Starting at the elegant white columns at the New Orleans African American Museum, the Tremé walking tour shepherds groups of up to 23 wanderers through the culturally significant neighborhood. For two hours every Monday, Friday, and Saturday, guests traipse through 300 years of richly saturated history, learning more effectively than sipping the contents of a blender full of history textbooks. Patrons tread across original handmade bricks that cover the ground in parts of one of the oldest African American communities. They also meander through Congo Square and St. Augustine Church as the knowledgeable guide sprinkles in anecdotes about the rise of jazz, creole architecture, and the New Orleans civil-rights movement.
Bursting from the retro ambience of a refurbished art-deco movie theater, the renowned hand-blown-glass art studio boasts a multihued array of gaffer-made accoutrements. Keep wine from escaping on a post-party spree with a decorative bottlestopper ($62), a hand-crafted sculpture complete with elegant metal fitting designed to hold in liquid and libation secrets. Showcase seasonal candies or secret-admirer notes in a fluted dish ($65), available in intricate designs of blue, salmon, white, and more. The New Orleans paperweight adds personality to desks and gravity to astronaut homework with the classic Big Easy fleur de lis etched in a heart shape atop a round paper anchor ($50). For a romantic shimmer, check out the pointed oil candle with a stand, a teardrop-shaped candle perched in a three-pronged mini-tripod that imbues romance with long-lasting light ($50), similar to a triple showing of Gremlins under an Alaskan summer sky.
Founded in 1976 by a group of ambitious visual and performing artists, the Contemporary Arts Center still keeps in touch with its roots as an artist-driven community organization. The award-winning design of its ever-changing gallery, atrium, and theater spaces juxtaposes the original architecture of a turn-of-the-century warehouse building with newer materials and aesthetics. Within its 30,000 feet of open event space, the CAC hosts a range of events, such as curated contemporary exhibitions, world and local music performances, and special galas such as the SweetArts Bash.
When not coordinating exhibitions and performances, the CAC staff also leads educational programs such as one-day art camps, which expose children and adults to the arts. In these programs, professional local artists train groups in drama, dance, music, visual arts, and creative writing.
Whether your tire-turning extremities are located at home, at a hotel, or in a docked zeppelin cabin over the river, Big Easy Bike Tours will deliver the bicycle(s) to you and up to four of your cycling teammates almost anywhere in the city. All tours begin back in 1718 with sightseeing and narrated soundseeing throughout the French Quarter. From there, there is a spork in the road where you can choose between three touring fates. The first, Neighborhoods and Lower 9th Ward, takes a path past green homes built by Global Green after Hurricane Katrina, visits the levee and explains what led to its failure, and passes through St. Roch and Treme. The second journey lands you on the Esplanade Avenue of the Creoles, exploring Bayou St. John and the history of New Orleans cemeteries, European settlers, and early New Orleanians' struggles to colonize the undomesticated flavors of crawfish étouffée within its wild habitat. After pedaling through City Park and observing the Museum of Art and Botanical Gardens, you finish cruising through Mid-City. The final option, a tour of the American Sector and the Garden District, details some of the architecture, universities, and finest fine arts found in New Orleans.