The Big Easy is probably my favorite city in the United States. With a certain funky flair and casual European elegance, New Orleans is the perfect destination for a weekend trip. You will quickly find that it is not just the amazing food, gorgeous homes, or great museums that make this city such a jewel, it is the people. A vibrant and eclectic mix of cultures have blended together over the years and the spirit of NOLA's citizens is joyful, resilient and contagious. I highly recommend visiting during Mardi Gras (ask me for tips for "The Greatest Free Show on Earth", as I have many) but it is fabulous anytime of the year.
- Ride the streetcar down St. Charles. Damaged during Hurricane Katrina, the streetcar has fairly recently been put back on the tracks and is a delightful mode of transportation and great way to admire the grand old Southern homes in the Garden District and Uptown. After the ride, head over to Magazine Street for an afternoon of shopping in the numerous design, art and clothing shops and galleries.
- Eat beignets and drink a cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde. Yes, it is a tourist hot spot but for a good reason- it is a New Orleans institution. Open 24 hours a day, go as early as you can drag yourself out of bed and plan on sitting and watching street performers in Jackson Square and getting powder sugar all over your face. Afterwards, take a stroll through the fabled Quarter. It is magical before the crowds arrive and you get the sense that it is a neighborhood, not just a drinking destination.
- Oh, but drink we must! We are taking about New Orleans after all! Have a Pimm's Cup at The Napoleon House, which is home of the Sazarac and New Orleans finest Pimm's Cup. Be sure to visit the charming and haunted Columns Hotel in Uptown for a drink on the front porch. And of course, you can always have a good time at Pat O'Brien's with a giant hurricane is in hand.
- Eat delicious Cajun and creole dishes. I highly suggest the jazz brunch at Brennan's. It is a fantastic three course meal that is best enjoyed with either a Creole Bloody Mary or a Brandy Milk Punch- maybe both! A meal at Mother's is a fabulous thing indeed,but for a bit more of a local experience, go to just about any corner market that you see and get a muffaletta or Po'Boy.
- Give back to the city that has given so very much. Many hotels offer volunteer packages and spending just a few hours helping to build a home in the Musician's Village or working with Volunteer New Orleans would make a tremendous difference.
Laissez les bon temps roulez!
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