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Five things to do in New Orleans

12/5/2011

Michigan is going to the Allstate Sugar Bowl and, obviously, you’re making the trip.

But ... you’ve never been to New Orleans. You’ve only seen shots of the Louisiana Superdome on television, watched some Treme and seen cutaway scenes of Bourbon Street.

New Orleans is a fun, vibrant city that demands your attention and is worth exploring. Here are a few suggestions on things to do.

Eat at Jacques-Imo’s

New Orleans is known for its food, and Jacques-Imo’s (8324 Oak Street), might be the best restaurant in the entire city. A Creole/Cajun joint, at least one local recommended the alligator sausage cheesecake, but not after you had the carpetbagger steak. Reservations can be made, but only for parties of five or more. Otherwise, it is first-come, first-served and while you might wait, it’ll be worth it. While you do wait, you can pop next door to the Maple Leaf Bar, which should have live music every night you’re down there. If you like live music, make sure you go there and you won’t be disappointd. If you go Tuesday after the Sugar Bowl ends, you might get a chance to see the Rebirth Brass Band, featured on the HBO show "Treme."

Get a Hurricane

Yes, this is the cliche stop, but any trip to New Orleans isn’t complete without a stop at Pat O’Brien’s on Bourbon Street to order a Hurricane. It might taste like Kool-Aid, but beware, it packs a powerful punch. While you’re at Pat O’Brien’s, might as well pop inside -- the most well-known part of the place is outside surrounded by a fountain -- and listen to the dueling pianos play. Don’t spend too much time there, though, because there’s a lot in New Orleans to see.

Get breakfast at Cafe Du Monde and lunch at Mother’s

Like coffee? Can’t go wrong at Cafe Du Monde, which first opened in 1862. It’s a small menu, but the coffee is magnificent. So, too, are the beignets -- french-style doughnuts. There are multiple New Orleans locations, but start your day at the one in the French Market (800 Decatur Street), which is open 24 hours. If you’re staying in the French Quarter, take some time after you digest your morning coffee and beignet and head to Mother’s, which boasts the World’s Best Baked Ham. Mother’s first opened in 1938 and besides the ham, the restaurant is known for its po’boys. The best is the Famous Ferdi, which has some of that ham as well as debris.

Visit the World War II Museum

History buff? Need a break from the binging and gorging? Go to the National WWII Museum (945 Magazine Street). It costs $19 for admission, but the website says it’ll take around three hours to take in the entire museum. Perfect way to spend an afternoon and add some knowledge to your trip. During your trip, there will be a special exhibit on Dec. 7, 1941 -- the day of the Pearl Harbor attack -- as well as an art project featuring more than 100 life-sized busts of World War II veterans.

Check out the Garden District

A little bit away from the French Quarter, take a peek at the Garden District, which is the home to Tulane University and many historic homes and mansions from the late 19th Century. Walking tours are available and if you need a break from the bustle of Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, this is a good spot to stretch your legs and see homes that are hundreds of years old.

Have other suggestions? Throw them below. We here at WolverineNation will have more travel hints and tips for New Orleans as the Sugar Bowl gets closer.