New Orleans - Food, Jazz & Nature in the Big Easy

Tennessee Williams once opined “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans.” Referred to as the Big Easy, New Orleans is a dish of a city in many respects. It rests below the water level of the Mississippi, a veritable bowl, filled with a stew of cultural influences with a bouquet of creativity. It is a dish to be tasted, taken in through the ears in the form of punctuated jazz notes; through the nose in the textured essence of its Cajun and Creole cuisine, and through the eyes in the form of its wonderful nature reserves, innovative Audubon Zoo and Aquarium, and the balmy patina of the French Quarter. In any respect, it is a dish to be relished!

Degree of Difficulty - Two Paws

Slightly Active. May involve some walking and climbing.

Weather Reports - When To Go

Having a subtropical climate, New Orleans is very pleasant during the Spring and Fall and very hot and humid during the summers. The winters are cool, but daily averages are generally in the low 60’s. Our program is offered year-round, but the ideal times to visit would be October through April.

Day 1 NEW ORLEANS/FRENCH QUARTER

Land at Louis Armstrong International Airport where you will be met and then escorted to your hotel. Later in the afternoon make your way to the lobby and meet your guide who will take you on a walking tour of the historic French Quarter. Experience the subdued beauty of one of the Quarter’s cemeteries. Here, many crypts are styled to resemble miniature cathedrals or churches, with pediments adorned with crosses, creating a miniature city that stretches out in long silent rows. This evening’s welcome dinner at Bon Ton Café affords you the opportunity to savor the distinctive cuisine of New Orleans such as Gumbo, Etouffe and turtle soup. WYNDHAM FRENCH QUARTER. (D)

Days 2/3 AUDUBON ZOO/AUDUBON AQUARIUM OF THE AMERICAS

Amble your way to a New Orleans landmark, the historic Audubon Zoo, located amid the serenity of lush gardens. Consistently ranked as one of the country’s top Zoos, it is home to 350 species of animals from around the globe. Be sure to view the innovative Jaguar Jungle, a Mayan themed exhibit that features animal species particular to Latin America. Move on to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and visit with Buck and Emma, the Aquarium’s beloved sea otters and see the Aquarium’s own Mayan themed exhibit highlighting life in a coral reef. Tonight become further steeped into the rich culture of the Big Easy when you make your way to the New Orleans School of Cooking, where you will julienne and sauté your way through a delicious meal. Enjoy the spoils of your efforts afterward, when you sit down with fellow travelers to imbibe your Southern creations. WYNDHAM FRENCH QUARTER (B,D)

Day 3 LAFITTE SWAMPS/BAYOU BOUEF BAY

Today you will journey by boat through Lafitte Swamps, the heart of southern Louisiana’s swamplands. The 20,000-acre Jean Lafitte National Park, the largest wetland National Park in the United States, encompasses fragile ecosystems which have remained relatively unchanged for centuries. The area offers some of the most spectacular scenery of all the Louisiana swamps and bottom lands. Discover the beauty of cypress trees rising from the water and the sweet smell of wild azaleas in the air. Visit the Barataria Preserve for a self-guided walk along the boardwalk and dirt trails that lead through the preserve, and enjoy a picnic lunch under the giant cypress trees. Then board a boat for a tour of the Lafitte Swamps. Your Cajun swamp boat guide will point out turtles, snakes, nutrias, herons, owls, egrets and alligators. Return to New Orleans where tonight you have the freedom to saunter through the French Quarter and enjoy an evening repast at an establishment of your choosing. WYNDHAM FRENCH QUARTER (B,L)

Day 4 GARDEN DISTRICT/NEW ORLEANS JAZZ NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

Embark on an exclusive sightseeing tour of the Garden District. Stroll down banquettes (sidewalks) and pass by convents and hidden gardens, as well as the residence of Anne Rice, author of Interview with a Vampire, while the smell of chicory and cooking beignets hang in the air. In the Afternoon, return to the French Quarter for lunch and afterward take a tour of Mardi Gras World where you can watch as floats are being built, don some of the festival’s finery and sample a piece of the iconic King Cake. Travel on to the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park and explore the origins, development and progression of New Orleans Jazz. Educational activities come in the form of guided Ranger tours of sites significant to jazz history, live performances at the Old Mint and French Market, and musical lectures that demonstrate the various influences contributing to the development of jazz. This evening you are at liberty to explore the city’s languorous boulevards on your own. WYNDHAM FRENCH QUARTER (B,L)

Day 5 OAK ALLEY PLANTATION

Take leave of the city and repair to the bucolic confines of the historic Oak Alley Plantation, located on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Progress to the classic Greek-revival style antebellum home whose approach is lined with a double row of 28 live oaks, some believed to be nearly 300 years old. Built in 1834, the house is named Bon Sejour (Good Stay). Tonight, take to the river aboard the steam boat Natchez and navigate your way through a delicious farewell dinner to the taste of authentic Cajun cuisine and the sounds of sweet jazz. WYNDHAM FRENCH QUARTER (B, D)

Day 6 NEW ORLEANS/DEPART

A last café au lait this morning, before it’s time to say adieu to New Orleans and fly home. (B)

OPTIONAL ‘BLUES ’ EXTENSION TO VICKSBURG & MEMPHIS

Discover the soul of the South as you travel the Blues Highway from Vicksburg to Memphis. Experience the Vicksburg National Military Park and view Mississippi Blues Trail markers commemorating blues greats like Willie Dixon. Take the legendary Highway 61, the Blues Highway, to its junction with Highway 49 in Clarksdale, where blues icon Robert Johnson is thought to have sold his soul to the Devil and where you will find the Delta Blues Museum and delicious BBQ at Abe’s. Mosey up the road to Memphis where southern musical tradition is kept alive at the Center for Southern Folklore and Sun Studios then visit Graceland. Explore the world-class Memphis Zoo, one of four US Zoos to feature the giant panda, before getting down on Beale Street.

YOUR JOURNEY INCLUDES:

  • Accommodations throughout as indicated, or similar.
  • American breakfast daily; all other meals as indicated.
  • The tour is lead at all times by an experienced driver/guide. In addition, local guides will join the group as specified.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Transportation in 15-passenger Ford minibus. A maximum of 9 passengers will be accommodated per minibus.
  • All park and admission fees.
  • All applicable hotel gratuities and taxes.
  • Complimentary baggage tags and passport wallet.
Prices starting at $3,595. For further booking, date, and pricing info please contact info@classicescapes.

Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.