New Orleans evokes images of Mardi Gras parades, Cajun cuisine, jazz music, French architecture, Café du Monde beignets and Sazeracs. From the iron balconies of the French Quarter to the streetcars and mansions of St. Charles Avenue, the Big Easy is an invigorating city where the joie de vivre never fades.
Miles from Naples: 815
Why go: Sure, there’s a “will do anything for beads” side to New Orleans, but there’s also an upscale locals scene rife with creative cuisine, mixology and riveting culture.
Where to sleep: Inspired by England’s Windsor Castle, the European high-style Windsor Court Hotel (above) recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary with a $22 million facelift. The top four floors of this regal high-rise enjoy access to the Club Lounge, which offers several food presentations daily, a dedicated concierge and panoramic views.
For foodies: Tucked in a residential lane off St. Charles Avenue, Upperline Restaurant has arguably the best Creole cuisine in New Orleans (above). Also try Dickie Brennan’s Tableau, which recreates classic French Creole cuisine for today’s foodie culture. The city’s “It” bar circa 1938, the Fountain Lounge has been restored to its original grandeur, serving authentic Sazeracs and Bayou Swizzles.
Top Attractions: Head for the block of Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, which is lined with live music clubs and lounges. Then peruse the antique shops and art galleries—especially Gallery Burguieres (below)—on the picturesque Royal Street.
Scene from Bourbon Street.