Visit New Orleans

While I have called the NYC area home now for over 18 years, New Orleans is my forever hometown. (Literally, one day I’ll join my family in our tomb in Metairie Cemetery.) I love hearing friends or clients are visiting this unique place! From the music, to the food and architecture, New Orleans doesn’t seem like it belongs in the USA. While all of these suggestions are worth checking out, the one with 💜 are my don’t miss ones.

So Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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When to Visit New Orleans

There are two narrow windows where the weather in Louisiana is ideal for being outdoors. Not surprisingly, March, April, October and November are the most popular months for weddings and festivals. The true winter time in January to February, (you can still be in shorts in December, which is hit or miss) can be very cold and damp. Summer basically lasts from early May into October and is hot, very humid and there are frequent afternoon thunderstorms. The highest probability for hurricanes is in August and September, but the season runs from June to November. 

Yearly Weather in New Orleans, Louisiana


Despite the heat, always bring a light jacket or sweater in the summer as most indoor places will be heavily air conditioned.

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Getting to New Orleans

The best way to reach New Orleans. Louisiana, unless you live in a neighboring state, is going to be flying into Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY). The airport is located in Kenner, Louisiana, which is a 20-30 min. drive from the French Quarter/Central Business District. (But I’d plan more time for traffic.)

There are direct flights from many airports in the US including the New York airports, Dallas, DC, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and many more. Flights from the NYC area (which I am very familiar with!) tend to range from $250-$600 in economy. The flight is about 3 hours heading to NO and 2.5 hours on the return. 

The airport moved to a new building in 2019 while the runways stayed the same. The updated facility is modern and offers some great dining and shopping options. One can easily get a taxi or Uber/Lyft. However, the rental car pick-up/drop off is located near the old terminal building. There is a free shuttle, which can take 20-40 mins. 

TIP: Unless you are arriving late or returning early, I’d take an Uber or taxi to a rental car location on Veterans Blvd. or another location. The airport charges the most and it is not convenient to get to or from.

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Transportation Around New Orleans

St. Charles Street Car

Your main mode of transit in the New Orleans area is going to be by car. From the airport you can take an Uber/Lyft or taxi. The taxis are a flat $36 rate to the Downtown/French Quarter area for two people, or $15 per person for 3 or more. I recommend renting a car outside of the airport if possible.

Once in the city, I’d suggest ordering cars or taking the streetcar if it fits your plans. There are lines running on Canal Street to City Park and Metairie Cemetery, along the Riverfront, and along St. Charles Avenue.

Here is the information on fares and ways to pay, including an app you can download. Please note, the streetcars are not always on time and there is no air conditioning. But the windows do open and it is a fun way to see the city if you aren’t in a hurry. The St. Charles line is my favorite and you’ll pass my alma mater, Loyola University.

TIP: Between the heat and for safety reasons, I’d limit walking in New Orleans. Stick to busy tourist areas like the French Quarter during the day and always order a car at night, especially after drinking. See my safety section for more details.

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Where to Stay in New Orleans

There are many hotels in New Orleans due to the numerous conventions and events. Most tourists stay in the French Quarter or Central Business District (CBD) areas. Unless noted, hotels below are in that area. If you like the hustle and bustle and late night adventures, look for a property in the French Quarter near Bourbon Street. Consider Uptown for a more quiet residential experience.

TIP: If you are considering an AirBNB, please be very careful where it is located and look at the NOPD crime map of the area. See the safety section for more info.

Cajun Cafe menu

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What to Eat in New Orleans

In New Orleans, food is a significant part of the culture and it is all good. The traditional cuisine is heavily influenced by French, Spanish and Afro Caribbean cultures unlike anywhere else in the world. From fresh seafood and staples like gumbo and jambalaya, you will not go hungry. Don’t miss beignets, real French Bread (Leidenheimer), and king cake, when in season. (You can get king cake all year around when you visit the Mardi Gras Museum.)

TIP: However, the food tends to be very rich, fried and rather unfriendly for those on a diet or with restrictions. Rest assured, there are many other types of cuisines present in the city like Italian, sushi and Vietnamese. (I survived many years as a pescatarian in the city!) 

Cafe Du Monde beignets

Local Classics

  • Boiled Crawfish (in season about January-May)
  • Shrimp (year round, but different kinds)
  • Po’ Boys (seafood, roast beef, or just fries!) 💜
  • Muffuletta (Italian sandwich with olive salad)
  • Zapp’s Kettle Potato Chips Spicy Cajun Crawtators
  • Boudin and Andouille or Alligator Sausage
  • Seafood Gumbo
  • Jambalaya
  • Charbroiled Oysters 💜


  • Beignets 💜
  • Pralines 💜
  • Hubig Pies
  • King Cakes 💜
  • Roman Candy
  • Snowballs

Local Drinks

  • Beer: Abita and NOLA Brewing
  • Cocktails: Sazerac & Ramos Gin Fizz 💜
  • FQ Specialities – Hurricane at Pat O’Briens, Hand Grenade at Tropical Isle (very sweet)
  • Daiquiris (there are drive-thru daiquiris shops in Louisiana, FYI)

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Where to Eat in New Orleans

This list includes my favorite places that feature traditional New Orleans cuisine. Years of living in NYC have taught us that good New Orleans-style food doesn’t really exist outside of the city itself. You must indulge when you visit! In no particular order, all are great.

Jacques-Imos restaurant in New Orleans

Sweets & Tea

Mississippi Riverboat

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What to Do in New Orleans

Between eating all the great food New Orleans has to offer, you many want some entertainment or even an educational experience. The best known tourist destination is the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. If you like to party and love live music, you won’t want to miss it! However, if partying isn’t your thing, there are many other educational and fun activities to pass a good time.

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New Orleans balconies French Quarter

Neighborhoods to Visit in New Orleans

New Orleans has a unique architectural heritage. From mansions along St. Charles to shotgun doubles all over the city, there is much to see. Consider a walking tour for highlights, history or hauntings.

  • French Quarter
  • Garden District
  • Maringy
  • Warehouse District
  • Algiers Point (take the ferry across the river)
  • Mid City
  • Uptown

Major Events and Festivals in New Orleans

Mardi Gras Indians New Orleans

New Orleanians love to “Laissez les bons temps rouler,” or “let the good times roll.” Especially when the weather is nice, there are countless festivals, cultural and sporting events in and around the city. When planning a visit to New Orleans, you should be aware of the largest events, which will increase hotel prices, crowds and can make getting around difficult (especially Mardi Gras). There are many smaller events and festivals worth attending year-round, including outside of New Orleans itself.

  • Mardi Gras – The season officially starts on January 6th, also known as Epiphany or 12th Night. Festivities gradually build up to the peak the two weekends before Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday can range from early February to early March. The next Mardi Gras is March 4th, 2025. See this site for future dates.
  • French Quarter Festival – Mid April
  • Jazz Fest – Two long weekends in late April, early May
  • Essence Festival – Always around July 4th
  • Southern Decadence – Labor Day weekend
  • Bayou Classic – Thanksgiving weekend
  • Sugar Bowl – On or around New Year’s Day
  • Super Bowl – Feb 9, 2025

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French Market entrance New Orleans

What to Buy in New Orleans

These items travel well and can be easily bought in the French Market or even the airport. I recommend visiting a local grocery store like Rouse’s for the best prices.

Food That Travels Well

Local Artists

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Day Trips from New Orleans

  • Mississippi Gulf Coast
  • Houma Area (Unique area with Cajun and Native American culture only an hour outside of New Orleans)
  • Grand Isle
  • Mandeville/Northshore
  • Lafayette (Cajun Country) – This is more than a day trip as it is 2 hours from New Orleans, but my husband insisted I add it because it is the best area for Cajun culture.

Stay Safe Visiting New Orleans

Crime is a concern in many areas of New Orleans. Large events and tourist areas are not immune from thieves and worse. (They can attract them.) I highly suggest not walking at night anywhere. During the day, some areas will be safer than others. See this crime map if you are considering an AirBnB so you know the area. Most of Uptown and the Garden District will be the safest bet. (These are generally the wealthiest areas and many have private security.)

I don’t want to discourage people from visiting, but one must really be careful. And if someone attempts to rob you, just give them the money. In fact, you may want to carry “mugger money,” leave your valuables at home and do not resist. It could save your life.

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