The Big Easy is turning 300 this year, and it’s celebrating in appropriately big style. The Southern Creole city—which was founded in 1718 by the French-Canadian explorer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville—will honor its Tricentennial with a year’s worth of events, openings, and citywide improvements, from a much-needed makeover of Bourbon Street and a $100 million riverfront revitalization to the debut of the Sazerac House, a museum devoted entirely to the locally revered cocktail.
Celebrate by checking into the recently reopened Pontchartrain Hotel, the Garden District’s circa-1927 grande dame that has been reborn as an elegant blend of old NOLA and new luxury with restored Charles Reinike murals and antique furnishings. The local culinary scene is heating up, too, with Top Chef Nina Compton’s Caribbean-eclectic Compère Lapin and James Beard Award finalist Isaac Toups’s Cajun-fusion Toups South leading a smart revival in elevated dining. And keeping the tricentennial party going well into the future are two major developments: The Louis Armstrong International Airport’s $917 million César Pelli–designed terminal and, across town, a Four Seasons hotel and residences that will revitalize the city’s former World Trade Center complex.