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New Orleans is one of the most celebrated cities of the American South, and the largest city in Louisiana (some 300,000 in the city, 1.2 million in the metropolitan area as of late 2007, and still re-growing), as well as the state's top visitor destination. The city has a reputation for historical roots, hot and muggy weather, great food, great music, and great times. Despite being hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in late 2005, New Orleans is still the tourist hot-spot it always has been. Jazz music still rules the city's streets and there's still a bit of Mardi Gras all year round.
Detailed listings of attractions are mentioned in the Districts sections listed above. Highlights include:
Following the widespread displacement of people, destruction of property, and general disruption of city services following Katrina, the city has been experiencing a spike in violent crime, even 4 years later. The majority of this is away from the parts of town of interest to most visitors, but no part is as safe as it once was. The Central City neighborhood (see Other parts of town) is having the worst problem, and at present should be avoided by casual visitors. The Bywater area has also been having serious problems, and visitors are advised to check on current local conditions before visiting that neighborhood and take extra care if they go.
While the French Quarter and attractions most visited by tourists are some of the safest areas from violent crimes, beware opportunistic thieves looking for a chance to snatch something from visitors who are not keeping an eye on their valuables. A famous 19th century sign from the Quarter reads: "Beware Pickpockets and Loose Women." Not much has changed. Tourists can be so distracted that they are separated from their common sense... and, theoretically, other things. Keep things in your front pockets, and be careful with your digital on Bourbon.
Around parts of the French Quarter and nearby areas with many tourists, visitors can encounter hustlers who will try to get a few dollars from visitors offering anything from a flower to a hat, a foot massage, or even to clean your shoes. Another popular tourist scam is to bet a tourist $20 that the scammer knows where the tourist got their shoes. If the tourist takes the bet, the scammer responds, "You got them on your feet" and demands the $20. Remember you're under no obligation to talk with them - and it's just best to ignore them.
Looking for drugs or illegal activities will expose you to danger; if someone you just met is trying to lure you into a strange part of town for something decadent, assume you're probably being set up for a robbery - or worse. Also be advised that Louisiana has the harshest sentencing laws in the country - most felonies carry a mandatory prison sentence, so conduct yourself accordingly.
Worries about health risks in New Orleans remaining after the post-Katrina cleanup were fortunately unfounded. The main health concerns are the same for the rest of the U.S. South: If you're not accustomed to the sub-tropical heat, drink plenty of liquids and pace yourself in the sunshine. All restaurants and cafes had health and sanitation inspections before reopening after Katrina.
Katrina alerted the world to the danger of hurricanes in this part of the world. However if one visits a place vulnerable to natural disaster, at least hurricanes give warning. During the height of the hurricane season, from July through October, be sure to check with the weather service before going to New Orleans, and if a large storm is threatening the Gulf Coast, consider a change of plans. If one threatens the city while you're there, play it safe and leave early; don't wait for an evacuation order to head away from the coast. If you cannot get out of the area you should at least be sure to get to a hotel located on high ground.
City description provided by wikitravel.org