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Plan Your Trip to New Orleans: Best of New Orleans Tourism

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New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is full of life—but with a laid-back energy that sets it apart from other cities. For some, it's all about Bourbon Street, a never-ending street party fueled by daiquiris and brass-band beats. But off the main drag, you'll also find quirky cafes and fancy antique shops, must-visit museums and haunted cemeteries. Hop on the St. Charles Streetcar and take in the Garden District's antebellum mansions, or spend an afternoon in the eclectic Bywater, where you can restaurant hop along St. Claude Avenue and see contemporary art at Studio Be. Good music is everywhere—in Frenchmen Street's jazz clubs, Uptown's dive bars, Treme's lounges, and on nearly every street corner. While Cajun and Creole dishes remain the city's most iconic, there's also very good Vietnamese food, from traditional pho to banh mi po'boys. And that's just for starters—find even more recs below.

Travel Advice

Essential New Orleans

How to do New Orleans in 3 days

Jazz clubs, soul food, and beautiful gardens
Read on

Where to enjoy New Orleans like a local

New Orleans is one of the best places in the world to let your hair down and party, but sometimes you want to escape the crowds to spots that feel more authentic, more local, and more like the kind of place you would visit if you lived here. These are seven of my favorite off-the-beaten-path spots for when you need a break from the French Quarter.
Alex Jennings, Baton Rouge, LA
  • The Avenue Pub
    7
    The knowledgeable bar staff here have been slinging beer, wine, fine whiskeys, and elevated bar food since 1987. Wherever you sit— downstairs, upstairs, in the courtyard, or on the balcony—there are great people-watching, satisfying snacks and a real down-home feel.
  • Blue Cypress Books
    1
    Blue Cypress Books is one of the best bookshops in town. The dedicated staff always have surprise recommendations, and the shelves are filled with signed editions from local authors. Cozy up with the plump bookstore cat and indulge in some much-needed book therapy far away from the crowds.
  • The Country Club
    205
    Want a good drink, a hearty meal, and a swim? Hit up The Country Club for the trifecta. A hidden jewel in the Bywater district, this restaurant turns out excellent New Orleans dishes, but the stars of the show are out back. There are a heated pool and jacuzzi in a leafy grotto where you can listen to carefully curated music as you relax. Don’t forget your swimsuit.
  • Baldwin And Co.
    3
    Don’t miss this Black-owned bookstore/coffee shop named after one of the greatest American authors. It routinely plays host to community and literary events, and it’s not unusual to see New Orleans luminaries from all walks of life chatting and rubbing elbows in the shop’s beautiful courtyard. Grab a book and a coffee, and sit outside to take in the scene.
  • La Boulangerie
    341
    The coffee here is top-notch, the pastries and desserts are perfectly executed, and the staff is super friendly. Park yourself in the dining room or in the quaint, half-hidden courtyard with its shaded tables and old-world charm. Their highly talented pastry team is always crafting something new like the “Elvis,” an aptly named brioche cake stuffed with peanut butter and roasted banana topped with bacon and finished off with toasted marshmallows.
  • Big Couch
    0 reviews
    As New Orleans’s newest comedy club, Big Couch provides some pretty huge laughs. It’s located in the Bywater and is great for standup, improv, and variety shows. They even host live tapings of some of your favorite podcasts. Make sure to buy tickets in advance because the shows have become so popular they often sell out quickly.

New Orleans Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips for experiencing New Orleans

RiverlanGone

The best place for families to stay is in the CBD (bounded by Canal St, the River, Baronne, and Poydras St) so that you're within walking distance of all the best sites to see, near the streetcar lines, close to the French Quarter, but away from the drunken, late-night craziness.

PetePope1

Yes, visit the famous restaurants, they are institutions with well-deserved reputations but also ask locals about their favorite spots and be prepared to leave the French Quarter, to Upperline Uptown, Deanie's out by the Lake, Toups’ in Mid City. New Orleans has an excellent public transport system, there are streetcars and buses, but you're probably going to want to rent a car or take a cab to reach your destination.

James H

If you plan to spend most of your time in The French Quarter, book a hotel in The French Quarter. This will save your tired feet from blocks of unnecessary walking. Trust me — it's worth the extra money to stay right where the action is.

HankScorpi0

New Orleans has something for everyone; all ages, interests, and lifestyles. It is described as the northernmost Caribbean city and the westernmost European city. You will not find another place quite like it in the world.

Jlmabey

New Orleans is a great city. There is plenty to see and do. And definitely plenty to eat! I could go to New Orleans over and over. It's definitely more of a couples/friends vacation.

Angela A

New Orleans is a simply gorgeous city, wonderfully laden with mystery around every cobblestone corner. There are those who visit this historical city to see what lies beneath and to stand quietly in front of buildings that have drawn every ghost hunter, psychic, and paranormal investigator in the country.

What is the best way to get there?

flying

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is the city’s main airport, where you can keep the good times rolling by catching some live entertainment while you wait for your flight.

train

New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal is a major Amtrak hub, with three train lines offering service to Memphis and Chicago; Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York; and Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Tucson, and Los Angeles.

bus

Greyhound, FlixBus, and MegaBus all offer service to the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal.

For more info on getting to New Orleans, see here.

Do I need a visa?

If you are a non-U.S. citizen, you may need a visa to visit New Orleans, unless your country is part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The program allows citizens of certain countries to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa.

For more info on visas and the VWP, see here.

When is the best time to visit?

New Orleans’ best weather makes its debut in February and lasts until May, coinciding with carnival season and the world-famous Mardi Gras celebrations. The average daily temperatures this time of year typically hit highs of 71 Fahrenheit (22 Celsius) with lows dipping to 45 Fahrenheit (7 Celsius).

If you’re looking to skip the madness, and the inflated prices, opt to visit in winter when hotels are cheaper, and you won’t melt from summer’s heat or worry about fall’s possible hurricanes.

Get around

bus/streetcar

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA) operates nearly 40 bus routes and four streetcar lines, as well as paratransit and ferry crossings on the Mississippi River. Some buses and streetcars run 24 hours.

For info on schedules, routes, and fares, see here.

taxis

New Orleans has more than 1,200 taxis you can grab on the street and at major hotels.

For info on fares and companies, see here.

ridesharing

Ridesharing: Both Uber and Lyft operate in New Orleans, and you can book via their smartphone apps.

bikes

Since it’s a flat city, biking is a great way to navigate New Orleans, and there are several companies that offer bike rentals.

For more info on renting a bike, see here.

On the ground

What is the timezone?

Central Standard Time

What are the voltage/plug types?

The standard voltage in New Orleans is 110V to 115V, 60Hz AC. Outlets accommodate two-prong flat (not grounded) plugs or grounded three-prong plugs.

What is the currency?

U.S. dollar

Are ATMs readily accessible?

Yes.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Yes.

How much do I tip?

Restaurants/room service

Standard tipping in New Orleans is 15 to 20 percent of your bill, or 25 percent if you were extremely happy with your meal and service. Taxis: Like restaurants, 15 to 20 percent of your fare is a typical tip for taxis, more if they were particularly nice or helpful.

Bellhop/valet

It’s standard to give between $2-$3 cash to bellhops who help with your luggage and the valet each time you retrieve your car.

Housekeeping

It’s common to leave a tip of $2 per day of your stay to the housekeeping staff of your hotel, which you can leave in the room when you go. Some hotels leave envelopes for such tips, but if they don’t, a quick note saying “Thank you” will suffice. Tour guides: If you take one of the NOLA’s many tours, your guide will surely appreciate a tip, generally between $5-$10 cash.

Are there local customs I should know?

Drinking

The legal drinking age in New Orleans is 21. You can consume alcohol on the streets of The Big Easy as long as it’s not in a glass container. Some venues even permit you to bring drinks in from other places. In addition, some bars are open 24 hours.

Greetings

If you’re asked, “Where y’at?” by a local, don’t give your physical location. They’re actually asking how you are or what’s going on.

Laissez les bon temps rouler

This is another phrase you might want to learn before visiting New Orleans. Meaning “Let the good times roll” in French, it just happens to be the city’s motto.

Frequently Asked Questions about New Orleans

We recommend staying at one of the most popular hotels in New Orleans, which include:

Some of the most popular restaurants in New Orleans include:

New Orleans is known for some of its popular attractions, which include:


If you're a more budget-conscious traveler, then you may want to consider traveling to New Orleans between June and August, when hotel prices are generally the lowest. Peak hotel prices generally start between March and May.