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NEW ORLEANS

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New Orleans
New Orleans, © Can Stock Photo / airship75

New Orleans is a US port located on the Gulf of Mexico where it meets the delta of the Mississippi River.  The city is named after the Duke of Orleans from France. Its nick name is the Big Easy – which might refer to the laid back life style of jazz musician origins.  New Orleans is influenced by European French and Spanish, known as Creole and by Canadian Acadian French, known as Cajun.  Both cultures have added their version of spice and seafood synonymous with New Orleans.  The city has a population of more than a million and is best known for Bourbon Street, Mardi Gras and the impacts of Hurricane Katrina. See also - New Orleans with Andrea R.

Weather:

New Orleans is hot in the summer and humid year round due to its location on the Mississippi delta in the Gulf of Mexico.  Average summer highs in July and August are 91 F (33 C) and lows at that time are about 75 F (24 C).  From December to February average highs are about 65 F (19 C) and lows are roughly 48 F (9 C).  Rainfall is fairly constant throughout the year, but June is the rainiest month.  Mardi Gras is a bigger factor for timing a visit to New Orleans than the weather is.

   

Transportation:

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is located about 25 minutes west of the major downtown attractions in the French Quarter.  There is no subway system serving the city, so taxi is the best option.  The Rapid Transit Authority operates 4 streetcar lines in French Quarter and they add special atmosphere to the city.  The St Charles Avenue Streetcar has been designated a National Historic Landmark.  The Canal Streetcars are bright red and are referred to as Red Ladies.  Amtrak provides connections to Chicago, New York, Orlando and Los Angeles.

Bayou Touring, New Orleans

Bayou Touring

Mardi Gras

The height of Mardi Gras celebrations are a two week period culminating on Mardi Gras Day (Fat Tuesday), which is the day before Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and this occurs 46 days before Easter.  Since Easter is determined by the full moon, the timing for Mardi Gras can vary by nearly a full month each year.  Not to be bound by the variability of the actual date of Mardi Gras, the carnival season starts on January 6th with Epiphany.  The riders on the krewe floats in the parade toss “throws” to spectators.  The most common throws are strings of colored beads, which have become synonymous with Mardi Gras and with partying youth.  The parade route is along St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street, upriver from the French Quarter, because the streets are too narrow around Bourbon St.

Steamboat Natchez, Mississippi R,New Orleans

Steamboat Natchez, Mississippi R

Things to see and do in New Orleans:

  • The French Quarter – more below.

  • Mardi Gras

  • St Louis Cemetery near the French quarter and the Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District.  New Orleans cemeteries are above ground mausoleums.  Ride a Red Lady (Canal Streetcar) to the cemetery from the French Quarter.

  • City Park  – nearly 1,300 acres makes it bigger than Central Park in New York. It includes the New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden, the New Orleans Botanical Garden, Storyland playground, the Carousel Gardens amusement park and NOLA Gondola, for a Venetian gondola ride.

  • St. Charles Streetcar – ride between the French Quarter and the Garden District.

  • Garden District – the American version of New Orleans with no French influence. Visit the Pontchartrain Hotel.

  • Jazz Fest – this town loves jazz and blues, especially in the French quarter.

  • Swamp Tour – buy a tour at any hotel and venture just out of town to ride an airboat and see alligators in the wild.  Pole a pirogue down the bayou.

  • Riverbend residential district.

Streetcar, New Orleans

Streetcars

  • Royal Street – art galleries in the 200 – 400 block.

  • Julia Street – art galleries with contemporary art in the 600 block of Julia Street. The street is interesting too with thirteen mid-19th century townhouses referred to as Julia Row or the Thirteen Sisters.

  • The Mississippi River (Big Muddy) – take a dinner cruise on the Steamboat Natchez. Catch a ferry across the Mississippi to Algiers Point and see Mardi Gras World.

  • The Audubon Institute includes the Audubon Insectarium, the Audubon Zoo, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, a swamp tour which features live white alligators and an IMAX theatre with a feature on Hurricane Katrina. Take a zoo cruise between the Audubon Park Zoo and the Aquarium of the Americas.

  • Tour a plantation on Old River Road.

  • Tour the devastation of Hurricane Katrina from 2005.

  • The Superdome – for NFL football.

 French Quarter, New Orleans

French Quarter, New Orleans, © Can Stock Photo / tbarrat

The French Quarter

Founded by the French in 1718, this small district with Creole influence from the French and Spanish affects its architecture, music and food.  The French Quarter is 13 blocks by 7 blocks, bounded by Canal Street, Esplanade Avenue, Rampart Street and the Mississippi River. View the wrought iron balconies, distinctive window shutters and magnolia trees. 

Things to see and do in the French Quarter:

  • Bourbon Street

  • Jackson Square

  • the Cabildo – old city hall

  • The French Market including Cafe Du Monde

  • St. Louis Cathedral

  • Pirate's Alley

  • Pere Antoine's Alley

  • Jazz, drinks and New Orleans pub fare.  

Hurricane Katrina 2005 aftermath, New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina 2005 aftermath

Savor the Tastes of New Orleans:

  • Jambalaya - the best known Canjun style spicy "throw it together" dish in New Orleans.

  • Crawfish etouffee - Cajun style crawfish.

  • Gumbo - Creole influenced stew that concentrates more on bay leaves and sassafras while down playing spicy tastes.

  • Muffulettas - New Orleans Italian sandwich with salami, cappicolla, provolone and Italian toppings.

  • Rice and beans.

New Orleans Tours:

Hotels in New Orleans:

Take That Vacation Recommendations for New Orleans:

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport - (MSY) - includes list of hotels with a shuttle.


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