By Parmida Schahhosseini
With March Madness upon us and spring break over, it is the time of year where everyone gets serious. Students make that final push academically for the perfect GPA before the semester ends, and basketball teams compete for the opportunity to play for a National Championship. This competition is reality for the No. 1 Lady Bears as they try to meet high expectations and advance to the Final Four round in New Orleans for a chance to win consecutive national titles.
The Final Four is April 7-9, in New Orleans Arena. New Orleans is a great location because it is a lively city with much to do. Starting April 6, there will be an event called Tourney TownTM, which is a free fan festival celebrating the best of the Final Four, located in downtown New Orleans (adjacent to New Orleans Arena). There will be a stage in the center with continuous events such as concerts by national recording artists, a talent show featuring local acts and celebrity judges, the AT&T Mascot challenge, fan contests for prizes, appearance and autograph sessions with sports celebrities, sponsor based entrainment and giveaways.
Some of the events in Tourney TownTM include the Capital One Cup Fan Zone, the AT&T Fan Zone, the Coke Zero Refreshment Court and the Allstate Good Hands Fan Zone. The Capital One Cup Fan Zone allows fans to compete in sports. The opportunity to win prizes increases the more one plays the games. On April 7, fans will also have a chance to meet Lisa Leslie, a former WNBA player and four-time Olympic gold medalist, for autographs. The AT&T Fan Zone allows people to pose for a photo with the Naismith Trophy, which is given to the best male and female players in the country. The Coke Zero Refreshment Court has sampling stations, the Coke Zero 3-point competition, temporary tattoos and the opportunity to pick up some Coke Zero mardi gras beads. The Allstate Good Hands Fan Zone has other activities including a competition to see who has the fastest 40-yard dash.
A visit to New Orleans doesn’t need to be limited to Tourney Town. New Orleans is a city with scenic charm. An obvious place to visit is the French Quarter, which is the cultural center of New Orleans. People can sight see, shop and dine. Jackson Square is also located inside the French Quarter as it is filled with the arts. Jugglers, musicians and artists fill the streets for constant entertainment as one explores the scenery around them. The St. Louis Cathedral is another major landmark that people can visit. The art and design is something that is worth seeing because it’s like no other. Bourbon Street has a great nightlife with jazz and country western songs that fill the air. People can shop and enjoy some Cajun food as well.
“New Orleans has cultural benefits to offer interested visitors that they will find nowhere else”, says Mark Romig, President and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation.” In addition to some five dozen museums and house museums, you will find our culture in music clubs on Bourbon and Frenchman streets; in our artful and unique cuisine at both fine dining and neighborhood restaurants; and by riding through our city to look at the beautiful historic architecture.”
While it is not as well known, Frenchmen Street is for people who want to try something new. Frenchmen Street has colorful buildings and great jazz music, but it is less crowded than Bourbon Street. The great music is what Frenchmen Street is known for, but people come to enjoy great food and listen to the music in the moonlight.
While spending time in New Orleans it’s hard not to develop a sweet tooth. La Boulangerie is a French bakery, which offers authentic pastries and other treats. The place has character, making it memorable not just for the food, but for the environment as well.
“First and foremost I recommend the croissants and the French bread,” Kylee Countrymen a worker from La Boulangerie said. “Honestly everything is good including the pastries.”
However, people must be willing to deal with the long lines and limited parking before enjoying the pastry.
Other highly rated restaurants according to consumers on TripAdvisor include Zea Rotisserie & Grill, Verti Marte, The Joint and Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. Louisiana is known for its Cajun food, so here are some highly rated restaurants: Mr. B’s Bistro, Liuzza’s by the Track and Louisiana Bistro. Prices do vary depending on where one goes to eat.
While the most important event may be the Final Four, there is time for people to enjoy other aspects of New Orleans along the way.