New Orleans

An hour's drive from Mint Julep Airpark, New Orleans rests in the crescent molded by the meandering, outward arc of the Mississippi.

Although she is a true Belle of the South, she is not pure Dixie, with her Franco-Spanish meld of cultures with long historical roots stemming from Europe and Africa. Her nicknames — the big Easy, the city that care forgot — describe her unique attitude, but natives eschew these epithets in much the same way that San Franciscans wince at the profane "Frisco" and Bostonians bristle at the obscene "Beantown." However she is called, she is a New World phenomeon with a very Old World lust for life.

Where else in the continental United States would you find a Mardi Gras on a scale with any you see abroad such as those you see in Rio and Sao Paulo? Where else is a funeral march led by a jazz band with such grace that it fits as naturally as rice and champagne at a wedding?

New Orleans stands so far apart from the American mainstream in her history, multiple ethnicities, language admixtures, architecture, food, music and quaint traditions, that she has become a mecca for the non-conformist looking for a place to escape the day-to-day. The sacred and the profane embrace in a multi-colored harmony that can only come from a place that has absorbed so much history and culture in the short three centuries she has risen out of the Delta mud to become the Queen of the South — Old and New — she is today.

Whether you celebrate Mardi Gras, meditate on Bourbon street jazz, devour King Cakes, ride the streetcars, sip cafe au lait and munch on beignets; whether you savor the florid decadence of the French Quarter, the earthly delights of gumbo, or just a steaming plate of red beans 'n rice — you'll be only an hour's drive from all that action!