Imagine a city where Caribbean, American, French and African cultures collide in a brilliant explosion of flavors, emotions and sounds. Here, music is everywhere, people live to eat and every day is a party. Welcome to New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz and home to rich Creole cuisine, century-old Spanish oaks and clacking streetcars. Last year, more than nine million visitors came to New Orleans to laissez les bons temps rouler – let the good times roll. And why not? This crescent-shaped oasis on the Mississippi River has captivated travelers for centuries.
Start your visit in the French Quarter, with its Old World spirit, infinitely varied architecture and faded elegance. Head to Jackson Square, an 18th-century military parade ground that is now a meeting place for street musicians, voodoo queens, fortune tellers, artists, historians and tourists. In a world of man-made attractions, the French Quarter is unfailingly authentic. It’s not an interpreted historic attraction – it’s 120 city blocks of the real deal. It has more buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places than any other American city.
New Orleans is the best food town in America. There’s no better place to connect with a culture through its cuisine than the Big Easy. New Orleans is home to internationally recognized culinary heroes, who are encouraged by locals and visitors alike to experiment in the kitchen and serve up some of the world's most unique and creative dishes. The city's Creole, Cajun and French signature dishes are just the tip of the menu. Don't forget to explore the offerings of other cuisines, including Latin, Mediterranean, Asian and Italian fare, which infuse traditional preparation with an amazing array of South Louisiana spices, produce and seafood.
New Orleans and music go together like riverboats and the Mississippi, fried shrimp and po’boys, beignets and cafe au lait. A music lovers’ paradise that’s home to Jazz, Zydeco, R&B and Soul, the city has produced its share of musical giants, from greats like Louis Armstrong to contemporary acts like Trombone Shorty. Explore beyond the grace and sass of the French Quarter to Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny, an original Creole neighborhood that’s a mecca for nightclubs, bars and restaurants.
From kitschy souvenirs to world-class art, New Orleans offers retail therapy for every occasion. Shop for art and antiques on Royal Street, funky fashion and collectibles on Magazine Street and souvenirs and artist-made goods in the French Market and the evening Frenchmen Art Market. The city’s iconic symbol, the fleur de lis, adorns everything from jewelry to waffle irons. You’re guaranteed to find something you didn’t know you needed. For tax-free shopping, remember to show your passport and ask for a tax refund voucher when you buy. Pick up your refund at Louis Armstrong International Airport, The Riverwalk Shopping Center or Macy’s at Lakeside Shopping Center.
New Orleans Highlights
You'll know you're here when...
...you hear jazz being played on every street corner.
Don't leave without tasting...
Cafe au lait and beignets (a pastry made from deep-fried dough, similar to a doughnut) from Cafe du Monde, a ‘debris’ po’ boy from Mother's Restaurant, charbroiled oysters from Drago's—to name just a few.
Put these events on your calendar
- Mardi Gras Day
- Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival (March)
- French Quarter Festival (April)
- New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (spring)
- New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (May)
- Tales of the Cocktail (July)
- Satchmo Summerfest (August)
- Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival (October).
Your child will always remember...
Feeding a parakeet at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas or learning about insects at the Audubon Insectarium, the largest of its kind in the United States.
Don't overlook this...
Preservation Hall, where you can kick back to live jazz every evening.
Faubourg Marigny has a vibrant nightlife that beckons music lovers all week long.
Visit Museum Row, which includes Louisiana's Civil War Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Contemporary Arts Center and National World War II Museum.
Venture into the untamed Louisiana bayous for a swamp tour or ride a motorcycle, go-kart or car at the New Orleans Motorsports Complex.
Just want to indulge?
This is the hardest question to ask someone from New Orleans! For starters, there’s Sunday jazz brunch, breakfast at Brennan's, a Hurricane cocktail at Pat O'Brien's, white chocolate bread pudding at Palace Cafe, a brandy milk punch at Bourbon House ….
For your first visit...
You must take a stroll through the French Quarter.