New Orleans City Tours - Green Travel Guide - cruising the Mississippi, the historic French Quarter and Creole cuisine
New Orleans City Tours are a must for the green traveller interested in New Orleans and its French/American connection. Sitting between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River, New Orleans lies near the south west tip of Louisiana by the Gulf of Mexico and is the largest city in the state, with its famous French Quarter and Jackson Square being one of the most visited areas in the Big Easy.
New Orleans City tours and finding your way around
Why not start your holiday with a cruise down the Mississippi river on the Steamboat Natchez. The cruise itself lasts for around two hours and can be booked with or without dinner. Whilst enjoying views of the city, you can relax and listen to a musical performance by the "Dukes of Dixieland". The cruise will also give you a chance to see a see a working engine room in a real steamboat. There are several different cruises on offer and more than one departure location, so do make sure you know where yours is departing from when making arrangements.
The Historic New Orleans Tours are a great day out for those of you interested in New Orleans history without any sensationalism. There are a variety of tours, offering everything from guided tours of the plantations, to tours of the French Quarter. For something a little different, why not sample the New Orleans Cemetery Tour. The architecture, burial grounds and countless fascinating stories regarding various famous citizens of New Orleans gives a vivid picture of this unique city and its history.
A Walking Tour of the French Quarter is a great way for the eco-tourist to enjoy one of the most important aspects of New Orleans. The tour lasts around 1 1/2 to 2 hours, not including visiting the shops and historical houses. However, with around 80 city blocks and some of the most picturesque areas in New Orleans, it may be worth setting aside a whole day to spend in this beautiful and historic area of the city.
Transportation on a New Orleans city tour
An excellent way for the eco-tourist to get around New Orleans is by pedicab; there are many different companies offering tours at a variety of rates. The pedicabs do what they say on the tin, they are cabs operated by pedal power and are very good for the environment. However, this form of transport is still unregulated, so you could easily find yourself being hugely overcharged for a short trip. Nola Pedicabs is one of the pedicab companies that offer fixed rate prices and are happy to quote a price in advance so definitely worth a look.
New Orleans has recently been named a "Bronze bicycle friendly community" by the league of American cyclists. Since hurricane Katrina, the city has been working constantly to become a more welcoming environment for cyclists, with the aim being to reach the gold standard over the coming few years. The city is constantly building new cycle lanes, as well as areas for parking bikes, and maps are readily available for finding your way around by bike. So what better way to see the Big Easy than to hire a bicycle from one of the many cycle hire shops.
Green hotels as a base for your New Orleans City Tour
When looking at accommodation the New Orleans Sheraton Hotel is certainly worth considering. Located on the edge of the French Quarter, it's an ideal base for those looking to spend time in this area of the city. It has an excellent environmental policy, which you can check out via the green section of the website, and a wide variety of rooms to suit. The hotel is undergoing some renovation at present so you may want to consider this before booking.
Budget priced accommodation
For those of you on a budget, Bourbon House is a decent alternative. Located in the garden district of New Orleans it's perfect for those looking to explore the city or French Quarter on foot. According to the official website both are within 20 minutes' walk, so it's ideal for those looking to avoid using public transportation. What's more, the hostel provides beds for as little as ?11 per night, depending on the room size and when you are looking to visit. There is also a shuttle to and from the airport which you may also want to consider. One of the best aspects to Bourbon House is the bike rental. This hostel has bikes for rent on site and you can hire a bike at a cheaper rate if you are staying at the hostel and simply return it at the end of your stay.
Shopping for the Green traveller
Located next to North Peters on the Mississippi river is the French Market district. The market itself is an important piece of New Orleans' heritage and is a must for anyone planning a shopping trip during their stay. Whether it is local produce that interests you, or art that tickles your fancy, then this really is the place to be.
While browsing The French Market district keep an eye out for Dutch Alley Artist Co-op; this non-profit organisation only features work from local artists who staff the building 7 days a week. Another shop to check out is Pop City; located in Decatur Street, this local emporium sells a range of locally produced clothing, as well as jewellery, books and gifts to take home.
Crescent City Farmers Market is fantastic for the green traveller looking to eat healthily and do their bit for the environment. Not only is the food produced at the market all locally grown, so you know you're doing bit for the economy, the markets are constantly looking at ways to improve their carbon footprint and produce more environmentally products. If the farmers market is going to be on your to-do list whilst holidaying in the New Orleans, do check out their website first, as the markets are held in different parts of the city each day.
All in all the Big Easy has plenty to offer the eco-tourist and as a city that is still recovering from the tragedy of hurricane Katrina, it can only benefit from more tourism. There is more than enough to do for anyone interested in the city's heritage, and as the name Big Easy suggests, it's ideal for anyone looking for a holiday in a city with a laid back relaxed atmosphere.
Photo credit Andy Castro