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USATourist News Magazine

May 2008 - New Orleans, Louisiana

In this issue:

New Orleans is jazzed you're coming

New Orleans, Louisiana is one of the liveliest cities in the United States. It's known for its jazz music, Cajun cuisine, above ground cemeteries, colorful French Quarter (Vieux Carre), and the annual Mardi Gras.

You are probably wondering about the destruction cause by Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005. Is the city okay to visit? I am going to tell you from personal experience, yes, New Orleans is "back" and welcoming visitors with open arms. Even the airport greets travelers with signs that say, "We're Jazzed You're Here."

So, put on your walking shoes, New Orleans is best seen by foot, and be prepared to see some fabulous artwork, precious antiques, and expect to eat a lot. This city has some of the most exquisite and diverse food the United States has to offer.

The Historic French Quarter in New Orleans

The Historic French Quarter in New Orleans

Art Scene

Everything about New Orleans is art. As you walk the French Quarter you will find brightly colored buildings, paintings hanging on the iron gates surrounding Jackson Square, musicians playing on street corners, and people dancing in the streets.

Galleries and museums display everything from locally inspired works, contemporary sculptures, exhibits traveling the world, and remnants of New Orleans history. Some of these locations include the Ogden Museum of Southern Art which has the largest collection of Southern United States art in the world and the spacious Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), a multi-disciplinary arts center dedicated to present-day works. The Ogden and CAC are located across the street from each other in the Warehouse and Arts District.

The New Orleans Museum of Art, the city's oldest fine arts institution, has a magnificent permanent collection and hosts featured exhibitions. Currently on display is work by local artist George Rodrigue of the Blue Dog series.

For a walk back in time visit the 1826 Beauregard-Keyes House, named for two of its tenants, Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard and author Frances Parkinson Keyes. The home displays many the General's original furnishing and Mrs. Keyes' collections of 200 antique dolls and 87 teapots.

Cajun Cuisine

When it comes to food in New Orleans where do you start? Casual eateries are found all over the place offering po-boys, muffuletta sandwiches, and red beans and rice.

The Seance Room in Muriel's Restaurant

The Seance Room in Muriel's Restaurant

The French Quarter also has a number of upscale restaurants, but there is one thing visitors should know before walking through the doors of many of these nice restaurants: dressing up to eat out is a Southern tradition. Many of the restaurants such as the elegant Brennan's Restaurant (Bananas Foster was created here) and Galatoire's Restaurant require the gentleman to wear a coat and tie. But believe me when I say dressing up, is worth the trouble at both of these restaurants.

Another wonderful stop is Muriel's Jackson Square. I highly recommend the Pecan Crusted Puppy Drum and their Bloody Mary's - many of the N.O. restaurants have brunch and lunch cocktail specials.

Open since 1862, Café Du Monde holds a special place in the hearts of locals and travelers alike. Few can resist the beignets smothered with powder sugar, a steaming café au lait (dark roast coffee with hot milk), and local musicians jazzing it up on a nearby corner, all within view of the stunning St. Louis Cathedral. Anytime is a good time to go. Open 24 hours, you often will see two lines, one for take out and one for sitting on the huge open patio or in the smaller indoor seating area.

Where people go to party

Bourbon Street is one of the most famous party streets in the world. Live music comes from the bars lining the street while people walk the streets with beer and other alcoholic beverages in hand. Alcohol on the streets is against the law in most cities. Pat O'Brien's is one of the most famous bars on the street and is where you can grab a traditional New Orleans Hurricane beverage.

Sign for an Antique Store surrounded by Mardi Gras decorations

A sign for an Antique Store is surrounded by Mardi Gras decorations

French Quarter antique elegance

When it comes to antiques, New Orleans is as exquisite as New York, Paris, and London. As you roam the French Quarter a few antique shops worth mentioning on Royal Street are French Antiques Shop, a stunning shop with over 600 chandeliers and a history dating to 1927 in Paris. Royal Antiques has a beautiful collection of furniture and Keil's Antiques has been open since 1899. M.S. Rau Antiques has an impressive collection including Tiffany Lamps, Paul Revere items, and more that you just must see for yourself.

Where to stay in between play

You might have a difficult time deciding where to stay. There are numerous historic hotels, bed and breakfasts, and traditional hotels in the New Orleans area.

One that I can highly recommend is the brand new Harrah's Hotel and Casino. The hotel has extremely spacious rooms, marble bathrooms with terrific Jacuzzi tubs, and terrific views of the city and Mississippi River, and it's within walking distance of the French Quarter and the River Walk, where you can find shopping such as the Mardi Gras Madness store, a food court with various traditional and local fare (gumbo, crawfish etouffee) and a frozen drink bar.

Inside Harrah's Casino is the wonderful Besh Steakhouse (George Rodrigue's artwork is found here, too) and the all-you-can-eat Magnolia Buffet. While it's customary to want to avoid sitting near the kitchen, this is one restaurant you will want to. The dishes look like artwork as they sit under warmers waiting to depart the kitchen. Also nearby Harrah's is Grand Isle Seafood, known for some of the freshest seafood around.

There are plenty of lodging choices in all price ranges in New Orleans, and remember to expect to pay more during Mardi Gras. Look here to find the perfect New Orleans hotel for you.

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We hope you enjoyed this issue of USATourist News Magazine.

Happy and Safe Travels!

Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

All photos by Elizabeth Blair ©

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