Experience the excitement, energy, food and parades of New Orleans during Mardi Gras season. See the floats before the big party, learn Creole cooking and visit one of the nation’s best gardens.
1 Arrive in New Orleans
Welcome to New Orleans, Louisiana, America’s jazz capital. Meet your Tour Manager in the hotel Lobby at 6:00 p.m. for a transfer to our welcome dinner and cooking demonstration at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Located in a renovated molasses warehouse in the heart of the French Quarter, you will learn the basics of Louisiana cooking from well-known local chefs. Creole/Cajun experts teach New Orleans specialties such as Gumbo, Jambalaya and Pralines, and season them with history, trivia and tall tales. You’ll be treated to a wide range of local classics and get to enjoy them in sumptuous feast. It’s a “ga-ron-teed” good time for all. After dinner, feel free to enjoy the French Quarter on your own.
2 New Orleans City Tour & National WWII Museum
We begin with a narrated tour of New Orleans. See the sights you’ve heard about for years such as the historic French Quarter, the beautiful Garden District, the colorful River Walk along the Mississippi and famous Bourbon Street. See New Orleans as the city prepares for the biggest celebration of the year, Mardi Gras, with its colorful costumes, parades and parties. In the afternoon we pay a visit to the National WWII Museum. Designated by Congress as the country’s official World War II Museum, this remarkable attraction illuminates the American experience during the WWII era.
Celebrate the American Spirit as you experience moving personal stories, historic artifacts and powerful interactive displays. From the Normandy invasion to the sands of Pacific Islands, the Museum salutes the optimism, courage and sacrifice of those who won the war and changed the world.
3 Mardi Gras World and Pre-Mardi Gras Parades
This morning learn what goes into the making of the Mardi Gras parade floats. Since 1947, the artists of Blaine Kern Studios have been bringing Mardi Gras to life, creating many of the parade floats, from concept through completion. The colors, the lights, the music, the “joie de vivre” is all in one magical place, Mardi Gras World.
You’ll get a behind the scenes look at the world’s largest fleet of carnival floats and see everything that goes into making Mardi Gras such an international phenomenon. Later, experience the fun and festivities of a Mardi Gras parade from reserved bleacher seats and cheer on the “Krewes” who sponsor the floats. Delight in their ornate costumes and royal courts and try to catch some of the gold, purple and green beads thrown at you from the floats. Be sure to sample King Cake, a traditional Mardi Gras treat!
Meals: B, D
4 Canjun Swamps & Mighty Oaks
Travel from New Orleans today and embark on a narrated journey through the Louisiana swamp to see the vast wetlands, exotic wildlife, brilliant flora and the king of the swamp,
Then, venture into “plantation country.” A stop at majestic Oak Alley Plantation, the impressive mansion whose twenty five acres of history and romance is dominated by the “alley” of 300-year-old live oak trees. Enjoy a tasty Mint Julep before coming to Laura Plantation. Step into the past as you explore the museum, visit the Big House and stand in an authentic 1840s slave cabin. Meal: B
5 Avery Island, Evangeline Oak and Jean Lafite
In the quaint town of St Martinville lives a love story so compelling that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow based his epic poem Evangeline. See the majestic “Evangeline Oak.” On Avery Island sits the TABASCO Pepper Sauce Factory. Known worldwide, TABASCO is one of the most popular sauces of its kind. Take a behind-the-scenes tour and have an on own lunch. Next stop at the Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center.
The center relates the story of the Acadians who settled Louisiana’s Mississippi delta and covers their history, customs, language and contemporary culture. Dinner is at Prejean’s Cajun Restaurant where the ambience is pure Cajun-French. Acadian relics line the walls and “Big Al” the fourteen foot alligator, stands in the middle of the dining room. Enjoy live Cajun music, great Cajun cuisine and great service all served up in a fun, casual atmosphere. Meals: B, D
6 Travel Home
After breakfast, a group transfer to the New Orleans Airport is available for flights out after
12:00 p.m. Meal: B