It's true — there won't be any parades downtown during the Super Bowl, so mister can't throw you something. But there will be some parades outside the city proper, including in Metarie and Covington. (mardigrasguide.com). You can also catch the carnival spirit at Arnaud's restaurant, (813 Bienville Ave., 504-523-5433), where you can enjoy a romantic meal and then head upstairs to view their Mardi Gras exhibit. Before you return home, you must sample some authentic king cake, a French pastry served only during Mardi Gras season. Try it at Cake Cafe and Bakery (nolacakes.com), Sucre (shopsucre.com) or Haydel's (haydelbakery.com). You can even ship the cakes home to help friends or family spice up their Super Bowl parties New Orleans-style.
Last year was the bicentennial of Treme, the New Orleans neighborhood highlighted in
Visit the National World War II Museum, formerly the D-Day Museum. Not only has the museum just opened another portion of its $300 million expansion, the Boeing Freedom Pavilion, but it is hosting a special exhibit just in time for Super Bowl. "Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame" traces pro football from its beginnings to today, offering extensive artifacts, audio and video exhibits (nationalww2museum.org).
Forget Bourbon Street. Ask anyone here who knows anything about music and they'll tell you to head to Frenchmen Street (and the surrounding area) and its warren of live-music clubs. It's about a 15-minute walk from Bourbon Street, but it is light-years away. You'll find rockabilly, bluegrass, R&B, jazz, blues, Latin music, hip-hop, rock 'n' roll and more in the numerous venues that line a two-block stretch. Well-known musicians, including Ellis Marsalis and Charmaine Neville, show up regularly. The drinks are cheap and cover charges minimal.
New Orleans is known as the home of the cocktail and Gray Line's Original Cocktail Walking Tour will help those 21 and older discover the famous spirits of the city. You can also go it alone and have a delicious drink and chat with a mixologist at SoBou, Bellocq, Cure or Bar Tonique. For a more historic vibe, absorb the local culture at the 200-year-old Napoleon House bar (500 Chartres St., 504-524-9752) with its aged walls and Napoleon-related lore. Relax in the main bar or courtyard with a Pimm's Cup or Bloody Mary (graylineneworleans.com).
Amble down the block to Jackson Square, where New Orleans took shape almost 300 years ago. Explore some of the city's oldest buildings, including St. Louis Cathedral, the Cabildo, once the seat of colonial government, and the historic Pontalba Apartments, the first of the Spanish apartments built in the city. Take a short walk across Decatur Street to the Moonwalk, a favorite spot to view ships and ferries plying the Mississippi River (Decatur Street at the river; jackson-square.com).
Cafe du Monde
Head to Cafe du Monde at the French Market for a steaming cup of coffee and a plate of French beignets. Or take a seat and sip a cafe au lait while you people-watch (800 Decatur St., 504-525-4544).
Stroll along the river in Woldenberg Park, at the edge of the French Quarter, or board the free ferry at the foot of Canal Street and take a quick ride across and back to sense the power of the mighty Mississippi. Woldenberg Park is also the site of the
Try New Orleans' favorite sandwich. Open since 1950, Johnny's Po-Boys offers dozens, from the classic fried oyster, fried shrimp or roast beef on French bread to crab cake or chicken Parmesan po-boys (511 St. Louis St., 504-524-8129; johnnyspoboys.com).
Catch a cab or the No. 11 bus (a one-day Jazzy Pass is just $3 and lets you get on and off as much as you want) to Magazine Street to explore one of the city's more unusual retail scenes. Bohemian and upscale apparel shops stand among art galleries, antiques stores and restaurants in quaint, funky and historic buildings. Browse the shops. Indulge your sweet tooth at Sucre, with its irresistible selection of pastries, chocolates and specialty macaroons (3025 Magazine St., 504-520-8311; magazinestreet.com).
For more on lodging, restaurants, attractions and Mardi Gras, go to neworleanscvb.com. For details and schedules on the Super Bowl, go to neworleanssuperbowl.com.
Reuters and Tribune Newspapers contributed to this article.