why we went: We like to eat and drink incredible stuff, and see interesting things and people. My Donut Showdown theme was Mardi Gras, too! We had to stop in New Orleans.
when we went: Mid-January
what we found: Bad drivers, bad roads, abandoned vehicles, good food, good music, drive-thru daiquiris.
how long we were there: 5 nights, visited the French Quarter at least 3 times
what it cost: You can decide how much money you want to spend. Beignets and coffee will cost you @$5. Walking around Jackson Square and taking a peek into St. Louis Cathedral is free, but you may want to buy an original piece of art from a street vendor. If you drive, you can park for $10 during the week at the French Market Parking Lot on the Mississippi, if you’re in by 10 AM and out by 7 PM. We also found a street meter spot on a Saturday morning for only a couple bucks. You can also take a walking tour and decide what you want to pay at the end (we paid $40).
We went to the NPS Jazz office in the French Market for a free Junior Ranger workbook (some places charge). They were out, but they gave us some Jazz CDs to listen to instead of doing the workbook. The workbook requires you to visit a number of music spots, one across the river. We listened to them as we drove around New Orleans, which was kinda fun. We went back after a couple days and they gave us badges.
what we thought: I enjoyed the street musicians, the unique shops, the free walking Voo Doo tour. John thought it was dirty, and he preferred the walking Haunted History French Quarter Ghosts tour (we paid $106).
If you have only one hour to spend in New Orleans, I recommend you walk through and around Jackson Square, stick your head in St. Louis Cathedral, and finish up across the street with beignets and a chicory cafe au lait.
If you have a day to spend in New Orleans, you can stop at Cafe Du Monde to pick up beignets and coffee for your walk through Jackson Square on your way to a Free Tours By Foot Voo Doo tour. After the tour, check out all the cool stuff at Voodoo Authentica. Then walk back toward the French Market to the Original Grocery for a half muffuletta and Southern Candymakers for a praline.