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New Orleans, Louisiana

By Dana Royals

You slide, you ease, you saunter, and perhaps you even stroll. For these are the things you do in New Orleans. But you do not tour. It is impossible to do so as the city takes you in and seduces you, and you find yourself dancing to its rhythm. Like few other cities in the U.S., New Orleans is a mentality that quickly becomes a way of life. Founded in the early 1700’s by the French and later passed to the Spanish, Europeans mixed with Native American, Acadian and African Slave to form the eclectic culture of New Orleans today. Whether you go for its daytime charm or its sultry southern nights you will not be disappointed.

The true heart of New Orleans lies in the French Quarter, a.k.a. Vieux Carre’. It is the oldest part of the city with notorious Bourbon St. being the center attraction. “Nawlins”, as it is affectionately known by the locals, is famous for many reasons, but music definitely ranks high on the list. Here you can find the original House of Blues, not to mention it is the birthplace of Jazz. Pioneers like Louis Armstrong and King Oliver were raised on local stages and sidewalks where they molded their sounds into pure genius. Undoubtedly, there is no better place in the world to hear “Dixieland Jazz” than Preservation Hall. There are no microphones, no air conditioning and no bar…simply great music.

When the sun sets over New Orleans the city truly transforms itself and there are only three things to do… “eat, drink, and be merry.” Your biggest decision of the night could possibly be Cajun or Creole? Oyster Po’Boy, Catfish Pecan, Jambalaya, or Crawfish Ettouffe’; there are no bad decisions when it comes to this city’s cuisine. And don’t forget that the French Quarter is packed with bars where the bourbon and beer flow like milk and honey. There is no better time to witness this carefree and seductive attitude than Mardi Gras. Every March people pour into the city to celebrate and participate in the street parade. During the last week of Mardi Gras sunrise is the only indicator that it is bedtime after endless hours of dancing and debauchery. No wonder New Orleans is called the “Big Easy”.

Lazily perched on the banks on the Mississippi River, New Orleans has a little something for everyone. Genteel by day, mischievous by night, one can’t help but want to explore this complex city. Oh, and on your way out of town don’t forget to stop by the French Market and pick up a little fried alligator for the road.

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