The Crescent City is resplendent with beautiful music, savory cuisine and a nightlife that will leave your head ringing and your heart wanting more. Planning a trip down to the Big Easy? Make sure you have a few extra notches in your belt, a shiny pair of dancing shoes and a desire to have the time of your life. My top 5 list will give you a heads up on the best reasons to book a trip and enjoy the unique culture and ambiance of New Orleans.
1. The French Quarter
As they say, you can’t have diamonds without pressure. The French Quarter is just that, a cultural diamond resulting from the collision between the original French and Spanish settlers of the Big Easy. Contained between the Mississippi River, Rampart Street, Esplanade Avenue and Canal Street, the French Quarter packs in over 300 restaurants, numberless bars, sensational music and a nightlife second to none in the United States. While visiting make sure to experience Jackson Square. After your stroll, tip back a few drinks at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar, the oldest continually occupied bar in the United States, once owned by the famous pirate Jean Lafitte.
2. Spending a night in the French Quarter
After a long night of revelry, you’ll be ready to relax and enjoy one of the many hotels available in the French Quarter. If you are in the mood for an upscale location stewed in the ambiance and atmosphere unique to the French Quarter, the Soniat House (http://www.soniathouse.com/) is a fantastic choice. A series of townhouses dating back to the early eighteen hundreds, each room is painstakingly decorated in rare vintage antiques. The courtyards and fountains surrounding this wonderful hotel will wash away your stress and let you soak in the spirit of New Orleans. While the Soniat House is a bit expensive the experience is worth the trouble. If you are looking for a good deal, but still want to be in the thick of the French Quarter there is still hope. Many New Orleans Hotels offer mini-vacation packages at highly discounted rates (http://www.vacation-offer.com/special/new/30). Generally these deals are designed to show you the timeshare offerings of the resort and they can give you access to some pretty nice amenities for the days that you just want to relax.
3. Julia Row
Called the “SoHo of the South,” this section of vintage townhouses on the 600 block of Julia Street is home to New Orleans best art galleries. The Contemporary Art Center (http://www.cacno.org/) is the main attraction showcasing the areas art revival. The giant building houses massive galleries that will put a smile on the face of any contemporary art lover. With a $5 admission, the Contemporary Art Center is a must-see attraction in the Big Easy.
4. The Sound of Music
When it comes to New Orleans, music is the main attraction. A stroll through the French Quarter will carry you away with the sounds of Zydeco, Jazz and Blues. The annual Jazz and Blues festival in late April offers a musical experience unequal in the United States. Showcasing some of the finest names in the Blues business this festival is a sight to see. If you don’t mind standing, Preservation Hall in the French Quarter is the ultimate venue to take in the traditional jazz famous in the Big Easy.
5. The Food
Food in New Orleans is like a precious treasure hidden in plain sight. From Creole to straight French food, your taste buds will be overwhelmed with the spices and flavor that draw massive crowds every day into the heart of the city. Antoine’s, serving French-Creole cuisine since the 1840’s, is near the top of the list. For a more casual night be sure to visit Bacco and treat yourself to the region’s richest blend of fine cuisine and a romantic atmosphere.
Whatever your appetite may be, the Crescent City offers a wide variety of activities and culture splendor to treat you to a once in a lifetime travel experience. If you ever make it home after your trip, the unique Creole charm is guaranteed to pull you back to Big Easy for another adventure in the future.