New Orleans

Straddling the mighty Mississippi River, New Orleans, a hot, sultry melting pot of cultures, is a truly unique city, and unlike any other place in the United States. The Creole and Cajun cultures of Louisiana exist nowhere else in the world, thanks to its unique location and history. Its early mix of French and Spanish settlers and freed former slaves and refugees from the 1804 Haitian Revolution, have created a vibrant and varied culture.
USA map showing New Orleans

The French Quarter

The French Quarter is the oldest district in the city and is what most people envisage when they think of New Orleans. The district is listed as a National Historic Landmark and is home to Bourbon Street, Jackson Square and most of the multitude of jazz clubs. It is also a culinary hub of the city, with plenty of opportunities to sample Creole cuisine in its native environment. Luckily this beautiful district was not affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and has retained its historic charm.

Many of the buildings in The French Quarter date back to before the USA gained control of the city in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The buildings have been protected since the 1920s and cannot be demolished and this lends the district a quaint old world feel, with its cast iron balustrades and balconies and brightly coloured walls.

Jackson Square is home to an equestrian statue of President Andrew Jackson and is the main square in the French Quarter. Over the years the square has been a slave execution site, a gathering place for painters and other artists as well as a new age practitioners enclave.

Bourbon Street is the most famous street in New Orleans and is home to numerous bars which also double as jazz clubs. Some of the most famous bars are Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, Napoleon House, Johnny White's and Pat O'Briens Bar. The French Quarter is one of the only places in the US where open containers of alcohol are permitted on the streets, which means you can wander from bar to bar with your beverage ... and a lot of folk do exactly that, which contributes to a wonderful, celebratory vibe on the streets.

The French Quarter

Music

Music has played a major role in the history of New Orleans, being the birthplace of jazz and home to the legendary Bourbon Street, an almost permanent street party. Most tourists base themselves in the historic French Quarter, home to Bourbon Street and centuries-old buildings, bars, clubs, restaurants and general good times. New Orleans is the centre of the Voodoo cult in America, brought to the city by the Haitian refugees; the tomb of 'voodoo queen' Marie Laveau, as well as the Voodoo Museum, can both be found in the French Quarter.

New Orleans Jazz Man
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Food

A major drawcard of New Orleans is the cuisine. Creole and Cajun relies heavily on local flavours combined with traditional French and Spanish techniques. Highlights include shrimp remoulade, a local version of prawn cocktail, etouffee, a mix of local seafood, such as crawfish served over rice, and jambalaya, a local paella-style dish with meat and Andouille sausage.

 

New Orleans Food
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Mardi Gras

New Orleans is central to one of the most famous parties on the planet - Mardis Gras! Mardi Gras (meaning Fat Tuesday) happens on Shrove Tuesday in February or March and has been celebrated in New Orleans since 1837. Mardi Gras parades can start up to a month before the actual day. Beads are flung from balconies, masks are donned, libations are consumed in huge quantities and parades accompanied by raucous jazz bands march through the streets. It is a great time to be in New Orleans but you'll need to book ahead!

New Orleans Mardi Gras

The Infinity Experience

Poker & Craps
Gambling fans should know that New Orleans is widely considered to be the birthplace of both poker and craps!