The French Quarter

The French Quarter remains the largest tourist destination in New Orleans.  In many respects it IS New Orleans - at least to those who have never seen the city before in person, or those who are visiting for the very first time.  Trust your Set of Drifters - there is more to NOLA than just the Quarter, and we’ll reveal much of it below.  Still, we’ll have to agree that there is no more perfect place to first sink your teeth into than the "Vieux Carré.”  One short walk down any of its quaint cobblestone streets, and you’ll instantly be hooked.

A joint effort of the National Park Service (and some pretty strict city planning codes), the French Quarter remains a great example of well-planned preservation of the past, even hundreds of years after its original inception.  Your first impression will no doubt focus on the unique mélange of historical architecture that works in tandem with a wide variety of detailed ornamentation and evocative landscaping.  Top it all off with some impressive cast-ironwork, and the end result is almost imaginary, likened to Disneyland (but perhaps with a little more booze and debauchery).  In fact, there’s a rumor that on one of his visits to the French Quarter, Walt Disney himself decided he wanted to purchase it lock, stock and barrel!  When he was turned down by the government, Disney switched gears, building the popular “New Orleans Square” inside Disneyland instead.

Founded by its mother country of France back in 1718, the Vieux Carré was originally developed into a military-style grid consisting of 78 squares.  Today, the neighborhood remains much the same, measuring only .66 square miles from top to bottom and edge to edge!  It’s this exact concentration that keeps the area so special, and protected from the outside "modern world.” 

But it’s not just the French who laid their mark on the land that retains it provincial name.  The Spanish moved in during the latter part of the 1700s, and due to a string of mischievous fires that destroyed much of what the French had built, what endures today is mostly Spanish (or Creole) in nature.  Set of Drifters tip:  Look out for tiled signage embedded into the corners of many buildings.  These showcase Spanish alternates for street names that have since reverted back to their original French monikers.

After changing hands back and forth from French to Spanish rule, New Orleans eventually became part of the United States as part of 1803’s Louisiana Purchase.  From this point on until well after the Civil War, New Orleans’ French Quarter was known to be one of the most lavish and coveted American cities in which to live.  But with that opulence also came crime, courtesy of keel-boat riding thieves, pirates and prostitutes, and later in the 1900s, gangsters! 

In 1936, Louisiana State set up the "Vieux Carré Commission" to preserve the unique character of the original French Quarter grid.  Art galleries and antique stores quickly followed, and along Bourbon Street, nightclubs, bars and, yes, even strip-joints soon became the mainstay.  These days, Bourbon Street is highly commercialized, and often tedious.  We tend to enjoy the quieter end of the street where the infamous Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, the oldest bar in New Orleans, is still located.  (See "sips" for more information.)  But don’t let the virtual insanity of Bourbon prevent you from making a trip here.  It can be avoided mostly… if that’s what you want.  Trust us, wander down Bourbon after a huge Saints victory - and just try not to catch the spirit!

The heart of the French Quarter is undeniably Jackson Square, the original “county seat” of government for over 150 years!  From the steps of picturesque St. Louis Cathedral, everything within the French Quarter is easily walkable within an afternoon, but trust us, you will want to spend more than a few days enjoying the charms confined within.  Set of Drifters tip:  It would behoove you to check the current calendar to see what events are occurring in New Orleans.  The city plays host to a wide variety of conventions and annual events, and their impact on the French Quarter is not to be underestimated.  Let's put it this way, if you want relaxation, the weeks surrounding Mardi Gras are not gonna work for you!  (See “essentials” for more tips on the best times of the year to visit NOLA and the French Quarter.)
  Set of Drifters video:  Check out our YouTube channel for video from this event!

French Quarter - bordered by the Mississippi River to the south and North Rampart Street eight blocks inland; from Canal Street on the west to Esplanade Avenue 12 blocks to the east 

Esplanade Avenue into the
Faubourg Marigny

As visitors to New Orleans will soon realize, there's so much more to the city than just the French Quarter - though you do not have to wander too far from it to experience some of these gems.  On our October 2003 visit, we ventured to the nearby Faubourg Marigny district for the very first time.  Walking down Esplanade Avenue, your gateway to the Marigny, we were quickly astounded by sumptuous landscaping that enveloped some rather grandiose, albeit decaying, mansions. 

Esplanade (locally rhyming with "lemonade") grew out from the Quarter in the 19th Century, a portage road that led goods from the Mississippi River up to the bayous, and eventually Lake Pontchartrain.  Once referred to as "Millionaire's Row," today the street feels a bit more "real" when compared to the idyllic tree-hugged avenues inside the “Garden District” (see below).  While both locations feature gorgeous examples of southern mansion architecture, the edifices on Esplanade seem to be more user-friendly, and maintained by sociable residents with far less pretense.  These locals probably hit up Buffa’s every now and again.  The restaurant and lounge is one of the oldest in the neighborhood, and dubbed “your new favorite place” by its proprietors.  The few times we’ve visited, the small bar is always crammed with regulars from near and far.  A supplemental dining room may be hard to find from the entrance, but once discovered, is home to standard Cajun dishes like red beans and rice and bratwurst jambalaya, served within an effortlessly retro vibe.  We never miss a stroll down Esplanade, if only to catch up on the restoration progress of some of our favorite homes.  (Set of Drifters tip:  Check out that manse on the 800 block of Esplanade at Bourbon!)

But in order to really feel the flavor of the French Quarter’s neighboring hood, it’s time to head deeper into the Marigny.  Your first introduction will undoubtedly be Frenchman Street, a densely back few blocks of bars, eateries and jazz clubs that attracts an equal mix of in-the-know travelers and locals.  See “live music in NOLA” below, and “goodies” for more details of this burgeoning New Orleans hot-spot!

Further afoot northeast from Frenchmen, amenities within the triangular-shaped Maringy (also known as the 7th Ward) may get a bit more sparse, but the vibe that much more interesting.  Any leisurely stroll down side streets like Kerlerec, Music, Pauger and Burgundy will whisk you past numerous Creole cottages, elaborately-painted Victorian shotguns and other structures that, after the 1984 World’s Fair, became refuge for residents priced out of the Vieux Carré.

Named as one of 2009’s “Top 10 Great Neighborhoods” by the American Planning Association, the Marigny is in an ever-evolving state of flux, partly due to wind damage sustained by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.  On subsequent trips since, we have seen a number of businesses shutter, only to reopen stronger as entirely new entities.  And while larger chains are trying to muscle their way in, local hipsters are striving to keep their community an arty melting pot devoted to the visual and performing arts.  (See “hipster watering holes” in “sips” for more information.)

We recommend continuing your stroll past Elysian Fields Avenue (designed to mimic the famous Champs-Élysées in Paris) all the way up to St. Claude.  From here, turn right and keep walking past cherished local event spaces like the All-Ways and Shadowbox theaters.  (The latter is one of our most photographed buildings in New Orleans, thanks in part to a cool retro pharmacy sign that has recently been refurbished).  You may also want to check out the recently renovated New Orleans Healing Center and nearby Cafe Istanbul for all your New Agey/ Performance Art needs!

Looking for a great thrift store?  Try Conrad's Shop, also on St. Claude.  This place is cluttered (in a good way) with so many unique items, that you’ll need to carve out at least a half an hour to sift through it all.  We loved Conrad’s collection of original artwork almost as much as their vintage New Orleans matchbooks.  As long as you can handle a little dust and cobwebs, this place is a must.  Make sure to say “hello” to the friendly and vivacious staff for us!

Esplanade Avenue - from North Peters Street (at the river) to North Rampart

Buffa’s Bar & Restaurant - 1001 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, LA  70116, (504) 949-0038,

Faubourg Marigny - bordered by North Rampart/ St. Claude Avenue to the north and the Mississippi River to the south, from Esplanade Avenue on the west to Franklin Avenue on the east 

Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association Walking Tour (held each November) -

AllWays Lounge & Theater - 2240 St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans, LA  70117, (504) 218-5778,

Shadowbox Theatre - 2400 St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans, LA  70117, (504) 298-8676,

New Orleans Healing Center - 2372 St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans, LA  70117, (504) 940-1130,

Cafe Istanbul - 2372 St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans, LA  70117, (504) 975-0286,

Conrad's Shop - 2436 St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans, LA  70117, (504) 948-4262

Garden District/ New Orleans Streetcar/ Magazine Street

If you’ve already walked the French Quarter up, down and sideways (for the third time), it may wise for you to step further out into New Orleans.  You see, while the French and Spanish Creoles (descendants of early settlers) remained protective of their Vieux Carré homes once Louisiana became a state in 1803, well-to-do Americans set up residence further afoot in what would eventually become the “Garden District” during the 1830s and 40s.

Located just down the Mississippi, New Orleans’ Garden District is arguably just as well preserved at the French Quarter (at a higher sea level, it avoids most hurricane flooding), even if the vibe is decidedly different.  Here stately homes, many of them former plantations, beam in brightly-colored facades that poke out from oak-lined side streets.  The neighborhood has been attracting celebrities for decades.  (These days, luminaries such as John Goodman, Sandra Bullock, Nicholas Cage and a number of local sports heroes all have homes here.)  But it’s not just dazzling array of Double Gallery, American Townhouse and Colonial Revival manses that makes the “Garden District” worth a stop.  Its lifeline is Magazine Street, a long and curving thoroughfare that serves needs both basic and fanciful.  Here, upscale antique and design shops cozy up next to funky thrift and music resale outlets.  A hipster contingent further brings in a healthy dose of street art, bars and some pretty cool restaurants.  We list some of our favorites below, though imagine you find plenty of others during your afternoon stroll here.

So, we know what you’re about to ask now...  How do we get to the Garden District?  By historic streetcar of course!  (Come on, we’re afraid “A Taxicab Named Desire" just doesn’t cut it.)  Fun and functional, and at a nominal price of only $1.25 USD, you can take the St. Charles Avenue streetcar from the edge of the French Quarter, through the artsy Warehouse District, and all the way “uptown” to the garden neighborhood.  The voyage takes about 25 minutes in total, and really helps to give first-timers the lay of the land beyond the French Quarter.  (Set of Drifters tip:  On our most recent visit in October 2012, the streetcar was undergoing renovations and we were forced to ride a bus instead.  Don’t let this deter you from riding a streetcar if you happen to see one during your trip.  The New Orleans fleet is still in great shape, even though its origins date all the way back to the mid-1800s!  Your "Set of Drifters" sees this as a great example of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality.)

Hop off around Louisiana or Toledano to start your weaving walk through the neighborhood.  The magnificent homes south of St. Charles will immediately start to scream "Old South" in one breath, and "we're showing off" in the next.  (We actually love it when owners exhibit pride in their homes by either leaving front windows or doors wide open so that anyone passing by can see inside their finery; this seems to happen a lot in New Orleans.)

As you wander, you just may spot Belfort Mansion, the home those impetuous kids from MTV’s The Real World resided in back in 2000.  (The address is 2618 St. Charles Avenue.)  Or perhaps, you’re likely to stumble upon the Victorian-era home that portrayed little Benjamin Buttons’ abode in the Brat Pitt movie of the same name.  (It’s at 2707 Coliseum Street).  Interested in seeing which other homes belong to whom?  You’re in luck.  There are a variety of walking tours available through the neighborhood, many of them focusing on the architecture and history of the landscape.  Some include a stop-off at the historic above-ground Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, located on Washington Street between Coliseum and Prytania (see more below in "Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1").  We feel the neighborhood is entirely enjoyable on your own, but if you are stoked to see the cemetery, plan ahead.  It’s often gated shut, and you won’t want to miss a ramble through its spooky, yet tranquil atmosphere.

Eventually, you wind up at Magazine Street. You can head either way to sample the gaggle of design shops and vintage clothing, furniture and antique stores! You could spend hours in the Magazine Antique Mall alone, though make sure to save time for Funky Monkey and its collection of quirky customized tees as well as Queork's innovative cork goodies for wear - and the home.  While mainstream grub is available for hipsters of all shapes and sizes, our new favorite spot is the Red Dog Diner. (Hop on up to the backroom bar for a pint or two to rest those weary feet.)

Returning to the Quarter, you’ll need to head back up to St. Charles to catch the streetcar back.  (Washington Avenue is a nice thoroughfare to do so.)  Be sure to look up into those majestic oak trees.  You’ll spot loads of Mardi Gras beads left over from years past.  St. Charles is one the largest parade routes of the celebration.

Garden District - bordered by St. Charles Avenue to the north and Magazine Street    to the south, from Toledano Street on the west to 1st Street on the east

New Orleans RTA Streetcar information -

Organized Garden District Tour courtesy of Historic New Orleans Tours -

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 - 1400 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, LA  70115, (504) 525-3377,

Magazine Antique Mall - 3017 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA  70115, (504) 896-9994

Funky Monkey - 3127 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA  70115, (504) 899-5587,

Queork - 3005 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA  70115, (504) 388-6803,

Red Dog Diner - 3122 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA  70115, (504) 934-3333,

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

Even though it's located right in the middle of the French Quarter, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is one of those "off-the-beaten-track" kind of places. Sure, a colorful display of vintage "show bowl" glass urns gracing the shopfront's windows will quickly mesmerize you. But even after countless trips up and down Chartres, we had never bothered to stop in and see what lay behind the moth-eaten curtains.

That abstinence finally ended on a recent visit to NOLA in October of 2012 when we finally put two-and-two together: a museum devoted to the history of 18th- 19th century pharmacology - housed inside the aging apothecary of America's first licensed pharmacist? We’re so there!

Carving out our visit ahead of time (the museum has some rather odd hours), we arrived shortly before 10:30 AM on a Tuesday. We were quickly greeted by a steampunk seated behind the antique cash register who appeared to have lost himself inside a thick Victorian-era spellbook! We paid the dandy gentleman a nominal admission fee and took some of his literature to help navigate us through the two-story space now listed on the National Register of Historic Places! (Though the square footage of exhibit space is not that large, the museum’s showcase is extensive, and entirely interesting. Plan on spending at least an hour or more inside to really feel the pulse.)

The first floor, the former storefront of Louis J. Dufilho, Jr., and the first United States-sanctioned apothecary, is rammed to the pufferfish gills of Voodoo syrups, perfume and tincture bottles, bizarre patents for questionable medical practices and tonics - even a soda fountain, used at one point to mask alcohol for childrens' medicines during the prohibition era! We loved checking out the inhumane surgical instruments (leeches anyone?), and learning how opium was once used in tampons to treat symptoms of female hysteria! At times funny - and at others stomach-cringing, this collection is sure to raise questions of morality - and your eyebrows - time and time again!

Dufilho’s original living quarters, examination and sick rooms await you on the second floor. (Be careful on that rickety old staircase.)  Aside from some really cool antique artifacts (eyeglasses, posters, mortar & pestle combos, etc.), the most interesting exhibit upstairs was a cadre of “excavated bottles” featuring the wild and, more often than not, fraudulent liniments and potions proffered by “respectable” witch doctors that roamed the land selling “cure-alls” to the poor, uneducated masses. Tsk-tsk-tsk.

Don’t forget to step outside into the lovely 19th century courtyard out back. This quaint setting can be yours for wedding receptions or other special events. And this is exactly why we love New Orleans so much:  the causal notion of hosting one of your most special days inside old pharmacy full of macabre torture devices and liniments! Yes, in NOLA, there's always something new (old) to discover!

The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum's operating hours may vary, so check signage on the door at the beginning of your stay to make plans to visit during your trip. On our last visit, the museum posted hours from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is CLOSED Sunday and Monday.
Admission is $5 USD for adults and $4 USD for students and seniors; children under 6 are FREE. Set of Drifters tip:  Look for guided tours at no additional cost! We stumbled back to the museum in the fall of 2017 and caught Owen's extraordinary rundown of the collection's hidden secrets 'n stories at 1PM. DO NOT MISS IT! 

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum - 514 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA  70130,    (504) 565-8027

Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1

While it’s probably the very first place you’ll spot as you enter the Vieux Carré on your taxi ride from Louis Armstrong International Airport, Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 is certainly an unsettling place.  Dubbed one of New Orleans’ “cities of the dead,” the above-ground final resting place appears a jumbled mess of crumbling brick, decaying plaster, fallen statuary - and weeds!  But it didn’t necessarily start out that way.

Originally open for "business" in 1789 after devastating fire forced city planners to reorganize New Orleans, Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 was set up just outside the Quarter (along St. Louis and Basin Streets) to combat a number of unpleasant disease outbreaks blamed on the city’s “deceased.”  You see, due to the Crescent City’s less-than-desirable underground water table, dead bodies had a bad habit of popping out from their soggy subterranean coffins following a simple rainstorm!  Yikes. 

A solution to the problem involved selecting a plot of land that adjoined a canal (which helped drain excess water), and then using it to build a series of one, two, sometimes even four-story crypts from the ground up.  The 1800s saw Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 collecting a treasure trove of New Orleans residents, both common and noteworthy.  Divided into sections to accommodate Catholics and non-Catholics (as well as people of color both free and enslaved), the cemetery soon became “home” to everyone from wealthy landowners and politicians to soldiers lost in the Battle of New Orleans.  (Notable to us on our visits in 2003 and 2007 was the inclusion of Creole plantation owner Bernard de Marigny, who upon his bankruptcy, sold his property ownings to make way for the now-groovy Faubourg Marigny neighborhood (see above).

But of all the cemetery’s many residents laid out within the complex maze of alleyways and, ahem, dead-ends, perhaps the most notorious is none other than "Voodoo Queen" Marie Laveau herself.  Controversial in life - her “reign of power” not only forever infused Voodoo with New Orleans, but also bankrolled brothels that influenced city government - she is perhaps even more controversial in death!  Passing her High Priestess status over to her daughter at some point in her life (no one is really sure when), Voodoo Mambo “Marie Laveau” appeared to live on within the Vieux Carré for much longer than any mortal possibly could.  But when she finally died, and was placed in the family tomb of her common-law second husband (Christopher Glapion), historians began to wonder, was this actually Marie Laveau, or Marie Laveau II?

For tourists visiting Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, it appears not to matter.  Markings scratched into stucco, and unusual offerings of beads, money and more, are often left in homage of Laveau, or in hopes that her spirit will grant some personal wish.  But are these expressions true representations of Voudoun, or simply the result of hubris provided by New Orleans tour operators and/ or sellers of state lottery tickets?  One thing’s for sure.  Get caught scratching and “X” on the side of the Glapion family’s tomb, and you’ll get fined!  (Check out Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo in “goodies” and “the best time to visit NOLA” in “essentials” for more information on Marie Laveau and Voodoo’s entrenchment within the city.) 

Over the decades, new development cut the size of Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 in half!  Nearby “Storyville,” New Orleans’ fabled “red light district,” succumbed to political pressure in the 1930s and gave way to the Iberville Projects.  Yes, the times - they were-a-changing, and with them, Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1.  When the area north of Rampart fell into a state of disarray and crime in the 1960s, the cemetery soon garnered a reputation so sketchy that it attracted cult filmmakers Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda to stage part of counterculture classic Easy Rider here in 1969.  (The Archdiocese of New Orleans has since banned filming at the cemetery, save for films and documentaries that place the location in historical context.)

These days, though a few new burials take place here each year, Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 is arguably more of an “attraction” than a “resting place” for souls.  That being said, the non-profit organization  "Save Our Cemeteries" is working hard to keep the evocative site, and others like it, safe and secure for centuries to come.  (Some of their projects include securing a statewide trust fund and legislation to preserve historical cemeteries, collecting and recording tombstone information for genealogical purposes, and on-going surveying, repairs and stabilization of existing structures.)  You can help out their efforts by taking one of their tours.  Save Our Cemeteries offers expeditions of New Orleans’ oldest surviving cemetery daily at 10:00 AM.  Departing from the Basin Street Visitors Center (501 Basin Street), visitors should expect to learn the backstories, and dark tales of debauchery, lived by many of the city’s most famous “dead residents.”  Tour prices are $20 USD for adults while children under 12 are FREE.  (The tour lasts about one hour, making this “city of the dead” much more manageable than similar locales in Buenos Aires or Paris.)

Set of Drifters tip:  Book directly from their website and check the calendar.  Most Fridays and Saturdays include a second tour at 1:00 PM.  Furthermore, if you find yourself “Uptown” in the lush Garden District (see above), Save Our Cemeteries offers a similar tour of the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 Monday through Saturday at 10:30 AM.  (Ticket prices are $15 USD for adults.)  Though this location is similarly “historic” - home to many soldiers of the Civil War, and a location in Anne Rice's beloved Vampire Chronicles series - it has been preserved much better than Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, and therefore, may be a better option for those with mobility issues. 

Saint Louis Cemetery Number 1 - 425 Basin Street, New Orleans, LA  70112, (504) 483-2064

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 - 1400 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, LA  70130, (504) 658-3781

Save Our Cemeteries -

meet the Cajuns (both human and gator) in a real Louisiana swamp! (Barataria)

Any stroll through NOLA’s distinctive French Quarter has the capability of taking you far away from what you previously perceived to be “American.” And yet, even when rooted in an assemblage of French, Spanish and Acadian flourishes, the essence of it all is still very Louisianan.

Now, if you’re anything like us, after a couple of days soaking in NOLA's inherent charm, you might find yourself jonesing for further immersion into the “southern way of life.” An intriguing, and expressly revealing, way of doing just that is to leave the urban arena altogether and head on out onto a bayou instead. (For all you city-folk out there, a “bayou” is an inlet off a waterway that ends, much like a cul de sac, at a swampy piece of marshland.) 

Okay, we know what you're thinking...  Aren't the "Set of Drifters" supposed to be showing us things that are off the beaten path? What's with the "ghost tour," the "plantation tour," and now, a “swamp tour?" True, normally we would not endorse so many back-to-back tourist-based experiences, yet here in New Orleans, the activities on tap are so unique, and characteristic of their surrounding region, that it’d be a shame to miss them. Set of Drifters tip:  If visiting for only a long weekend, we prescribe just one of these tour selections, saving the others for subsequent visits to New Orleans. (Trust us, once you get a taste, you’ll definitely be back for seconds!)

Most "swamp tours" can be arranged from your hotel concierge, or via a number of tourist outfits located on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. If you are in town for only a short while, make sure to plan ahead and reserve a spot as they often fill up. During our December 2008 jaunt with friends from Arizona, we went with Louisiana Tour Company, an outfit that whisks guests out of the Vieux Carré via a shuttle ride to backswamps of Barataria. From here, you have two choices: either a relaxing trip on a covered 60-person pontoon, or a more adventuresome emprise aboard a high-speed "airboat."  (Wow, it's just like that Disney film The Rescuers!) Requiring a bit more comfort to calm our then-current hangovers, we chose the slow-going route, a nice option even if you just need some deceleration from stresses back home. (Note: On a subsequent visit in 2017, we went the noisier airboat route with Airboat Adventures. May we recommend keeping those noise-cancelling headphones on - selfies be damned!)

While at first glance, the ecology of a “traditional” Louisiana bayou seems pretty quiet and nondescript, lurking in those moss-laden bogs - beyond tall cypress trees and Native American burial mounds - is a surprising variety of wildlife.  Think egrets, snakes, turtles, and yes, even alligators!  Since tour operators cannot necessarily promise glimpses of the latter, they often bring on-board taxidermied gator jaws (and even entire heads) for people to “pet” just in case!  Luckily for us, a couple of alligators were "sunning themselves" on the hazy winter day our barge rolled by.  But with the ferocious creatures barely moving a single scale, we were left to wonder if we hadn’t actually boarded Disneyland’s “Jungle Cruise!"  (This possibility was negated once we realized our guide, who spoke some serious Cajun pidgin, had not a single corny joke to spare!) 

For those of you who need a bit more “wild” in their life, your pontoon host will most likely have another rarity on board for you - in the form of a little baby alligator!  Feel free to coddle the little guy - he won't bite you!  He’s used to humans projecting their superiority over him on a daily basis.  (This is one photo you’ll want to post on Instagram right away!)

The Louisiana Tour Company, and other suppliers like it, will most likely have a number of different tour packages that you can customize to your liking.  LTC charges $49 USD for the regular boat swamp tour, and $90 USD for the airboat experience.  Children 4-12 years old are $25 USD for the regular swamp tour, and are not allowed on the airboats.  These prices should include pick-up and drop-off at your hotel.  Set of Drifters tip:  Remember, your shuttle is going to pick-up and drop-off a bunch of other tourists at various hotels throughout the city - not just inside the French Quarter - so expect to spend at least five hours from door to door.  (If you have your own wheels available, you can pay about $20 USD less by driving to the dock on your own.  This option will also save you some time... that is if you can navigate through the twisty turns of the bayou roads!  A GPS is most certainly required!)

Louisiana Tour Company - 9706 Barataria Boulevard, Marrero, LA  70072, (504) 689-3599,

Airboat Adventures - 5145 Fleming Park Road, Lafitte, LA  70067, (504) 689-2005,

We also recommend:

Stroll through Bywater historic neighborhood and Crescent Park - 1008 N Peters Street, New Orleans, LA  70117, (504) 522-2621,