Stimulate your senses in the bustling French Quarter, a six-by-12-block rectangle in the heart of New Orleans, where the narrow streets are filled with history and are alive with the sights and sounds of the port. Stroll down Bourbon Street and back up Royal Street and soak up the heady atmosphere of bars and lounges, clubs and restaurants, fabulous food and live music. New Orleans is particularly lively over Hallowe'en, when the city turns into one big fancy-dress party. The religion of voodoo lives on here, along with the fame of the 19th-century spiritual entrepreneurs, Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, and her daughter Marie II. Marie I now rests in St Louis Cemetery No 1 and Marie II is an alleged resident of Cemetery No 2. Cemetery tours of the tombs operate from 10am to 4pm daily throughout the Hallowe'en season (00 1 504 523 3939). Explore the compact French Quarter on foot and the rest of the city by the historic streetcars, which cost from 75p for a one-way ticket. A VisiTour pass costs £3 for one day and covers unlimited use of streetcars and bus lines. Taxis are plentiful and cost £1.50 plus 75p per mile thereafter.
Enjoy the unique New Orleans tradition of having "a cup to go", where your drink comes in a plastic glass and you are free to take it out of the bar so you can enjoy the atmosphere of the city. Worth checking out are the Carousel Bar, 214 Royal Street, which does what the name suggests - revolves - and the Preservation Hall, 726 Peter Street, for nightly live jazz. For romance, passion and spiritual calm head for Loa Bar at International House, 221 Camp Street.
Cajun and Creole fare feature high on menus here. Mulates, 201 Julia Street (00 1 504 522 1492), serves up authentic Cajun cooking and live Cajun music. Approx £17. Enjoy a traditional bananas foster or a cocktail for breakfast at the world famous Brennan's Restaurant, 417 Royal Street (00 1 504 525 9713). Around £23. For a vintage slice of New Orleans try Acme Oyster House, 110 Veterans Memorial Boulevard (001 504 835 6410). About £12.
Celebrate Hallowe'en in true New Orleans style. The Voodoo Music Festival (001 800 594 8499) takes place at City Park from 31 October to 2 November and features live music from 50 Cent, The White Stripes, Marilyn Manson and Queens of the Stone Age. A three-day pass costs £48. For haunted buildings, vampire-inspired crimes and an interactive horror theatre join a Ghost Tour (00 1 504 524 0708), which operates throughout the Hallowe'en season at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm. Another tour, which is not for the faint-hearted, is The House of Shock (www.houseof shock.com). Described as the "the most intense Hallowe'en experience in the world", it is located 10 minutes from the centre of New Orleans - no reservations required. Jim Monaghan's annual Hallowe'en parade takes place on 31 October at 6pm outside Molly's at the Market, 1107 Decatur Street.
With 24-hour licensing, New Orleans is the perfect place to party. Top night spots of the moment are Club 360(infinity), 2 Canal Street, a revolving rooftop lounge on the 33rd floor of the World Trade Centre, and the House of Blues, 225 Decatur Street.
Since 1862, Café du Monde, 813 Decatur Street serves 24-hour snacks seven days a week.
Take a streetcar along St Charles Avenue to the garden district, stroll down the tree-lined avenues and marvel at the grand mansions.
United Vacations (0870 606 2222; www.unitedvacations.co.uk) offers a seven-night room-only break at the three-star Landmark Hotel from £699 per person, including return flights with United Airlines and transfers. For further information contact Destination New Orleans and Louisiana (01462 458696; www.neworleanscvb.com).