Best Places to Visit in USA – Part 6

San Diego

Consistently sunny weather and 70 miles of magnificent coastline are what draw active types and sun seekers alike to San Diego throughout the year: that and the mouthwatering Mexican cuisine, thriving nightlife and one of the country’s favorite zoos. And then there are the beaches: Retreat to Mission Beach to catch a wave, to La Jolla to soak up the sun and to Coronado for a leisurely seaside stroll. When you’re ready to ditch your flip-flops and board shorts for more formal attire, you’ll find pockets of vivacious nightlife throughout, especially near the historical Gaslamp Quarter.


In terms of winter wonderland status, few destinations can compare to Aspen. This scenic mountain town is straight out of a snow globe, featuring picturesque mountain chalets hugged by the soaring Colorado Rockies. Of course, the main draw here is skiing and there are four premier ski areas nearby that cater to powder hounds of all levels. But there’s more to Aspen than winter sports: With high-end shopping, fascinating museums, funky galleries and fun festivals, it might be a struggle to make it to the slopes. No matter how you choose to spend your time here, it will be a vacation you’ll never forget.

For several decades now, this village has been the diamond in the Roaring Fork Valley, and we’re not just talking figuratively. This small ski town has long been a respite for the rich and famous, with high-end resorts like The Little Nell and Viceroy Snowmass luring celebs with the promise of luxurious privacy. But don’t let the possibility of sticker shock keep you away; instead, you can offset the high cost of deluxe lodging by simply enjoying your surroundings. Some of Aspen’s most popular sites – like Maroon Bells – come to us from Mother Earth, who doesn’t charge admirers a cent.

New Orleans

New Orleans is known for its European-style architecture, mouth-watering Creole cuisine and all-around good-time vibes. And as its backbone is music: Jazz, blues, rock ‘n’ roll and Zydeco tunes ooze from every city crevice. But for many, the main reason to visit is Mardi Gras, an over-the-top party with Carnival traits, such as masks, music, floats and merriment. Even if you don’t make it to Mardi Gras, you’ll still find a party year-round, with revelers pouring out of Bourbon Street clubs until the wee hours of the morning and a festival of some sort almost every weekend.

Despite past environmental disasters – namely the BP oil spill, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Isaac – New Orleans continues to thrive. Over the past several years, major efforts have been made to restore the distinct districts. Today, the Crescent City looks almost as good as new. So start your visit with a walking tour through the French Quarter, where colonial heritage and ghost lore still survives. From here, you can explore the major architectural sites before enjoying a hearty plate of jambalaya and a rowdy evening out.

More in Part 7.

(Information from US News & World Reports)


Endymion, a figure from Greek mythology, was a mortal granted eternal youth by Zeus, at the request of the Moon Goddess who loved him for his beauty. It is also the name of New Orleans Carnival’s largest parade with 3,100 riders and 37 floats.

Endymion is one of three Super Krewes, and with more than 3,000 riders it is by far the largest parade with the largest crowds in Mardi Gras! Endymion features 37 floats. Many are tandem units with up to nine sections, meaning Endymion rolls on over 80 chassis! The motto of the Krewe is “Throw ’til it Hurts” and it is estimated that they toss over 15 million throws along the parade route!

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The Endymion parade begins on Orleans Avenue with Samedi Gras which may well be the world’s largest block party! More than 30,000 Mid-City residents gather with food, beverages, friends and family to welcome us and help kick off Mardi Gras’ Main Event!

The first Endymion parade rolled on February 4, 1967 in the Gentilly neighborhood near the New Orleans Fair Grounds horse racing facility. The parade remained on its original route until 1975, when it was shifted to its now traditional Mid-City route, rolling from Orleans Avenue to North Carrollton Avenue to Canal Street and into the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Endymion was briefly on the Uptown parade route but returned to Mid-City in 2008 and is the only remaining parade in the New Orleans city limits which does not use the New Orleans Uptown route.

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Endymion rolls on the Mid City route and features several signature floats.  Our newest float, Club Endymion is a tribute to our home – the Mercedes Benz Superdome. The ETV float beams live crowd shots on a gigantic 20’ x 9’ LED screen. And Pontchartrain Beach, Then and Now is the largest float in Mardi Gras at over 300 feet long with over 250 riders and nine sections!

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Endymion is the only parade that rides to and through the Mercedes Benz Superdome where the Endymion Extravaganza is held and what a party it is! After the gigantic floats, Endymion continues the tradition of providing the finest entertainment in Mardi Gras. Past performers include Steven Tyler, Pitbull, Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5 and many, many others! Eleven regional and national bands entertain 20,000+ until 3:30 am!

Samedi Gras

Some have called it the world’s largest block party and they are probably right!

Fifty one years ago Endymion needed some help generating a crowd at the beginning of the parade route.  The Captain booked a free show with a few local bands on a stage to kick the parade off and things took off from there!

Beginning at noon on parade day, Samedi Gras draws 30,000+ from Mid-City neighborhoods to help kick off Endymion.  Don’t miss area favorites such as Groovy 7, The Topcats and The Bucktown All Stars.

The Captain and riding celebrities arrive around 3pm to address the crowds and the Endymion Parade begins shortly after around 4:15pm.

Its motto, “Throw Until It Hurts”, defines a tradition of being extremely generous with its throws, tossing millions of beads, cups, doubloons and trinkets during its annual parade, held the Saturday before Mardi Gras.

Unlike many other Carnival Krewes, Endymion announces the season theme months prior to Mardi Gras. The 2019 Parade theme is Wonder Tales of Science Fiction. Endymion is a parade like no other!

(Information from and



Early in 1968, the Krewe of Bacchus broke with Carnival tradition by staging a Sunday night parade with bigger and more spectacular floats than anything previously seen in Carnival. They then decided to have a national celebrity king lead the parade, breaking ranks with 113 years of Carnival tradition. Founded by Owen “Pip” Brennan Jr, Bacchus set out to be the most innovative and imitate Krewe of the Century.

Now, with more than 1,600 members and 31 animated super-floats, the Krewe of Bacchus is revered as one of the most spectacular krewes in Carnival history. Some of the parade’s super floats include the Bacchagator, Bacchasaurus, Bacchaneer, Kong Family, and Baccha-Whoppa. The Krewe of Bacchus holds its parade on the Sunday before Mardi Gras Day, drawing crowds of several hundred thousands every year. After travelling through the streets of New Orleans with its massive floats, marching bands, and ceremonial escort groups it ends up inside the Convention Center for their black-tie Rendezvous party of over 9,000 guests from all over the country.

Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, has been portrayed by celebrities including Bob Hope, Charlton Heston, William Shatner, Kirk Douglas, Dick Clark, Will Ferrell, Anthony Mackie, Hugh Laurie, Drew Brees and JK Simmons, just to name a few.

History of Bacchus

The original Krewe of Bacchus was the brainchild of Owen Edward Brennan, Sr., a true visionary.  Brennan, owner of the Absinthe House, a famous bar on Bourbon Street, and later founder of Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street, was also the father of the first Captain of The Krewe of Bacchus, Owen “Pip” Brennan, Jr.

In the late 1940’s, Brennan realized that a large segment of his clientele was seasonally unhappy-namely tourists to the Mardi Gras. At that time, Carnival balls at Mardi Gras were predominately closed to anyone outside of New Orleans’ society circles.

So, In 1949, Brennan decided to spend an enormous amount of money, buck the entrenched New Orleans Society, and revolutionize the Mardi Gras. He did so by creating a brand new Krewe, called the Krewe of Bacchus, wide open to tourists.

Brennan staged two Bacchus Carnival balls, one in 1949 and the other in 1950 before his death in 1955.  Regrettably, he did not live to see his idea develop into a new and lasting form.

Fast forward to 1968. For years, Carnival in New Orleans had been losing its luster slowly but surely. There was a lot of talk around town about what should be done to give a spark to the celebration.

Early in 1968, Owen “Pip” Brennan, Jr., son of the late Brennan, held a meeting at Brennan’s Restaurant to address this problem. What emerged was a rebirth of the vision his father conceived almost 20 years earlier: The Krewe of Bacchus.

It was decided that the Krewe of Bacchus would break with Carnival tradition by staging a Sunday night parade that would be the highlight of the Carnival season.  Its floats would be bigger and more spectacular than anything previously seen in Carnival. Furthermore, Bacchus decided to have a national celebrity king lead its parade, breaking ranks with 113 years of Carnival tradition.

On Sunday, February 16, 1969, the Krewe of Bacchus staged its first Mardi Gras parade. The theme was “The Best Things In Life”, and the procession was led by celebrity king Danny Kaye. The 250 member, 15 float entourage took to the streets of New Orleans showering thousands of spectators with over a million strings of beads and 300,000 doubloons. The new parade was a smashing success.

The Krewe of Bacchus had left a lasting mark on the City of New Orleans and had proven to be the boost that the Carnival season so desperately needed.

Now, with more than 1,500 members and 33 animated super-floats, the Krewe of Bacchus is revered as one of the most spectacular Krewes in Carnival history.

Pip Brennan served as Captain of The Krewe of Bacchus until 2014 and was succeeded by his son, Clark Brennan.  The Captain oversees each detail with great pride and meticulous perfection.  Like his grandfather and father, this third generation Brennan shares the same love of Mardi Gras and New Orleans.

New this year!

The 2019 parade theme will be “Starring Louisiana” – based on movies and television shows filmed in Louisiana, the Hollywood of the South. Signature throws will include a lighted clapperboard, lighted Bacchus Oscars, The Kong (a 64-ounce King Kong-size cup), a Baccchawhoppa whale hat featuring a fiber optic water spout, Bacchatality kitchen utensils including a supersized lighted spoon, and a number of throw-back toys including a puzzle cube and a view finder.

(Information from and


“Super Krewe” Balls

Some large parades produce an indoor extravaganza the night of their parade. While all balls are exciting events, Bacchus, Orpheus, and Endymion, the three “super krewes,” put on the best balls by far!

In Greek mythology, Bacchus is the god of wine and vegetation—and they host a celebration fitting of its namesake god. Mardi Gras balls were exclusive events closed off from most people outside of New Orleans society until this krewe revolutionized the event.

Early in 1968, the Krewe of Bacchus broke with Carnival tradition by staging a Sunday night parade with bigger and more spectacular floats than anything previously seen in Carnival. They then decided to have a national celebrity king lead the parade, breaking ranks with 113 years of Carnival tradition. Founded by Owen “Pip” Brennan Jr, The Krewe of Bacchus set out to be the most innovative and imitate Krewe of the Century. As they say, the first is the best because this event has become the talk of the town for tourists and locals alike!

Now, with more than 1,600 members and 31 animated super-floats, the Krewe of Bacchus is revered as one of the most spectacular krewes in Carnival history.  After travelling through the streets of New Orleans with its massive floats, marching bands, and ceremonial escort groups it ends up inside the New Orleans Convention Center for their black-tie Rendezvous party of over 9,000 guests from all over the country.

The largest of all krewes, including the “super krewes”, the Krewe of Endymion hosts an after parade extravaganza that rivals any event of its kind. Held in the Superdome, the Krewe of Endymion hosts top name performers for entertainment with tens of thousands in attendance.  

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The appropriately named Krewe of Orpheus puts on a black-tie affair full of music and merriment at the Convention Center. It was the first of the super krewes open to both men and women. The Lundi Gras spectacle is legendary for having top notch entertainment from some of the hottest superstars.

This is a wonderful way to experience Mardi Gras. Everyone dresses formally and enjoys the parade, entertainment, and food all night long.

(information obtained from

Mardi Gras 2019 Falls On Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Visitors, please note: Parades will begin in January. Check a Parade Schedule for specifics.

The most popular time to visit New Orleans is the extended weekend before Mardi Gras (so in 2019 that would be arriving no later than March 1 or 2 and staying through Ash Wednesday, March 6). Come then and you’ll be sure to catch the most popular parades, like Endymion, Bacchus, Zulu, Rex and all of the festive celebrations throughout the whole city.

Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” is the last day of the Carnival season as it always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Most visitors will plan to arrive no later than Saturday, March 2, 2019 in order to enjoy an extended weekend of festivities.

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SATURDAY Feb 9 2019

FRIDAY Feb 15 2019

SATURDAY Feb 16 2019

SUNDAY Feb 17 2019

FRIDAY Feb 22 2019

SATURDAY Feb 23 2019

SUNDAY Feb 24 2019

WEDNESDAY Feb 27 2019

THURSDAY Feb 28 2019

FRIDAY Mar 1 2019

SATURDAY Mar 2 2019

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SUNDAY Mar 3 2019

MONDAY Mar 4 2019

TUESDAY Mar 5 2019

Happy Mardi Gras!!!


Plan Your Meals Ahead

Restaurants on the parade route are usually full on the nights of the most popular parades and on Mardi Gras day, so make your plans early with those that accept reservations. If they don’t accept reservations, plan to wait a while to get a table, purchase food from a street vendor, or pack your own snacks and sandwiches. It will be a long day, so plan ahead. Also, bring wet wipes or tissues with you to clean up before and after eating. Your hands will get very dirty, and it won’t be easy to find a sink and soap. Public bathrooms are available, but they are crowded and not usually very clean.

Practice Ladder Safety

Ladders are a popular way for parents to ensure their kids a good view. Many people have built seats on the top of their ladders so their children can enjoy the parade. If you bring a ladder, it has to be at least six feet from the curb in the event that the ladder is knocked over.

Have A Meeting Place

Mardi Gras is huge. Thousands of people are on the street, and it is very easy to get separated. Make sure everyone knows where to meet in case anyone gets lost. Give your children notecards with your name, address, hotel phone numbers and a pre-arranged meeting place on them just in case. Instruct your children to go a police officer if they become lost. Don’t rely on mobile devices since service is not always guaranteed in large crowds; plus, phones die.

Do Not Take Your Children To The French Quarter During Mardi Gras

Although this is the area highlighted by the news media, it really has nothing to do with the big-picture Mardi Gras celebration. Those of us who grew up here loved to go to parades when we were children, and get excited when we have our own because it gives us a good excuse to go! Unfortunately, the media often presents Mardi Gras from the French Quarter angle, where no parades occur.

At this time of year, the French Quarter is simply an adult area where the risque’ behavior of many visitors is tolerated; i.e., revealing costumes and flashing for beads. You do NOT have to visit the French Quarter to enjoy Mardi Gras in New Orleans like us locals do.

Be Careful

If you visit the French Quarter at night during Mardi Gras, hide your wallets well. Even your front pocket isn’t safe. Wear shoes that can get dirty. Don’t wear expensive jewelry, and don’t carry a purse. Make sure you get a bathroom pass or wear your wristband if you’re staying in a French Quarter hotel.

With the rise of iPhones and other valuable smartphones, it’s important to be aware of theft. Phones are easily stolen from unsuspecting parade-goers while they walk and text. Keep your phone tucked away when possible.

Watch The Parades

The best part of the celebration takes place on the parade route, where you can watch the crowds and the floats pass by. You can also enjoy special packages put together by businesses along the parade route that offer food and a front-row spot for the passing parade. Or, enjoy celebrity entertainment parties after some of the biggest parades, which travel along beautiful St. Charles Avenue, where the parade first rolls.

No Risqué Behavior Elsewhere

You may see some people get carried away outside of the French Quarter, but this is not a good idea. The police will politely remind them that they are in a family area, and if they don’t stop, they can be arrested. You should also be careful: it is distracting to kids and some adults. We know a man very well who was hit in the head by a float when he stopped to take a picture of something he probably shouldn’t have! Remember, you can be arrested for flashing.

(Information from


Check The Weather Forecast

It can be very warm, or it can be very cold. Whether or not you decide to wear a costume, you will be outdoors so plan accordingly. Wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and layered clothing.

Catch Mardi Gras Throws

Enjoy jumping up to catch beads, doubloons, cups, stuffed animals, etc! Yell, “Throw me something, Mister!” at the float riders. Bring a large, sturdy plastic or cloth bag to hold all the treasure you’ll be catching. If you try to put all of your beads around your neck, you’ll have a hard time standing up straight. Be prepared: some people get so overcome with excitement they will occasionally jump in front of you to grab what a rider has thrown to you. Don’t get into a tug-o-war; there are many more floats on the way. Some visitors from far away hold up a sign saying where they are from: our local riders love to see that people are from out of town having a good time, and will throw to them to make sure they do.

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Don’t Reach Down To Pick Up Beads, Doubloons, Etc.

Don’t reach down to pick up beads, doubloons, etc. unless you are very careful. We guarantee your fingers will never be the same. Put your foot on it, and when it’s safe (between floats), you can bend down to pick it up. Everyone who grew up in this area knows how dangerous it can be. Kids just have to have those throws and they’re not thinking about the next float.

Do NOT Run Into The Street

Do not run into the street between floats for a trinket. Floats cannot stop on a dime, and accidents have occurred. Wanna get chased by a cop? Just jump over a barricade, get in a band’s way (or start marching with it), aggravate anyone in the marching units, or hang on a float. You are sure to be arrested.

Be Careful Near The Floats

You may decide to put your child on your shoulders so they can catch special throws from the costumed riders, but be careful. The crowds can swell forward suddenly and unexpectedly, making it easy to get knocked over. Make sure your children do not get too close to the floats when reaching for throws.

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Bring The Family

The city and suburban parades are for families, too (excluding the French Quarter). You can bring blankets and picnic baskets, and get there early to enjoy the day. As parade time nears, the crowd will gather everywhere, and you’ll have to put up the blanket and ice chest. Don’t be surprised if someone jumps on your stuff to reach a pair of beads.

More to come in Part 5.

(Information from


Plan Your Transportation

If you are driving in for the day from a suburban hotel, remember that the French Quarter during Mardi Gras weekend is closed to vehicular traffic. Only French Quarter residents and hotel guests with special parking passes can get by the police barricades. Off-site commercial parking lots are expensive and fill up fast, so get there early! Make sure you know how far away your hotel will be, and remember: taxicabs are more difficult to find at this time of year.

It is a good idea to get a map of the city and study the areas you’ll be visiting. New Orleans is a “checkerboard city” – safe neighborhoods can be within blocks of unsafe areas. Your hotel concierge or front desk can help you with route times, traffic and parking.

If you stay in an outlying hotel, don’t depend on them to supply you with transportation to the French Quarter or the parade routes. Although some have shuttles to New Orleans, they are often not in use during Mardi Gras season. Traffic during Carnival is unbelievably congested, and standard routes are often barricaded to redirect the traffic flow.

Even public transportation can be difficult – bus and streetcar routes/schedules often change during Carnival season, so plan ahead and make sure you know when and how to get there and back.

If you want to save yourself some walking, bring a bicycle. Bicycles provide a great means of transportation in areas where cars are not allowed or where parking is too difficult. Just be sure to be cautious when you get into the big crowds, and bring a chain to lock up your bike when you’re not using it.

Don’t Move Other People’s Stuff

If you get there too late, do not move unoccupied chairs or ladders along the parade route to claim a good spot; it isn’t an open space just because you can’t see anybody there. Families tend to congregate at the same place year after year, save their spots, and get to know their parade route neighbors pretty well. Somebody is watching that spot. If you move their chair or ladder, it won’t go unnoticed. Don’t worry, once the parade starts, there’s always a place for everyone.

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Respect The Police

These guys are overworked during Carnival. They are the world’s best at crowd control, and during Mardi Gras they have to be tolerant of usually-unacceptable behavior. Long shifts, parade duty, drunks, traffic accidents, lost kids, fights, rowdy crowds, nuisance complaints and a myriad of other incidents keep them busy 24 hours a day. If an officer tells you to do something, cooperate.

It’s okay to consume beer openly on the streets as long as it’s in a can or cup, but you can’t drink from glass or bottles. However, there is a drinking age and it is enforced.

Don’t be sassy or contrary. The police on duty have an efficient system for arresting, booking and carting people off to Central Lockup. It keeps them available for street duty, and it keeps the troublemakers out of the way.

Don’t get overly drunk, be obnoxious or behave irrationally in public; it is not amusing to police, and is a very easy way to get arrested. If anyone told you that’s what Mardi Gras is about, they were wrong and they missed out! Oh, and yes you can be arrested  for flashing and public urination as well.

Dress In Costume

It’s the one season of the year when you can dress up as anything imaginable. There are contests for costumes in every part of the city, and the crowd-watching is as much fun as the parades. Have that phone ready for picture taking. You’re going to want to share the creativity.

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Part 4 Coming Up!!

(Information from


Don’t Wait Until January To Start Planning Your Trip

Yes, that was touched on in Part 1, but it’s so important that it bears repeating. Waiting to make reservations usually isn’t a good idea if you have definitely decided to enjoy Mardi Gras in New Orleans. You might get lucky, but there is no guarantee. If you like to gamble and don’t want to reserve the minimum night stay required at most hotels, then you can wait and see if those hotels will relax their minimum night stay requirements if they have rooms that need to be filled. But there is no guarantee this will happen. You definitely don’t want to come to New Orleans looking for a room.

Know The New Parade Rules

The New Orleans City Council passed new Mardi Gras parade rules in early 2014. Be sure you know them before you head out to the parades to avoid tickets, and to avoid bringing a bunch of stuff that you’ll just have to move later. The new rules are as follows:

  1. There can be no ladders or other personal effects, like grills and coolers, closer than 6 feet to the curb.
  2. Parking on Napoleon and St. Charles will be prohibited on BOTH sides of the neutral ground, not just the parade side, starting 2 hours before the parade.
  3. There is now a ban on roping off territory via chairs, tarps, or anything else if you are in the public right of way. This includes neutral ground and
  4. There can be no private portable toilets in the neutral ground or other public property.
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Watch Out For Parking Tickets During Mardi Gras

Do not double-park or park in driveways, on neutral grounds (medians), in front of water hydrants, within 15 feet of curb corners, too far from the curb, or on the parade route within three hours of a parade. Your car will get towed away and/or you’ll receive a fine of Biblical proportions.

Get There Early

Parade routes can look empty, but the crowd size can swell fast within an hour or two of the parade, making that front-row spot four or five people deep. For the biggest parades rolling in the evenings on the weekend before Mardi Gras, plan to get there about four hours ahead of time to get yourself a great spot.

For the Sunday night Bacchus Parade, some parade watchers will get a spot (drum roll here) at 6:00 a.m. That Sunday, several afternoon parades also roll by as the crowds swell for one of the biggest parades of the season – Bacchus. One person can save a spot until other family members show up, so they can make another area parade taking place in Mid-City. All of this for a parade scheduled to roll at 6:00 p.m.

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Stay tuned for more in Part 3.

(Information from


Most of the Central Business District and French Quarter hotels require a four to five day minimum stay, and they steadily book blocks of rooms beginning in August. Make your reservations now!

Hotels are often solidly booked by December, so reserve ahead of time. Check out recommended hotels close to the action or Mardi Gras packages. If they are sold out, we also recommend the hotels that are listed on

Okay, so now it’s January, and you decide you want to visit New Orleans on Fat Tuesday. Should you even try? Yes! It is worth it, but just be prepared to spend a lot of time on the phone. Keep calling. Hotels have cancellations, and there are waiting lists. If you are persistent, you just may find a place somewhere.

And remember, the parades and festivities start well before Fat Tuesday! Hotels often have rooms available when the parades first begin. This is a great time to visit New Orleans if you want to see some parades and get a great Mardi Gras experience without all the crowds.

New Orleans Tips & Recommendations


It is a festive time in New Orleans. During the day, listen to jazz musicians as you shop the French Quarter, the Riverwalk and the Jax Brewery, or see the Aquarium. Check out for discount coupons for riverboat cruises, New Orleans attractions and restaurants. Before you know it, it’s time for a night parade.

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More Tips & Recommendations in Part 2

(Information from