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Streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana
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    Louisiana

When we arrived in the French Quarter in New Orleans, I was immediately transported to another time and place and fell in love with the city.

This Louisiana city is bursting with unique history and culture, all accented by its fantastic architecture, narrow little streets, ornate balconies and charming gas lamps.

Jackson Square

We started our day at Jackson Square, the cultural center of the French Quarter. The statue of General Andrew Jackson on his horse looks over the Mississippi River with the St. Louis Cathedral as its backdrop. It’s just gorgeous. All around the square, it is full of music. Even on a weekday morning, as we stopped to listen to a group of musicians, we could hear another group on the next street corner. What a festive atmosphere it was, as we perused the local artists creating and selling their works around the square.

Sunset over Jackson Square

Sunset over Jackson Square
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Café du Monde and French Market

We took a quick walk across the street to the famous Café du Monde and had a fabulous café au lait and beignets. I may have gotten powdered sugar everywhere from these fried, donut-like pastries, but it was worth it, and that coffee was so smooth. We continued just a little downriver to see the historic French Market consisting of six blocks of vendors selling food, clothing, books, candy and more.

Dining al fresco at Café du Monde

Dining al fresco at Café du Monde
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Napoleon House and Other Food Stops

New Orleans has so many food offerings, but I’m going to remember this trip for my first muffaletta. We went to Napoleon House Bar and Café, and here I was blown away not just by the muffaletta, jambalaya and gumbo, but the fascinating historic décor and outdoor courtyard. The seafood is also delicious at Bourbon House, while the Bananas Foster dessert is a New Orleans original and is delicious throughout the city. Of course, you have to try the sweet New Orleans classic Hurricane cocktail.

A muffaletta, one of Louisiana’s favorite sandwiches

A muffaletta, one of Louisiana’s favorite sandwiches
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Shopping and Dancing

Like many people, I had only heard of Bourbon Street prior to my travels, but I discovered that I just adore Royal Street. We spent hours looking at incredible antiques shops and art galleries that featured local and international art, housewares stores and more. It was a charming, tranquil shopping experience, and on every block, there was a different musician playing.

Of course, I couldn’t leave New Orleans without going to a music club, so as the sun went down, we headed to Frenchmen Street, which is just about a block outside the official French Quarter. There were countless music halls and jazz clubs to choose from, and we had a great time dancing along at the Spotted Cat. The sign outside the door said the music had begun at 4 p.m. and would go until 2 a.m., and this was a Monday! What an incredible city.

Dancing on Royal Street as buskers perform

Dancing on Royal Street as buskers perform
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Zack Smith
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