New Orleans is a Louisiana city on the Mississippi River, near the Gulf of Mexico. Nicknamed the "Big Easy," it's known for its round-the-clock nightlife, vibrant live-music scene and spicy, singular cuisine reflecting its history as a melting pot of French, African and American cultures. Embodying its festive spirit is Mardi Gras, the late-winter carnival famed for raucous costumed parades and street parties.
Don't leave the city without a visit to Café Du Monde and a cup of classic café au lait — along with the landmark shop's powdered beignets. Open 24 hours a day, the store even sells coffee and beignet mix for home. When your mind needs a break from business, visit The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas to experience sea life in the Gulf. The interactive stingray touch pool is not to be missed.
Spend time in New Orleans in April to take part in the French Quarter Festival. Enjoy live performances from dozens of stages, taste unique food from local establishments, and celebrate the culture of this vibrant city. Any time of year is great for a stroll down to the riverfront to see the mighty Mississippi, and visit historic Jackson Square and the breathtaking St. Louis Cathedral.
Leave your car and hop on the newly renovated Streetcar for a nostalgic tour of the Big Easy. The line stops right outside the hotel at Canal and Carondolet and forms an arcing railway through the "Crescent City." Visit the beautiful garden district and take in the grandeur of antebellum mansions from the comfort of the cars. The line is currently expanding to more areas of this great city.
Whether you choose a self-guided excursion, scenic carriage ride, pub-crawl or haunted expedition, don't go home without a proper tour of the French Quarter. Popular stops can include Jackson Square, the Historic French Market and Mardi Gras World.
Getting around New Orleans by car can be difficult, so you might want to consider leaving your car at home. The Streetcar offers easy transportation, including the Central Business District and the riverfront area. Bourbon Street is easy to walk, and the weather is fairly moderate year round. Dress light for summer visits and have a jacket on hand for fall and winter.
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