New Orleans, built on a special combination of European culture and Caribbean influence, is home to some of the most delectable dining and unique shopping experiences in the United States.
The center of New Orleans, the French Quarter, is the place to enjoy it all. The historic neighborhood, with its colorful history, musical heritage and charming architecture, will surprise and delight your senses. While there, be sure to visit the six blocks comprising the French Market District.
When in New Orleans, you must try the signature dishes and drinks that make this city a culinary capital. The “Hurricane,” a rum cocktail named for its lamp-shaped glass, is a New Orleans staple. Sip the passionfruit-flavored beverage at its birthplace, Pat O’Brien’s, and sing along at the “dueling” piano bar.
Other than drinks, the food in the French Quarter is part of its legend. Restaurants here are internationally known for their creative mix of French, Spanish, Caribbean and African influences, resulting in the unique Creole and Cajun cuisines and flavors. The city is blessed with a fresh and diverse selection of seafood. Visit the Bourbon House and try the giant shrimp and oysters topped with caviar. And to drink, sip on the "Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch," and try to have just one.
You can’t forget the historical restaurant Napoleon House. Local legend says the building the restaurant occupies was meant to become a residence for Napoleon Bonaparte after his exile from France. Now, it is a great place to get drinks and food, including muffaletta sandwiches, jambalaya and gumbo. The fascinating historic décor and outdoor courtyard add to the experience.
For lunch, check out the French Market, one of the oldest farmer's markets in the country. Find local food stands and cafés offering tasty Cajun dishes freshly prepared right in front of you. Order a seafood po-boy, a bowl of jambalaya or etouffee, then stroll through the adjacent flea market to find unusual souvenirs. Some of Louisiana's tasty Cajun sauces and spices can also be purchased here as well as beautifully crafted hand fans and Mardi Gras masks.
After lunch, wander through the French Market to reach Café du Monde, a true New Orleans treat. The lines can be long, but the famous beignets, a type of hot doughnut with powdered sugar, are well worth the wait.
Who Wants to Shop?
The French Quarter’s most refined and elegant showplace for local artistic culture is definitely Royal Street with its world-class hotels, restaurants, boutiques, colorful galleries and mix of fine jewelry stores. Enjoy a leisurely stroll to the galleries and antique shops of this famous street just north of Jackson Square, which also is worth a visit. Andrew Jackson’s statute sits in the middle of a park and a colorful mix of street artists, painters and musicians line its sides.
If you are seeking brand-specific shopping -- the likes of Michael Kors, Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton -- there is one must-visit option: The Shops at Canal Place. And don’t forget that international visitors can get a sales tax refund on their purchases. The refund process is easy; find out more at www.louisianataxfree.com.