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French Quarter, New Orleans

New Orleans , Louisiana's insider take:

Evocative, romantic, and mysterious, the French Quarter (also known as the Vieux Carré) is the literal footprint of historic New Orleans. Hugging the high ground on the banks of the Mississippi, the Quarter is a mix of tourist schlock (bead shops and overpriced "Cajun-style" eateries) and historical treasures, such as cathedrals and centuries-old Creole restaurants. Weekenders tend to stay in the area, sipping café au lait and munching sugary beignets (flash-fried square donuts) at the perpetually packed Café du Monde (800 Decatur St.; 504-525-4544; or wandering Jackson Square (St. Peter St. at Decatur). Don't miss these standards, but also spend a few hours giving yourself over to the hidden treasures: art galleries on Royal Street, antiques shops on Chartres Street, or the quiet residential stoops away from the commotion of Bourbon Street. A good guideline for avoiding tourist traps: Go away from the light. Bright neon signs seem to attract sloshed frat boys like moths to a flame.

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