Jazz was born in New Orleans, and thousands celebrate it each spring at the Jazz & Heritage Festival, which features equal parts food, sun, crafts, and extraordinary music of all kinds. Virtually every weekend of the year, a food or music festival is held somewhere in Louisiana, often in or near New Orleans.
And, of course, there is Mardi Gras, a celebration extending from Twelfth Night (January 6th) until Ash Wednesday. There's no point in trying to keep it a secret-it is a rich mixture of formality and street theater, with parades and bands and floats and cascades of doubloons and beads.
A variety of music can be found in small clubs all over New Orleans and in the major concert arenas in the city.
There's a professional football team, minor-league baseball and basketball, and terrific sailing on Lake Pontchartrain. The city's flatness make it perfect for bicycling. Audubon Park is located directly across St. Charles Avenue from Tulane University. City Park, the second largest municipal greenspace in the country, is nearby.
There are many shopping areas-from quirky Magazine Street, to the Riverwalk, to the suburban malls, to the French Quarter itself.