About This Place
New Orleans’ flavor is distinctive in all of the U.S. Its “laissez les bons temps rouler” attitude imbues virtually every NOLA attraction, neighborhood and district. That essence infuses the architecture, from Spanish-influenced French Quarter structures to prolific shotgun houses with Victorian trim. It seasons the music, from jazz and gospel to zydeco and the blues. And it spices Creole and Cajun cuisine, po-boys and king cakes. Wherever you go in city, whatever you do—the spirit pervades.
Among New Orleans’ must-see attractions, particularly popular with family travelers, is the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. More than 15,000 sea creatures reside in this state-of-the-art facility in the Central Business District. Nearby, City Park welcomes 11 million people a year to its open spaces and to the on-site New Orleans Botanical Gardens and New Orleans Museum of Art. The renowned outdoor preserve is twice the size of New York City’s Central Park and boasts the world’s largest collection of live oak trees. Next door is Storyland Amusement Park, favored by NOLA’s youngest inhabitants and a sure bet for families vacationing in the area.
The historic French Quarter is better known for adult entertainment. While Bourbon Street’s fame centers around Mardi Gras and 24/7 nightclubs, the historic street is also stacked with award-winning hotels and restaurants, including the classic Galatoire’s. Jackson Square, two blocks away, features artists and street performers amid a backdrop of historic buildings. One such site is the Presbytére Museum, a New Orleans National Historic Landmark, with popular exhibits on Hurricane Katrina and Mardi Gras. Across Jackson Square is Café du Monde, famous for beignets and café au lait. Tourists can stroll another block to Central Grocery for a New Orleans’ original, the muffuletta sandwich.
Fine dining in the Quarter starts at Antoine’s, world-renowned for culinary classics like Oysters Rockefeller and Eggs Sardou. Nearby, breakfast at Brennan’s is a local tradition, but guests can enjoy the signature Bananas Foster any time. No one should leave the Quarter without visiting New Orleans' Napoleon House, an iconic eatery known for its gumbo and secret-recipe Pimm’s Cup cocktail. For five-star dining, Commander’s Palace in the Garden District is a “Crescent City” legend. For exceptional Italian flavors, try critically acclaimed Andrea’s in the suburb of Metairie.
Nightlife in “The City that Care Forgot” delivers non-stop entertainment with a Southern Louisiana twist. Souvenirs are a must at Pat O’Brien’s, a Bourbon Street piano bar that serves world-famous Hurricanes in take-home glasses. Walk up the street to Preservation Hall. Bands perform live traditional jazz nightly starting at eight, but the lines form early. Pop into the Maple Leaf Bar, a popular venue for funky live music.
Annual events keep partygoers entertained year-round. Mardi Gras, beginning in late February or early March, is the biggest bash in the South. Celebrate 12 days with nearly 2,000 parades, elaborate floats, king cakes and public craziness. In April and May, 400,000 people visit the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for seven days of music, crafts and food. July’s Essence Music Festival has become the nation’s largest celebration of African-American music and culture.