New Orleans, NOLA to those in the know, is the epitome of Southern hospitality with plenty to see and do (and eat) that's unique to this city. New Orleans is known for its 24/7 nightlife, live music scene, colonial architecture and, of course, its spicy Creole cuisine. The best way to savour the best that NOLA has to offer is to dive right in. The French Quarter (or just the 'Quarter') is the city's oldest neighbourhood and is where all the action happens, and not just at Mardi Gras time. Here's our pick of where to eat and drink, what to do and the best place to stay to experience it all.
Sheraton New Orleans
This hotel is perfectly situated at the corner of Magazine Street and Canal Street, which are the main shopping and dining streets of downtown New Orleans. It's right on the outskirts of the French Quarter (so you can sleep - only if you want to!).
Acme Oyster House
Acme Oyster House is famous for its oysters, but I loved their sugarcane pork belly po-boy with slaw. It was so good I went back to eat it two days in a row!
Another famous New Orleans restaurant set in the beautiful French Quarter, which specialises in French-Creole cuisine, Antoine's baked alaska (Meringue Glacee au Chocolat on the menu) is made of amazing ice-cream-cake-chocolate goodness.
Cafe Du Monde
This legendary New Orleans coffee house in the French Quarter (around since 1862) serves beignets, which are delicious deep-fried choux pastry donuts coated in icing sugar. A must-eat!
Pat O'Brien's Piano Bar
Tucked away on Saint Peter Street within a massive pub and beer garden is a little door with a line outside. It's not a bathroom, but the most atmospheric and jolly piano bar. Grab a table, order a drink and with your change (USD$3 minimum to be exact), write your song on the cocktail napkin and pass it up to one of the two pianists dueting on stage to play. It's a great place to sing along to some classic songs in a room full of Southern hospitality.
The Bombay Club
A classy live music martini bar with a live jazz or blues band, which is also home to New Orlean's largest martini selection. It's set back from the entrance to Prince Conti Hotel on Conti Street in the French Quarter.
Walk along Royal Street, which is the prettiest of the New Orleans French Quarter streets with its intricate iron woven balconies adorned with flowers reminiscent of 18th-century Spanish architecture. There are some great voodoo shops where you can get your palm or tarot cards read, or enjoy the galleries showcasing local artisans' work.
Navigate through the French Market on the banks of the Mississippi River and pick up some New Orleans cooking spices, a frozen pina colada, a mardi gras mask and beads among a million other things for sale at this fleamarket.
There are live bands playing at most clubs and restaurants in New Orleans, but if you want to hear true New Orleans-style jazz, you've got to go to Preservation Hall. This old-school jazz house is dedicated to keeping the legacy of New Orleans jazz alive.
Feature image: Colourful houses in the French Quarter, New Orleans (Image: Getty)
Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to New Orleans.