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New Orleans, Louisiana 72-Hour Vacation

Full Circle in the Crescent City
New Orleans' Allure Shines On

New Orleans Skyline
New Orleans Skyline


Trapper's cabin on the bayou
Trapper's Cabin on the Bayou
While New Orleans is a Creole city, rather than Cajun, the bayous so closely associated with Cajun culture are nearby and well worth exploring. Coming from Choctaw into French, the term bayou denotes a slow-moving stream or creek. These meander through lowlands and wet marshy areas, and teem with crawfish and shrimp, both staples of Cajun and Creole cooking. In the late morning, tour the bayous. (Book as early as your first day in town.) Many organizers will pick you up at your hotel, but you can also get there by (rental) car. If you're in town in spring, you'll see an explosion of gorgeous colors with lilies and hibiscus. At any time of the year, you'll encounter alligators, otters, nutrias and blue herons.

If you prefer to stay in town, visit the National World War II Museum, which has been expanded to include the Pacific theater, on Magazine Street. Here you can travel back in time via a high-tech, multi-media film produced and narrated by Tom Hanks. “Beyond All Boundaries” encapsulates World War II in 35 minutes on a large wrap-around screen with special effects such as snow, wind, fog, and shaking seats when tanks go into battle. Actors including Brad Pitt and Tobey Maguire read from news accounts, diaries and letters of soldiers and civilians from the war. After the total-sensory experience, head down the hall to the 1940s-themed American Sector Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, featuring a menu designed by John Besh (an ex-Marine himself) with homey but imaginative dishes representative of World War II-era America.

After lunch, head back to the Vieux Carré and spend the afternoon shopping on Royal Street, a gorgeous, balcony-lined street where you'll find a vast array of antiques. At Dumaine Street peek into the Voodoo Museum, then cross the French Market to munch a beignet with a cup of classic chicory-laden coffee at the famous Café du Monde. This landmark has been around since 1860 and never closes, making it one of the world's best roosts for late-night people-watching.

Jackson Square
Jackson Square

For a dose of colonial history, visit the Cabildo, which is the flagship unit of the Louisiana State Museum system; the St. Louis Cathedral; and Jackson Square, a historic park modeled on the Place des Vosges in Paris. Then move on to St. Peter Street and Preservation Hall to listen to some good old jazz, or check out Pat O'Brien's bar, where tough chicks play the piano and passionately sing any requests from the "Great American Songbook." Take all this in with the help of a Hurricane (rum with red passion fruit juice). Dine fantastically at Bayona, for contemporary Creole at its best; the Bistro at Maison de Ville for a local spin on French classics or Galatoire’s, the timeless embodiment of old New Orleans charm.

Continue to Day 3


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The birthplace of jazz

* Images courtesy of New Orleans Online

(Updated: 04/12/10 SG)

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