Some of the places my husband, Kevin, and I go for romantic getaways are quaint, quiet, pristine. Then there's New Orleans, a city whose utter lack of innocence makes it like those other towns' tipsy, overdressed sister. Steamy and sensual, New Orleans has made an impressive post-Katrina comeback, inspiring lovers to explore adventures they might otherwise sidestep.

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Our last visit found us at the Hilton Riverside — far enough from the riotous French Quarter but within walking distance of its noisy pleasures. We'd barely unpacked before rushing to Drago's, the hotel's popular seafood restaurant, where I let Kevin slip one of its famous oysters — a dish I usually detest — into my mouth. The charbroiled delicacy was so scrumptious that I ordered a half-dozen more.

The overindulging had begun. As we headed to the Quarter, we found our arm-in-arm rambles constantly interrupted: by sojourns into funky boutiques and open-air bars, stops to consume sugary beignets, and pauses to savor the music of street artists playing every imaginable instrument and some we'd never seen. Of course, restrained romance seekers can peruse the city's antiques stores and art galleries as hushed as funeral parlors. But why choose restraint in a town like this?

I'm different in New Orleans. And when it comes to romance, different — as in looser, freer and less inhibited — is a good thing. Dining out at home, I frugally skip dessert and box half my entrée for the next day's lunch. In New Orleans, I inhale every fat-laden morsel of a four-course meal and long to lick the plates. Normally, I'm a 6 a.m. riser who's comatose by 10 p.m. In New Orleans, I bounce around for hours after midnight, until the city's river of celebrants pushes me, limp but libidinous, into my husband's arms. Whoever I am in this city, I love her. And so, too, does he.

— Donna Britt

Travel Tips

  • Make reservations for popular shows at top music venues. If you prefer spontaneity, check out a variety of bands wandering in and out of the clubs along Frenchmen Street.
  • Book in-demand restaurants well in advance, but no worries if you don't: You'll find plenty of places to grab a po'boy or a muffuletta.
  • Take a break from the tourist scene with a streetcar ride to the Garden District or a stroll around funky Tremé or Marigny.

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