It’s tough to beat the New Orleans Port when it comes to music, food, nightlife, history and of course, Mardi Gras. The excitement all began in the city’s French Quarter, back in 1718, and radiates out from there into a handful of neighborhoods.
If you visit in the traditional summer months of late May through early September you are going to have to deal with heat and very high humidity. However, things get a bit more hospitable in October, November and heading into Mardi Gras in December. Just watch for the rains. Most prefer the early spring to visit the New Orleans port of call.
The French Quarter is located in the heart of the city and everything begins there. One could easily spend a day or two just window shopping.
Café Du Monde is a good place to start the day with a fresh café au lait and a beignet (holeless doughnuts sprinkled with powder sugar). They also sell take home products like coffees, mugs, posters, t-shirts, etc.
Flea markets are a great place to get a feel of a culture as you pour over an endless array of cast off items in search of lost treasures. The community flea market in the French Quarter is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Kids and adults alike can take advantage of New Orleans weather my indulging in a bit of kite flying. Every wall and ceiling is packed with every imaginable kite, from the simplistic to ultra modern flying machines. If you like kites prepare to be impressed.
Things to Do
Although Mardi Gras (French for fat Tuesday) is only one day, it is actually a much longer celebration marked with a number of historical parades you will not want to miss. Heavily costumed party goers take to the streets in force Tuesday morning, Bloody Marys in hand as they begin the revelry in what is said to be the biggest block party in the United States.
For a change of pace and a jolt of reality far from the celebrations of Mardi Gras, you can get on one of the many ferries on the Mississippi river and find long river front sections in town that are still burned out shells left over from Hurricane Katrina. Here one begins to understand the depth and scope of Katrina.
Restaurants and Bars
Despite the damage of Katrina, the area surrounding the New Orleans cruise port remains as a premier place to eat, listen to live music and party. The city is famous for its swank hotel lounges, sweaty dance clubs and to the famous Bourbon Street bars.
You’ll find jazz, funk, and the blues all over New Orleans and the Spotted Cat on Frenchman Street is no exception. They are known for their live music nearly every night of the week. In New Orleans you don’t have to wait till the weekend to kick up your heels and party.
For those with deep pockets you have to try the Canadian lobster, or boneless Australian Lamb; definitely a comfort food for upscale diners.