-suite kitchen. Ask the staff about paranormal sightings, too, because where there’s history, a ghost can’t be far behind. 960 1280

Dauphine Orleans Hotel   

Bourbon Orleans Hotel

Bourbon Orleans Hotel

Big Easy nightlife is just steps away from your room at this French Quarter hotel. The Bourbon Orleans Hotel is home to Bourbon “O,” the “freshest bar on Bourbon,” managed by a local who’s published more bar and cocktail-related books than anyone in the world. The hotel’s other big star is its ballroom, the oldest and grandest in all of New Orleans, dating back to 1817. 960 1280

Bourbon Orleans Hotel  

The Saint Hotel

The Saint Hotel

This Marriott property on the corner of Canal and Burgundy streets is a revamped wonder: Originally known as the Audubon Building, the original structure dates back to 1909 and has housed office space for decades. Then in 2005, the property was converted into a hotel, and today luxury reigns supreme at The Saint Hotel, from their marbled bathrooms, fluffy spa robes, valet parking and more. 960 1280

The Saint Hotel  

Hotel Maison de Ville

Hotel Maison de Ville

A short walk from Bourbon Street and you’re at this French Quarter gem. Hotel Maison de Ville was recently named by Fodor’s as one of the 100 most distinct hotels in the world. The property’s antique and period furnishings have lured guests like Robert Redford and Paul McCartney; it also offers complimentary coffee and pastries each morning to enjoy on their balconies overlooking the French Quarter. 960 1280

Adrian Silch  

Crowne Plaza

Crowne Plaza

A rooftop pool and concierge service are among the features of the Astor Crowne Plaza, at the Gateway to the French Quarter. The Astor is also close to attractions like Jackson Square and the Aquarium of the Americas. 960 1280

Astor Crowne Plaza New Orleans  

Omni Royal Orleans

Omni Royal Orleans

The 345-room Omni Royal Orleans comes steeped in pop culture lore: In Live and Let Die, James Bond stays at the posh property. Today, the AAA 4-diamond property keeps up the “royal” treatment with a horse-drawn carriage ride to the front door, rooftop seating, a main lobby dripping with chandeliers and the Zagat-rated Rib Room, serving, you guessed it, prime rib, beef specialties and more. 960 1280

Omni Royal Orleans  

Hotel Monteleone

Hotel Monteleone

Hotel Monteleone holds several big distinctions: It’s the only high-rise building in the interior French Quarter, and it’s home to the very cool Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge (pictured). This historic landmark, built in 1886 in the Beaux-Arts style -- one of the few long-standing, family-owned hotels in the US -- is also home to about 50 suites, a heated rooftop pool and a Creole restaurant. 960 1280

Hotel Monteleone  

Hotel Mazarin

Hotel Mazarin

Take a stroll through New Orleans, then rest up at Hotel Mazarin. Located off Bourbon Street, this boutique hotel features 102 rooms, all smoke-free. Across the street, enjoy dinner at La Louisiane Bar, where the lead French chef oversees menu items such as fig-and-goat cheese flatbread, endive stuffed with Boursin cheese, and mushroom profiterole. A daily deluxe breakfast is also included. 960 1280

Hotel Mazarin  

Bienville House Hotel

Bienville House Hotel

See what a recent multimillion-dollar renovation will get you at Bienville House. This French Quarter boutique hotel boasts a pool, wrought-iron balconies and in-room amenities like a daily complimentary continental breakfast. Another great perk is the hotel’s close proximity to antique shops on Royal Street, the famed House of Blues and the deliciously sweet Café du Monde, located just around the corner. 960 1280

Bienville House Hotel