Located at the southernmost tip of the Mississippi River, a New Orleans visit reveals why it's also known as the northernmost tip of the Caribbean, from the music to the laidback attitude. A foodie's paradise and visual feast, you'll need to soak in the unique “Big Easy” culture to see there’s more to this famous party town than meets the eye.
8AM CAFE DU MONDE
World-famous for it’s beignets, a mound of fried dough with layers of powdered sugar, the sweet treats are just part of the Café Du Monde experience. People-watching, sipping cafe latte and listening to the sweet sounds of street musicians are a great way to ease into the day.
10AM EXPLORE THE FRENCH QUARTER
Learn about the historic Cabildo, Presbytere and St. Louis Cathedral, and don’t miss a photo opp with President Andrew Jackson on horseback as you hear French Quarter lore on a two-hour guided walking tour that will leave you well grounded on many of the city's fascinating sites. The Presbytere has a Mardi Gras Museum and the new, interactive multimedia exhibit Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond.
12PM DICKIE BRENNAN'S TABLEAU
616 ST. PETER ST. NEW ORLEANS, LA 70116
Tableau’s balcony directly overlooks Jackson Square, offering one of the best views of the city for lunch in New Orleans. Dive into a fried shrimp remoulade po-boy for a twist on a New Orleans classic, then check out the adjoining Le Petit Theatre, one of the oldest community theaters in the United States.
2PM MULE-DRIVEN CARRIAGES
Lining up in front of Jackson Square on Decatur Street, for $15 per person you can roll through the streets of the historic French Quarter 1800s style. The carriage drivers are great local guides and know some of the best hidden gems in the neighborhood. Circle back on foot to browse in any shops that catch your interest.
Galatoire's not-so secret ingredient is its classic New Orleans dishes. Service is key, with many waiters having longstanding relationships with prominent families in town. Opened in 1905, the restaurant did not take reservations for decades, and holding a place in line was a highly coveted gig. Sample house favorites like the Shrimp Etouffee and Chicken Creole.
7PM HAUNTED HISTORY VAMPIRE TOUR
723 ST. PETER ST. NEW ORLEANS, LA 70116
Walk off dinner by winding your way down St. Peter Street for a tour of New Orleans' legendary spooky sites. From Ann Rice's Interview With the Vampire to The CW's The Originals, learn why Hollywood has set most of its vampires in New Orleans.
9PM PARTY HOP ON BOURBON STREET
You didn’t think we’d forget to party did you? Enjoy a signature hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s and then make your way down Bourbon Street to the Tropical Isle for a neon green hand grenade, stopping for tall frozen cocktails en route. With most bars open 24/7 the night is only as young as you are.
9AM THE GRILL
Start day two with a classic diner breakfast. The staff manning the grill serve up big personalities while frying up bacon, hash browns and omlettes. If you're nursing a second-day hangover, a hot coffee and pancake stack will cure what ails you. Chartres' hip vintage and antiques shops are good post-breakfast shopping.
1PM COMMANDER'S PALACE
1403 WASHINGTON AVE. NEW ORLEANS, LA 70130
Dining matriarch Ella Brennan launched celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse's career from Commander's. Try the signature turtle soup with sherry, or chef Tory McPhail's cochon de lait (suckling pig) eggs benedict at jazz brunch Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations are recommended.
4PM STEAMBOAT NATCHEZ, MISSISSIPPI RIVERFRONT
For a completely different perspective of the city, see it by water – a steamboat ride down the Mississippi River. Grab a cocktail from the bar and head onto the deck as your guide narrates the history of the Crescent City while the steamboat moves downstream. If you time it right, you can catch outstanding sunset views.
6PM GW FINS
Fresh seafood is the standout ingredient on the Gulf Coast, and no one serves it up better than the award-winning Chef Tenney Flynn. From a starter of seafood gumbo to the catch of the day, Fin's serves up the freshest catch you'll find in the heart of the French Quarter.
8PM IRVIN MAYFIELD'S JAZZ PLAYHOUSE
You'll already heard music up and down the streets, but the best way to end your New Orleans experience is front and center at a plush club in the city where jazz was born. Steady gigs are held by bands including the oldest continuously running jazz band in the world, Gerald French and the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band. The Playhouse is at the foot of Bourbon Street, so if you're up for an anything-goes stroll, drink in hand, head down out for further nocturnal adventures.
10PM CAROUSEL BAR
214 ROYAL ST. NEW ORLEANS, LA 70116
The Hotel Monteleone's Carousel Bar has the unique distinction of letting you spin as you sip in a working merry-go-round. The carousel slowly rotates as the room stays stationary which offers quite ahead rush as the night winds down. Try a classic New Orleans cocktail like the Sazerac, and enjoy live jazz sets most nights.
WHERE TO STAY: HOTEL MONTELEONE
214 ROYAL ST. NEW ORLEANS, LA 70116
Hotel Monteleone, conveniently enough, is the home of the spinning Carousel Bar as well as a rooftop bar where you can sip cocktails poolside in season. The historic hotel is also a literary landmark, having been a favorite haunt of both Tennessee Williams and New Orleans native son Truman Capote who claimed to have been born there.