You'll definitely get a sense of the city's ambiance by eating, drinking and dancing locally during your stay in New Orleans. But if you truly want to get in touch with the city's joie de vivre, be sure to save some time after the Annual Meeting ends to explore some of New Orleans's cultural institutions and attractions.
In this final installment of the YO Info Insider's Guide to New Orleans, local ophthalmologist Blake K. Williamson, MD, provides his recommendations for the best tours, the best museums and the best strolls around "The City that Care Forgot."
If you’ve never been to Nola, the first thing to do is take a horse-drawn carriage tour. All the carriages park at Jackson Square, and you can pick whichever one you want to ride. Tours usually last 30 to 45 minutes, so grab a beer before getting on and drink while you ride! They can take you all around the French Quarter and will point out some famous spots while providing you with some great anecdotes — it’s a great way to get acclimated!
Dr. Williamson — New Orleans local.
Be sure to also get in touch with the folks at Friends of the Cabildo, as they represent the best tour guides in the city. You’ll have all kinds of people in the city hand you brochures for walking tours — avoid them! Instead, call this group and arrange for a private walking tour of the French Quarter. They usually last about two hours, and your guide is often a PhD in Louisiana history. They’ll show you all of the the historic buildings in the quarter and give you factual information — it’s definitely more expensive to do it this way, but it’s so much better!
Speaking of tours, make sure to take a cemetery tour of St. Louis Cemetery #1. I know it sounds strange to tour a cemetery but it’s very popular — Nola has the most beautiful cemeteries in the world outside of Pere Lachaise in Paris.
And if the weather is nice and you are in the mood for visiting a bunch of alligators, take an airboat tour of the swamps! Many different outfitters will take you to Lafitte, a nice little Cajun town 20 minutes from the heart of the city.
Last but not least, I’d also take the Canal Streetcar from the downtown area up St. Charles Avenue to see all the beautiful Southern plantation homes and mansions.