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Exclusives

Exclusives | New Orleans: Introduction

Exclusives | New Orleans: Introduction

New Orleans has more restaurants now than it did prior to Katrina. Discover lots of other reasons to visit!

The Crescent City has a proud past and a cosmopolitan composition that has fueled its post-Katrina perseverance. Founded by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville in 1718, the city (as well as the rest of the territory of Louisiana) was under Spanish rule from 1763-1801, later becoming part of the United States in 1803. Because it is home to the country's busiest port, its resident population claims many ancestries in addition to the Creoles, who were descended from the French and Spanish colonists.

There are also Cajuns, descendants of the Acadians driven from Nova Scotia in 1755, but they are primarily indigenous to sections of Southwest Louisiana. Nowhere is this multi-culti mix more evident than in NOLA's sumptuous cuisine!

The most famous area of town is the French Quarter, bordered by Canal and Rampart Streets, Esplanade, and the Mississippi River. This 100-square-block historic district is home to the city's best shopping, dining, and nightlife, but Faubourg Marigny, the city's first suburb, and the Bywater area serve as welcoming residential enclaves for the local gay community.

The Marigny in particular, where low-key neighborhood gay bars and eateries are nestled amid historic homes popping with brightly colored paint, is worth a twirl-through for queer visitors. Across Canal from the Quarter, the Warehouse/Arts District bustles with new dining and shopping options, a mini-boom aided by the Harrah's hotel/casino complex -- it's more mainstream, but certainly gay-friendly.

Plenty of misinformation has circulated about the landscape of New Orleans since the devastating hurricane hit in 2005. The outlying neighborhoods are still very much in recovery, but the tourist areas are unscathed, safe, and open for business -- and visitors are an integral part of the rebuilding process. Where safety is concerned, use common sense: Don't go staggering around drunk and alone late at night in unpopulated areas, particularly outside the French Quarter and Warehouse/Arts District.

The best time to visit New Orleans is in the spring, when the temperatures are warm but not too warm, and the humidity is low. Many visitors courageously choose the summer months, despite the torrid and humid conditions, to take advantage of the low off-season rates. Dress is cool and casual in the summer, and umbrellas are a must, thanks to frequent afternoon thunderstorms, which help cool things down.

New Orleans: Where to Stay
New Orleans: Where to Eat
New Orleans: Where to Play
New Orleans: Sights, Events, and Resources

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