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The Unofficial Guide to New Orleans

The Unofficial Guide to New Orleans

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by Eve Zibart, Tom Fitzmorris (With), Will Coviello, Menasha Ridge Press

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The Unofficial Guides® are the "Consumer Reports" of travel guides, offering candid evaluations of their destinations' attractions, hotels, restaurants, shopping, nightlife, sports, and more, all rated and ranked by a team of unbiased inspectors so even the most compulsive planners can be sure they're spending their time and money wisely. Each guide addresses the


The Unofficial Guides® are the "Consumer Reports" of travel guides, offering candid evaluations of their destinations' attractions, hotels, restaurants, shopping, nightlife, sports, and more, all rated and ranked by a team of unbiased inspectors so even the most compulsive planners can be sure they're spending their time and money wisely. Each guide addresses the needs of everyone from families to business travelers, with handy charts that demonstrate how each place stacks up against the competition. Plus, all the details are pulled out so they're extremely easy to scan.

Frank and opinionated, The Unofficial Guide® to New Orleans offers hundreds of ways to save time, save money, and avoid hassles in the Big Easy. It's got complete coverage of Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, and other special events; the lowdown on the hottest nightspots; street-by-street profiles; and walking tours of the French Quarter, the Garden District, Canal Street, and the Central Business District. More than 120 hotels, motels, B&Bs, and guest houses are rated and ranked, and you also get comprehensive, critical profiles of more than 75 of the city's best restaurants.

The Top 5 Reasons The Unofficial Guide® to New Orleans Can Help You Have the Perfect Trip:

1. It's a complete guide to exploring the city -- French Quarter strolls, cemetery tours, architectural highlights, plantation excursions, and more.

2. It has all the details on nightlife -- where to hear the best jazz, blues, zydeco, and Dixieland, both on and off Bourbon Street.

3. It's got the inside story on shopping -- including the best antique shops and art galleries.

4. Hotels are ranked and ranked for value and quality of rooms -- plus proven strategies for getting the best bargains

5. The guide details how to plan and get the most out of your business or convention trip.

Product Details

Publication date:
Unofficial Guides Series , #224
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Let the Good Times Roll

A fine spring evening in Jackson Square. As the sun gradually lowers, the shadows of St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo stretch across the flagstones, brushing the tables of the tarot readers; young couples with souvenir hurricane cups stand around a man playing saxophone, its case open in front of him.

And there it is, the mystique of New Orleans in a single vignette: empire, religion, music, voodoo, and alcohol. Laissez les bons temps rouler -- let the good times roll.

And yet there are some who say that what passes for "good times" is rolling too long and too strong these days. There is a battle raging for the soul of New Orleans, most visibly in and around the French Quarter; and while it is not a contest between good and evil, at least not in the classical sense, it will in the next few years determine whether the character of this unique city is lost, restored, or permanently altered.

That the character of the Vieux Carré has already changed is clear from a few hours' acquaintance. An odd confluence of factors -- renovation of some older houses into upscale condominiums and the gradual decline of others; a much-publicized increase in street crime and heavy investment by outside commercial interests into redevelopment, frequently uprooting smaller local firms -- has reduced the number of the French Quarter's permanent residents from about 15,000 a generation ago to fewer than 3,300 today. And of those, a dispiriting percentage are derelicts, street kids, and drunks, all looking for handouts and all with their vanished ambitions etched in their faces. A high tide of cheap-souvenir and T-shirt shops has swamped Bourbon Street, and glossy, private club-style strip joints, several bankrolled from out of town, are squeezing out the older, more authentic burlesque houses. At the same time, the number of bars offering heavily amplified rock and blues music, their doors open and competing for volume dominance, makes the retreat of jazz and Dixieland more obvious. Sit-down bars that specialized in classic New Orleans cocktails such as hurricanes and Sazeracs, touristy though they may have seemed before, now appear almost quaintly sophisticated in the face of carryout frozen margarita and daiquiri counters with their crayon-colored mixes spinning in laundromat-like rows.

Yes, souvenir shops are brighter than bars, but they certainly have less character. Sure, live blues is great, but it's more Texan than Louisianian. Mardi Gras, once the most elegant and elaborate of festivities, has become the world's largest frat party, its traditions degraded, its legends distorted, and its principal actors, the Grand Krewes, overshadowed by the mobs of drinking and disrobing "spectators." Several of the oldest and most prestigious krewes have withdrawn from the celebration, and travel agents say as many residents flee New Orleans during Carnival as tourists come in.

Altogether, New Orleans is in danger of becoming a parody of itself, a mini-Epcot or Busch Gardens' Old Country simulacrum. The posters and prints feature wrought-iron fences, but the real courtyards are gated and locked tight. Steamboats play recorded music intentionally out of tune -- "old-fashioned" in the hokiest sense. Self-appointed tour guides mix all their legends together: the statue in St. Anthony's Garden behind St. Louis Cathedral, memorializing French sailors who volunteered as nurses during a yellow fever epidemic, has even been explained as "the Mardi Gras Jesus" because the statue's outstretched hands are supposedly reaching for throws! And now life imitates, well, imitation: a 100-acre theme park called Jazzland is under construction only a few miles out of town.

And yet for all the tawdriness and commercialization, one cannot help falling under the city's spell. It is a foreign country within American borders, not merely a multilingual hodgepodge like Miami or New York, but a true Creole society blended through centuries. It is Old South in style, New South in ambition. It has a natural beauty that refutes even the most frivolous of franchised structures, a tradition of craftsmanship and even luxury that demands aesthetic scrutiny and surrender, and a flair for almost exquisite silliness -- like those Jackson Square psychics with their Pier 1 Imports turbans -- that keeps all New Orleanians young. Fine arts, fashionable cuisine, voodoo, vampires, and Mardi Gras. It's all muddled up, sometimes enchanting, sometimes infuriating.

We hope to help you find the real New Orleans, the old and gracious one, that is just now in the shadow of the Big Too-Easy. We want to open your heart, not your wallet. We think you should leave Bourbon Street behind and visit City Park, one of the finest and most wide-ranging public facilities in the United States. We want you to see Longue Vue House as well as St. Louis Cemetery. We'd like you to admire not only the townhouses of Royal Street and the mansions of St. Charles but the warehouses and row houses of the Arts District -- the combined Greenwich Village and TriBeCa of New Orleans. We hope you'll walk Chartres Street in the evening shade, watch the mighty Mississippi churn contemptuously past the man-made barriers, and smell the chicory, whiskey, and pungent swamp water all mixed together the way Andy Jackson and Jean Lafitte might have the night before the great battle.

So get ready, get set, go. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Meet the Author

EVE ZIBART is a native of Nashville who began her career as a reporter at age 17 at The Tennessean in Nashville. She moved to Washington, and the Washington Post, in 1977 and has served as critic, editor, and columnist at various times for the newspaper’s “Style,” “Weekend,” “TV,” “Metro,” and “Magazine” sections. For the past decade, she has roamed Washington’s restaurants, carryouts, bars, and nightclubs, with the occasional foray into museums and legitimate theater. In addition to her Post columns, Eve has written or cowritten eight books and regularly appears in a variety of lifestyle magazines. In spite of God’s repeated physical admonishments, Eve continues to play a variety of sports, split her own firewood, and haul rocks into what she hopes will become a Japanese garden within her lifetime.

TOM FITZMORRIS has written a weekly restaurant review column in New Orleans for more than 30 years. He is also the host of the daily three-hour Food Show on WSMB radio, and he publishes the New Orleans Menu Daily at www.nomenu.com. He has written 20 dining guides and cookbooks about the New Orleans food scene. Tom was born on Mardi Gras.

WILL COVIELLO is the arts and entertainment editor for Gambit Weekly in New Orleans. He has covered entertainment, arts, culture, and news for various local and national publications. He came to New Orleans for Mardi Gras in 1992 and never left.

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The Unofficial Guide to New Orleans 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Chelsea1980 More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful guide to anyone that will be visiting New Orleans. I am from Louisiana and travel there regularly and the book represents the area well. Not totally up to date being it was last edited in early 2009 but still a wonderful resource. I love the whole unofficial guide series. I have purchased one for every vacation destination I have been on and will continue to do so in the future. :)