OK! Travel: Bright Lights, Big Easy

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May 1 2010, Published 10:29 a.m. ET

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New Orleans’ scenic French Quarter, rich cuisine and storied history have made the city a hot spot for Hollywood’s A-list

Distinctive antebellum architecture, decadent Southern food and potent Sazerac cocktails make New Orleans a feast for the senses — not to mention a hot shooting location for film and TV. The Crescent City’s easygoing vibe has long captivated famous residents — including Brad Pitt and Ellen DeGeneres, who’ve both been committed to putting the historic city back on the map after Hurricane Katrina.

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Where to Stay

Enjoy a panoramic view of the French Quarter from the glamorous rooftop pool at the historic Omni Royal Orleans. Star guests have included Kristen Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg and the Rolling Stones (rates from $199;

The affordable and newly renovated New Orleans Marriott also has a prime French Quarter location with an outdoor pool (rates from $179;

Where to Eat


Locals love chef John Besh’s Lüke brasserie on St. Charles Avenue, which pays homage to New Orleans’ French and lesser-known German roots with standout dishes like wild-boar pâté.

At old-school Bourbon Street institution Galatoire’s, Richard Gere and Bono are among the celebrities who’ve braved the wait to sample crabmeat maison and banana bread pudding.

Foodies should also make a note of the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, from May 25 to 29 (

What to Do

There’s no need to rent a car in New Orleans; the French Quarter is walkable, and taxis are inexpensive.

Vampire fans can check out a walking tour of the Garden District, where former resident and Interview With the Vampire author Anne Rice set some of her novels.

Afterward, catch the uptown St. Charles streetcar and hit Rock ’N’ Bowl, a unique blend of bowling and live bands, from blues to zydeco. Renowned for its music scene, the city is gearing up for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, from April 23 to May 2. This year’s star performers include Lionel Richie and the Black Crowes (


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