Samantha (Airfare Analyst): Newark to New Orleans $209 round-trip, nonstop, on United, for travel through June 3.
My first visit to New Orleans was a few years before Hurricane Katrina hit. I felt such a connection with the city that after the hurricane, I felt the need to go back and help rebuild.
The first year or so after the storm was very hard to see the city I loved go through so much but as the years have progressed the city has come back even fuller than ever.
I have traveled to and from New Orleans by car, bus, train, and air, and although a road trip lends itself to many stops for BBQ in the south— a flight is the fastest way to start sipping a drink and hearing the music play in the Big Easy.
Where to Stay: If you are looking for something a little further from the very loud and boisterous areas of the French Quarter try Hotel Villa Convento. They have a brilliant old elevator named Grandma, the hotel has many balcony rooms that look out onto the Quarter. There is also an excellent cafe across the way, Cafe d’Or, where you can grab a croissant and some coffee to enjoy within the hotel’s quaint courtyard.
If you are looking for something closer to the action of Bourbon street, try out the Bourbon Orleans. They have a sleek, modern lounge with live music as well as some balconies right on Bourbon St. itself so you can revel in the chaos from the comfort of your hotel room.
Where to Eat: If you are looking for the right meal after a night of revelry or something to help soak up the booze late at night stop by the 24/7 Clover Grill, classic greasy spoon fare, for a real treat sit at the counter.
If you want a really spectacular po-boy that is not something every tourist trap sells, try going into the back of Erin Rose Bar to visit Killer PoBoys, they change their menu daily and always have something fantastic to offer.
For something a bit fancier, the Palm Court Jazz Cafe is something not to be missed if you are looking to hear some real authentic jazz and enjoy a wonderful meal.
Have a Drink: Everywhere in NOLA is a place to have a drink! One of the remarkable things about the city is the open container law- you can purchase a drink in a ‘Go Cup’ and walk on the street enjoying it.
And whether you are drinking an alcoholic beverage or a non-alcoholic beverage, the place to go is in the French Market called the Organic Banana. Grab your drink and wander through the quarter taking in the whole city.
Or for something a little further afield grab a tour of the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery where you will not only try their house made rum but they will give you a tour of where they make it.
Favorite Thing to Do: As I have recently started running, I can suggest heading to the Riverfront early in the morning for a run then stopping by Cafe Du Monde and grabbing a sack of beignets and some cafe au lait before heading back to the hotel. But if you are visiting during crawfish season- a couple of pounds of crawfish and some local beer makes a fabulous afternoon. If the weather is nice try Armstrong Park, they usually have some type of music event going on and sitting on the lawn with people from all walks of life while listening to some live music will make you forget you are a tourist.