By Becca Hensley
This story originally appeared in the January/February 2018 issue of Elite Traveler.
Some call it the Big Easy; others dub it the City Care Forgot, Nola or the Crescent City. Whatever moniker you choose, New Orleans stands out as one of America’s most unique metropolises. A past that encompasses French explorers, European royalty, Spanish conquistadors, runaway slaves, Cajun string players, white-suited Confederate duelers and Native Americans is the foundation of the city’s nuanced culture. Add in pirates, voodoo priests, Mississippi riverboat captains, gamblers, ghosts, sophisticated Grande Dames and Mardi Gras, one of the biggest seasonal parties in the world, and the Crescent City’s palpable sense of mystery and fantasy further takes shape. Jazz has its roots here, as does the iconic Sazerac cocktail and the muffuletta, a layered sandwich topped with olive salad invented by Sicilian grocers. A city of contrasts, New Orleans is edgy and elegant, lavish and spare, bawdy and well-mannered. It has streetcars (one really does bear the name Desire), majestic parks and museums, and gardens that waft the scent of magnolia blossoms. In its long-celebrated French Quarter, you will find rowdy Bourbon Street, rife with bars, and polished Royal Street, a haven for some of the best antiques stores on earth. Renowned for its French-influenced Creole cuisine and seafood-heavy Cajun menus, the Big Easy has a long list of irresistible local edibles, including oysters, po’boy sandwiches and sugared beignets. Some people visit just to eat. Whatever your reason to stroll its streets, be prepared for New Orleans to engage all your senses.