You will never forget your first visit to New Orleans. Even if all you do are the most touristy things, like a paddlewheel cruise on the Mississippi River, jazz brunch at Court of the Two Sisters, Hurricanes around the dueling pianos at Pat O’Brien’s, a night on Bourbon Street— even if you do only the most touristy things, like you come for three days for a convention, your first time in New Orleans is an initiation ceremony.
New Orleans is like no place else. A baby learns to walk by taking baby steps. We have all once had a pair of baby shoes.
I’ll give you a piece of advice if this is your first visit to New Orleans. Don’t stay at La Belle Esplanade unless you really want to. I don’t blame for really wanting to. La Belle Esplanade has been ranked the #2 place to stay in the United States for good reasons. Savvy and sophisticated travelers from around the world know why, and so do regular Joes and Janes. Even coal miners in Wyoming know, I am proud to say. People from Tuscaloosa, too. Salt of the earth.
If you think you’ll be happy getting drunk on Bourbon Street, taking the hop-on/hop-off bus, and doing all the things I have already mentioned, you should stay in the French Quarter. La Belle Esplanade may not be for you. If your first question is how far are we from the French Quarter, my answer is that it is probably too far for you. If you ask how far the French Quarter is from La Belle, the answer is that we are close to the Quarter but in the part of the city where people choose to live. If you want to visit New Orleans like you live here, La Belle Esplanade is for you. Good memories are made on our street every day.
The French Quarter is both less than a mile from our front door and it is a world away. Everything in New Orleans is goodness.
Here is another piece of advice if you really, really want to stay at La Belle Esplanade for your first visit to this wonderful city we call home: Stay for at least a week. If you want to learn what it means to fall in love with the real New Orleans, you will need to feel the rhythm of a week. No one ever says their visit to New Orleans is too long. It is always too short because the longer you are here, the more you will discover to explore. To really get into a New Orleans state of mind, it takes awhile to get your sea legs. New Orleans is a city like no place else.
There are new words, new customs, new concepts, a new compass, and a new attitude toward life that all need to be learned, if not mastered, before a person really gets New Orleans. New Orleans really is like no place else. There is no other way to say it. Once the shock of New Orleans’ magic wears off, the city’s magic seems commonplace. What does that say about what it is like to live here? There aren’t many places where magic is commonplace. La Belle Esplanade is one of those places.
If this is your second visit to New Orleans and on your first visit you stayed at the Hilton Riverside, went to the casino, and danced the night away at Mulate’s, La Belle Esplanade is advanced placement. La Belle Esplanade is here for you. Welcome to the real New Orleans, a place that is similar to what you think you know about New Orleans only it is much, much better.