As travelers who are lured back year after year for Mardi Gras, the Jazz Fest or the French Quarter Festival have learned, New Orleans’ music, cuisine and culture are a tasty, slow-cooked gumbo that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
What to pack for a trip to New Orleans
For a trip to New Orleans, pack for the seasons. May through August you’ll want loose, light-colored clothing in linen or cotton. Explore the city in a leisurely manner and pack a water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your travels.
Pack your camera and phone chargers because New Orleans is an Instagrammer’s dream. A travel charger with rechargeable batteries can save you from the end-of-the-day crisis of a dying camera just as dusk descends on a plantation or swamp tour.
Comfortable shoes are key, as stylish as you can manage. New Orleans’ French Quarter is best traveled by foot from window-shopping to concert-hopping. Save those feet and remember that properly taking in the Crescent City is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
The best time to visit New Orleans
New Orleans is in full bloom by late March, ushering in springtime weather before some areas of the United States have fully shoveled out the driveway. Early spring offers baby steps into festival season, which grows longer every year. By April, the special events seem back-to-back and the weather hasn’t yet descended into NOLA’s legendary summer heat and humidity.
A second standout season is late October. With the threat of hurricanes behind us, the cool weather comes at last and with it, a no-holds-barred Halloween celebration.
New Orleans is also fast becoming a New Year’s Eve destination of choice for discerning travelers. Celebrations abound in ballrooms with riverfront views, hot bands and free-flowing champagne, so you can ring in the new year while watching a spectacular fireworks show over the Mississippi River.
Should visitors rent a car in New Orleans?
Visitors, especially those coming to New Orleans for the first time and staying in the French Quarter, would be well advised to skip the car rental and take advantage of the streetcar system for points of interest from cemeteries to the aquarium.
Many hotels offer free shuttle service to and from the airport. If yours does not, grab a taxicab from Armstrong Airport.
Public transportation in New Orleans
Public transportation in New Orleans is historic, with one of the finest working streetcar systems in the United States. No one takes the streetcar if they’re in a rush, but from the rumble of the tracks to the clanging of the bell upon stopping, it’s a sensory experience. Enjoy a ride through the historic Garden District and bring along a guidebook for mansion-spotting.
The Crescent City’s bus system is one of the better ways to attend the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival if you’re staying in the French Quarter and need to make it to Mid-City without breaking the bank.
Pedicabs, horse and carriage tours, double-decker tour busses, taxis and hotel shuttles round out your NOLA transportation options.