More than two years after Hurricane Katrina, the sparkle is back on the tourist trail as the New Orleans' recovery continues. Much work remains and some popular spots have yet to return, while others may never do so. But tourist dollars are helping, according to the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau.
New Orleans has many fine restaurants -- Arnaud's, Broussard's, Luke, Muriel's, Bourbon House, GW Fins and the Court of Two Sisters among them. But budget-minded travelers may find two of them especially rewarding. The Gumbo Shop on St. Peter Street offers a true taste of New Orleans called the Complete Creole Dinner for $19.99, with choices including seafood okra gumbo, crawfish etouffee, and praline sundae. Meanwhile, Mother's on Poydras Street presents down-home cooking. A breakfast of eggs and grits costs just $4.50. Go to gumboshop.com and mothersrestaurant.net.
The Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans on Bourbon Street has a three-night Streetcar Named Desire package for $399 a person, including accommodations; breakfast one morning from room service or in the hotel's Begue's Restaurant; hurricane cocktails and souvenir glasses at Pat O'Brien's; a choice of a swamp, plantation or city tour; one lunch at the hotel's Desire restaurant; dinner one evening at Arnaud's or Begue's; and his and her Mardi Gras masks. Call 800-766-3782 or go to sonesta .com/royalneworleans.
Tours by Isabelle offers a Post-Katrina City Tour for $58 a person that visits the city's most famous sites, including the French Quarter and Bayou St. John, and the hurricane-affected areas. Call 877-665-8687 or go to toursbyisa belle.com.
The city allows gaming, and at Harrah's New Orleans Hotel & Casino, a Dusk till Dawn package begins at $199 a night and features accommodations in a luxury room plus breakfast for two at Riche, Todd English's brasserie. Those who book online at least 14 days in advance can save up to 20 percent. Call 504-533-6000 or go to harrahs.com.
A New Orleans Power Pass includes admission to 30 attractions, including the war museum and Garden District Walking Tour, plus discounts at other spots, and is available for one, two, three or five consecutive days, with prices for adults from $55 to $127. The same company also offers a Meal Ticket, good for breakfast, lunch and dinner at eight well-known restaurants with prices from $45 to $191. Call 800-490-9330 or go to visiticket.com.
Some say that ghosts haunt many places in the Crescent City. With Ghost Expeditions, participants can join in three-hour field investigations combining scientific methods and psychic exercises, directed by a Ghost Expeditions researcher, or conduct their own ''freestyle" ghost hunts or paranormal investigations. The cost is $75 per participant for guided expeditions and $26 per hour for freestyle expeditions. Go to ghostexpeditions.com.