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AAA/Lisa Hendren

New Orleans in 3 DaysThree days is barely enough time to get to know any major destination. But AAA travel editors suggest these activities to make the most of your short vacation in New Orleans.

Day 1: Morning Join locals, sidewalk buskers and tourists like yourself for breakfast at Café Du Monde . The historic, open-air coffee stand across from Jackson Square serves chicory coffee and sugar-dusted beignets along with a delicious side order of people watching.

AAA/Photo submitted by Maria White
From the café, walk up the adjacent steps to the top of the levee and survey the sweeping bend of Ol' Man River. You'll understand why New Orleans is called the Crescent City. If you're in the mood for shopping, head to Jax Brewery, which overlooks the river; the Pontalba Buildings on Jackson Square; or the many curio, clothing, candy, souvenir and specialty shops you'll encounter as you make your way along Decatur Street to the French Market District . Royal Street's art and antique shops are not to be missed.

Day 1: AfternoonLearn how to cook some of the city's signature Creole and Cajun dishes at the New Orleans School of Cooking . At the end of the 2.5-hour demonstration you'll enjoy lunch-size portions of the chef's creations, which might include gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, bread pudding and pralines.

KameleonMedia/iStockphoto.com
After class, climb aboard a horse-drawn carriage for a leisurely tour of the Quarter (actually, the carriage is likely to be pulled by a mule these days instead of a horse). The rides are great things for couples to do, and they depart from the Decatur Street side of Jackson Square. The drivers are well-versed in local history and provide a running commentary to go along with the clip-clop of the animal's hooves. This is a great way to view the Quarter's intricate architecture, hidden courtyards and lacy iron balconies and scope out nearby restaurants or shops you might want to return to.

Day 1: EveningBrooke Holt/AAA
Take the family on a dinner cruise. Both the Creole Queen and the New Orleans Steamboat Company 's Steamboat Natchez are good places to eat, and they offer a full evening of entertainment with live jazz music, elaborate buffets and spectacular views of the city. Reduced rates for children bolster the appeal of this family outing.

Day 2: MorningSeveral restaurants offer a lively jazz brunch buffet on weekends with plenty of Cajun and Creole specialties; consider Arnaud's in the French Quarter or Palace Café on Canal Street. Brunch with music is a daily event at The Court of Two Sisters , which has one of the largest dining courtyards in the French Quarter.

Day 2: AfternoonIf you've never been to Mardi Gras, a visit to Mardi Gras World is in order. At its location on the East Bank, the warehouse and working studio showcases spectacular floats and props while providing background on the event that draws thousands to the city each year. Learn more about the Mardi Gras mystique through exhibits at The Presbytère .

Day 2: EveningDine early at the Gumbo Shop on St. Peter Street, and then mosey down the block to Pat O' Brien's for a potent Hurricane cocktail. Finish up before 8 and line up next door at Preservation Hall for a set or two of jazz. Within a two-block area you will have sampled New Orleans' signature food, drink and music.

Day 3: MorningCatch the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar at Canal and Carondelet streets and ride through New Orleans's historic neighborhoods—the Garden District, Uptown, the university section and Carrollton. You can't beat the $2.50 round-trip fare for this sightseeing experience.

Day 3: AfternoonDo take a tour of New Orleans' old cemeteries. Don't go alone. Guided tours of several “Cities of the Dead” are offered by Historic New Orleans Tours and Haunted History Tours .

Day 3: EveningSave the best for last. Treat yourself to a fine-dining experience at Commander's Palace , in the Garden District.

vxla / flickr / CC BY
After your meal, pay a visit to Harrah's New Orleans Casino and test your luck on the slots or roulette, baccarat, blackjack, poker or craps. Then travel back to the French Quarter and make one last stop at a bar for a nightcap.

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New Orleans, LA

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Travel Information

City Population

343,829

Elevation

11 ft.

Sales Tax

Louisiana's statewide sales tax is 5 percent; an additional 5 percent is levied in the New Orleans metro area, and Orleans Parish has a .5 percent tax on food and beverages. The city has a 14 percent lodging tax, plus an occupancy tax of $1-$3 per night. The state's car rental tax is 3 percent.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(504) 821-2222

Fire (non-emergency)

(504) 658-4700

Time and Temperature

(318) 324-8808

Hospitals

Ochsner Medical Center, (504) 842-3000; Touro Infirmary, (504) 897-7011; Tulane Medical Center, (504) 988-5263; University Medical Center New Orleans, (504) 702-3000.

Visitor Information

1221 Elmwood Park Blvd. Suite 411 New Orleans, LA 70123. Phone:(504)731-7083 or (877)572-7474

Air Travel

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is about 21 miles west of downtown New Orleans in Kenner and is served by nearly all major domestic and foreign carriers.

Rental Cars

New Orleans is served by several major car rental agencies. Arrangements should be made before you leave on your trip. Your local AAA club can provide this service or additional information. Hertz, (504) 568-1645 or (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.

Rail Service

Amtrak uses the Union Passenger Terminal at 1001 Loyola Ave. Daily service is offered. Phone (800) 872-7245 for further information.

Buses

The Greyhound Lines Inc. bus terminal is at 1001 Loyola Ave.; phone (504) 525-6075 or (800) 231-2222 for schedule and fares.

Taxis

Cabs are plentiful in the main business and tourist areas. Average fare is $3.50 initially and $2.40 for each additional mile and $1 for each additional person. The largest companies are Carriage/Yellow/Checker, (504) 207-7777; Metry, (504) 835-4242; and United, (504) 522-9771. Information about taxi service also can be obtained from the Taxicab & For Hire Bureau at (504) 658-7176.

Public Transportation

Transportation by bus, streetcar and ferry is available in New Orleans.

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