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This article is part of the Hipmunk #CityLove Project

New Orleans is one of America’s most premiere tourist destinations, and people from all over the world flock here to experience its centuries old history, amazing architecture, and culinary delights.

Nevertheless, first-time visitors can often find themselves caught off guard. Between neon-lit cocktail bars, loud music clubs, and chain restaurants, it’s easy for a new visitor to fall into tacky tourist traps and miss discovering the true soul of New Orleans.

New Orleans.

New Orleans.

With this in mind, the following are things they don’t tell you about New Orleans.

New Orleans is NOT Southern

Louisiana is a southern state geographically, although New Orleans is not “southern”.

Locals identify with the bigger cities such New York, and this is the experience and atmosphere you’ll get from a visit to NOLA.

Mardi Gras is for Everyone

Mardi Gras is a family-friendly event, and the parades are full of families with small children sharing in the festivities and spirit of the carnival.

Think about it: a major street parade with elaborate floats, glittery costumes, music, and cool stuff literally flying through the air? Kids LOVE Mardi Gras, and it’s an unwritten rule that those in attendance show respect for children.

Mardi Gras is

Mardi Gras is for everyone! Photo CC by Will Montague

Pick your neighborhood wisely, and enjoy one of the most famous festivals in the world!

Avoid Likely Tourist Traps

If there’s a line waiting to eat, you’re most likely stepping into a tourist trap. Eat elsewhere.

New Orleans has more four- and five-star restaurants than any other city in the United States, and locals don’t wait for a seat. There are plenty of amazing local eats around NOLA. Your best bet is to step out of line and ask a local where to eat.

The Town Smells

Walking through New Orleans you’ll be bombarded with different smells.

Depending on your location and the time of year, you’re likely to get a whiff of everything, including “horse manure, cigarettes, dead fish, marijuana, fried chicken, Confederate jasmine, old wood, coffee, Angel’ Trumpet flowers, mown grass, mossy trees, and sweet olive.”

The town smells of everything from

The town smells of everything from horse manure to sweet olive.

A morning stroll of Bourbon Street over the weekend will smell like old beer discarded at closing time the previous night.

Free Ferry for Pedestrians

For those searching for the best photo opportunities in the city, head to the foot of Canal Street and catch the ferry across the river.

It’s free for pedestrians and offers fantastic views of the cityscape.

Cheap Accommodation is Possible

Finding cheap accommodation in New Orleans is absolutely possible.

If you’re looking for ways to get a cheap hotel, go to Hipmunk’s New Orleans guide page. Here, you’ll discover the average price for each hotel during peak season, and whether you should tempt fate with lodging at a hostel.

Cheap accommodation is possible.

As we’ve discovered, there is much you may not know about New Orleans, although with a little pre-planning and the correct advice, nothing will stand in the way of a fantastic experience in this wonderful city.

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Meg Jerrard is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

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