Let's start in the French Quarter, also referred to as Vieux Carré, as it's the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans. The plethora of restaurants, bars and shops all vie for the attention of the passing parade with music and a warm "where y'at?" This historical zone boasts traditional creole cuisine all washed down with potent quenchers to fend off the heat, and we'd actually recommend braving the long lines at the Café du Monde for some French beignets and at Aunt Sally's for Creole pralines.
Time your trip right and you could get lucky with June's Creole Tomato and Zydeco Music Festival, or October's Blues and BBQ Fest.
Heading out of this bustling tourist area is best for hangover recovery, for which we say to head to the Garden District. The neighborhood of giant mansions makes for a perfect tour, including homes of some current day celebs like Anne Rice, Jesse James, and Harry Connick Jr. Most tours also include the iconic Lafayette Cemetery, where former movers and shakers in the crescent city have been laid to rest; it's a safe step into the macabre.
Further afield, fans of the popular hot sauce will rejoice with a day trip to Avery Island, the home of Tabasco. Rent a car and hit the road for two hours southwest, to the center of all things pepper. The factory opens their doors Monday through Sunday from 9-4 for tours, and visitors may view the bottling the spicy sauce Monday through Thursday. For just $1 (the toll to enter the island) and the risk of some torched taste buds, you can witness the oak-barrel aging of the condiment and wander the lush gardens of the island.