New Orleans is a city that has to be seen to be believed. Also known as the Big Easy, or NOLA, the city is unlike any other city in the United States. Known for its live-music scene, all-night parties, culture, and spicy cajun cuisine, a visit to New Orlans is a must!
New Orleans is a mix of French and Spanish Creole architecture, filled with cross-cultures and a multi-lingual heritage. The city has some of the countries biggest festivals and events, the biggest of which is Mardi Gras.
In this article, I share why I love New Orleans, my favourite things to do in the city, the best places to stay, and tips for a visit to the city!
New Orleans Background
The city has a rich history all of its own, with both French and Spanish influences, that can still be seen throughout the city today.
New Orleans has had its fair share of disasters with the most well known being Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, where over 80% of the city was flooded due to the levee system failure. New Orleans is primarily located below sea level and has a levee system that stops the water from flooding the city.
Today you can still see traces and lines of how high the water level was in some parts of the city. There are also whole neighbourhoods which were abandoned after Katrina and people never returned, as well as an abandoned Six Flags theme park.
When To Visit New Orleans
New Orleans is a great city to visit year-round with plenty going on throughout the year.
For a once in a lifetime experience you can visit the city during Mardi Gras (spring), this season runs from January to March every year with different parades on the weekends in the run-up to Mardi Gras. The weather in spring is also cooler than other times of the year.
Summer in the city is very warm with temperatures averaging 80-110 degrees Fahrenheit (26-43 degrees Celcius). During the summer or late spring, you can find live music throughout the city and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (April/May).
The fall is another great time to visit the city with parades and events for Halloween such as Voodoo Festival and the New Orleans Saints play in the Superdome during American football season.
Things To Do In New Orleans
There are plenty of things to do in New Orleans. I have visited the city many times and each time I visited I found something new to do.
I do have my favourite activities and must-see recommendations which I have listed below:
1) Visit A Festival Or Watch A Parade
New Orleans has over 130 festivals and events every year, including food festivals, art festivals, music festivals, multicultural festivals, and much more. There are parades in the city through the year for Mardi Gras, Easter, St Patrick’s Day, Halloween, and many more.
2) Eat Beignets And Have A Cafe Au Lait At Cafe Du Monde
Visit the most famous restaurant in New Orleans Cafe du Monde, where you should try the cities famous beignets (deep-fried pastry) and a cafe au lait (coffee with milk). Cafe du Monde is a great place to sit and relax after exploring the city or get a coffee and beignet to go.
3) Have A Hurricane (Drink) While Walking Down Bourbon Street
New Orleans famous alcoholic drink is called a Hurricane which is often served in a unique plastic cup. In the city particularly on Bourbon Street people move from one bar to the other with many bars having large opening and spilling onto the street.
Many bars are combined and serve their drinks in a reusable plastic cup which can then be refilled by a different bar to where the drink was originally purchased. Bourbon Street itself is a party with people dancing to live music in the street.
4) Head To Magazine Street For Brunch
Magazine Street is another area of the city which is a street of 6 miles long and home to several bars, restaurants, boutique shops, and unique brunch spots.
5) Walk Around Jackson Square And See The Street Performers And Artists
Jackson Square is one of the most noticeable squares in the city, with the St Lewis Cathedral on one side, and a park in the centre.
Surrounding the park various artists set up stalls selling paintings and souvenir items. Around this area, you can also find a variety of street performs and musicians playing an instrument and live music.
6) Catch A Saints Football Game (Fall)
The New Orleans Saints football team play in the fall at the city’s Superdome.
The whole American football experience is unique especially to those who are not from America, with tailgating and the whole atmosphere of the game. The Superdome holds 76,000 fans each game and is a covered stadium with air conditioning.
7) Take An Airboat Tour
Just outside of the city you can take a swamp airboat tour to see an abundance of wildlife in the Louisiana swamps, such as alligators, bald eagles, pelicans, osprey, wild pigs, turtles, owls, and other swamp wildlife.
Other Things To See in New Orleans:
- French Quarter Food Tour
- Frenchman Street Pub Crawl
- Cemetery Tour
- National WWII Museum
- New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA)
- Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Where To Stay In New Orleans
My favourite place to stay in New Orleans is the Central Business District located just off Canal Street. This is a central location so you can walk to a lot of the best sights and restaurants.
You can find a ton of great AirBnBs to rent in the Central Business District! Some of the best AirBnBs in the area include:
My favourite hotel is the JW Marriot New Orleans.
This hotel is beautifully decorated and in a great location for exploring the city while also being in a quieter area than the French Quarter. There are two restaurants located within the hotel, the rooms are large rooms, and there are a number of common areas including a swimming pool and gym.
If you prefer to be in a quieter neighbourhood, consider Marigny and Bywater with a laid-back vibe and a small number of restaurants and bars.
For those looking for a budget or hostel option then you should look at Mid-City where more affordable accommodations can be found.
Where To Eat In New Orleans
New Orleans has many restaurants with great places to eat in different neighbourhoods of the city, well known for its world-class restaurants and unique dining establishments with a variety of cuisines but specifically cajun cuisine.
Here are a few of my favourite restaurants in New Orleans:
Bars & Hangouts In New Orleans
New Orleans is well-known for being a party city, with Bourbon Street filled with ample bars and clubs, you can even party on the street itself. The city has every kinda bar you can think of, elegant cocktail bars, clubs, outside clubs, piano bars, and much more.
Here are a few of the best bars in New Orleans:
Where To Go From New Orleans
The city is one of the only places tourists visit within Louisiana with people flying into the city and not leaving. Louisiana has a number of attractions outside of the city, including airboat tours, plantation history tours, a large number of lakes, and wildlife to enjoy.
New Orleans is a great place to visit in Louisiana whether it’s for a week-long trip or a weekend stopover. You should consider visiting other cities in Louisiana such as Baton Rouge, Lafayette, or Shreveport.
What To Know For Visiting New Orleans
The typical visa to visit the USA allows you a free 90-day stay (ESTA) depending on your country of nationality. Be sure to check the official USA Government visa website for the latest information.
The currency used in the United States is the US Dollar (USD). The current exchange rate is approximately 1 USD to 0.84 EUR. You can check the latest IDR exchange rate on Google.
While travelling, our number one tip is to use a free Charles Schwab Debit Card which gives unlimited worldwide ATM Fee Refunds and the true exchange rate.
Best Tours In New Orleans
Some of the best tours and things to do in New Orleans are:
You can search for more tours and unique experiences here!
Where To Stay In New Orleans
New Orleans Central Business District and French Quarter are our recommended areas to stay when visiting the city. We recommend booking your accommodation on AirBnB for a unique stay at a great price.
Some of our favourite hotels in New Orleans are:
Best Books About New Orleans
Read more about Louisiana before you go! Some of the best books about New Orleans are:
What Power Adapters Do You Need
USA uses standard 2 prong Type A or B adapters also commonly used in the United States.
You can buy a universal adapter that will work in any country and has extra ports for USB cables to charge your phone and other devices.
We also always travel with a portable battery pack which is great to keep your phone charged on long journies.
Transportation In New Orleans
- Public Transportation: In New Orleans, there are a number of cycling routes, RTA streetcars, RTA buses (40 routes), RTA ferries, and blue bikes to rent.
- Rental Cars: It is possible to rent a car at the airport in New Orleans, though driving might be challenging due to bad road congestion, local rules, and specific driving times.
- Taxis: Taxis are a good way to get around the city with many routes costing no more than $20.
Our top recommended travel insurance companies for New Orleans are:
- World Nomads: Comprehensive coverage for medical, travel delays, and electronics.
- SafetyWing: Cheaper monthly coverage primarily for medical.
More Articles About New Orleans
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