New Orleans, LA
To know New Orleans is to love her. There's no place quite like the Big Easy, known for its unique blend of mouthwatering food, pulse-pounding music echoing across the city and festivals galore. New Orleans is a gumbo of different cultures, each adding their own flavor to the pot. New Orleans is also resilient, bouncing back from the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to become in many ways a better city than before.
Must/see do in New Orleans
A visit to New Orleans should start with a tour of the French Quarter, New Orleans' oldest neighborhood, featuring 98 blocks of street performers, music, food and fun. When your feet can't walk another step, hop on the historic St. Charles streetcar and ride it all the way Uptown to the end of the line; the best way to see historic mansions on St. Charles Avenue. Before you leave New Orleans, spend the the day at City Park, which has a little bit of something fun and exciting for kids of all ages.
Where to stay in New Orleans
The Garden District in New Orleans is great place to stay if you have young children. This walkable area is a great neighborhood to see some of the city's historic mansions and enjoy kid-friendly restaurants like Juan's Flying Burrito.
Younger travelers and those looking to be in the thick of the nightlife will definitely want to stay in the French Quarter. Here you'll find yourself within walking distance of all the great restaurants, bars and many attractions; and if you're lucky, you might spot a celebrity or two.
If you want to get away from the roar of the French Quarter crowd but still want to be close enough for easy access and you're looking for a good deal, consider staying in the Mid-City area. This neighborhood is near major attractions like City Park, the New Orleans Museum of Art , is easily accessible by bus or streetcar and has some charming and affordable bed and breakfast, like the 1896 O'Malley House.
Best and worst times to go to New Orleans
New Orleans is a city that you can visit year-round and always find something exciting to do. However, one of the best times to visit New Orleans is February to May when major festivals like Mardi Gras, the Jazz and Heritage Festival and the French Quarter Festival take place and the weather is still pleasant. Daytime temperatures in New Orleans from June to August can get pretty stifling, so if you can't stand the heat, best to stay out of the kitchen that is New Orleans during the hot summer months.
Where to get lost in New Orleans
The six-mile stretch of Magazine Street, from the Garden District to Uptown New Orleans, is the perfect neighborhood to get lost in. Here you'll find some of the best antique shops in New Orleans, along with fine dining and casual restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, snazzy boutiques (including Mad Men Bryan Batt's home decor and furnishing store, Hazelnut) music venues and much more.
The best deal in New Orleans
The Audubon Experience Package is a great deal if you're planning on visiting all four of the Audubon Institute's fee-based attractions. You can save over $25 per person by purchasing this pass (good for 30 consecutive days) that will admit you to the Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy IMAX Theatre and Audubon Butterfly Gardens and Insectarium.
Transportation in New Orleans
Getting around New Orleans is easy. Reliable and affordable transportation options include streetcars, city and tour buses, carriage rides, traditional cabs and human-fueled pedicabs. If you enjoy biking, you might want to consider renting a bike and touring the city on two wheels.
Getting in from Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
From the airport to downtown New Orleans is a short 11-mile ride. Transportation is available by airport shuttle, cab, car rental or if you want to arrive in style, take a limousine. You can also take the Jefferson Parish Transit System Airport bus to the downtown area and then take a cab or city transportation to your hotel.
Local tip for visitors to New Orleans
When you order a po-boy in New Orleans and they asked if you want it "dressed," don't be alarmed; they simply want to know if you want lettuce, tomato and pickles and mayo.
Planning a trip to New Orleans? Find out how to blend in like a local with our travel tips by clicking here.
Author's bio: Myra Faye Turner is a writer living and enjoying life in New Orleans. She always eats her po-boys dressed.