Beignets & Café au Lait at Café du Monde
Sit on the crowded patio gazing at the action on Decatur Street and Jackson Square. Gorge on hot French-style doughnuts liberally coated in powdered sugar (everyone will know what you've been doing from the sprinkles on your shirt) chased by potent chicory coffee. And do it at any hour of the day -- 3pm or 3am. It's open 24 hours!
Jazz at Preservation Hall
Drop your 12 bucks in the hat and squeeze into one of the country's time-honored jazz institutions. Your feet will be moving and your ears will be happy, even if they never knew they liked jazz before.
A Crowded Night at the Maple Leaf
The epitome of "New Orleans" clubs, it's a terrific place to hang out. On nights when popular bands fill the place to hot, sweaty capacity and the crowd spills over into the street and dances right on the sidewalk, it's sublime.
Dinner at Commander's Palace
For 130 years, this romantic, attentive grande dame has served up the inimitable combination of graciousness, indulgence, and exuberance that defines New Orleans dining. Also, it's delicious.
A Cemetery Tour
New Orleans's odd, beautiful, above-ground tombs are positively memorable, and touring these ghostly cities of the dead brings a unique perspective on the city's history and culture.
If a wailing trumpet catches your ear, follow the sound till you find it. If the swing band playing in the middle of Royal Street inspires you to give your partner a whirl, by all means whirl (and drop a few bucks in their hat). And if you're lucky enough to happen upon a second line parade passing by, don't dare watch from the sidewalk. Jump in and high-step it down the street.
A Stroll Through the Garden District
These elegant old homes, nestled among lush trees, are wonderful to gaze at and covet. At the right time of day, you might have the streets largely to yourself and feel you've slipped back in time -- or into a Gothic novel.
A Stroll Along St. John's Bayou
Most tourists don't get much beyond the Quarter or they speed past this low-slung body of water as they head for City Park. Slow down local-style to meander along the bayou and admire the less high-profile but no less romantic neighborhood around it.
Bourbon Street After Dark
Even if you end up hating it, you have to see it at least once. Music spurts out of windows and doors, drinkers reign supreme, and sex is widely available -- on paper, on stage, and on video. It's wild, disgusting, and strangely exhilarating.
Club Hopping in the Frenchmen Section
This portion of the Faubourg Marigny (the neighborhood that borders the French Quarter to the north and east) features nearly a dozen clubs and bars, each with its own personality and charm. Dip in for tastes, or just listen to the music pouring out the doors.
Dancing to Rebirth Brass Band, John Boutté &/or Kermit Ruffins
Dancing to three of the best musical acts New Orleans has to offer (a brass band, an astonishing soul crooner, and a jazz trumpeter in the tradition of Louis Armstrong, respectively) is the physical manifestation of the word fun -- and the truest spirit of New Orleans.
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