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Visiting New Orleans, Part II — What to See, What to Do

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France in New Orleans is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States.

If you are planning a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (or for any time at all,) here’s Part II of our terrific piece on the current state of the town — plus tips on what to do and see — written by one of our most experienced food and travel contributors.

Apart from dining, drinking, gaming and shopping there is a wealth of things to do and see in the area.  You don’t have to be a history buff to be seduced by the unique architecture and centuries of colorful stories and characters that inhabit the streets.  The past lives cozily right alongside the present.

Sure, you can spend a bunch, but the budget conscious will appreciate that New Orleans prices are a relative bargain and there are plenty of free and low cost things to do. (more…)

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Visiting New Orleans — Take a Gamble On Mardi Gras

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Mardi Gras revelers will soon be jamming Royal Street in New Orlean's famed French Quarter.

Beginning this weekend, thousands of revelers will descend upon New Orleans to take in all that the City has to offer for its famous (some would say infamous!) Mardi Gras celebration.  For those of us who enjoy casino gaming, Harrah’s in New Orleans will be high on the list of places to both see and spend some time at during Carnival Week.  If you haven’t made your reservations, there are still lots of hotel rooms available and lots of fun to look forward to in “The Big Easy.”  Book now & save up to 50% on Hotels in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Book by 2/23 for travel from 2/13 to 2/28/09.

If you are planning a trip to New Orleans either for the big party or any time at all, here’s a terrific piece on the current state of the town — plus tips on what to do and where to eat — written by one of our most experienced food and travel contributors. (Look for Part II tomorrow!)

It would be difficult to describe to someone who’d never been there, just what New Orleans was like before Hurricane Katrina.  Historically, culturally, geographically, socio-economically, the city was unlike any other in the United States.

Indolently rooted in the past, but always enthusiastically reveling in the pleasures of the present, New Orleans richly deserves its nickname “The Big Easy”. Hear the words Bourbon Street or French Quarter and the mind conjures up jazz, cocktails, great food and good times. (Although the ostensibly well-named Bourbon Street is an homage to the French ruling dynasty not the American liquor.)

It’s the home of Mardi Gras, the greatest party ever thrown (despite the fact the public cannot gain entrance to the balls and soirees given by the insular carnival Krewes).

But who needs private parties when the streets teem with non-stop action; conventioneers, college kids, tourists and every imaginable kind of pleasure-seeker elbowing convivially through the old quarter.  From Preservation Hall to Pat O’Brien’s, happily clutching to-go cups, they looked for and found excitement, adventure and blinding hangovers.  Retail bustled, casinos were packed, and restaurants like K-Paul’s and Emeril’s only took reservations months in advance.

But Katrina and what happened in the aftermath, or more to the point didn’t happen, changed everything. (more…)

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