New Orleans and All That Jazz

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by Trish Utter

Hilton Riverside Hotel.

Hilton Riverside Hotel.

I drove up on Poydras Street and checked in at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. This cobble street around the hotel was bustling with street cars, cabs and bicycle taxis. The tall building seemed to go up forever. I had heard how alive this city was and could not wait to explore.

Located right by the front door of the Hilton is the trolley car that’s inexpensive and clean and runs every five minutes. The location of this hotel is unbeatable. You are right on the Mississippi River, next to an outlet mall and across the street from Harrah’s Casino. Within a short walk you are at the French Quarter and Bourbon Street is a few blocks down.

The service at the Hilton was superb and the views from the floor to ceiling windows are show stoppers. It was the perfect place to call home for a few days in New Orleans.

Sight Seeing New Orleans, Hop On- Hop Off. clever-photography-new-orleans-for-webThis is the first thing we did and I highly recommend that you do this first as it gives you a great understanding of the layout of this beautiful city. The open topped bus goes through neighborhoods and the well trained guides give you the history and tips on where to go and what to do. We found Magazine Street thanks to this tour and heard about all the great things that Brat Pitt and Angelina Jolie have done for New Orleans. The famous couple have a house near Bourbon Street and locals love them. We were also able to stop at one of the famous cemeteries and saw the Voodoo Queens Tomb. You can hop off at designated stops.
800 362 1811 www.CitySeeingNewOrleans.com

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Cafe Du Monde.

Caf? Du Monde. The caf? is famous for its Beignets which are a French square doughnut that is covered in powdered sugar and their dark roasted Coffee and Chicory. If you don’t stop here you haven’t seen New Orleans. There are several locations. One of the best souvenirs to bring home is their beignet mix and coffee.
800 772 292 www.cafedumonde.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bourbon Street. band-in-street-for-webBeautiful painted houses with lots of shops, restaurants and bars. Many have no walls and are open making it easy to listen and see the musicians inside. We came across a group playing jazz in the middle of the street. They surrounded us with their trumpets and saxophones. Mardi Gras beads hang from lamp posts and trees and everyone is in a festive mood all the time.

Caf? Beignet. We loved the breakfast sandwiches; they also serve Gumbo and Jambalaya. The Bourbon Street location has a courtyard reminiscent of France where jazz is played every day and people gather around the fountain.
www.cafebeignet.com

 

French Market.

French Market.

French Quarter. The marketplace here reminded me of Covent Garden in London. There is a large covered market where all kinds of items can be bought. Lots of stalls selling Mardi Gras masks, food vendors selling jambalaya and of course live jazz everywhere you turn. You will also find antique stores and boutiques.

Mardi Gras World.

Mardi Gras World.

Mardi Gras World.

I was shocked at how much I learned about New Orleans and the rich history of Mardi Gras on this tour. They will pick you up from your hotel. You will see a brief video and then tour around all the working multimillion dollar floats and watch artists busy at work on them. The tour guide told us how Mardi Gras is not just one parade but many parades that go through different parts of the City. 504 361 7821 www.mardigrasworld.com

Magazine Street. A hip trendy street filled with boutiques and restaurants. We found a consignment clothing store called Buffalo Exchange that sold upscale trendy items.

Colt Utter at The National WWII Museum

Colt Utter at The National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum.
New Orleans may seem like an odd place for this fantastic collection of WWII memorabilia. It started with the manufacturing of the landing craft, called Higgins Boats, used in WWII on D Day. These flat bottomed boats were designed and manufactured in Louisiana and were inspired by the bayou boats. The importance of these Higgins Boats prompted this collection.
504 527 6012 www.nationalww2museum.org

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Located right next to the Hilton and overlooking the river this aquarium is home to penguins, manatee, and sharks and all the way down to frogs. There is a beautiful walk through tunnel where tropical fish swim right over your head. This is a great place to visit on a rainy day. 504 581 4629 www.auduboninstitute.org

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Explore! Yes, walk around the city. One evening we heard jazz coming from down a street and it was a large wedding procession. The bride and groom led the way and guests danced behind them. We also saw Opera at an outdoor park. Just looking at the buildings is an education in design. New Orleans offers families with small kids great family entertainment, to singles wanting to dance the night away. Mardi Gras is also something New Orleans offers to all. You can find a crazy over the top Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street or you can find a family Mardi Gras parade during the season. We are all looking forward to wearing green, purple and gold and coming back to the Jazz capital of the world.

 

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New Orleans Online 800 672-6124 www.neworleansonline.com
Hilton New Orleans Riverside 855 827 1007 www.hiltonneworleansriverside.com

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