The Audubon Nature InstituteNew Orleans CVB

By Merle Rosenstein

New Orleans is bouncing back post-Katrina, welcoming millions of visitors per year. And with new restaurants (300 more since 2005), cultural attractions attracting record-breaking attendance, major hotel improvements, and enhancements to the Louisiana Superdome, the Big Easy is better than ever.

The signature French Quarter, a 6-by-13 block grid in the centre of the city along the Mississippi River, with its Spanish and Greek revival architecture, raucous nightlife, Bourbon Street jazz clubs and fine eateries gets top billing. After an evening of Cajun cuisine and hot jazz tunes, take a cemetery tour and view the awesome architecture of above-ground burials or enjoy a lively gospel brunch complete with grits, biscuits and gravy and chicken Jambalaya. And there’s much more beyond the French Quarter.

One of the city’s hippest neighbourhoods, Faubourg Marigny, has yet to be inundated with tourists. Famous for many styles of Creole cottages dating back to the 19th century, this trendy spot offers a wide range of music styles from modern jazz to Latin to rockabilly all within a four-block radius. Check out the buzz on Frenchman Street.

Take a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar from the French Quarter through the Garden District to Uptown. Peaceful and elegant, the Garden district, an upscale residential area, boasts grand classical revival plantation-style homes with broad verandas and lush gardens. Uptown, beginning at lower Garden District and running to Tulane and Loyola Universities, there are trendy restaurants, music halls, bizarre shops and the Audubon Nature Institute.

Situated between Canal Street, Loyola Street, Howard Avenue and Convention Center Boulevard, the Central Warehouse and Business Districts, once a sugar plantation, are now home to trendy restaurants, office towers and art galleries. Condos and townhomes are also springing up attracting a younger crowd to move back to this centre-city neighbourhood.

Best Bets For Families
For nature lovers, the Audubon Nature Institute houses 10 museums and parks including a zoo, aquarium, insectarium, and rookery where kids can wander through a mysterious Louisiana swamp, join the active audience of an awards show for bugs, walk beneath a vivid Caribbean reef, or become an Adventure Island explorer and journey the Mississippi River.

At the Louisiana Children’s Museum kids can explore hands-on fun, engaging exhibits and exciting programs – all designed with curious kids (and grown-ups) in mind. Pilot a towboat down the Mighty Mississippi. Shop until you drop in a pint-size Winn-Dixie grocery store. Dine in a five-star, role-play café. Ride a bike with Mr. Bones. Trap your shadow. Stand inside a gigantic bubble. Even little ones have a special space to climb, crawl, hide and explore.

Visit the Louisiana bayou for a wild time on a swamp tour – where local fauna lurk, and alligators, turtles, fish and birds congregate in thick marsh reeds and moss-laden Cypress trunks.

For more information on visiting New Orleans, go to