Now is the Time to Fall in Love With New Orleans all Over AgainIn 1718, the Sieurs d'Iberville and de Bienville founded a port city near the juncture of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The city was named La Nouvelle Orleans after Philippe, Duc d'Orleans, and centered around the Place d'Armes (Jackson Square). The area was then confined to what is now known as the French Quarter (Vieux Carre).
The society who first inhabited the area was French in origin. However, in 1762, Louis XIV gave Louisiana to his Spanish cousin, King Charles III. Before the end of a short Spanish reign, the French Quarter suffered significant structural damage due to a fire that destroyed the city. Much of the original French architecture was replaced by Spanish styles. Soon thereafter, Louisiana was ceded back to France and was finally sold by Napoleon Bonaparte to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
Since its infancy and through the ownership of three different nations, New Orleans has evolved into one of the most unique cities in the world. A mix of European, African, Caribbean and American influences, the Big Easy has its own atmosphere. Everything from the music to the architecture to the food is a delight to the senses.
When most people think of New Orleans, the first thing that comes to mind is the world famous French Quarter, known to the natives as the Vieux Carré (the old square). An amalgamation of stunning French and Spanish architecture, the Quarter is a natural gathering place for residents and visitors alike. And with a wide variety of restaurants, shops and entertainment, anyone who doesn't enjoy a trip to the Vieux Carré simply isn't trying.
Just to the west of the French Quarter is the Garden District. Along with a beautiful and historic collection of mansion homes, the Garden District is also home to the campus of Tulane University.
Of course, no discussion about New Orleans would be complete without mentioning Mardi Gras. Perhaps the world's largest free party, Mardi Gras is a celebration that lasts for weeks and takes place all over New Orleans - from the French Quarter to the Garden District to Uptown. More than 30 parades "roll" through different areas of the city on nearly a daily basis throughout the season. The young and the young-at-heart alike enjoy the beautiful floats and costumes, the beads, doubloons and trinkets and the wide spectrum of music that make up the revelry that culminates with "Fat Tuesday."
And if you're not done celebrating when Mardi Gras ends, simply wait a few weeks and begin the party anew with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival - known as JazzFest. A two-week celebration featuring the world's finest musicians, JazzFest highlights the city's musical roots, showcasing jazz, blues and Zydeco in addition to classical and popular music.
Speaking of music, the Big Easy is widely recognized as the birthplace of jazz, though the city's influence can be felt in the blues, soul, funk and even good old-fashioned rock and roll. A wide variety of national and international musical acts regularly pass through New Orleans, though the city's local musicians often steal the show.
Of course, New Orleans is famous for its food, as many of the nation's finest chefs call the Crescent City home. Creole dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya and crawfish etouffé complement po-boys, red beans & rice and other traditional New Orleans fare.
The historic and cultural experience that attracts more than 10 million people to New Orleans each year is as rich, charming and welcoming as ever. There are more than 28,000 hotel rooms here, and our famed restaurants and music clubs are humming. It's no surprise that the New York Times has named New Orleans the "Comeback of the Year"
On the local scene, New Orleans is second-to-none in the hearts of its residents. The streetcars travel historic St. Charles Avenue, as well as up Canal Street to City Park, the country's largest municipal park, and are the nation's only mobile National Historic Landmark. Nowhere else can you eat beignets at Café du Monde, enjoy some of the best shopping, dining and entertainment in the world and visit world class attractions, all in the same day.
Those world-class attractions include something for everyone - from Swamp Tours to the Audubon Zoological Garden, one of the top five zoos in the country, to Mardi Gras World - a museum to the history of the festive event. Take a river cruise on a stately paddlewheel steamer, visit one of the stately plantation homes or swing by the Aquarium of the Americas located near the famous RiverWalk shopping area.
Another can't miss attraction in the Crescent City is The National World War II Museum. The 16,000-square-foot gallery is divided into four, state-of-the-art, interactive exhibits on World War II that intermix oral histories from veterans worldwide, artifacts, documents and photographs with hands-on activities and never-before seen film footage.
The New Orleans sports scene features a trio of major league franchises in the NBA's Pelicans, NFL's Saints, the VooDoo of the Arena Football League, plus the New Orleans Zephyrs', the triple A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, and a plethora of collegiate activities, including two annual college football bowl games.
The city plays host to more major sporting events than perhaps any other city in the world with 10 Super Bowls, five NCAA Men's Final Fours and two men's regional finals, as well as three women's Final Fours. The Superdome was the site of the 2012 Men's Final Four, while the 2013 Women's Final Four took place in the New Orleans Sports Arena. The city has also hosted a pair of NBA All-Star games in recent years as well as Wrestlemania XXX in April of 2014.
Don't forget the unmatched saltwater and freshwater fishing and outdoor pursuits that have earned the state the nickname "Sportsman's Paradise."
The cultural riches, sensual indulgences and unparalleled service that define the New Orleans experience continue to flourish, as they have for centuries. New Orleans is open, fully prepared and eager to welcome all of our visitors again.
STATISTICSPopulation: 1.2 million (metro area)
CLIMATEFall: Avg. High - 79; Avg. Low - 60
TOURISMHotel Rooms: 33,500
MARDI GRASTotal Parade Viewers: 750-850,000
EDUCATIONPublic Libraries: 65
Here are some tips for what to see, do and eat while here in the Crescent City:
Where To Go:
The city's Creole, Cajun and French signature dishes are just the tip of the menu. While exploring New Orleans' culinary wonders, don't forget to explore the offerings of other cuisines including Vietnamese, Latin, Mediterranean and Italian fare which infuse traditional preparation with an amazing array of South Louisiana spices, produce and seafood.
Order Like a Local:
Whether your goal is to sail through swamplands via high-speed airboat or taste-test every classic cocktail, there's a tour to suit your style. History buffs can explore iconic battlegrounds, the city's European origins, and historic jazz landmarks while hearing stories and lore from professional historians. Looking to delve into the world of the supernatural or the occult? Take a nighttime tour of a cavernous haunted mansion, or learn about voodoo practices as you walk through maze-like cemeteries. Get ready to sit back and relax in a mule-drawn carriage, hop on a paddlewheel riverboat or set out on foot-there's a lot to discover.
Two New Tours to Try:
KAYAK-ITI-YAT: Urban kayaking on the beautiful Bayou St. John. kayakitiyat.com
With state-of-the-art sporting facilities, unparalleled hospitality and our world-famous "party scene," it's no wonder The Bleacher Report named New Orleans the "Best NFL City to Party In." For more ideas on what to do, see and eat during your stay visit, www.neworleanscvb.com.
Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)