Archive » November 1, 2012
By Ray Navis, Contributing Writer
More so than any city except Las Vegas, people come to New Orleans to have fun, eat and drink. This unique city has a distinct Creole culture along with some of the best restaurants in America. The combination of Bourbon Street and many large events give off a New Year’s Eve atmosphere several times a month.
The sceneNew Orleans residents are proud of their heritage and landmarks abound this city where the architecture is French Creole inspired. Most people will think of Jackson Square and the iron, two-story balconies all throughout the French Quarter. These and many other structures have been around for centuries and have withstood development and Mother Nature.
This place is a survivor and locals appreciate it. There is always a buzz in the air, as visitors look forward to the excitement ahead.
The lodgingIf you are in town for a convention, Harrah’s New Orleans has a perfect location just two blocks away. The rooms are excellent with 5-star bedding and state-of-the-art electronics. Large marble bathrooms make for a pleasant start or finish to your busy day. Harrah’s has a large bank of elevators close to the street, making for a very easy entry or exit. This is important to all those with busy convention schedules. The casino is directly across the street and can be accessed through and underground passage. The hotel’s location is ideal for whatever brings you to town.
Manning’s is the hotel’s signature restaurant, located in the warehouse district. Named in honor of Louisiana’s First Football Family, memorabilia from Archie, Peyton and Eli adorn the walls and booths. There are 30 large-screen TVs for your sports viewing pleasure and a Jumbotron for the entire group. The cuisine is Mississippi Delta inspired with many tasty Creole entrees. This is by far New Orleans’ best sports bar, with great food as well.
The nightlifeBourbon Street is a multiple-block street party every night of the year with no cars allowed. There is something for everyone here from classical Jazz to the more risqué. The action starts late and continues till morning, just like in Vegas. It can be a bit intimidating the first time, but it is actually quite safe. The New Orleans Police Department has a large presence in the French Quarter, ensuring a safe night of revelry.
Brenna’s and Antoine’s are two famous eateries located in the middle of the action and would both be great choices to start out your evening. Later on, you might check out the Cat’s Meow. This karaoke-style nightclub really rocks into the late hours. The DJs and local performers whip the crowd into a frenzy that carries on into the street. The crowd is younger, but oldsters like me will feel at ease, too. In several trips to “The Big Easy,” I have never felt uncomfortable out at night, even in the wee hours.
The cultureThe Mississippi River is just a couple of blocks from Harrah’s, with authentic riverboat cruises available. The Aquarium is top-notch and includes an IMAX Theatre. The Storm is a must at the IMAX depicting the emotional impact of Hurricane Katrina. It brought tears to my eyes with its depiction of the devastation experienced along the Gulf Coast.
Small children will enjoy the Audubon Butterfly Park and Insectarium.
New Orleans is most alive during festive occasions such as Halloween, Super Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Mardi Gras – the latter being the signature event held each February. If you are visiting during one of these events, make your reservations way in advance. The weather is mostly warm, with frequent rain showers. Mardi Gras can be quite cool, so plan accordingly. Summer is probably the quiet season and will offer the best rates and easy access to restaurants.
United offers the best service from out of the area, with many non-stops daily from LAX. Southwest is also worth a look. Once on the ground, take a cab in and out as you will have no need for a car here and there is no place to park, anyway. Cabs in and around town are also easy; remember, no cars on Bourbon Street.