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The Complete Vacation Guide To New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is more than just its Mardi Gras parades and Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. We spent a whole week exploring the beautiful southern city of New Orleans and its surrounding attractions. A week full of live jazz music, powdered sugar covered beignets and of course a taste of the famous Hurricane cocktail.

We have chosen our favorite places to visit, eat and stay in NOLA for your next vacation. You could easily spend weeks exploring and relaxing in New Orleans, but if you have less time make sure to spend at least 3 days in New Orleans.

Inspiring New Orleans Travel Video

Where should I stay in New Orleans?

New Orleans has reasonable prices all year round unless you visit during Mardi Gras. If you plan to go to Mardi Gras, we recommend you to stay at least a whole week in an Airbnb, to get pre-Mardi Gras experience as well. Hotels can get pricey in the French Quarter the whole month prior to Mardi Gras.

We visited New Orleans a weekend before Mardi Gras and stayed in a beautiful apartment in the historic Irish Channel. It is just a few blocks from St. Charles Avenue, the main street where the parades march throughout the week. It is also just ten to fifteen minutes away from the French Quarter, with a taxi ride just $10-15 each way.

What should I explore and visit in New Orleans?

French Quarter: The French Quarter is a must see in the city, with the majority of sightseeing and activities. Bourbon Street has many bars, restaurants and if you want to go drinking or listen to live Jazz the French Quarter is your place to go. You cannot leave the city without walking down Bourbon Street. Keep in mind that it is gritty and touristy area! Be careful in the evenings as pickpockets try to take advantage of patrons after festivities. If you want to experience the more calm and more classic Bourbon street, then you should head down to Frenchmen Street, where you can find some of the best jazz in town.

St Charles Streetcar: One of the best ways and cheapest ways to see some of the best parts of the city is with this public streetcar. The ticket is $1.25 per ride, you can hop in the Canal Street and just enjoy the ride down the street.

Magazine Street: Walk down the quaint Magazine Street, with rows of boutique shops, delicious restaurants, lively bars and fantastic architecture.

Chasing beautiful architecture: New Orleans is full of beautiful and historic architecture. Colorful and traditional shotgun style homes line the street with many amazing mansions in between, especially in the Irish Channel and Garden District.

River Boat Ride: Go for a river boat ride down the Mississippi River on an authentic paddlewheeler or steamboat. Catch a glimpse of the historic downtown and beyond.

Horse Carriages Ride: Even though we did not take the tour as it was out our budget, we know it is a nice way to see the French Quarter. The driver offered a 90 minute tour ride for up to 4 people for $100. You can find the carriages in front of the Jackson Square.

Historic Plantations: Outside of town there are over ten historic plantations that you can tour, with some breathtaking architecture and an amazing amount of information. Learn about the horror of the slave labor and the different types of farming.

Tabasco Island: A two hour drive from New Orleans is Avery Island, the birthplace of TABASCO hot sauce. Take a tour of the pepper sauce factory, as well as Jungle Gardens and its Bird City wildfowl refuge.

Where is the best place to eat in New Orleans?

Cafe Du Monde: This is the most famous spot to enjoy some delicious sugar coated beignets in the city.

Commander’s Palace: Here you will find a refined Creole fare and an elegant jazz offering. They also have a tasting menu to give you a good sampling of the local flavors.

For more southern food recommendations check out this three day itinerary to New Orleans.

What delicious adult-only drinks to try in NOLA?

Hurricane Cocktail: The iconic fruit flavored drink of Bourbon Street.

Pimm’s Cup: It is a traditional British summertime drink, perfect for a warm day in the city.

Sazerac: This is New Orleans’ version of the the classic whiskey cocktail

Hand Grenade: As a frozen drink it is more popular in the evening in New Orleans, sold in green novelty cup.

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