Geographically, New Orleans is one of the southernmost cities in the United States. Culturally, though, it’s more like the northernmost city in the Caribbean. Boisterous and colorful, this city is famously uninhibited, and offers a mélange of stimulation for all the senses.

As the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans offers some of America’s richest musical heritage. It was in the New Orleans streets that groups of African American musicians gathered to play a raucous, lively style of music composed mostly of improvisation and syncopated rhythms. Loud brass bands competed to play the fastest, most creative versions of traditional tunes, and these battles quickly increased in size and energy. Soon, the unique style of music had spread to Chicago and New York, where it would mix with local styles and evolve into soul, rock & roll, and hip-hop, as well as a variety of avant-garde styles. But the old style of New Orleans jazz is still found in its home city, and there’s no better place to go if you want to hear an authentic Dixieland jazz band.

After jazz, New Orleans’s most famous product is food. Thanks to the influence of French, African, Spanish, and American cultures, the city has its own unique culinary style unlike any other place on earth. Many of these foods are simple: local staples include red beans and rice, fresh shrimp from the Gulf, and scorching hot sauce. But you’ll also find various forms of gumbo, a West African soup made with rice, okra, roux, and a variety of local spices. Like the city itself, gumbo is highly distinctive and typically carries a serious kick.


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