Perhaps no U.S. city is richer in culture than New Orleans. While many cities have lost track of their traditions over the years, New Orleans has managed to do the opposite. By celebrating what makes it a truly unique place – its food, people, music, and culture – New Orleans has managed to remain a city that is true to itself while continuing to evolve into something special.
But before setting off to New Orleans, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about traveling to New Orleans, including:
- What are the costs for travelers?
- Things to know about culture and etiquette
- What are the top activities?
- How safe is it?
- Local food and drinks
- How good is the wifi?
- When is the best time to visit?
Ready? Here are the top things you need to know before visiting New Orleans:
Did you know… New Orleans is home to the Besthoff Sculpture Garden which contains 90 sculptures by world-renowned artists. The sculptures are scattered along a network of walking trails outside the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park.
1) New Orleans Affordability
New Orleans’s accommodation prices fluctuate quite a bit throughout the year. They are at their highest during Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, and New Year’s Eve, when crowds of visitors engulf the city. Travelers looking for budget options will find plenty of opportunities for savings on food, transportation, and activity costs.
Here are the average costs for travelers in USD:
- Average hotel price: Average hotel prices in New Orleans range from $96 – $229 per night, depending on the hotel and season.
- Luxury 5-star hotels like the well-known Roosevelt Hotel can cost over $400 for a standard room or more than $900 during high season.
- A 3-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two costs around $82.
- For a cheap meal at an inexpensive restaurant, expect to pay less than $20.
- A bottle of beer costs around between $4-$6, while a cappuccino will run you about $4.75.
The French Quarter is where most visitors spend the majority of their time, and it is easily navigated on foot. For travelers wishing to venture further afield, here are some options:
- The Regional Transit Authority operates public streetcar, bus, and ferry services with single-ride fares starting at $1.25. Jazzy Passes can be purchased for 1, 3, or 7 days for $3, $8, and $15. The city’s Le Pass app allows users to plan and pay for journeys on their phones.
- Taxis are plentiful in the city and can be hailed on the street in tourist areas. Fares within the city are typically less than $20. Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft are also available in New Orleans.
- Blue Bikes and private bike rentals are available throughout the city. Blue Bikes cost $1 to unlock and $0.15/minute, while daily rentals from a bike shop start at $25 for 4 hours.
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2) Culture And Etiquette In New Orleans
New Orleans is notorious for being a place to let loose and have fun. However, there are still rules and norms to follow when visiting.
Check this list before your trip! Here are some of the major Dos and Don’ts in New Orleans.
- DON’T spend all your time on Bourbon Street: The city has so much more to explore, so be sure to venture out.
- DO get a to-go cup: Drinking alcohol on the streets is permitted and commonplace in New Orleans. However, you must transfer your beverage into a plastic cup before leaving the bar, as no glass containers are allowed on the streets.
- DON’T keep to yourself: New Orleans locals are incredibly welcoming and friendly, so don’t be shy – strike up a conversation with a stranger.
- DO try the local food: New Orleans has one of the best food scenes in the country. Get outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
- DON’T rent a car: Most of the roads are in poor condition, and parking can be inconvenient and expensive.
3) Top Attractions In New Orleans
- The Festivals – New Orleans claims to host 130 festivals and events each year, meaning no matter when you go, your chance of experiencing something worth celebrating is pretty good. Find out what is happening during your visit, and be sure to join in. There are the well-known events like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, but who said a festival celebrating the Po-boy or the art of Burlesque isn’t just as fun?
- New Orleans City Park – This park is larger than New York’s Central Park and is home to a botanical garden, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and an impressive collection of old trees.
- Second Line Parades – Second lines are weekly neighborhood parades where visitors can join in and parade the streets behind the band and dancers.
4) How Safe Is It For Tourists?
The majority of crime in New Orleans takes place outside of the tourist areas. And while it is generally safe to visit, tourists should be aware of a few things:
- Keep your drinking in check: Many visitors like to let loose when visiting and often overdo it to the point where they can become targets of crime or put themselves in danger.
- Take a taxi at night: After dark, consider taking a taxi to get around, especially if you have been drinking. If walking, stay in well-lit, busy areas.
- Beware of pickpockets and scammers: Keep your valuables at home and use common sense when exploring the city.
- DO get travel insurance: Travel insurance can help in health emergencies as well as with covering the costs of any travel mishaps during your New Orleans trip. For 5 great options, read more here.
5) Local Eats And Drinks
New Orleans is almost as famous for its food as it is for its Mardi Gras celebration, and for good reason. The city’s history and unique cultural makeup mean that you’ll find an incredible selection of food. We’d need a whole new website to list all the best foods, but here is a selection of a few dishes worth trying:
- Gumbo – a thick stew of vegetables, chicken, sausage, and/or seafood served over rice
- Jambalaya – a spiced dish of chicken, seafood, and/or sausage with peppers and rice
- Muffaletta – a satisfying sandwich of olives, cured meats, and cheese
- Crawfish Étourffée – a thick stew of crawfish served over rice
- Beignets – this anytime treat is somewhere between a donut and fried dough and covered in powdered sugar. The most famous place to try one is Café du Monde.
New Orleans has plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans. Not only do most restaurants offer plant-based options, but there are also several spots that cater specifically to vegetarian diets.
- Sazerac – The official cocktail of New Orleans – Whiskey or Bourbon mixed with absinthe, bitters, and sugar
- Hurricane – dark and light rum with fruit juices served with an orange slice and a cherry
6) How’s The WiFi?
Using Ookla, an internet speed testing service, the average internet speeds in New Orleans for January 2023 were 115.93mbps download and 12.72mbps upload.
7) Best Time To Visit
No matter what time of year you visit New Orleans, there will be something fun going on. That being said, some months are better than others, depending on what type of getaway you are looking for and what type of budget you have.
The high season in New Orleans is between February and May when the weather is decent, and there are plenty of festivals. This is also when hotel prices are at their max and crowds are at their peak.
- Carnival and Mardi Gras – February
- Jazz Fest – April
- French Quarter Festival – April
Between October and January, there are fewer crowds, cooler temperatures, and less rainfall and humidity. Hotel rates are typically lower during these months than during the high season.
- Halloween Parties – October
- Voodoo Music & Arts Experience – October
- All Saints Day – November
- New Year’s Eve – December
From June to September, the weather is sweltering, humid, and rainy, but hotels are the cheapest, and there is still plenty to do
- Essence Music Festival – July
- Satchmo Summerfest – August.
- Southern Decadence – September
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com