Just some general info
This text is from a forum question reply:
Safety: If you stay in the French Quarter and financial districts you should be fine. It is typically recommended NOT to visit the cemeteries outside the Quarter without a large group or tour. I Have visited the cemetery that is just outside the Quarter during the day with a small group without incident, though there were many other tourists milling about. Just be sharp eyed and aware of your surroundings when on the outskirts.
Duration of stay: I typically stay for 3-4 nights, as the French Quarter can be exhausting, yet I always wish I had one more night :)
There are tons of tours. The plantation tour is nice. I recommend AGAINST the ghost or haunted tours of the French Quarter. BOOOORING.
The French Quarter is the safest place. I usually stay at the Bourbon Orleans and have always had a great time.
Food: Even the bad restaurants are pretty good in new Orleans. I try to avoid dining in the restaurants on Bourbon. Check out the streets that run perpendicular to it and down towards the waterfront for many a hidden gem. Some great cheap eats are Poppy's diner and The Gumbo Shop. Two of my favorite bars there are The BlackSmith on Bourbon and Mollys at the Market.
Music: I'm not an expert, but on Bourbon, many music clubs advertise no cover, but expect you order a round of drinks every hour or during every set that the band plays. Often you can just hang out and listen outside, and there are many talented buskers.
Shopping: Royal Street, which runs parallel to Bourbon, is full of nice antique shops and art galleries. Also there is much shopping near the waterfront, including the famous French Market. Also look out for some cool voodoo shops.
The Beer Hunt continues...in New Orleans...
As the saying goes..."wherever you go, whatever you do, sampling the local beer is definite must."
What do the locals drink, what beer is most popular, which beer is hardest to find, does it come in a half pint glass just like grandma used to drink…or better still, a full pint glass like I drink??? These are all good questions that need to be answered...
In NOLA, that beer is Abita!!! In addition to their standard beers, Golden, Purple Haze, Turbo Dog and my personal favorite Amber; the little brewery in Abita Springs, Louisiana brews up a variety of seasonal beers such as Bock, Red Ale, Wheat, Fall Fest and a Christmas Ale. Oh, and they also make root beer.
New Orleans Tip
As you can see, it can get rather crowded in an area called the French Quarter. Bourbon Street is the most famous hang out spot for party-goers. However, unless you want to be a sardine, I wouldn't recommend spending too much time on Bourbon St. To avoid this, you'll want to see it during the lunch hour when everyone else is still sleeping off their hangovers.
Creole Versus Cajun
These terms are both used in Louisiana, often interchangeably, and within the realm of cooking, it can be impossible to distinguish the styles in a satisfactory manner. However, the historical differences are fairly clear. Creole refers to those born in New Orleans, having mixed ancestory of African, French, Indian, Spanish, and other nationalities. At the time of the Louisians Purchase in 1803, the Creoles had a well developed culture, and the immigrating Yankees, mostly Americans with English ancestory, moved across Canal Street into the neighborhood known today as the Garden District. These more affluent families, owners of plantations, commodity speculators, and shipping magnates, were inclined to separate themselves from the older French Quarter Creole residents. Cajun, in contrast, refers to those French that were displaced from Canada, mostly from Nova Scotia and the area of today's Canadian maritime provinces, following what American's call the French and Indian war of the mid 1700s. The rest of the world would recognize this as a conflict betweeen France and Britain, where France lost Canada and holding in India. The Cajuns settled in southwest Louisiana and lived isolated in the bayous, hunting and fishing for a living, until the oil boom came. Survival necessitated pot style cooking that blended together the bits and pieces of whatever was available. Both Creole and Cajun cooking emphasize sophisticated seasoning and sauces combined with the unusual wild game and bullfrogs found in the boyou and the rich selection of seafood found off the gulf coast. Strictly speaking one expects to find most sophisticated Creole cuisine is found in New Orleans, whereas the small Cajun towns (see my Morgan City tips) of Louisiana's gulf coast areas provides down home Cajun cooking. Nowadays, the ancestory of Cajun and Creole residents is nearly impossible to distinguish, and the food styles borrow ideas from each other and through so much that identifying any particular plate can be virtually impossible.
One of the things you will definitely see alot of during the Mardi Gras weekend are groups of bachelor and bachelorette parties. As most traditions go, a bachelor party is designed to be one last time out on the open prairie to have a good time with your guy friends before committing into a relationship with your wife. Conversely, several groups of women also had the same purpose and the two collided this weekend in Mardi Gras.
Ironically, the person next to me was also named Sarah, and this is her set of bridesmaids!