Mardi Gras may be over, but the fun never ends in New Orleans. With its historic neighborhoods, great music and rollicking nightlife, it’s easy to make the most of your free time in the Crescent City. Much of the action is within walking distance of the Convention Center, or can be accessed on the Riverfront Streetcar.
The can’t-miss event is the French Quarter Festival (www.fqfi.org), Louisiana’s largest free music festival, which takes place April 7–10, 2011. Take the Riverfront Streetcar to see more than 100 performers rocking the Quarter with something for every music lover, from jazz and zydeco to swing and classical. The festival is also known for having the “World’s Largest Jazz Brunch,” with cheap eats from some of the city’s best restaurants.
While in the French Quarter, check out the French Market (www.frenchmarket.org ) the country’s oldest public market. The market area has retail shops, a community flea market, and plenty of local cuisine. Or take a guided tour of Gallier House (www.hgghh.org), a great example of American architecture and one of the city’s time-honored landmarks.
If you want to stick close to the Convention Center, try visiting one of the city’s many museums and art galleries in the Arts District. This neighborhood is home to the Contemporary Arts Center (www.cacno.org; $5.00 admission), the National World War II Museum (www.ddaymuseum.org; $18.00 admission), and more than 25 galleries. When you’re done wandering, grab a meal at the original Emeril’s Restaurant (www.emerils.com/restaurant/1/Emerils-New-Orleans).
For a relaxing stroll, wander over to the Garden District. The area is known for its Greek Revival style, showy gardens, and numerous parks. Take a walk down Magazine Street, the “Street of Dreams,” for eclectic architecture, antique shops, and artwork. Along this six-mile street, you’ll also find unique boutiques, used book stores, and restaurants open late.
Once the sun goes down, you can explore another side of New Orleans. Historic Bourbon Street in the French Quarter buzzes every night as people flock to its bars and burlesque clubs. Jazz clubs permeate the city. Preservation Hall (www.preservationhall.com) opened in 1961 to honor New Orleans Jazz. Nightly, guests can hear veteran musicians and hot young talent embrace old-school jazz. You can end your night at the famous Tipitina’s (www.tipitinas.com), which is within walking distance of the Convention Center and features a great view of the Mississippi River.
When you’re in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler!
Can you recommend some hot spots in NOLA that we didn't mention in this article? Please leave a comment and share them with us!