New Orleans: Three of the best... themed mini itineraries

Ten years has now passed since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. In that time, the city has been rejuvenated and now offers a plethora of itinerary options for groups.

New Orleans: Three themed mini itineraries (© istockphoto.com)
New Orleans: Three themed mini itineraries (© istockphoto.com)

Foodie-themed itineraries

New Orleans is known for offering some of the best food experiences in the whole of the US and groups can immerse themselves in all the city has to offer on a variety of different food tours. The city’s French Quarter is the oldest neighbourhood and is undoubtedly the place for hungry delegates to get stuck in.

Tastebud Tours is one of the many operators that offers one of these unique experiences. One of the three food walks on the menu can take groups of up to 18 around the French Quarter, visiting no less than five key eateries along the way. First up is Café Beignet, where groups can take part in a tradition that spans more than 200 years: enjoying coffee and sugar-dusted beignets to kick off the day.

Next up is New Orleans’ oldest sweet shop – or candy store – called Laura’s Pralines and Candies, whose recipes for hand-made chocolates date back to the 18th century. As the tour progresses through the neighbourhood, delegates will sample old New Orleans favourites, including Po-boys – a Louisiana tint on baguettes loaded with meat and fish - at Johnny’s Po-boy; Cajun jambalayas at The Old Coffeepot, which has been serving the delicacy since 1894; and Tujague’s, the home of the tender boiled brisket served with Creole sauce and horseradish.

As well as an effective way to stuff delegates 'til they’re fit to burst, the tours offer the opportunity to learn about the history, with guides on hand to point out interesting landmarks and fun facts of the Crescent City.

'Voluntourism'-themed itineraries

Since 2006, the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau has hosted more than 20,000 volunteers to help make a difference to the city and its surrounding communities. The city has partnered with 80 non-profit organisations, which give delegates the opportunity to lend their hands to the continued restoration of one of America’s top destinations.

Common Ground Relief Wetlands offers half- and full-day teambuilding excursions for groups of ten to 300. Activities include riding canoes and fan boats out into the New Orleans wetlands to dig into the mud and plant new life under the ground. Organisers are warned that it is messy work, but both fun and rewarding all at once.

Groups can also partner with Build Now, which helps families who left the city after the hurricane return and rebuilds the worst affected neighbourhoods. Delegates will work with professionals to design and construct site-built, elevated homes that are modelled on the original style of New Orleans architecture.

Operation Helping Hands has been offering similar volunteering opportunities since 2005, inviting event delegates to help provide elderly, disabled and low-income homeowners with safe and secure housing. Groups can take part in the scheme on a single- or two-day excursion.

Jazz-themed itineraries

New Orleans the birthplace of jazz, so why not dive into the origins of one of the most loved music genres on the planet? Landmarks paying homage to the city’s musical pioneers are planted throughout the city, as are countless live venues that, together, offer an unforgettable day out for groups.

City tours, such as John McCusker’s Cradle of Jazz Tour, will take groups around the 16 historic neighbourhoods of the city, which are home to the houses and former hangouts of jazz legends Buddy Bolden, Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory and King Oliver.

Afternoon tours can be enjoyed on foot, beginning with lunch in the French Quarter and progressing toward St Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square, where a horse-and-carriage ride awaits. An eccentric New Orleans guide is on hand to describe the musical and cultural heritage of the city, or delegates can choose to explore at their own pace, with the convention bureau’s own self-guided tours.

After dinner in front of live music, a day investigating the New Orleans jazz scene ends at the historic Preservation Hall to see how contemporary artists perform the genre masterfully today.

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