A perception many people have is that Hurricane Katrina in 2005 totally destroyed New Orleans. Far from reality! Those people have not seen the place since the disaster. The scenic French Quarter was spared. In fact if you go there today, you likely will see no evidence the city sustained any damage.
Most people never go to the lower 9th ward, where the breached levys flooded many homes. Yes, there probably are people living in FEMA trailers, somewhere. But you won't see them in the tourist spots. Not to downplay the tragedy, more than 1,000 people died here, but the place bounced back quickly. They're still serving up beverages on world-famous Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. It is one of the few places in America where you can watch the real-life version of "Girls Gone Wild". And it doesn't even have to be Mardi Gras.
Even if you're not into the bars, gambling, and sex shops, you will still see some colorful, French architecture. This sets New Orleans apart from most U.S. cities, as many often look the same. The French Quarter of New Orleans has a unique flair with wrought iron balconies, aged brick facades, and colorful, painted shutters. Multi-colored creole cottages line the streets in the north part of the French Quarter. Down by river, you can stroll the Riverwalk and take photos of paddleboats, electric trolleys and the Mississippi River Bridge.
If your looking for a treasure to take home, shop the high-end antique shops on Royal Street. New Orleans is also an artist haven, and there is no shortage of colorful, whimsical artwork. If you are traveling with children, a good place to take them is the Aquarium of the Americas and IMAX theatre, located at the Riverwalk.