New Orleans is a popular tourist destination year round, and it attracts a wide range of attention for everything from its history and architecture to sports to music and night life to Southern cuisine.
For a destination constantly in the spotlight, there are still a couple of things first-time visitors should know.
Kids Love Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras is one of the most famous festivals in the world, a colorfully and flamboyant celebration each year. This is a family-friendly event, so there’s no reason to leave the kids at home.
Families with small children love the parades and have a fabulous time sharing in the festivities and spirit of the carnival. A major street parade complete with glittery costumes, elaborate floats, pounding music, and cool stuff that flies through the air at you? How can kids not love that?
There’s an understanding among those who attend that children in the crowd are treated with respect.
Photo CC Will Montague
Don’t Expect an Uber
Uber is a relatively new concept in New Orleans. While it’s available there, it’s quite controversial, with not the most reliable reputation.
You Can Drink in the Streets
New Orleans is one of the few cities in America where it’s legal to consume alcohol in public areas. If you don’t finish your drink before your group leaves the bar, just ask for a “go-cup” and take it with you to the streets!
The official motto of NOLA is “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” which translates to “Let the good times roll!”
Keeping this in mind, you’ll notice on a Saturday or Sunday morning walk down Bourbon Street that the town smells. You’ll likely catch a whiff of old beer tossed out the previous night, as well as cigarettes, marijuana, and coffee. Also, horse manure.
It’s Got a Lot of History
New Orleans has 20 historic districts, more than any other American city. And the best way to experience the city’s heritage is by organizing a stay in a historic hotel.
Historic hotels throughout New Orleans are world class. Between private spas, rooftop pools, and revolving bars, historic hotels here take luxury to a whole new level. Depending on the time of year, you can even find IHG deals for New Orleans hotels.
Don’t Expect Southern Culture
Geographically, Louisiana is a Southern state. That said, New Orleans is not really “Southern” in the cultural sense.
NOLA locals identify more with the cosmopolitan cities of Los Angeles and New York, and it’s this kind of atmosphere you should expect from your trip.
Know How to Spot a Tourist Trap
As with any tourist hot spot, there are going to be tourist traps. And many of these are restaurants.
If you have to wait in line for a table, this is most likely a tourist trap. Eat somewhere else. There are more 4- and 5-star restaurants in New Orleans than any other city in America, and locals don’t wait for a table. With so many amazing options for food here, step out of line and flag a local for advice on where to eat.