Six-Plus Years After Hurricane Katrina, Now Is a Great Time to Visit New Orleans

Take a free ferry ride on the Mississippi River. Stop and hear some live jazz musicians while snacking on some pralines or a King Cake. Hold a live alligator on a swamp tour.
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Take a free ferry ride on the Mississippi River.

Browse the galleries, boutiques and jewelry stores on Royal Street.

Stop and hear some live jazz musicians while snacking on some pralines or a King Cake.

Street musician jazz band The Royal Street Gum Scrapers doesn't have a website.

One of them didn't even have any shoes.

Come see the mansions, gazebos, beautiful Catholic churches, marinas, yacht clubs, men's clubs, oyster bars, racetracks, oak trees, egrets, magnolia trees and magnolia blossoms.

There's a Rock n' Bowl, Popeye's Fried Chicken, barbeque on every block, $1 Dacquiris, Hustler topless bars, the LSU Tiger everywhere you look, and plenty of palm trees.

There's a Jewish synagogue, a Gothic cathedral, the Louisiana Supreme Court, an Audubon Zoo, and a first-rate aquarium.

They've got African Americans, Native Americans, Vietnamese Americans, and Daughters of the American Revolution.

People fishing in the seas, bayous, and lagoons.

People just sitting on their porches watching their lives go by.

Mardi Gras beads in the trees.

Cemetery tours.

Antique stores with Confederate money.

Try the shrimp creole at Bourbon House or the red beans and rice or the alligator bites or the turtle soup or the gumbo or a po' boy.

Have a Hurricane at Pat O'Briens and some crawfish jambalaya at the Gumbo Pot on the water.

Take a tour of Oak Alley Plantation with a mint julep. Check out their garage with antique cars run by a Civil War historian.

Try the lobster dumplings and crabmeat potstickers at GW Fins. The sweet potato mash with Bourbon and bananas is to die for. Don't leave without trying their white chocolate and caramel bread pudding with dark chocolate chunks, pecans, and whipped cream.

Walk outside on Bourbon Street on a Friday or Saturday night. Everyone is drinking and dancing in the street. It is impossible not to smile.

Try breakfast at the Roosevelt Hotel for some Southern Eggs Sardou.

Definitely visit Café Du Monde for beignets.

Hold a live alligator on a swamp tour.

Check out Emeril Lagasse's restaurant Nola's for the shrimp and grits and jalapeno cornbread. The banana pudding layer cake is not to be missed.

It's Mardi Gras season so might as well go to a black tie masquerade ball.

The National World War II Museum is really special. They have a 55-minute movie directed by Steven Spielberg and narrated by Tom Hanks where a plane flies out of the screen, snow falls from the ceiling, fog is released in front of your face, and your seats shake when the bombs go off.

Grab lunch at John Besh's restaurant, the American Sector, at the museum. The crab stew has huge chunks of crabmeat in it and they have the best pickles you've ever tasted.

The city is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

I met a man who lived in a FEMA trailer for five years.

My city bus tour driver told me that his bank, Regions Bank, was wiped out in the storm and because his safe deposit box was not waterproof, he came back to "liquid assets."

But he also said the best way to help the city continue to recover is to stay at their hotels, shop at their stores, and eat in their restaurants.

There are flights from JFK on JetBlue for $250 roundtrip and you can stay at a five-star hotel for a little over $200 a night.

Warning: your food will taste a little bland and everything will look a little less colorful when you get back.