Get out of the Quarter, get out of the Quarter, get out of the Quarter. Are we getting through to you? You can come back; you probably still have serious shopping (or eating, or drinking) to do. On Day 1 you stayed close to the French Quarter, but today you must begin to see what else New Orleans has to offer. We've constructed this tour so that the sights mentioned follow a logical geographic order, but if you have limited time, just take the streetcar/bus ride/tour, a short stroll through the Garden District, and visit the National World War II Museum. Start: St. Charles Streetcar line, Canal Street stop.
1. St. Charles Avenue Streetcar
Hop on the oldest continuously operating wooden streetcar in the country -- and that means no air-conditioning (or wheelchairs), so doing this in the cool of the morning is a good idea. Don't forget to have exact change. Admire the gorgeous homes along the way and remember which side of the car you rode on so that you can get on the other side for the ride back.
2. Take a Walking Tour of the Garden District
Aside from its historical significance and interest, this neighborhood, full of fabulous houses and lush greenery, is just plain beautiful. Contrast the plain exteriors of the "French" Quarter with these grand, ornamented "American district" spectacles.
3. Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
The "little cities of the dead" are part of the iconic landscape of New Orleans. (St. Louis No. 1 is older and has more historic graves, and you may consider going there instead, particularly with a guided tour so you won't miss some of the more significant tombs.) But this cemetery, which catered to the Uptown folks, is perhaps prettier, thanks to the foliage and the larger square footage. (Like many of the cemeteries, it is in great need of maintenance, and there are scant funds to do so.) Notice the tombs with French or German writing, and the four matching mausoleums in the far left corner, which belong to four boyhood friends (one a Civil War vet) who used to play together in that corner of the graveyard.
Take the St. Charles streetcar line to the end and transfer to the City Park streetcar line, which ends at the entrance to:
4. City Park
City Park is full of all sorts of sights, from the Spanish moss-draped giant live oaks to the New Orleans Museum of Art, to the Sculpture Garden, to pedal boats in the lake, to the kids' amusement park and Storybook Land. The lush Botanical Gardens include the Train Gardens, a sort of melted Dr. Seuss replica of the city in miniature, complete with model trains (not to mention enormous lily pads).
5. St. John's Bayou
Just outside the gates of City Park lies this former bustling canal turned scenic body of water. A stroll here is one of the lesser-known delights of the city. Stand outside the Pitot House and imagine owning one of the former plantation homes around here. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife, like herons, pelicans, nutria -- and kayakers.
6. Liuzza's by the Track or Parkway Bakery and Tavern
Head down Esplanade Avenue and turn left on Lopez to get some lunch at the popular Liuzza's by the Track. You'll find authentic local food -- excellent gumbo, wonderful po' boys, and large, well-constructed salads -- but it can get crowded at lunch. 1518 N. Lopez St. tel. 504/218-7888. Or stay put. Right off the Bayou, Parkway Bakery and Tavern has some of the best po' boys (and atmosphere) in town. 538 Hagan St. tel. 504/482-3047.
7. Walking Tour of Esplanade Avenue
Architecturally similar to the Garden District, the area includes at least one home with a French connection -- the birthplace of Impressionist Edgar Degas's mother and grandmother, and the only studio belonging to the former artist that is open to the public.
At the end of the tour, you can take any bus marked rampart back to the Quarter.
8. Sample the Nightlife
Once you've eaten, if you go to Mid City Lanes -- otherwise known as Rock 'n' Bowl -- you can bowl as well as listen to some zydeco and other local music. Or head to Tipitina's, or the Maple Leaf Bar, or to Frenchmen Street, paying special attention to the Spotted Cat and d.b.a. for more local music.