You’re going to do it! You’re treating your hardworking students to a fabulously fun and absolutely educational three-day New Orleans holiday! You’ll hit up Big Easy highlights and hotspots, including the French Quarter’s charming open-air marketplaces, historic landmarks, and museums, visit the grave of New Orleans Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and explore eerily beautiful Louisiana swampland from aboard an airboat. You’ll enjoy two animal adventures in the spirit of John James Audubon, a jazzy riverboat dinner cruise, a shopping spree on the Mississippi River - and more! “Laissez les bons temps rouler” – Let the good times roll!
The first stop on your fabulous three-day holiday will be the French Quarter – “The Quarter” or “Vieux Carré” to locals - the oldest and most charming neighborhood in the city, happily situated on some of the highest ground in New Orleans. The entire district has been designated a national landmark, and French Quarter architecture is an earthy, romantic fusion of Spanish, French, Creole and American styles. This popular cultural hub tenders visitors a colorful and enchanting experience; tour its many beautiful homes, discover its delightfully flavorful cuisine, and wander the eclectic blocks of French Market. Browse the open-air artist colony of Jackson Square, enjoy a traditional treat of café au lait and beignets 24-7 at Café du Monde, pick up some yummy pralines at Aunt Sally’s and pop by World Famous N’awlins Café and Spice Emporium for a fine sampling of authentically prepared local dishes and hundreds of spice blends, condiments and mixes – be sure to take some home with you! P.S.: Unparalleled people-watching here, and if you’re visiting Café du Monde for the first time, it’s customary to blow the powdered sugar off a yummy beignet and make a wish!
St. Louis Cathedral
You and your group will definitely want photographs in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, one of New Orleans' most notable landmarks and the oldest Catholic Cathedral in continual use in the United States; New Orleanians have worshipped here since 1794. This venerable, triple-steeple building towers above its historic neighbors, the Cabildo and the Presbytere, gazing benevolently upon timeless Jackson Square and the architecturally significant Pontalba buildings with their romantic filigree ironwork galleries. Truly, this magnificent church is the heart of old New Orleans!
Cabildo State Museum
The Louisiana State Museum was founded in 1906; its considerable holdings - now totaling nearly half a million artifacts and works of art - include a complex of seven historically significant structures, the Cabildo among them. The Cabildo served as the seat of government during the Spanish Colonial Period, as the Louisiana Territorial Superior Court from 1803-1812, and the Louisiana Supreme Court from 1868-1910; the Louisiana Purchase was signed in the Sala Capitular, one of its three rooms. Today, it is a faithful agent in the presentation of the colorful history of New Orleans and Louisiana, with emphasis on that vibrant and uniquely cosmopolitan blend of cultures found nowhere else in the South. These influences are reflected across the Cabildo’s series of permanent and rotating exhibits comprised of more than 1000 artifacts and original artworks including “The Battle of New Orleans,” Eugene Louis Lami’s huge 1839 painting illustrating intricate details of the final and most decisive battle of the War of 1812.
Airboat Adventures-Swamp Tour
Rise and shine! Day Two of your New Orleans excursion begins with an exhilarating airboat tour through the South Louisiana bayous and swamps. Your capable captain gets you and your young explorers out onto a 20,000-acre tract of tidewater cypress swamp where you’ll experience a truly surreal, beautiful environment, unlike anything you’ve ever seen! As you zip through the swamp into the bayous lined with moss-draped cypress and tupelo gum trees, keep watchful, for you’re bound to spot a diverse variety of native wildlife, including alligators, ibis, snakes, turtles, owls, egrets, hawks and heron.
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
The adventure continues! You’re heading to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas for an absolutely incredible excursion featuring fascinating underwater worlds and exhilarating marine species encounters! Meet the delicate, graceful inhabitants of the Seahorse Gallery and learn how a Kreisel display tank protects delicate jellyfish. Touch a sleek stingray, feed oodles of chattering, colorful parakeets, and marvel at gigantic sharks, tarpon, and rays in the nearly half-million gallon Gulf of Mexico Exhibit. Sink into a submerged Mayan City swarming with exotic sea creatures and experience the awesome fury of 78mph winds in the Hurricane Simulator! You’ll run into sea turtles all throughout the Aquarium—as coordinator of the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program, Audubon prepares many of them for release back into the wild.
National World War II Museum
The National World War II Museum shares the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world in a way that guests of all ages will understand. The campus houses the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, showcasing large WWII artifacts and exhibits on D-Day at Normandy, the Home Front, and the Pacific; the Solomon Victory Theater, a 4D theater featuring Tom Hanks’ exclusive Beyond All Boundaries production; the John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion, where visitors may witness the careful restoration of vehicles, boats, military equipment, and other relevant artifacts; The American Sector Restaurant and Soda Shop, tendering plenty of tasty dining options and the U.S. Freedom Pavilion, where exhibits and interactive experiences illustrate a nation mobilized for war. You may even thumb through a collection of wartime yearbooks gathered from across our nation for a unique and touching perspective on how events of the day impacted high school students from all walks of life.
Outlet Collection at Riverwalk (Previously known as Riverwalk Marketplace)
Outlet Collection at Riverwalk is the premier retail attraction in New Orleans, located along the mighty Mississippi River in the heart of downtown and featuring more than 75 local and national retail shops serving up daily discounts of 25-65% - something for everyone in one convenient location! Browse to your heart’s content in full view of the Mighty Mississippi; savor warm beignets, sip a hot Café au lait and tap your feet to that unmistakable sound of Louisiana Jazz. The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk is the place to indulge in that inevitable vacation shopping spree – or just window shop ‘til you drop; the choice is yours!
Steamboat Natchez Cruises
What better way to close out your second day in The Big Easy than a traditional steamboat dinner cruise? You and your group will thrill to breathtaking views of the New Orleans skyline from the decks of the historic Natchez, the last authentic steamboat on the Mighty Mississippi. Choose climate-controlled indoor or outdoor seating from which to enjoy your delicious buffet-style dinner prepared fresh on board, while the Grammy-nominated Dukes of Dixieland keep a smile on your face and your happy toes a-tap-tapping’ to that quintessential Louisiana sound!
Cemetery and Voodoo Walking Tour
You and your companions will want to wear comfortable shoes as you strike out over rugged old streets and sidewalks to explore the most haunted cemetery in all of Louisiana! Proficient guides regale you with pertinent - and fascinating - legend and lore as you wander this historic graveyard, first opened in 1789! Hear the horrific reason for above-ground burial, learn the proper way to say “gris-gris” – and what it is - and “meet” Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau – said to have never turned away a single soul “come knockin’” on her door for help - as you make the acquaintance of a number of notorious deceased who’ve taken eternal rest at the St. Louis Cemetery. You’ll come away from this captivating tour – souvenir gris-gris bag in hand - with an understanding of the origin of “saved by the bell” and “graveyard shift” and the knowledge there’s a lot more to voodoo ritual than a handful of pins poked into a crude effigy!
You’re going to wrap up Day Three of your New Orleans educational adventure with a stop at the 58 acre Audubon Zoo – happy home to more than 2,000 rare and exotic creatures! You’ll encounter white alligators with blue eyes, a white rhinoceros, a white Bengal tiger, and a Malaysian sun bear among the fortunate inhabitants of this conservation-minded New Orleans tradition. At Watoto Walk – a petting zoo designed to resemble a Masai Village - you can get cozy with the snuggle-loving, free-roaming goats and sheep. Attend a bountiful “Bug Buffet” and watch amazing chefs incorporate crispy creepy-crawlies into their dishes; the brave souls in your group may even sample the freaky fare! (French-fried winged things, anyone?) Explore the Asian Domain, strike out on African safari and discover the World of Primates; embark on a Dinosaur Adventure, trudge through the Louisiana Swamp and trek the South American Pampas. The young waterdogs in your team will love Cool Zoo - the hottest spot in town to grab a snack and cool down. An absolutely amazing array of awesome animal adventures await you and your group at the Audubon Zoo!