Delve into the deepest and richest pocket of the American South and emerge saturated with the unique culture and spirituality of New Orleans. An extraordinary feast for the senses pulsates throughout this vibrant American city, which stands unmatched in its zest for inspired living. An inimitable mélange of French, Caribbean, and distinctly Southern flair meld together here for a one of a kind sensory experience, which culminates during its hosting of the world’s biggest party, the legendary Mardi Gras. ‘The Big Easy’ has simmered in its joie de vivre mindset to a delectable perfection, where dancing in the streets and the leisurely sipping of bourbon through the wee hours of the night is the norm rather than the exception. In New Orleans, the search for good times is not viewed as a weekend-only diversion, but as a way of life. The local customs and traditions seemingly command a party at the drop of a hat. Parades, celebrations, and special events spill over this city’s jam-packed cultural and social calendar. In New Orleans, anything and everything goes, and this extends, of course, to our favorite feline and cuddly canine companions.
New Orleans is an exceptionally animal-friendly city; where hotels, specialty pet shops, trainers, vets, and groomers are lined up to attend to all of your adventuresome animal’s needs. Why spend a minute of your vacation worried about your favorite little four-legged friend locked away in some kennel back home, when bringing them with you is a perfectly easy alternative that will make it even more enjoyable to soak up the atmosphere of New Orleans?
The best way to get acquainted with The Big Easy is to throw a leash on Fido or Fluffy and head out to explore the heart of it all–the famous French Quarter. New Orleans’ long history resonates in the air here, and it’s easy to wile away the day exploring the delightfully preserved cobblestone rues that are seemingly untouched by time. Graceful old homes, unique shops, and 18th century buildings wrapped in the carefully welded iron fences compose the charming surroundings. Pass by the Cabildo, the site of the Louisiana Purchase signing in 1803, and wander for a while in the illustrious Jackson Square during the quiet of morning. Watch as the anticipation of another spirited New Orleans day builds while shop owners unlock their gates and early risers head out in search of some sugary beignets and café au lait to start off the day.
As lunchtime approaches, the aroma of New Orleans’ famous Cajun-style cooking permeates the air, and will start your craving for dishes in the savory, spicy style of the South – like a rich bowl of gumbo or spicy jambalaya. And don’t be surprised when Fido has sniffed his way over to Royal Street for a visit to the Three Dog Bakery (837 Royal Street), a bakery dedicated to canine culinary creations. Pick up some bite-sized “Bits” or some herb and cheese “Bones” to reward your traveling companion for his superb taste. You can even pick up special occasion cakes made especially for dogs that happen to be celebrating an adoption anniversary or birthday while in New Orleans. For more information contact: 504.525.2253.
After a hearty lunch, why not take in an afternoon of pet-inspired art? Continue along Royal Street to Rodrigue Studios (721 Royal Street), where Cajun Country native and painter George Rodrigue creates one-of-a-kind ‘Blue Dog’ pet portraits. This artist has devoted his career to creating vibrant images of the ‘Blue Dog’, a character from Cajun-inspired legends that young Rodrigue heard growing up as a boy. For more information contact: 504.581.4244.
If you do find yourself in festive New Orleans during the Mardi Gras bash, be sure to contact this canine crew to enter your dog (and human escort) in an elaborately themed pup parade, such as 2005’s, “Hairy Pawter & The Sorcerer’s Bone”, complete with adorable costumes and fraternizing Fido fun. Feline fans can also join in the festivities through the Krewe of Endymeow. This exclusively entertaining indoor event with fantastic floats strives to “acknowledge natural feline vanity and competitiveness with prizes for best costume and best float”, as described on the organization’s website (www.catpractice.com/endymeow.html). The theme for 2005 was “Whiskers of Oz”, and this fun in addition to Mardi Gras has been a hit since its inception in 1999.
Next stop in the fabulous French Quarter is the French Market, where you can peruse the lively New Orleanian market scene before heading into the ultimate fashion haven for little dogs, Chi-wa-wa Ga-ga (37 French Market Place). This delightful boutique offers an endearing selection of clothing, costumes, accessories, and more, for tiny dogs as well other small pets. Your pup is welcome to come in and model that cunning cowboy hat or daring leather biker jacket that they’ve been after. The doormat in front of the shop reads, “Pets are welcome in the store, but children must be kept on a leash”–a note of humor from these shop owners who have obviously gone “ga-ga” for pets. For more information contact: 504.581.GAGA.
Between the five miles or so that separate the zoo from the aquarium, there are some noteworthy stops for pet lovers along Magazine Street. Swing by Petcetera (3205 Magazine Street), a great pet boutique where you can pick up gourmet treats or awesome animal accessories, indulge in some full-service grooming, or even have a personalized pet portrait drawn up. For more information contact: 504.269.8711.
If you happen to find yourself in need of a good vet, head to the Southern Animal Foundation Clinic (1825 Magazine Street) where the proceeds from your visit go towards rescuing abused and neglected animals. The mother and daughter team, Ann Bell and her daughter Elizabeth, run the clinic. “These two women are phenomenal and the work they do is awe-inspiring,” proclaims Laura Claverie of the New Orleans Tourism Board. For more information contact: 504.671.8235.
While there are certain adventures where you’ll prefer to leave your furry traveling companion behind (I can’t imagine any feline doing well on a bayou adventure in the Louisiana swamps or any pup fully appreciating the mystique of a Cemetery or Voodoo Tour), you can be sure to leave them in the warm and safe environment of any of the great accommodations listed below. ‘Bone’ voyage and be sure to make lots of “meow”-gical memories in New Orleans.
For more information about all the fun things to see, do, and eat in New Orleans, visit: www.neworleansonline.com or call 1.800.203.2144.
WHERE TO STAY
Windsor Court Hotel
Bordering the historic French Quarter and the lush banks of the mighty Mississippi, this is literally a gem of a hotel, awarded the exclusive AAA Four-Diamond distinction. Defined by luxury, elegance, and fine cuisine, whether promenading with your pooch in the elegantly paved courtyard or peering through the fine collection of European art, this is the most opulent setting from which to soak up ‘The Big Easy’.
Rates: Rooms from $180–$595
Deposit required: One time non-refundable fee of $150
Restrictions on pets: Must be less than 40 lbs., must be kept in crate or housekeeping will not enter.
300 Gravier Street • 888.596.0955
The luxurious Hotel Monaco, located in downtown New Orleans, is walking distance from the famous French Quarter. Hotel Monaco offers just as much luxury to its four-legged guests as it does its two. A welcome package is given to all pets called the Bone Apetit, which includes a toy, a luxurious bed, a tasty treat, and a complimentary bowl of Evian water. A house veterinarian is always on call and pet walking/sitting services are available as well as doggie-daycare.
Rates: Rooms from $135
Deposit required: No
Restrictions on pets: No
333 St. Charles Avenue • 866.685.8359
Olde Victorian Inn
The high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, long staircases, and fine touches of ruffles and lace in the Olde Victorian Inn will transport you back to the romanticism of the mid-19th century. Cozy up with your favorite furry pet in your period room after a long day of exploring, and be woken up to the delicious aromas of one of the best breakfasts in town. On staff, there are several adorable pups that will cater to your every need.
Rates: Rooms from $135
Deposit required: No
Restrictions on pets: No large dogs–they have six of their own on the premises and the inn owners would be weary of any “Great Danes coming along”.
914 North Rampart Street • 800.725.2446
Royal Street Courtyard
This 1850’s Greek revival home has received great reviews as a full service bed and breakfast. The eight spacious guest rooms are beautifully decorated, and the grounds are equally impressive with a tropical courtyard, fishponds, and flower gardens.
Rates: Rooms from $55
Deposit required: $5 a night per pet.
Restrictions on pets: No
2438 Royal Street • 504.943.6818 or 888.846.4004