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The Crescent City’s Comeback
While many around town claim to have come to New Orleans and stayed, the
city has worked hard over the past decade to bring visitors back. Devastation
from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 paralyzed much of the city’s tourism
industry and resulted in a 64 percent drop in tourism numbers between
2004 and 2006. To this day, there are still hotels and establishments in the
process of reopening.
But in the past couple of years, the industry has finally seen its pre-Katrina
numbers creep back. In 2012, New Orleans officially celebrated a tourism
comeback, with the highest numbers since 2005, comparable to pre-
According to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), 9.01
million people came to the city. Although 2013 statistics won’t be released
until March, the city drew more than 5 million visitors during the first six
months, and the CVB expects the year’s total numbers to meet or exceed
those of 2012.
People are officially travelling back to the Big Easy or coming for the first
time, and enjoying the city beyond Mardi Gras; diving into arts and culture, a
thriving film and tech scene, fine dining and fancy cocktails.
MORE THINGS TO DO IN NEW ORLEANS
While visitors are exploring more of the city, the quaint French Quarter
remains the major tourist hub. The city can be hard to navigate (it follows
the curving Mississippi River) but the French Quarter is laid out like a grid
(six blocks by 13 blocks) below busy Canal Street, the widest street in the
There are plenty of souvenir shops and storefronts where you can
purchase tickets for ghost walks, alligator swamp tours and more. For a
casual outing, check out Jackson Square and walk through the manicured
grounds, or over to the boardwalk where you can watch cruise ships coast
by. Or peruse the outdoor French Market, brimming with arts, crafts and
culinary goodies (and where locals warn to never pay full price) and take
a spin on the old Steamboat Natchez riverboat with its charming calliope
(steam organ) that can be heard throughout the market. There are loads
of boutique shops, galleries and quaint courtyard cafés along streets like
Royal and Chartres, but it may forever be famous for housing one of the
country’s rowdiest streets: Bourbon.
The booze-named street is the kind of place where your inner frat boy just
comes pouring out. It’s a street where people come with the goal of getting
into trouble and generally succeed. No matter how sophisticated you think
you are, it means nothing on Bourbon Street.
N E X T
Beyond Bourbon St.
Businessmen are in bars doing body shots alongside college kids.
Conservative-looking senior citizens are getting their photos snapped with
nude twenty-somethings, and countless groups of bachelor and bachelorette
parties are on the prowl for cheap shots, cheesy blues bands, gaudy strip
clubs and fishbowls full of “Hurricanes,” a potent fluorescent slush drink
(that isn’t too kind the morning after).
It’s a mess of stringed-lights, flashing X-rated shot glass necklaces, and flung
Mardi Gras beads thrown from balconies (often rented by corporate parties
or groups of friends). While public nudity isn’t legal here, tourists are known
to bare their breasts, though it’s not uncommon to leave without seeing any
(though if you want a guarantee, you can often find locals set up on the curb,
posing bare-breasted for cash).
You’ll find a wild time here any night of the week, but weekends are when the
parties really rage. There’s no official “last call” and the French Quarter allows
the consumption of alcohol in the streets (as long as it’s in an unbreakable
container). Most bars will serve drinks in plastic “go-cups” so you can wander
the streets. But like all major tourist zones, petty crime is not uncommon and
as contagious as the party-hard vibe is, be aware and keep it under control
enough to keep your guard up. The French Quarter is known for pickpockets
and you can sometimes even spot them scanning the crowds.
GOOD N’AWLINS COOKING