New Orleans, Louisiana - Street scenes from walking around the French Quarter of New Orleans on Bourbon Street.

New Orleans Travel Guide

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New Orleans is an over-the-top experience for the senses, a city filled with vibrantly colored streets, soul-filled rhythm and blues, and memorable flavors. The coastal Louisiana enclave is the culinary heart of creole and cajun food, and beyond delicacies from gumbo to shrimp and grits, it's the city that brought us the muffuletta, beignets, and char-broiled oysters. 

New Orleans, nicknamed "The Big Easy," is a town of jazz kings and queens, iconic architecture, the New Orleans Saints, and perhaps the most spirited street in America—Bourbon Street. It's also one of the only cities in America where you can legally drink on the street, which only adds to the lively nature of NOLA nightlife. Comedian and actor Hannibal Burress famously said of the Big Easy that "for $300 you can have your own parade on a day's notice," and if that doesn't beautifully encapsulate the glory of New Orleans in one sentence, we don't know what does. 

For legendary New Orleans jazz, the best restaurants in New Orleans, and every other must-try activity, including tours of the bayou and ghost tours of the city's most haunted streets, consult this guide. We've mapped out exactly what to do in New Orleans to experience this renowned city of celebration and resilience.

Time Zone

Central Standard Time. (Daylight Savings Time is observed seasonally)

Best Time to Go

New Orleans is a great city to visit in the winter and spring, whereas the heat, high humidity, and threat of hurricanes make the summer and fall less enticing. June through August can be rainy. Some visitors plan a trip around Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday), which typically falls in February. Others stay away from the crowds and high price tags associated with the festivities of the biggest event of the year. 

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and New Orleans Wine & Food Experience are popular events that attract visitors.

Things to Know

If you want to experience Mardi Gras, be sure to book well ahead of time and be ready for hotel rates to be higher than at other times of the year. Also, many popular sightseeing attractions are closed during Mardi Gras.

New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz, and legendary musician, Louis Armstrong was born in the city.

Category five Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005, flooding 80 percent of the city.

New Orleans is one of the top ten cities in the United States for the number of annual visitors.

Louisiana is divided into parishes rather than counties like the other states, and greater New Orleans spans eight parishes.

The motto of New Orleans is "Laissez les bon temps rouler," or "Let the good times roll."

The official cocktail of New Orleans is the Sazerac which was created in a French Quarter bar.

Mardi Gras traditions include King Cake, with a tiny plastic baby figurine inside. The guest who gets the piece of cake with the baby, according to custom, must throw the following year's Mardi Gras party.

The colors of Mardi Gras have special meaning: Green for faith, purple for justice, and gold for power.

How to Get Around

The New Orleans Transit Authority operates four streetcar lines: the St. Charles line, the Canal Street line, the Riverfront line, and the Rampart line. Plan ahead using the map and have your exact fare ready as they do not give change. ($1.25 one way) They also offer a Jazzy Pass which can be purchased online.

Taking a streetcar is part of the fun as well as convenient transportation. The historic vehicles are part of New Orleans history.

Buses: There are 40 different RTA bus routes that run across the city of New Orleans. A one-way ticket costs $1.25, and a $3 all-day Jazzy Pass gets you unlimited rides for 24 hours. 

Ferries: RTA Ferries transport travelers to Algiers for $2 per ride and are commonly referred to as "water taxis."

Maison de la Luz
Credit: Courtesy of Maison de la Luz

Best Hotels

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Maison de la Luz

Address: 546 Carondelet Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 814-7720
Book Now

A favorite of luxury travelers, Maison de la Luz is a gorgeously decorated hotel known for its idyllic guest house, The hotel has 67 suites, including over-the-top rooms like the Grand Studio suite, which can be joined with a one-bedroom suite to accommodate larger groups.

Hotel Peter and Paul

Address: 2317 Burgundy Street
New Orleans, LA 70117
Phone: (504) 356-5200
Book Now

Once a church, rectory, schoolhouse, and convent, Hotel Peter and Paul has refurbished the former religious institution into a memorable boutique hotel.The schoolhouse has 59 rooms and the reception area; the convent has seven rooms and the Sundae Best Ice Cream shop; and the rectory features a brick-lined courtyard, on-site restaurant, and the last five rooms.

The Roosevelt New Orleans

New Orleans, LA 70112
Phone: (504) 648-1200
Book Now

Home to the Sazerac Restaurant, an outdoor pool, a rooftop bar, Waldorf Astoria spa, and polished guest rooms and suites, the historic Roosevelt New Orleans offers an opulent experience.

The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans

Address: 921 Canal Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
Phone: (504) 524-1331
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Set in the heart of the French Quarter on famed Canal Street, guests can listen to live jazz at the Davenport Lounge, marvel at the authentic Beaux Arts architecture of the 1908 building, indulge in the spa's VooDoo ritual, and dine at on-site M Bistro.

Melrose Mansion

Address: 937 Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70116
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This luxury boutique offers 14 rooms and suites, each with unique design, in the historic Faubourg Marigny neighborhood within walking distance to attractions like the French Market, Cafe du Monde, and Jackson Square.

Quarter House

Address: 129 Chartres Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 523-5906
Website

Quarter House is a piece of NOLA history in itself, designed in 1831 and located on a half-city block in the heart of the French Quarter. Each suite has a furnished kitchen, dishes, linens, walk-in shower and all you need to feel at home in NOLA.

The Eliza Jane

Address: 315 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 882-1234
Book Now

Named for the country's first woman publisher who turned a penny paper into a national institution, The Daily Picayune, the hotel was also home to Antoine Peychaud who packaged his eponymous bitters onsite. The hotel is home to The Press Room, a chic lobby lounge, and French brasserie, Couvant.

InterContinental New Orleans

Address: 444 St Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70131
Phone: (504) 525-5566
Book Now

Steps from the historic French Quarter and riverfront, the hotel offers a rooftop pool with city views, and a convenient location near many of the city's best attractions. It's popular with business travelers, Mardi Gras goers, and families. 

The Chloe

Address: 4125 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70115
Phone: (504) 541-5500
Website

Set in the Uptown neighborhood, The Chloe is housed in a Victorian-era mansion featuring a pool, gardens, brick patio and front porch. Its fourteen guest rooms include soaking tubs, four-poster or low spindle beds, local art, and vintage finds.

Addis NOLA food plate
Credit: Courtesy of Addis NOLA

Best Restaurants

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Felix's Restaurant & Oyster Bar

Address: 739 Iberville Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 522-4440
Website

Char-grilled or Buffalo, Rockefeller, or Bienville, Felix's is"the first name in oysters." While they offer a variety of classic dishes, from étouffées to jambalayas, locals and tourists alike tend to focus on the oysters "harvested from Louisiana's best oyster beds."

Acme Oyster House

Address: 724 Iberville Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 522-5973
Website

The Acme Oyster House has a loyal following, and whether you belly up to the counter or wait for a table, you're sure to get the freshest seafood available. There's even the "10 napkin" roast beef sandwich for those who prefer turf to surf.

Cafe du Monde

Address: 800 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 587-0833
Website

Beignets, powdered sugar, and chicory-laced coffee—that's Cafe du Monde in a nutshell. The original coffee stand dates back over 150 years, and it's open 24/7. The beignets are addictive, the coffee is strong, and Cafe du Monde has become such an institution that they've branched out to selling their ground coffee and beignet mix all over the country.

Commander's Palace

Address: 1403 Washington Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 899-8221
Website

World-class chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme have graced the kitchen of this landmark restaurant. In existence since 1893, Commander's Palace features "haute Creole cuisine" and a "dirt to plate within 100 miles" policy that contributes to its legendary status as one of the city's great dining establishments.

Levee Baking Co.

Address: 3138 Magazine St, Suite D
New Orleans, LA 70115
Phone: (504) 354-8708
Website

The cleverly named bakery—levee referring to both the French word for bread dough that is "rising" and the embankments and flood-walls that surround the city—Levee specializes in breads, pastries, and queen cakes, a take on the French galette des rois. This neighborhood bakery first began making its version of a king cake during the height of the #metoo movement and decided to call it a queen cake.

NOLA Restaurant

Address: 534 St Louis Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 522-6652
Website

Famed chef Emeril Lagasse owns four restaurants in the city with his take on southern classics like Emeril's Barbequed Shrimp, Gumbo, and Miss Hay's Stuffed Chicken Wings. There's a daily happy hour, extensive wine list, and signature cocktails.

Arnaud's

Address: 813 Bienville Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
Phone: (504) 523-5433
Website

Known for its live Dixieland jazz brunch as well as for its classic cocktail bar, the French 75, Arnaud's provides a range of signature NOLA experiences. After feasting in their romantic main dining room and imbibing in their cozy bar, you can even take home their creole mustard and remoulade sauce.

Cochon

Address: 930 Tchoupitoulas Street, Suite A
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 588-2123
Website

Situated in a renovated warehouse, Cochon features a pork-centric menu and puts an imaginative spin on traditional cajun cuisine as well as seafood and fresh local produce.

Toups' Meatery

Address: 845 N Carrollton Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70119
Phone: (504) 252-4999
Website

With signature Meatery Boards and his meat-focused entrées that range from lamb to venison, Chef Isaac manages to blend fine dining with the casualness of charcuterie and wine. As Toups approaches its 10-year anniversary, Chef Isaac continues to branch out, releasing two new hot sauce flavors to go along with his 2018 cookbook Chasing the Gator.

Addis NOLA food plate
Credit: Courtesy of Addis NOLA

Addis NOLA

Address: 422 S Broad Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70119
Phone: (504) 218-5321
Website

At Addis NOLA, the city's Ethiopian restaurant, forks aren't needed as you grab the signature bread, injera, tear it apart and use it to scoop up the classic doro wat, a chicken dish with onions, spices, and a delicious sauce. An array of options from vegetarian to lamb are served.

N7

Address: 1117 Montegut Street
New Orleans, LA 70117
Phone: (318) 294-5438
Website

A true neighborhood French restaurant, the N7 is named after the highway that once ran from Paris to the Italian border. The restaurant brings an interesting twist to French cuisine, infusing a Japanese touch inspired by chef Yuki Yamaguchi.

The New Orleans Vampire Café

Address: 801 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
Phone: (504) 581-0801
Website

Set in the heart of the French Quarter, the cafe features a vampire-themed atmosphere and gothic style decor, inspired by the mystique of New Orleans. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, the menu includes salads, seafood, steaks, and southern classics like shrimp and grits.

Old town French Quarter outdoor food and flea market entrance inside in Louisiana famous town city during day shopping
Credit: Getty Images

Things to Do

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Blue Nile

Address: 523 Frenchmen Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
Phone: (504) 766-6193
Website

Frenchmen Street is one of the best streets for live music in New Orleans, and the Blue Nile is one of the best spots. Catch jazz, funk, blues, and brass bands at Blue Nile, and you'll immediately be swept up in the Frenchmen Street atmosphere.

New Orleans Ghost Adventures Tour

Address: 620 Decatur St #600
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone : (504) 475-5214
Website

Much of New Orleans folklore is rooted in the city being more than a little bit haunted. As such, ghost tours are quite popular in the French Quarter. Summon spirits from the beyond with a New Orleans Ghost Adventures Tour. They offer a selection of tours, including voodoo and cemetery tours, haunted pub crawls, and ghost tours of the Garden District.

New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours

Address: 437 Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70116
Phone: (504) 571-9975
Website

New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours offers a range of excursions, including a tour of Manchac Swamp, an extended bayou tour along Shell Bank, and an introduction to the scenic Honey Island Swamp. The discovery experiences are educational, ecological, and cultural.

New Orleans Jazz Museum

Address: 400 Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70116
Phone : (504) 568-6993
Website

Delve deeper into the New Orleans jazz culture by visiting the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Located where the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street meet, the museum has permanent and rotating exhibitions on the history of jazz and features a performance venue on the third floor.

Palace Market

Address: 619 Frenchmen Street

New Orleans, LA 70116
Phone: (504) 358-8287
Website: www.Palacemarketnola.com

One of the best things to do in New Orleans at night is wander the Palace Market on Frenchmen Street. It's an open-air market, hosted only in the evenings, that displays local art and other artisanal goods under string lights.

Old town French Quarter outdoor food and flea market entrance inside in Louisiana famous town city during day shopping
Credit: Getty Images

French Market

Address: 700-1010 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 636-6400
Website

French Market is a popular open-air market and food hall in New Orleans. The space has permanent food stalls serving local étouffée, char-broiled oysters, crawfish, and more. Culinary demonstrations and cultural events are held there as well.

Roulaison Rum Distillery

Address: 2727 S Broad Ave Suite #103
New Orleans, LA 70125
Phone: (504) 517-4786
Website

Roulaison produces award-winning, complex, small-batch rums that you can try on the property. Sign up for their distillery tour and tasting in advance to learn more about the New Orleans approach to this craft spirit.

Broad Street Cider

Address: 2723 S Broad Street
New Orleans, LA 70125
Phone: (504) 405-1854
Website

Try a craft brewery experience with a twist at Broad Street Cider. At Broad Street, they're making hand-crafted ciders and meads in small batches based on apple juice from Michigan and the Pacific Northwest. Louisiana raw honey goes into their meads.

New Orleans, National World War II Museum, Boeing Center, Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber
Credit: Universal Images Group via Getty Images

National WWII Museum

Address: 945 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 528-1944
Website

The museum's exhibits cover "the war that changed the world" through exhibits that focus on world leaders, events, and the war's courageous men and women. Stay on the Museum's campus at the Higgins Hotel and Conference Center, an art-deco style property offering first-class accommodations.

Billy Reid storefront at night in New Orleans
Credit: Courtesy of Billy Reid

Best Shopping

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Shops at the Colonnade

Address: 700-1010 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
Phone: (504) 636-6400
Website

Next to French Market, the open-air food hall, you'll find great shopping at the Shops at the Colonnade. After lunch at the market, dip into the Shops at the Colonnade to find souvenir vendors and local boutiques.

Canal Place

Address: 333 Canal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 522-9200
Website

An upscale mall, decorated with exposed brick, plant walls, and neon signage, Canal Place is the place to shop for designer labels. You'll find all your favorites here from J.Crew and Anthropologie to Michael Kors and Tory Burch.

Louisiana Music Factory

Address: 421 Frenchmen Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
Phone: (504) 586-1094
Website

Stop in at Louisiana Music Factory where you'll find an inspiring number of records (across every genre, but with an emphasis on soul) as well as CDs, sheet music, posters, books, tee shirts, and hats.

The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk

Address: 500 Port of New Orleans Place
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 522-1555
Website

Shop at the New Orleans waterfront, where you'll find 75 retailers, restaurants, and views of the water, all in the heart of downtown. From The Loft Outlook to Nordstrom Rack, you'll find great deals on designer pieces at the Riverwalk.

Billy Reid storefront at night in New Orleans
Credit: Courtesy of Billy Reid

Billy Reid

Address: 3927 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
Phone: (504) 208-1200
Website

Billy Reid is a prominent Southern clothing designer, so why not duck into the branch on Magazine Street and outfit yourself like a Southern lady or gentleman? Their style has an air of Southern class with a modernized, street-style finish.

Nadeau Furniture With a Soul storefront in New Orleans
Credit: Courtesy of Nadeau

Nadeau

Address: 2728 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
Phone: (504) 891-1356
Website

Shop for vintage furniture and accessories, many of their pieces sourced locally. From large pieces to mirrors, lamps, vases, and baskets, the collection is interesting and unique.

Piety & Desire Chocolate

Address: 2727 S Broad Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70125
Phone: (504) 799-1709
Website

Be sure to visit Piety & Desire Chocolate for a box of gorgeous chocolats to take home as a souvenir. (or enjoy while you're in NOLA)

St. James Cheese Company

Address: Multiple locations
Website

A local favorite in New Orleans, St. James Cheese Company has an extensive, high-end array of fromage. Visit St. James at either their uptown or Warehouse District venues for a few artisanal goods—and grab a sandwich to go while you're there.

Neighborhoods to Know

French Quarter: Between the Central Business District and the Marigny, the French Quarter is where you'll find some of the best restaurants and nightlife in New Orleans. One of New Orleans' most historic neighborhoods, the Quarter is where you'll find the delightful French Market and, of course, lavish homes with the quintessential decorative facades.

Marigny: From gorgeous historic buildings to under-the-radar jazz clubs and inviting local shops, the Marigny is a lovely place to spend time when visiting New Orleans. Adjacent to the French Quarter, it's an easy walk to find the artistic heart of New Orleans. Come for the preserved architecture, stay for the Frenchmen Palace Market.  

Garden District: South of the French Quarter and Marigny area and slightly farther inland, you'll find NOLA's Garden District, home to Commander's Palace and lush, oak tree-lined streets. In this neighborhood, which dates back to the 19th century, you'll find opulent mansions that exude Southern charm and old-world design.  

Bywater: Boho-chic New Orleans neighborhood, Bywater, sits on the Mississippi River, bordering the Marigny. It's slightly quieter than the Marigny and significantly quieter than the French Quarter, but packs an arts and culture punch. You'll find NOLA's best galleries and vintage shopping in Bywater.

Central Business District: Also thought of as New Orleans' downtown, the Central Business District (CBD) is centrally located, roughly equidistant to the Marigny and the Garden District. New Orleans' business district is bustling seven days of the week and is home to some of the city's most renowned restaurants and high-end hotels. 

Treme: Bordering the French Quarter, this area was founded in the 18th century, and is known for African American history, authentic creole food, parades, jazz funerals, and the Backstreet Cultural Museum.

Weather

The climate is humid subtropical with mild winters and hot, humid summers. Hurricane season is from June through November. 

The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month.

January 47 - 62
February 51 - 66
March 57 - 72
April 64 - 79
May 71 - 86
June 76 - 90
July 78 - 92
August 79 - 92
September 76 - 88
October 66 - 80
November 56 - 71
December 50 - 64

Apps to Download

RTA GoMobile: Allows you to prepay for public transportation
iOS | Android

ParkMobile: Pay your meter through an app
iOS | Android

Uber: Rideshare servicing New Orleans
iOS | Android

Lyft: Rideshare servicing New Orleans
iOS | Android