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New Orleans tours and excursions

New Orleans tours

Swamp tours

The bayou is part of the Louisiana charm and a swamp tour is a must. Most are done on the Northshore, on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain. Dr Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tours in Slidell probes the Honey Island cypress swamp. A resident naturalist is available to answer wildlife questions about the flora, fauna and various reptiles that frequent the swamp. Or, head 29km (18 miles) south of New Orleans to Barataria Preserve (www.nps.gov/jela/barataria-preserve.htm).

Tel: +1 985 641 1769.
Website: http://www.honeyislandswamp.com

Boat tours

New Orleans Paddlewheels operates several boat tours, departing from the Aquarium of the Americas Dock, South Peters Street. The Cajun Queen Riverboat runs 90-minute harbour cruises, while the Creole Queen Paddlewheeler runs a Battlefield Cruise to the spot where Andrew Jackson defeated the British. In the evening, the Creole Queen offers a two-hour dinner and jazz cruise, with or without dinner.

 

Tel: +1 504 529 4567.
Website: http://www.creolequeen.com

New Orleans excursions

Lafayette

About 200km (130 miles) west along I-10 from New Orleans is Lafayette, the gateway to the Cajun country. The Acadian Cultural Center traces the origins and culture of the Cajun people, who relocated from Nova Scotia, Canada, to the Mississippi Delta in the 18th century, as well as other cultures of the region. There are several attractive Cajun towns and plantations north of Lafayette on the Cajun prairie. The town is also a good base from which to explore the swamps and bayous of the Atchafalaya basin.

Tel: +1 337 232 0789.
Website: http://www.nps.gov/jela

Oak Alley Plantation

No fewer than 28 ancient oak trees line the entranceway of this stately, pre-war plantation home. When completed in 1839, the Greek revival-styled, 10-room mansion was considered a modest plantation home. The grounds and home are so picturesque, that they have been the setting for scenes from such films as Primary Colors, The Long Hot Summer and Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte. The site grounds also have a bed and breakfast, gift shop and restaurant. Oak Alley Plantation is open daily 0900-1630 and admission is charged. It's situated 97km (60 miles) east of New Orleans.

Tel: +1 225 265 2151.
Website: http://www.oakalleyplantation.com

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Hampton Inn

Formerly a 1903 'skyscraper' office building, the Hampton Inn is just two blocks from the French Quarter. Every Monday to Thursday 1730-1900, the lavish lobby is the scene for the complimentary manager's reception. Rooms are large and comfortable with high-speed Internet and king-size or two double beds. The hotel also has a gym, concierge, coffee shop and parking for a fee, along with access to Spa Atlantis, directly across the street. The daily hot breakfast buffet is included.

La Quinta Inn and Suites Downtown

This hotel has great facilities for bargain prices, such as guestrooms with either king-size or two double beds and large bathrooms, and some have microwaves. In-room business facilities include data ports, oversized desks, free high-speed Internet access and local calls. Add to that, cocktail lounge, business centre, a heated pool, and fitness centre, plus a free breakfast. The location is convenient for the French Quarter, Superdome, downtown, and the convention center.

Dauphine Orleans Hotel

This unassuming building on a quiet stretch of the French Quarter is recorded back as far as 1775, almost to the city's own beginnings. A former bordello site, the hotel now has 111 modern rooms and a host of old, atmospheric cottages. The pool and courtyard are nicely secluded and the hotel bar, May Baily's Place, also harks back to those hedonistic times.

Grenoble House

Set in a renovated French Quarter property just a block from the action on Bourbon Street, Grenoble House provides modern suites with old-timey touches, such as exposed brick fireplaces, hardwood floors and crown molding. Full kitchens make for ease if you want to eat in, though the fabulous restaurants of New Orleans will always beckon. The central courtyard has a sparkling swimming pool and is a welcome respite from the heat.

Omni Riverfront Hotel

This historic former rice mill in the Warehouse District looks across at the mighty Mississippi River. Plantation shutters and exposed brickwork give the property its character, as well as up-to-date touches such as high-speed internet and ergonomic desks. There's also a restaurant, bar and fitness centre.

Hotel Monteleone

One of the classic New Orleans luxury hotels, the Monteleone has been wowing visitors since 1886. Rooms are decked out with plush curtains, high-thread-count sheets and large flat-screen TVs. The lobby is suitably grand, and the Carousel Bar is something of a local haunt for cocktails and people watching.