New Orleans is like no other American city. Affectionately nicknamed “The Big Easy,” it evokes a playful jazz melody, cuisine that tantalizes the taste buds and a unique culture that vibrates in the heart of Vieux Carré.
This southern U.S. city is a must-see destination for anyone seeking a travel experience rich in history, music and authentic flavors.
Europeans, Cajuns, Creoles and slaves have all left their mark on the city, creating a rich cultural fabric.
I could talk for hours about the unique charm of New Orleans, the friendliness of its people, its relaxed yet festive atmosphere and the beauty of its buildings.
However, nothing beats a visit in person to truly grasp what New Orleans has to offer. So get ready to immerse yourself in this unforgettable experience.
- Organizing your stay in New Orleans
- 10 ways to visit New Orleans
- 1. Visit the French Quarter
- 2. Attend a jazz show
- 3. Strolling through the Garden District
- 4. Visit Saint-Louis Cemetery #3
- 5. Vue Orleans
- 6. All about Sazerac
- 7. Take a Creole and Cajun cooking class
- 8. Art and nature break at Besthoff Sculpture Garden
- 9. Discover Faubourg Marigny and Bywater
- 10. Visit the National WWII Museum
- More things to do
- Good places to eat and drink
Organizing your stay in New Orleans
How much time can you devote to the Big Easy?
There’s no shortage of attractions and activities in New Orleans. You can easily spend 3 or 4 days there, especially if you want to visit a few museums. The World War II Museum, for example, can easily take a day to visit on its own.
Or leave yourself time to simply relax, sip a drink on a terrace and enjoy the city’s ambience.
When is the best time to visit New Orleans?
New Orleans can be visited in any season, but the best times are spring, early summer and autumn.
In summer, during the months of July and August, the high heat and humidity can be hard to bear, making sightseeing and walking less enjoyable. From November to February, temperatures will be a little cooler, below 20 degrees Celsius (68F).
Do you need a car to visit NOLA?
No, you don’t need a car to visit New Orleans. Most attractions and activities are concentrated in and around the French Quarter. Above all, you’ll need a good pair of walking shoes.
To visit the more outlying districts, public transport (streetcar and bus) works very well, as do cabs and Uber. You can also opt for guided bus tours of the city*.
Where to stay in New Orleans?
The French Quarter and its surroundings are a prime location for a stay in New Orleans. You’ll be within walking distance of most of the city’s attractions and restaurants.
Our favourite hotels include :
- Hotel Monteleone * and its Carousel Bar, ideally located in the French Quarter;
- The magnificent, brand-new Four Seasons*, ideally located near the French Quarter and the river;
- The Westin New Orleans at the edge of the French Quarter;
- The Higgins Hotel, brand new and splendid with its art deco decor, perfectly located if you plan to visit the National WWII Museum and a 15-minute walk from the French Quarter.
How to save on admission prices
If you plan to visit several attractions, theGo City card* is a great option for saving on admission with discounts of up to 50%, including the National WWII Museum, city bus tours, a bayou tour and more.
Free tours by foot,which last around 2 hours, are another excellent option for discovering the city. The tour is basically free, and at the end participants pay the guide an amount they feel is worthwhile or can afford. I took two tours with them and each time, the guides were super interesting and very knowledgeable about their city.
10 ways to visit New Orleans
1. Visit the French Quarter
A visit to the French Quarter is definitely a must during your stay in New Orleans. This is the city’s oldest district, with its colorful houses and emblematic architecture.
We suggest you take a guided tour, for example with free tours by foot, on arrival. This provides an overview of the area and an understanding of the city’s historical foundations.
Not to be missed:
- Jackson Square
- Saint-Louis Cathedral
- The Cabildo
- Pirates Alley
- St-Charles and Royal Street
- New Orleans Voodoo Museum
2. Attend a jazz show
You’ll hear jazz everywhere! Whether on a random street corner, in a bar or restaurant, music is everywhere in NOLA.
If you want to see a show, we recommend Preservation Hall, whose mission is to protect, preserve and perpetuate the music and culture of New Orleans. The 45-minute set is fast-paced, but the energy emanating from the musicians and the atmosphere in this concert hall, which has been preserved since the 1960s, is simply incredible.
Popular jazz bars include Spotted Cat, The Tree Muses and Mahogany Jazz Hall.
3. Strolling through the Garden District
The Garden District is another very interesting area to visit, with its grandiose mansions, huge oak trees and streetcars.
See our walking tour of the Garden District.
4. Visit Saint-Louis Cemetery #3
A visit to St. Louis Cemetery #3 is a fascinating way to discover the history of New Orleans.
You can explore beautifully decorated tombs, learn more about influential local figures and immerse yourself in the city’s rich funerary culture and traditions. Here too, it’s worth taking a guided tour* of the cemetery to gain access to this information.
5. Vue Orleans
Vue Orleans is a brand-new interactive exhibition that allows visitors to learn more about the city’s history and the people who shaped it, as well as an observatory offering a 360-degree panoramic view of New Orleans. Even the elevator ride up to the 34th floor, with its animation on the walls, is an experience in itself.
6. All about Sazerac
The Sazerac is New Orleans’ signature cocktail, so is it any wonder that there’s a museum dedicated to it? Recently reopened, The Sazerac House is spread over 3 floors and is magnificent.
This is where you’ll learn all you need to know about the creation of this cocktail, as well as the importance of mixology in the history and culture of New Orleans.
7. Take a Creole and Cajun cooking class
If cocktails and music are part of New Orleans culture, the cuisine is not to be outdone. So what better way to get your hands dirty than to take a cooking class and learn all the secrets of preparing jambalaya, gumbo and banana foster?
We couldn’t recommend enough a class with the charming Chef Dee Lavigne and her Deelightful Roux School of Cooking, who will give you all her tips for cooking Cajun and Creole recipes. It’s also the only African-American-owned cooking school where the head teacher is a native of the city.
Bonus: the school is located in the back part of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, which features various exhibits on the food and beverages of the American South.
8. Art and nature break at Besthoff Sculpture Garden
This park filled with statues is a wonderful discovery. Covering 11 acres in a park adjacent to the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Besthoff Sculpture Garden is a veritable open-air museum. Admission is free, and there are almost a hundred statues, including works by Botero, Magritte, Rodin and Renoir.
9. Discover Faubourg Marigny and Bywater
Located close to the French Quarter, Faubourg Marigny is just as charming as its neighbor, but more peaceful. It’s an enchanting place, with its Creole houses and lively Frenchmen Street, where street musicians and cool little shops gather.
Here you can browse the many boutiques and art galleries, or sip a cocktail to the sound of a jazz band.
10. Visit the National WWII Museum
One of the most visited museums in the country, the National WWII Museum is huge. You can easily spend the whole day here. It tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world, why it was fought, how it was won and what it means today.
The National WWII Museum is located in New Orleans because of the historical link with Andrew Jackson Higgins, a native of the region who played a key role in the design and manufacture of the Higgins boats, essential to the amphibious landings of World War II. It was thanks to these boats that the landings were successful, leading to victory.
More things to do
Good places to eat and drink
Where to eat in New Orleans
Here are a few suggestions of restaurants not to be missed in New Orleans:
Irene’s: Located in the French Quarter, sit at the bar and enjoy grilled oysters.
Johnny’s Po Boy: This is the city’s oldest family-run restaurant, serving generous and tasty po boys in the French Quarter.
Pêche: Fish and seafood have pride of place at Pêche. We had several starters to share, the “small plates”, and everything was delicious, from ceviche and oysters to fish and crab pasta.
Napoleon House: Go for the muffulata served hot and the Pimm’s Cup that you can enjoy in the courtyard.
Café du monde: Established in 1862, it serves the famous beignets accompanied by a café au lait with chicory. Very touristy but delicious.
Grig-Gris: It’s a perfect spot for lunch or dinner, comfortably installed on the rooftop terrace. One of the place’s specialties is a very good Gulf-fried oyster BLT with smoked pork belly, tomato jam and arugula. It also serves a number of southern classics such as grits and gumbo, but with a modern twist. Just a few blocks from the Garden District.
Miss River: The food at the brand-new Four Seasons is excellent. Several classics of Louisiana cuisine are offered, prepared with a modern twist. We loved the fries sprinkled with real grated truffle and parmesan, the whole fried chicken, the seafood and the fish.
Where to go for a drink
Carroussel Bar : Located inside the chic Hotel Monteleone, the Carousel Bar is an experience not to be missed. Opened in 1949 in this historic hotel, it remains New Orleans’ only rotating bar. Its unique carousel theme and design offer a fascinating aesthetic, with exotic animals painted on the seats.
The Sazerac Bar: This bar in the Roosevelt Hotel is known to serve one of the best sazeracs in town (but perhaps one of the most expensive too). For a good deal, take advantage of happy hour at Domenica, the Roosevelt Hotel’s other restaurant, which offers cocktails and pizzas at half price between 3pm and 5pm.
Rosie’s on the Roof: After a visit to the National WWII Museum, go and rest your legs by sipping a cocktail accompanied by bites at Rosie’s on the Roof, located on the roof of the adjacent Higgins Hotel, which also offers a beautiful view of the city.