Tribune file photo
November 24, 2006
Fat City offers the country's richest and most diverse musical smorgasbord. A trip to New Orleans is both a marathon and a sprint, in that music lovers need to run as fast as they can, for as long as they can, to try to keep pace with the thriving music scene. On some weekends — such as during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival each spring — the highly caffeinated listener can literally enjoy live music around the clock. New Orleans wears its legacy as "the birthplace of jazz" quite proudly. Walk down the streets, even amid the drunken frat boys swilling $1 hurricanes, and it's not hard to feel the presence of Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and all the other legends who once called Crescent City home.
TOP ATTRACTIONS: The party is always in full swing at Tipitina's, New Orleans' famously funky home for R&B, jam-rock and groove-oriented jazz; 501 Napoleon Ave., http://www.tipitinas.com, 504-895-8477. History buffs should catch a traditional New Orleans-style jazz show at Preservation Hall; 726 Saint Peter St., http://www.preservationhall.com, 504-522-2841.
WHEN TO GO: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which ranks as one of the nation's premier music events, features hundreds of acts performing over two extended weekends each spring (next held April 22-24 and April 28-May 1); http://www.nojazzfest.com. Those who want to avoid the crowds, however, should pick some other time to visit.
WHERE TO EAT: At Brennan's, order the "typical New Orleans breakfast," which consists of enough food to feed four for a week and is topped off with the best bananas Foster you'll likely ever taste; Brennan's Restaurant, 417 Royal St., http://www.brennansneworleans.com, 504-525-9711.
WHERE TO STAY: Don't spend a bundle on accommodations — you'll only be sleeping there. Near popular Bourbon Street, try the Holiday Inn Express French Quarter; 221 Cardondelet St., http://www.hiexpress.com, 504-962-0800.
(Above: All dressed up at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.)