With 18 million visitors in 2018 alone, New Orleans is easily one of the hottest vacation destinations in the US right now. Whether you’re here for the culture, the cuisine, or the nightlife, it all adds up to one heck of a good time! We had the pleasure of visiting the Big Easy as first timers this past spring and here are some tips that we picked up along the way. Planning a trip to NOLA? Here’s what you’ll need to know before you go!
1.) You’ll do A LOT of walking! New Orleans is amazing because everything is totally walkable…but it’s still a lot of ground to cover. Skip the cute shoes and opt for something comfy instead. You’d be surprised how quickly you rack up the miles on those tootsies. No worries though, the city is covered with lots of fun bars and restaurants perfect for taking a break. You’ll also come across old, uneven, cobblestone streets so flats are a must! We don’t want anyone twisting an ankle on vacation.
2.) The drinks are S-T-R-O-N-G!!!!! Tropical Isle may be home to New Orleans Most Powerful Drink, but really all the bartenders in this city are pretty heavy handed. So you’ll wanna pace yourself. The drink specials are pretty epic here as well. You won’t have to search very far to find a happy hour or a 2 for 1 drink special in this city. And just like Vegas you can walk up and down Bourbon Street with an alcoholic beverage in hand, just be sure to use a plastic to go cup.
3.) Don’t miss out on the tours! There’s really something for everyone. Take a laid back stroll through the Garden District, a self-guided tour through an old cemetery, a spooky ghost tour of the city’s most haunted places, zip around the streets on motorized segways, or cruise through the bayou on an airboat as you hunt for alligators. NOLA’s got ya covered.
4.) The Big Easy is a big city and with any big city comes petty crime, scammers and con artists, especially around Bourbon Street or heavily touristed areas. But don’t let that turn you off. A little common sense goes a long way. Don’t walk alone after dark. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings and always have a good hold of your wallet or purse.
5.) Allergy sufferers beware! Old oak trees make for breathtaking backdrops, but their high pollen counts put New Orleans at the top of the list of worst cities for seasonal allergies. You’ll also find flowers and ferns hanging from almost every balcony, which again is beautiful, but might make your sinuses go haywire. Make sure you come prepared with your Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec, whatever it is that you need. It’s best to skip the “tourist” tax and pack your own. Of course if you get in a pinch, we did come across a Walgreens in the French Quarter that had literally EVERYTHING!
6.) The dress code in NOLA is pretty causal even at night. Save the cocktail dresses and heels for Vegas or NYC and wear what you’re most comfortable in. (Think t-shirts, jeans, shorts, and sundresses). It can also get pretty hot, humid and sticky. If you need a break, head towards the Mississippi and enjoy the breeze that comes across the river. You’ll notice a pretty significant temperature change.
7.) Don’t miss out of the seafood scene…even if it’s not quite your thing! With its ideal location on the Gulf of Mexico, it’s no surprise that New Orleans is home to some of the freshest seafood in the US. Take this as an opportunity to experience something new! My personal favorite is the chargrilled oysters from Acme Oyster House. Definitely worth the wait!!
8.) Make sure to venture out beyond Bourbon Street. Magazine Street and Royal are great places to explore as well as do a little shopping. Here you’ll discover one of a kind shops you can only find in NOLA. Head to the back of the Bevolo store on Conti street to see firsthand how the iconic gas lamps are made.