New Orleans

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, or more aptly, the hapless Saints winning the 2010 Super Bowl, New Orleans is experiencing a renaissance fueled by energetic newcomers and determined locals, both of whom are dedicated to making the city a better place to live, while preserving its heart and soul. As travelers who are lured back year after year for Mardi Gras, the Jazz Fest or the French Quarter Festival have learned, the music, cuisine and culture are a tasty, slow-cooked gumbo that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. The local music scene is jumping these days; trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, the unofficial mayor of New Orleans, opened his swanky Jazz Playhouse smack in the middle of Bourbon Street, an area better known for less high-brow activities. The iconic Uptown club Tipitina’s, a shabby clapboard building whose stage has seen a who’s who of the world’s most talented performers, is ensuring the city’s homegrown musical future. The city is also teeming with new restaurants. Butcher Cochon, an urban love letter to Cajun country, and Domenica, a nouveau tribute to the city’s Italian heritage, are just two of the restaurants that are providing foodies with more diverse choices. Laissez les bon temps rouler once again.