Photo: Bourbon Street sign

Bourbon Street, in the heart of the French Quarter of New Orleans, is famous for its nightlife.

Photograph by Laura Diaz Martinez, My Shot

Pop. 311,853
GPS: 30°04'N, 89°56'W

If you aren't eating all day long in New Orleans, you should be. But if and when your fork is ever down, join the lively Spanish and French descendents in Mardi Gras parades, listen to jazz and blues music at any bar on Bourbon Street, and visit the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, home to the wildest trails and waterways in the state.

PLAY

Louisiana is bursting with wetlands, swamps, and bayous. Rent a canoe and explore along one of the many waterways in the Barataria Preserve—more than 20,000 acres (8,094 hectares) of levee forests, marshes, and alligator hang-outs just south of the city ($20 per person for a full day; www.bayoubarn.com).

EAT

You’ve probably already gotten more New Orleans restaurant advice than you can compute. Grab beignets at Café Du Monde (www.cafedumonde.com), shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake at Jacques-Imo’s Café (www.jacquesimoscafe.com), turtle soup at the Commander’s Palace (www.commanderspalace.com), and all of the po’boys, gumbo, and jambalaya you can find. Wash it down with a hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s, a piano bar in the French Quarter (www.patobriens.com).

SLEEP

Breakfast at Ashtons Bed & Breakfast, an antebellum mansion in the Esplanade Ridge Historic District, includes sweet potato French toast with pecan honey butter and Cajun eggs benedict (doubles from $119; www.ashtonsbb.com).

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