New Orleans will be big but not easy, if Sunday's victory suddenly has you hankering for jazz, jambalaya and joyful football.
Three types of people get tickets to the Super Bowl -- the optimistic early planners, the very important and the rich. The NFL's official Super Bowl ticket re-seller is asking $10,000 to $12,000 -- and rising -- for a ticket on the 50-yard line. Up in the nosebleed sections, they can be had for a mere $2,177.
The nimble can still get reasonable airfares, if they book promptly -- prices will jump as we move closer to the Feb. 3 big game. Round-trip fares from San Francisco to New Orleans are already $1,260; from Oakland, $1,385; from San Jose, $1,304. Prices drop if you're willing to fly to Baton Rouge or Biloxi-Gulfport, both about 80 miles away, and cheaper yet if you're willing to drive from Mobile. Ala., or Pensacola, Fla.
The flexible might find a way, as well. The cheapest flights into the Super Bowl city are the Tuesday and Wednesday before the game; the most expensive are Friday. The busiest day to fly is the Monday after the game, where the Harbaugh head coaching brothers -- Jim and John -- will have made history no matter who wins.
All booked up
Camping lost its popularity during Hurricane Katrina. So be prepared to hunt for housing. The grande dame of French Quarter hotels, the Hotel Monteleone, sold out all 600 rooms long ago.
In the Bohemian neighborhood of Bywater, Leesaw Pele's 150-year-old historic home -- just down the street from the famous Vaughan's Lounge, where Kermit Ruffins does his weekly throwdown every Thursday night -- will be filled with journalists from the men's magazine Maxim.
While the rest of us were cooking Thanksgiving turkeys, Maxim and other businesses were busy booking rooms. (But Pele's little cottage is still available.) "Things were booked up early by all the corporate people," Pele said.
The popular Uptown Cajun restaurant Frankie and Johnny's is busy every day of the week -- but on Super Bowl weekend, owner Tony Cortello will boost his daily crawfish buy from 100 to 400 pounds. And wholesale prices may inch up 50 cents a pound, due to demand. He'll add six bartenders, servers and kitchen help -- but expect an hourlong wait.
Fused into Mardi Gras
To meet the surge of tourists, city officials are planning to bring in extra taxi drivers from Baton Rouge. But there will be a bargain airport shuttle to all downtown hotels, costing $20 one-way.
Music lovers will find happy crowds on Frenchmen Street, where $5 at The Spotted Cat Bar will buy you a chance to hear Davis Rogan play keyboards at 10 p.m. Saturday. He was the inspiration for the Davis McAlary character on the HBO series "Treme."
"If it's too full, you can watch from the window," offered bar co-manager Douglas Emmer.
But in "N'awlins," even the Super Bowl is just a windup to the really big weekend: Mardi Gras. That annual, sacred festival, when the streets fill with floats, will arrive the week after Bay Area Niners fans go home, barely time enough for the bars on Bourbon Street to restock their shelves.
Here's the good news: Niners fans will be welcomed with arms as big and open as the vast Mississippi.
"The whole city was pulling for you guys," Emmer said. "We're big 49ers fans."
"We despise Atlanta."