Begin your day in New Orleans’ oldest neighbourhood, the lively French Quarter. Stroll around, have your fortune told, and soak up the city’s history.
11:00 You’re in the south, which means food is more important then ever. Join the reverence at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum (southernfood.org; admission about £3), where you’ll learn all about southern cuisine (finally, the truth about grits and biscuits!) and can even check out an absinthe gallery. Be sure to swing by the attached Museum of the American Cocktail, too.
13:00 Take a street car ride on the historic Charles line %u2028to get to the Garden District. At only US$1.25 (80p) for %u2028a ticket, these historic cars take you around town on the cheap and in style. Then, wander the green streets in peace.
14:00 Lunch is where the city is at its best. Deep inside the Garden District you’ll find Lulu’s In The Garden, offering a range of regional ingredients and local produce (think fried chicken salad for about £6). Park your weary self outside and enjoy the vibe.
15:00 Fancy something freaky? Try a spooky walking tour with Haunted History Tours.The company’s claim that New Orleans is the most haunted city in America just might be right if its long list of tours is anything to by – ghost tours, voodoo tours, vampire tours, you name it, they’ve got it. From about £13pp.
17:30 Continuing the theme, you’ll want to check out the Voodoo Museum . Established %u2028in 1972, it catalogues the creepy folklore of the town.
18:00 Now relax! In a renovated pharmacy warehouse, Emeril’s is adorned with local art and offers modern regional cuisine. On the pricey side, but worth the expense, you won’t regret ordering the barbecue shrimp with rosemary biscuit, or grilled ranch double-cut pork chop with caramelised sweet potatoes, tamarind glaze and green chile molé sauce. Ooh, we’ve started drooling just thinking about it. Mains from about £17.
20:00 Work off that dinner by joining the girls on the bar for a dance at Coyote Ugly. The high-energy atmosphere and even higher-energy staff are sure to get you in the mood for a great night.
23:00 Get in the thick of New Orleans’ nightlife at Bourbon Street. A famous stretch of sin for party-loving tourists, you’ll either love it or hate it, but you can’t ignore it. In the very heart of the French Quarter, it’s drenched in neon and is overflowing with bars, strip clubs and great live music. Head to the Steak Pit (hugeassbeers.com) and indulge in a beery goodness overload. Even if that doesn’t wet your whistle, you’re bound to find your kind of fun somewhere along this hectic strip.
03:00 You’re drunk, so head to Snake and Jake’s. Decorated with a Christmas theme all year round, it’s a weird place, but great for seeing in a blurry dawn. It’s been voted the city’s best dive bar numerous times.
12:00 Soothe your hangover with some much-needed home cooking at the Camelia Grill (626 South Carrollton Avenue). It first opened in 1946 and is a local favourite, serving up giant cheeseburgers and pecan pie.
13:00 Now that you’re back in action, for a free view of the city skyline, take the Canal Street Ferry. The crossing lasts about 20 minutes and will transport you to Algiers, the second-oldest area in New Orleans. Lay back on the levee, take in the view, and listen to the signature sound of jazz buzzing from across the water.
14:30 Once you’re back in the French Quarter, stop off at Café Du Monde (cafedumonde.com) for its notoriously good thick, hot cuppa Joe, and sugary sweet beignets,
a square French-style doughnut lavishly coated in powdered sugar. Around since 1862, this cafe knows its coffee so well they serve it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just so you don’t miss out.
16:00 Something to steady your nerves? Tour the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery for only £6, kicking off with a potent cocktail, and ending with a tasting of all four of the distillery’s rums at the end.
19:00 It’s time to get your jazz on at Preservation Hall, a highly recommended hive of live jazz. It’s a great way to initiate yourself into the sound of the city. Reserve seats to prevent having to stand throughout the show, then shake those jazz hands, waving a toe-tapping goodbye to New Orleans.
Fly return from London to New Orleans Louis Armstrong, via Charlotte Douglas, from £732 with US Airways usairways.com
Images: Getting Images