New Orleans
A funky itinerary to go with the new bargain fares

From the April 22, 2002 Issue of New York

Now that discount carrier JetBlue has started flying to the Big Easy, a quick visit should top anyone's destination list, and the best time to be there is when nobody else is. Forget Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest -- when the city is a mosh pit of tourists -- and avoid the eternal frat party in the French Quarter. Instead, mellow out with the locals in the Lower Garden District, which Trent Reznor calls home. Stay at Saint Vincent's Guest House, a converted orphanage with wraparound porches (perfect for late-night bourbon sipping) and requisite wrought-iron lattice. Across the street is Rue de la Course, an oaky, Ella Fitzgerald–playing coffee institution for drifty hipsters. For good grub, head to Café Atchafalaya and order a Pimm's Cup and anything with the word fritter in it (most entrées are under $12). But the real point of New Orleans is, of course, the music, so pick up a copy of Gambit Weekly to see who's playing where. Chances are, you'll wind up at the Mermaid Lounge to hear retro funk, or at the Circle Bar, a slick but cozy watering hole with a great R&B jukebox. R. L. Burnside has been known to show up for impromptu gigs here. Order your new friends a round of Pabst Blue Ribbon in cans; they're only a buck each.

JetBlue (from $187 round-trip, 800-jetblue); St. Vincent's Guest House (from $59; 504-523-3411 or; Rue de la Course (504-529-1455); Café Atchafalaya (504-891-5271); Mermaid Lounge (504-524-4747); Circle Bar (504-588-2616).