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New Years Eve, New Orleans getaway to the Marigny District

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New Years Eve is coming to the Crescent City. Fireworks shimmering over the water, live music in the streets around Jackson Square, and soulful sounds of delta music superstars like Louis Armstrong mark New Years' Eve in NOLA, and the launch of Mardi Gras season.

Faubourg Marigny is a waterfront district in New Orleans that has attracted savvy travelers lately. Named for the plantation's last owner, Marquis Antoine Xavier Bernard Phillippe de Marigny de Mandeville, the Faubourg Marigny is the French Quarter's low-profile, edgy cousin. Namesake Bernard de Marigny's reputation set the tone: a high-rolling playboy, he inherited $7 million from his Creole father in 1800. In today's money that's over a billion dollars.

More recently, the Marigny was designated one of America's Great Neighborhoods for 2009. It has also attracted celebrity investors, accolades from Travel and Leisure magazine, and slews of high-end visitors. It's where festive living and les bon temps roll. What is the Marigny?

Marigny was the heart of the plantation of Count Pierre Enguerrand Phillippe de Mandeville, Ecuyer Sieur de Marigny, Bernard's father. His grandson became the son-in-law of William C.C. Claiborne, the first U.S. governor of Louisiana. The Marignys were one of the wealthiest families in the New World. Money was no object. Legend has it that Count Pierre poured 1000 silver dollars into the melting pot when his plantation bell was cast, just to give it a sweeter tone. The bell today is in the Cabildo Museum in the French Quarter.

Located at the far eastern end of the French Quarter, well past Emeril's, it's a taste of local color that you won't find in Frommer's. Start near the water on Frenchmen Street and find a jazz club, a cafe, or a wine bar. At Mardi Gras, the Societe de Sainte Anne crew parade starts at Mimi's and parades up Royal St. and through the French Quarter on Mardi Gras. Here are some hot spots for the culinary traveler.

Mimi's Cafe. Mimi's is a jazz and music venue that has an ambitious menu.

Marigny Brasserie. This restaurant offers traditional Creole cuisine.

Three Muses. This Jazz club, bistro, bar, nightspot is a melange of what makes NOLA the top destination in the South. Check it out.

d.b.a. New Orleans. This New York style bar offers a great selection of beers and a Big Easy attitude.

Garden District. There are many upscale and boutique hotels, such as the historic Pontchartrain and the Columns in the swanky Garden District. Don't miss Flaming Torch . This boutique eatery in the west side was named the top restaurant in New Orleans last year. Lobster salad and crabmeat beignets put it in the limelight. A stellar wine list put it on the Zagat rating list.

Tips for Mardi Gras season.Watch the accompanying video to really Laissez les bon temps rouler. Check out the Dauphine Hotel, the voodoo store, or the best beignets in the French Quarter at Cafe du Monde along the waterfront.

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