After months of hard work, I'm happy to report that my latest guide, Moon New Orleans , has just been released this week. In celebration of this much-anticipated occasion (well, at the very least, for me, my patient editors, and my long-suffering hubby), I've crafted a seven-day itinerary of the city's top sights, restaurants, live music venues, and other cultural and recreational attractions – essentially, an expansion of the three-day tour of the Big Easy  that appears in the “Discover New Orleans” chapter of the book. As I've indicated in the first  and second parts  of this three-part blog series, you should allow yourself at least a week to experience the best that this legendary town has to offer.
So, here, then, are the last two days of this rather dizzying tour:
Savor a homemade muffin and a coffee drink in the quiet courtyard of the Royal Blend Coffee & Tea House on Royal Street, then take the St. Charles streetcar to the Garden District,where you can relax in verdant Coliseum Square, visit Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, and stroll amid historic homes, such as the Brevard-Clapp House, where novelist Anne Rice once lived. Afterward, explore the antique shops, art galleries, and varied boutiques along funky Magazine Street. Just be sure to stop by Mignon Faget for locally inspired jewelry, sample a signature macaroon at Sucré, and, if possible, enjoy a massage or a detoxifying body treatment at the Belladonna Day Spa.
For lunch, try a signature po-boy at Mahony's Po-Boy Shop, where ingredients range from root beer-glazed ham to shrimp rémoulade and fried green tomatoes. If you have time, take a stroll along nearby Prytania Street, where you'll find The Creole Creamery (pictured above), an old-fashioned ice cream shop serving fountain classics like malts, sundaes, and banana splits, plus creative ice cream and sorbet flavors, such as bananas Foster and satsuma. Hop back on the streetcar and head west to lush Audubon Park, situated across the street from Tulane and Loyola Universities. Here, you can play golf or tennis, take a horseback-riding lesson, stroll beneath moss-draped oak trees, and gaze at the orangutans, elephants, and other playful animals at Audubon Zoo.
Venture farther west to the Riverbend area, where you can enjoy creative Cajun and Creole dishes at the funky, ever-popular Jacques-Imo's Cafe, followed by a glass of wine at the nearby Oak wine bar. As an alternative, you can freshen up at your hotel and take a cab to Commander's Palace, a classic New Orleans-style restaurant in the residential Garden District. After dinner, catch some live rock and blues music at well-loved Uptown joints like Tipitina's or the Maple Leaf Bar, or venture to Rock 'n' Bowl for a round of bowling, plus live jazz, swing, rock, swamp pop, zydeco, or Cajun music.
On your last full day in New Orleans, grab some breakfast at The Camellia Grill in the French Quarter, then drive across the Mississippi River to the West Bank, where outdoor enthusiasts can explore the massive Barataria Preserve. Here, you can hike or kayak amid the forests, marshes, and swamps of this 23,000-acre preserve, and not far away, Jean Lafitte Swamp & Airboat Tours offers informative excursions amid the native flora and fauna, including nutria, birds, and alligators.
If you'd prefer to stay on the East Bank, take a drive or a Canal Street streetcar ride to verdant City Park, a beloved 1,300-acre sanctuary where you can rent bikes, play a round of golf, experience a classic carousel, stroll through the New Orleans Botanical Garden, and peruse the varied paintings, sculpture, and other artwork inside the impressive New Orleans Museum of Art. Just outside the museum, take a walk through the peaceful Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, then venture back inside for lunch at Café NOMA, a Brennan-helmed eatery featuring savory salads and sandwiches.
If you've brought a car, take some time to explore the area surrounding City Park. To the east, you can stroll through St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 or watch horse races at the historic Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, while to the south, you can take a guided tour of the Degas House, once the temporary home and studio of the famous French Impressionist Edgar Degas. To the west, you'll find several more curious graveyards, such as the Metairie Cemetery, the permanent resting place of Louis Prima and General P. G. T. Beauregard. Even farther west, you'll encounter the lovely Longue Vue House & Gardens, one of the last Country Place Era homes built in America.
Afterward, enjoy a sumptuous meal of contemporary Creole cuisine at Ralph's on the Park, also part of the Brennan dynasty. Save room for lemon ice, pistachio gelato, traditional pastries, and other treats at the century-old Angelo Brocato ice cream parlor. Then, head about a mile southeast on Canal Street for a bit of live jazz at Chickie Wah Wah before heading back to your hotel.
So, I hope that this seven-day itinerary has inspired you to visit New Orleans soon. In the meantime, don't forget to enter my latest giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of Moon New Orleans. To do so, simply answer the following question: “Upon arriving in New Orleans, what would you like to see, do, or eat first?” You can do this in one of three ways: leave a comment below this post, send an email to laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com, or post a comment on the Moon New Orleans Facebook page . The contest will end at 11:59 p.m. PST on Tuesday, September 25th.
Good luck – and remember, laissez les bons temps rouler!
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below, contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com, or connect with me on Facebook  and Twitter .
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of The Creole Creamery / Text © 2012 Laura Martone