Lay of the Land
“New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.”~Mark Twain
With Lake Pontchartrain directly to its north and the Mississippi River to its south and west, New Orleans is a city surrounded—and defined—by bodies of water. The Big Easy was originally built on the high ground along the Mississippi River but has since grown.
The French Quarter or “Vieux Carré” is the cultural, historical and social hub of the city. While it is often known for the raucous nightlife on Bourbon Street, once off the thoroughfare, the French Quarter offers a glimpse into the city’s unique French-Creole architecture and history.
The Central Business District (or CBD) sits southwest of the French Quarter and is home to the famous Superdome. The adjacent Arts/ Warehouse District, home to many of the city’s best restaurants, sits just beyond the quarter. Further to the southwest is the Garden District and Uptown, where many old New Orleanians live in grand, historical homes along oak-lined streets. Uptown attractions include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Commander’s Palace and Tulane University.
To the east of the French Quarter are the famous neighborhoods of the Bywater and the Ninth Ward, which were so tragically impacted by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
Despite the sprawling nature of the city, New Orleans’s neighborhoods are very walkable. Taxis are recommended at night, for longer distances and if you are heading uptown. Streetcars are also available along St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street. While slow moving, they are a charming way to see the city.