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New Orleans: Highlights of the French Quarter

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Conveniently located within walking distance or a very short cab ride from several dozen New Orleans hotels, the French Quarter offers a world of choices to keep an entire family busy during an lengthy visit to the Big Easy. Of course, there's so much to see and do outside the French Quarter, but if your mission is to visit some of the top attractions within the area called the Vieux Carre by many locals, read on for a list of things to see and do in the French Quarter.

Shop at the French Market

Start the day with coffee and beignets at Café du Monde, across Decatur Street from Jackson Square. From there, you may want to visit some of the shops down Decatur on your way to the French Market. This outdoor market is filled both with vendors selling vegetables, fruits and all types of food to the typical touristy kind of vendors, with sunglasses, jewelry, belts and T-shirts. Enjoy the antique shopping on both Chartres and Royal streets as you work your way back toward Canal Street. This is the heart of antique shopping in New Orleans, and Royal Street has been named the top street for antique shops in America by the Travel Channel.

Try the Muffaletta for Lunch

Getting close to lunchtime? Well, there are about 300 different restaurants to choose from in the French Quarter. Central Grocery on Decatur is famous for its muffaletta, a mountain of a sandwich filled high with salami, cheese, ham and other meats and then topped off with an olive salad that provides the unique taste. Get a recommendation from your hotel, depending on your tastes - seafood, po-boys or something a little fancier.

After lunch, you can hit the Aquarium of the Americas - a favorite with the kids and adults as well. One of the best stocked aquariums in the country, don't miss the huge Gulf of Mexico shark tank, the penguin collection or the fish petting station. If you have kids, a walk down Bourbon Street can be fun. The "adult" businesses aren't in swing until it gets dark. During the day, Bourbon is mostly about its T-shirt and souvenir shops, along with the live music that can be heard nearly 24 hours a day from a handful of clubs.

Choose from 300 French Quarter Restaurants 

For dinner, get some suggestions based on what you want to pay and whether you want to dress up or stay casual. A couple of great choices include Galatoire's on Bourbon Street (get the oysters Rockefeller appetizer); Louis XVI Restaurant on Bienville Street or try the char grilled oysters at Drago's Restaurant, inside the Hilton Hotel at the base of Poydras Street.

After the dinner, the French Quarter is filled with some of the best live music in the entire country. Go to Storyville for jazz, R&B and some of the best local artists, One Eyed Jacks on Toulouse Street, as popular with locals as with tourists, and its huge performance hall or the local franchise of the House of Blues on Decatur Street. If you have the energy - and money - end your evening at New Orleans Harrah's Casino - technically just a block or two outside the French Quarter, but at that point, who will notice?

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