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Downtown New Orleans is filled with shopping options for nearly every taste and every budget. There is a large mall called the Riverwalk, a few blocks outside the French Quarter that offers a mix of upscale clothing shops, souvenir shops, and a large food court. Many of these are the same stores you will find in malls and cities back home.
For a more unique experience that really captures the essence of New Orleans, head to the French Market. Even if shopping isn't your thing, be sure to stop by anyhow. The French Market is on the Mississippi River, down on the opposite end of the French Quarter from the Riverwalk Mall. A short streetcar ride can get you to both places. The best thing about this market is its diversity and tremendous, fun selection. You can find everything here including fresh produce and snacks, t-shirts, CDs, New Orleans souvenirs, crafts and trinkets from places like Africa and Asia, and much more. The selection changes over time as vendors come and go, so your next visit may find a completely different selection. The French Market is open 365 days and best hours for shopping are between 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Tourists will meet Merchants from virtually every part of the world - a true international shopping experience, while still being uniquely New Orleans culture! The French Market is home to many long-time artists/merchants who deliver one-of-a-kind pieces without the overhead of a gallery or shop. You enjoy the savings! Take your time looking at each Merchant's stall, you will discover products found only at the French Market. Please help keep the 200 year old tradition alive by shopping at the French Market - you'll be glad you did!
Away from the French Market and Riverwalk Mall, you've also got the streets of the French Quarter themselves. The spaces that aren't occupied by delicious restaurants and hotels are filled with shops of all kinds. This isn't so much the case on Bourbon Street, but on the handful of streets that surround Bourbon Street. And these shops have much more personality than what many visitors may be used to. Many of them are independently owned, selling everything from ultra-high priced art and estate furniture to clothing, with a healthy dose of souvenir and t-shirt shops thrown in, all selling more than enough New Orleans trinkets to bring home to your friends.
There are several fine cigar shops in the French Quarter, and another fun place to stop in to is the voodoo shops, with their strange and occasionally tacky items, books, and things like gris-gris bags, candles and potions. A couple of other unique shops in the French Quarter include an antique shop that specialized in military memorabilia, a store selling old records and autographs of some of the world's most famous and popular musicians. Bring plenty of cash to New Orleans. Even when you're planning on keeping a low budget, you're going to find plenty of items that you just can't pass up.
Please make sure to check out the 2 monthly art markets in New Orleans as well. They are a cab or streetcar ride away from the French Quarter. The Uptown streetcar line should be back up and running by December 2008 for the first time since Katrina hit. The two monthly art markets are THE BYWATER ART MARKET and THE ARTS MARKET OF NEW ORLEANS. Please see the following websites for detailed information: http://www.bywaterartmarket.com and http://www.artscouncilofneworleans.org
Bywater Art Market takes place the THIRD Saturday of every month. The Arts Market of New Orleans takes place the LAST Saturday of every month. Both markets take place RAIN or SHINE! Details about locations and times are their websites. Make sure to go and support the local artists in New Orleans. This is especially important Post-Katrina.