I plan to visit new orleans for a 5 day vacation. Can anyone suggest the tourist attractions in and around new orleans?
Thank you for visiting New Orleans.
NOLA is one of the world’s special places with an ambience unique in North America, and remains so even after Katrina devastated it in 2005.
Katrina flooded about 80% of New Orleans with salt water, and the water stayed for almost a month. Much of the city is still struggling to recover and all you have to do to see devastation is drive around. It will take years for NOLA to fully recover from Katrina.
However, the parts of the city that tourists usually visit were not flooded. It’s not a coincidence – the French Quarter and other old parts of the city were built on relatively high ground and only suffered wind damage from Katrina. Almost all of the damage has been repaired and you have to look closely in the FQ and city center to see that Katrina happened at all. You should visit and see for yourself.
Note that the City of New Orleans is only part of the greater New Orleans area. The GNO area had a population of about 1,400,000 before Katrina and is estimated at about 1,200,000 now (July, 2007). The absent 200,000 are mostly from the City of New Orleans and the parishes of Plaquemines and Saint Bernard, which were the worst-flooded parts of the metro area. Jefferson Parish – just to the west of the City – suffered only minor flooding and has fully recovered.
You can drink the water, the electricity & phones work, and services like the post office, hospitals, schools, police/fire/EMS, and stores & shopping centers are operating.
Municipal services like street cleaning & trash collection collapsed after Katrina. Those services were fully restored in late 2006 and it is no longer an issue.
I recommend staying in the French Quarter (Vieux Carre") if you can. There is a very wide range of selections available, from moderate guest houses to very exclusive "boutique" hotels. Search Yahoo Travel and Travelocity for ideas and also check the hotel websites.
You don’t need a car to get around in the French Quarter, Central Business District, or Warehouse District. Also, the parking regulations are Byzantine and there are lots of Parking Control Agents. If you drive or rent a car, leave it in a lot or garage unless you are traveling away from downtown.
The regional transit authority (www.norta.com) sells 1 and 3 day passes that offer unlimited use of buses and streetcars for the day(s) you select. There are also lots of taxicabs.
Regarding crime, use the same common sense necessary in every major city in the world and there is little chance you will be a victim of anything except a need to visit the gym: Pay attention to your surroundings. Stay away from anywhere dark & deserted. Pay attention to your feelings – if anyone or anywhere gives you a bad feeling, leave the area. Don’t leave something like a camera-bag or backpack unattended on a park bench while you wander off to take photos. Etc.
New Orleans has mild weather from late October to early May and the city stays green all year most years (rarely freezes and almost never snows). Summers are hot & humid, particularly in July and August – take it easy or stick to indoor activities during the middle of the day at that time of year. The good news for summer visitors is that hotel prices are usually lower.
Things to do:
There are many sightseeing opportunities in the greater New Orleans area, including carriage rides/tours, plantation tours, swamp tours, ghost tours, and even Katrina disaster tours. The steamboat Natchez also does a harbor tour. There are numerous tour companies and your hotel can help with the arrangements. Try to avoid scheduling an outdoor tour until you know the weather forecast for the day in question.
There is always music, but the bands change: Go to www.bestofneworleans.com and click on Music then Listings or to www.offbeat.com and click on Listings, then Music. Note that music clubs often advertise "No Cover", meaning there is no charge for entering. However, clubs with "No Cover" often require that customers buy a beverage each for every "set " of music (which can be every 20 minutes) so know the price before you sit down. The clubs do that because some people will sit in the club all evening drinking water or nothing. It is also a good idea to pay for each round of drinks as it s delivered so there can’t be any confusion at the end of the evening.
Wander around the French Quarter, enjoy the architecture, watch the street entertainers (do tip), and visit some of the historic buildings that have been turned into museums (go to www.frenchquarter.com and click on Historic Attractions).
Assuming the weather is good, you can collect a sandwich lunch and eat in the riverfront park (watch the shipping) or in Jackson Square (a very nice park).
The Riverwalk shopping center has an air-conditioned food court with dining overlooking the river (www.riverwalkmarketplace.com)…
The lobby for the Wyndham Canal Place is on the 11th floor and overlooks the French Quarter. It is a great place for an afternoon drink/snack:(www.wyndham.com)..
Cafe du Monde is in the French Quarter and you shouldn’t miss having cafe au lait & beignets (www.cafedumonde.com). Another great coffee shop is the Croissant d’Or (at 615 Ursulines Street), which is open from 7:00am to 2:00pm and has food other than pastry.
The Palm Court restaurant is very nice, has moderate prices, and traditional live jazz starting at 8:00pm: 1204 Decatur Street, tel 504-525-0200 (reservations are important and they are not open every day). The Palm Court is closed from about July 25th to about September 25th each year.
All of the famous restaurants (Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, Commander’s Palace, etc.) have reopened. Reservations are a good idea, and probably essential on weekends.
Cafe Degas is a very French restaurant near City Park at 3127 Esplanade – which is not within walking distance of downtown (5 to 10 minutes by taxi). They are closed on Mondays & Tuesdays (504-945-5635).
There is a free ferry across the Mississippi at the "foot" of Canal Street. It is a short trip but like a harbor cruise w/o a guide: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/canal_stree…
The Aquarium and Audubon Zoo are world-class attractions (www.auduboninstitute.org) and you should see them if you can. There is a shuttle boat (not free) between the Aquarium (which is next to the French Quarter) and the Zoo (which is several miles away). You can also drive to the Zoo (which has free parking) or take public transit from the French Quarter.
The Louisiana State Museum (www.lsm.crt.state.la.us). is in the French Quarter. New Orleans is also home to a number of other museums, such as the National World War II Museum (www.ddaymuseum.org) and the New Orleans Museum of Art (www.noma.org). Both can be reached by public transit: The WWII museum is in the central business district but a long walk from the French Quarter. NOMA is not within walking distance of downtown but has free parking.
New Orleans City Park has an amusement park with rides and attractions for children + free parking
Check www.frenchquarter.com for ideas on other things to do.
Hope you have a good visit!