The Do’s & Don’ts of Your First Trip to New Orleans
This post was also published over on Lattes & Luggage . Thanks to Raven for liking my work and sharing it with her audience! If you haven’t read it yet, check out my list of Do’s and Don’ts for your first trip to New Orleans!
….get out of the French Quarter! It’s beautiful and charming but also super touristy and can get a little rowdy (like “I just turned 21” rowdy)…especially Bourbon Street. While you should see it at least once during your stay you should know that New Orleans has a lot to offer outside of the French Quarter! There are so many neighborhoods worth visiting on your stay – Bywater & Marigny (check out Studio Be), Arts District, the Garden District aka Uptown, Downtown and more! If you’re looking for bars and jazz but want to pass on the “I’m wasted with a commemorative cup of grain alcohol stumbling down the street” crowd then please head to Frenchmen Street! This street is the grownup version of Bourbon Street and has so, so many amazing things to offer! Night art markets, delicious food options, bars and live music on any given night. It’s not to be missed!
…..overlook public transportation. Don’t skip the trolley! You can get an all day on/off pass via the RTA app for $3.00 and it’s good for all lines. You can do a DIY Garden District tour to gawk at the mansions, take the trolley down to Canal and head towards any of the famous cemeteries (just know that you’ll need a guide to get into St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 so plan ahead!). You’ll also save $15 (or more!) by taking the hotel shuttle from the airport (if you’re staying in the French Quarter) vs. Uber or Lyft. Tickets are $24 one way and can be purchased near the baggage claim.
….stay healthy and comfortable! If you’re traveling in the summer, like I did, you need to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. This is especially important if you’re knocking back some delicious cocktails on your stay! In addition to drinking plenty of water you’ll want to bring a comfortable pair of shoes and/or sandals for all the walking you’ll be doing. Save the stilettos for another destination because the cobbled streets and sidewalks you’ll find in a lot of NOLA are not high heel friendly. Finally, a trip must for any destination: a good sunblock.
….forget to do a day trip! While staying close to the French Quarter might seem like a good idea (even the above mentioned neighborhoods are all a 10 minute Uber or less) you’d be missing out. From New Orleans you can book a day (or half day!) tour of swamps, plantations and more! On a recent trip I did a half day tour that included the Destrehan Plantation and a swamp tour. If I’m being completely honest, the plantation tour was a bit of a disappointment save for the Slave Revolt of 1811 museum (the reason I chose this particular plantation). I think it’s important to not gloss over the dark parts of the history of the south and unfortunately parts of the tour did just that. The saving grace of this tour was the separate museum dedicated to the Slave Revolt of 1811 with a very knowledgeable and informative guide. After wrapping up the plantation tour the bus took us to a swamp tour boat launch, complete with beer for purchase (I mean, when in Rome….). Our captain, Tony, was a legitimate Cajun who talked about fishing for gators, his home in the bayou and eating all manner of creatures (snake, raccoon, etc.). The tour was entertaining and we saw a bunch of gators, birds, turtles and raccoons. I also learned that gators like marshmallows. Who knew?
…..get sucked in to all the touristy spots! Yes, the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone is adorable and iconic, and Café Du Monde is all anyone talks about. But do you feel like waiting an hour or more for your machine made beignets? Want to walk into the bar and have it be standing room only? With so much on offer you should consider branching out and skipping over some of the major “must see” attractions (unless, of course, you have a ton of time or only want to do those things, in which case have fun!). You can find handmade beignets at Café Beignet (and skip the one on Decatur – Royal is where you should go!) or beignets with dipping sauces at the Ritz Carlton bar (it’s a local secret). And while there aren’t any other bars like the Carousel Bar you’ll find delicious craft cocktails and ambience at a dozen other bars in the area that also have seats available. So snap your photo of the bar (like I did) before walking out, grab a bag of beignets to go and enjoy your stay!
….plan ahead! Not talking about scheduling every hour of your trip but organize your list into three categories:
- Must See
- Nice to See
- If I/We Have Time
This will make it easier to prioritize your down time during your trip! It will also allow you to schedule any tours you might want to take (i.e. cemetery tour, swamp tour, river boat cruise, etc.) and from there you can plan around them. I also like to go into a trip with at least one or two restaurants/bars that I’m dying to try (in this case it was Bacchanal Wine and Revelator: Paloma Cafe!) so it helps to have a loose plan, especially if you’re traveling with a group.
Hopefully these tips help you on your trip to New Orleans! A final piece of advice: don’t forget to take the time to enjoy yourself! It can feel like a lot of pressure to see everything, eat everything and do everything on your list – which can have the opposite effect you want it to! Feeling that much pressure can take away from the actual experience so take your time, appreciate your surroundings and enjoy it all!
What is your number one must do for New Orleans? Make sure to comment and let me know!
JoAnnSeptember 23, 2019 at 11:44 am
Love taking the street car (dont call ’em trolleys in N.O.!) down by the river. Getting off at the French Market, poking around there and then walking the riverfront. Usually there are musicians playing. Love walking by Jackson Square. On my last trip went to Rock n Bowl with co-workers. Place is really cool.
CaitSeptember 23, 2019 at 3:09 pm
this is wonderful! ive never been before so ill def use your guide when we plan a trip soon! yay!
Rebecca @ Strength and SunshineSeptember 23, 2019 at 4:40 pm
A place I would LOVE to go some day!
MelissaSeptember 23, 2019 at 4:59 pm
There is truly SO MUCH to do in New Orleans, it’s such an amazing city! Way beyond Bourbon Street for sure. Great tips!
ChristaSeptember 24, 2019 at 1:31 am
I’ve never been to NOLA but it’s high on my list! There’s just so much to see and do.
aisasamiSeptember 24, 2019 at 10:09 am
I never been to New Orleans but I have seen it in various forms of media. I really want to see the French Quarter someday! It seems so beautiful.
KellySeptember 24, 2019 at 1:27 pm
Thanks for sharing. I have never been to New Orleans but this makes me want to go. The food pictures look awesome.
MorganSeptember 24, 2019 at 1:33 pm
The FOOD! It was incredible – I’m going to be putting up a review of all the dining that was done in NOLA but trust me when I say it was amazing!
MarisaSeptember 24, 2019 at 3:20 pm
This is such great info! I’ve never been to NO!! But I live close by in Texas and I’d love to visit one day soon!
Patricia @ Grab a PlateSeptember 24, 2019 at 10:38 pm
Love your helpful hints! Can’t believe it, but I’ve never been before! I love doing the local and “behind the scenes” stuff, so I will keep your post handy! Thank you!
LinaSeptember 25, 2019 at 8:10 am
I’ve never been to New Orleans, but it’s on my bucket list, there is so much to do there! Looks amazing this place
Sarah Forest at Ponder TrailSeptember 25, 2019 at 11:24 am
Such great tips, Morgan! Love the idea of branching out from tourist spots to find something more unique. A swamp tour would be so fun. And it’s definitely important to wear good shoes. Thanks for sharing these!
LoriSeptember 25, 2019 at 5:41 pm
I’m only familiar with the French Quarter and Bourbon Street so it was great to hear about the other places to visit in New Orleans. Your photos are wonderful…they make me want to visit!
Viano DeeSeptember 25, 2019 at 6:26 pm
A really interesting read, I must say. Who knew public transport would be worth it? In many places, public transport from the airport is terribly expensive. Also, I like the idea of not being caught up in the “must-see” places. Sometimes, beauty lies in the simpler things of life.
Kristine Nicole AlessandraSeptember 25, 2019 at 7:18 pm
We haven’t been to New Orleans yet, but we would sure love to visit someday! Thank you for these tips. I don’t like crowded touristy places too, so I will heed your advice and explore other worthwhile places too. Frenchmen street sounds like a great choice.
LuciWestSeptember 25, 2019 at 8:01 pm
Have loved New Orleans for a long time – and grateful I got to visit several times and before the French Quarter got impossible to maneuver in the evening (even when it’s not Mardi Gras) and when one could still get beignets at Cafe Du Monde without standing in line. Not so on my visit last year! Based on having different experiences to compare, I think your Do and Don’t list is awesome for these days. My favorite things to do: roam around on the trolley, photograph the cemeteries and sit on bank of the Mississippi. Now I want to go back!
MorganSeptember 26, 2019 at 4:01 pm
It sounds like you know exactly how to enjoy NOLA! Thanks for reading!
SamanthaSeptember 26, 2019 at 2:10 am
Great advice for those travelling to New Orleans, very informative and the food looks amazing such a shame I am too far away
Mijia EggersSeptember 26, 2019 at 3:46 am
I was there only once and I did visit the French quarter. I food there brought me the memories of trips in France. They were so delicious!
Sauumye ChauhanSeptember 26, 2019 at 8:29 pm
I am kind of obsessed with New Orleans and the culture there !! These are some amazing tips for a first time traveler. Definitely going to keep them in mind.
Lush Fab GlamSeptember 26, 2019 at 11:30 pm
New Orleans is such a beautiful city, I would love to visit and enjoy the beautiful cultural heritage and cuisine. Your do’s and don’ts list has certainly made planning a trip there easier.
MonicaSeptember 27, 2019 at 9:00 am
This is so helpful! My husband has been to New Orleans several times and we are hoping to plan a trip back together! Can’t wait to try fresh beignets! And the swamp tour is definitely on my list.
Comments are closed.