SLICK TRACY, Hotel Detective & Food Sleuth, compiled this list for his alter-ego, Travel Journalist Alan Gell.
When anyone mentions ‘New Orleans’, almost everyone conjures up an image. Maybe it was back in college days, enjoying a Hurricane. Perhaps it was a visit to the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. Or maybe, just maybe, it was a family or business trip where you simply enjoyed the many restaurants, music venues, and sites.
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau has produced a great little booklet that describes 9 ways to tour New Orleans.
#1 STEP BACK IN TIME: History might be boring to many, but in New Orleans, it comes alive due to the multi-cultural and colorful past. Tours are available, either by walking, guided, buses, or otherwise. You never know what surprising historical ‘fact’ might be lurking behind that huge wrought-iron fence or bubbly garden fountain.
#2 EAT YOUR WAY AROUND: The food available ranges from French to Creole, American to Cajun, Southern to home-style, and many others. According to Kelly Schulz, Vice-President – Communications & Public Relations at the New Orleans CVB, there were approximately 400 to 500 restaurants in the city following Hurricane Katrina. Today, in just a few short years, that figure has mushroomed into over 1300. The city is adding over two new restaurant locations per day.
#3 SIP YOUR WAY AROUND: New Orleans is certainly known for its beverages and multitude of libations. The city is home to the creation of the cocktail, and the Celebration Distillation is the oldest premium rum distillery in the United States. Watering holes abound all over the French Quarter, but many excellent locations can also be found throughout the city.
#4 RIDE IN STYLE: Leave the vehicle parked and try out something much more interesting. The New Orleans trolley system is fun, yet fairly efficient. Old-style electric trolleys can take you to many locations around the city. With their clanging bells, folding seats front-to-back, and open-air windows, children can experience transportation from the ‘old’ days. Of course, horse-drawn carriages are fun for all ages, but can be the ideal setting for the start of a romantic evening. For something even different, try one of the many pedi-cabs that can get you to your destination a few blocks away, easily navigating the one-way streets throughout the French Quarter.
#5 CHOOSE TO CRUISE: Experience the uniqueness of a Mississippi riverboat while visiting New Orleans. Try a jazz cruise, romantic dinner evening cruise, or a historical riverfront cruise. The riverfront in New Orleans was the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans and made Andrew Jackson into a household name.
#6 SPOOK YOURSELF SILLY: Voodoo and rituals came to the French Quarter with many of the immigrants in the early days. Much of this still has an influence as can be seen in the many shops. Whether to attract tourists or to simply ‘tell the truth’, quite a few restaurants, buildings, stores, mansions, and other sites can describe a resident ‘ghost’ and tell a spooky story or two. Tours are available for those interested.
#7 WALK AMONG THE DEAD: If you have never visited New Orleans, you probably cannot picture the cemeteries through the city, most of which, are significantly historical. Tombs are located above ground and range from the simple brick tomb to the masonry chiseled sarcophagus. Headstones can be small and plain or huge and elaborate. Tours or walking on your own can produce some interesting finds and great photo opportunities. Burial sites reflect the mixture of the Catholic influence, West African voodoo, and modern-day practices.
#8 LIFE ON AN ANTEBELLUM PLANTATION: There are several Civil War era plantations in the New Orleans area that reflect more than a few Southern belles decked out in their finery. During a plantation tour, you learn about the culture of sugar cane and how it influenced the economy, issues of slavery 150 years ago, the enjoyment of a ‘real’ mint julep, and other aspects of the massive Greek Revival architecture used during that time period.
#9 SWAMP TOURS FOR ALLIGATORS: The southern Louisiana area is known for its many swamps. Swamps are known for moss-laden cypress trees, brackish water, thick marsh reeds, and many critters such as turtles, gar, nutria, and fish. However, most tourists need, or want, to experience the opportunity to grab a real-live alligator by the neck and the tail. While the gator is expanding his jaws and showing his tiny, sharp teeth, be sure to have your photo taken. Of course, the alligator is really small, but the experience is real. Just do not try this with a large member of the species.
Those are the leading things that should be on your personal ‘bucket list’ while visiting New Orleans. The nightlife side of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street is still alive and well, but family restaurants and daytime tourist sites are much more plentiful than in years gone by.
Music, architecture, history, or food can all be easily experienced during a short or long visit to the Crescent City. New Orleans is a terrific tourist location for college students, families, or a romantic getaway for couples.
Contact the New Orleans CVB for booklets, discount coupons, and much more. Their website is www.NewOrleansCVB.com