Instead of riding the streetcars or touring the ghastly side of the French Quarters, secure a reservation with Nola Gondola for a romantic view of New Orleans City Park through its breathtaking lagoons.
Gondolier owner and operator Robert Dula, 58, has witnessed more than 250 wedding proposal in his vehicle of love.
"It's the only authentic Venetian gondola in the entire Gulf Coast," boasted Dula. Built in Venice and brought to the states, Dula has owned it for more than 10 years.
New Orleans was not his first stop for the gondola. Dula attempted to try out San Destin, Florida for about a year. Then, he ventured to Huntsville, Alabama to a mall with an Italian theme but the lake could not hold water, adding the leakage forced Dula to look elsewhere.
Dula commissioned his gondola and named it after his mother, Bella in 2004. He attended the blessing ceremony in Venice, sharing it was a big celebration complete with food, wine and a priest blessing.
He traced his fascination with gondola to the James Bond's movie, Moonracker. He shared with his mom that he was going to operate a gondola.
Most of Dula's visitors are out of town guests from places as far away as Russia, Romania and China. He estimates about 40 percent of his guests are New Orlean's residents.
Nola Gondola offers a look of the outside art, kisses under the bridges and chalking your love in graffiti style.
Cheese and crackers are available with a stream of romantic, Italian music, playing in the background. Couples are encouraged to bring their bottle of wine or champagne. Glasses, ice and bucket is available for use. Need a souvenir, glasses commemorating the gondola ride is offered for an extra charge of $15.
Animal and plant life includes oak trees, cypress trees, fishes, squirrels and everything in between.
"City Park is a magical wonderland with majestic trees," Dula said. "It's the perfect setting."
The heat is at the top of the temperature during July thru August, so it's one of the slowest months for Dula. Peak time will occur between October thru December.
$90 per couple. Two to six people are allowed on the gondola. For extra passengers, it will cost an additional $10 per person after the $90 couple fee.
Tip 1: Walk around the park. It's one of New Orleans best-kept secrets.
Tip 2: Check for sunset times to take in the amazing views.
Tip 3: Reservations are required. No walk-ins.