Though New Orleans’s annual Mardi Gras celebration may be the Crescent City’s biggest draw, there’s plenty of history, world-class dining, and, of course, all that jazz. A true fusion of French, African, and Southern cultures, the Big Easy charms with its signature Southern hospitality.
Storied plantations and spooky cemeteries draw history buffs, especially the LaLaurie House, with its ghostly past and current status as a cult-favorite destination. Taking a ghost tour is a must for brave visitors.
It’s not called the Big Easy for nothing — the city embraces its laid-back vibe, especially during brunches, long coffee breaks, and impromptu beignet stops. Café du Monde is legendary and worth the long lines. For signature Creole cooking, stop at Commander’s Palace, which has been serving up Southern favorites since 1880.
Enjoy a hurricane in any of the bars on Bourbon Street, the epicenter of NOLA’s nightlife. It’s where you can snag a set of the city’s trademark beads and take in street parades, live music, and find voodoo shops. Take in a Saints game from the city’s numerous watering holes, or see the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for yourself. Make sure to check the city’s festival lineup – New Orleans hosts over 100 events a year, including Mardi Gras, the French Quarter Fest, and the Essence Music Festival. There’s something happening no matter when you visit.
Stray from the touristy spot of Bourbon Street and visit the two-block stretch of Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood for the best live music in town. Hear the classic sounds of the city including jazz, blues, Latin, and more at one of the dozen music clubs that line the street, which generally do not charge a cover.
For a fun and convenient form of transportation around the French Quarter, flag down one of the pedicabs to give you a lift. Many of the pedicab drivers double as licensed tour guides and often stop to allow passengers to get out and take pictures.
Bourbon Street is not named for the famous whiskey, but after the French royal house of Bourbon. The whiskey actually got its name because buyers were looking for "the whiskey served on Bourbon St."
Weather in NOLA is often hot and humid, with temps often making it to the triple digits with humidity at 100%. The best time to visit the city is in early spring for mild temperatures, cool evenings, little rain, and the start of music festival season.
The expansive Mississippi River can be explored by several ferries or the Creole Queen River Boat. However, a must-see is the scenery at Crescent Park in Bywater, which hosts bike paths, picnic areas, and views of the water.