Being from New Orleans, people ask me all the time: “How is New Orleans after the hurricane? Should I go?” Well, to make quite a long answer resoundingly short, Yes. Go. New Orleans is a hotbed of culture, mystery, hope and happiness, and through the live music, amazing food, and signature southern hospitality you can find a bit of yourself down there. Also, and perhaps more to the point, Katrina really didn’t do too much damage to the areas you’ll likely be visiting, namely the French Quarter and The Garden District, and what damage it did do makes for interesting viewing.
Originally developed from 1832 to 1900, the Garden District boasts one of the best preserved collections of historic southern mansions in the U.S. There are numerous walking tours available to view these antebellum and Victorian wonders, and a ride on the classic street car is always available should your feet fail you (fare is only $1.25). In addition, the area is noted for its famous above-ground cemeteries, and tours are available to those wanting a bit more history than simply wandering the aisles allows. In the Garden District, you’re also likely to bump into one of many fantastic restaurants, including Commander’s Palace, Jacquemeaux’s, and Ninja.
In addition to stocking up on your history and food stuffs, a walking tour of the Garden District boasts some excellent boutique shopping (a stroll down Magazine Street will more than sate this appetite), and some excellent local bars which often (if not always) feature live music—Maple Street Bar, for example, comes to mind.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to venture into the Garden District during your stay in New Orleans, but if the idea of ancient Oak-lined streets, a rich cultural history, interesting and distinctive shopping, excellent eating, and friendly neighborhood bars entices you, you can’t go wrong with the Garden District. So, in short, Yes, go visit.