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Lashed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans continues to rebuild. Meanwhile, in true Southern style, the city embraces the mantra “let the good times roll.” You’ll find the locals relaxed, and unhurried, always ready for a chat, and embodying the spirit of the city’s nickname, “The Big Easy.”
New Orleans sits on the Mississippi River in southern Louisiana. It was founded in 1718 by Phillippe d’Orleans, then the Regent of France. The city was under Spanish control for decades before it passed back into French hands, and then was sold to the United States in 1803.
A magnet for immigrants, the city attracted sugar and cotton workers from France, Ireland, Germany and Africa. Today you’ll find it a multicultural blend of Creoles, African Americans and French-speaking locals.
Go to the French Quarter to see the rattling streetcars made famous in Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire. This lively area is known for its ornate, Spanish Colonial architecture. Each year, leading up to Lent, theFrench Quarter hosts the colorful Mardi Gras festivities, said to have started as early as 1743.
While in the quarter, stop by the famous Café du Monde, beloved for chicory-laced cafe au lait and French-style beignets. From here, cross the road to Jackson Square. This beautiful park has been a popular hangout for artists since the early 1920s. Today, it’s home to painters, tarot readers, musicians, street performers and classic Creole cuisine. Sample traditional food, including po’boy sandwiches, fresh Louisiana crawfish, spicy gumbo, jambalaya stews and sugary pralines. Don't miss a night out on iconic Bourbon Street, known for its nightspots, cafes, strip joints and jazz clubs. Venues here have hosted many famous musicians, including Louis Armstrong, a New Orleans native.
New Orleans also has strong ties to a strain of Voodoo religion that is still practiced by a handful of locals. You can take a voodoo-themed tours of the infamous St. Louis Cemetery, whileLafayette Cemetery is a popular location for movie shoots.
Getting around is easy, though, as the city is flat and ideal for walking. Alternatively, jump on a streetcar for an inexpensive bit of fun. Several lines originate in Downtown and cover most of the areas you will want to visit. At night, find a cab at a cab-stands and hotels, or telephone one and it will generally arrive fairly quickly. Driving in New Orleans is not recommended. Parking spaces are scarce and expensive, and finding your way is sometimes difficult with many one-way streets and a rather complicated layout.
For more details on interesting local attractions and activities, check out our things to do in New Orleans page.
The best time to visit is late winter, or early spring—you'll enjoy moderate weather (nights can be cool), blooming azaleas, and a busy, fun atmosphere filled with festivals and other special events. During the most popular festivals like Mardi Gras (February) and the Jazz and Heritage Festival (April–May), the city is bustling with excitement and activities, but hotel rooms are in short (and expensive!) supply. If you plan to visit the city during these events, it’s wise to book your room well in advance.
Peak season: February through May is the busiest time for travel to New Orleans. Temperatures are warm, but not hot, the azaleas are in full bloom, and the city is hopping with festivals and special events.
Value season: In December (before and during Christmas), tourists are scarce, so you can take advantage of dramatically lower hotel rates. The weather is mild and the city is decorated in seasonal glitter, making this a great time to visit the Big Easy. From June through August, the weather is hot and humid. During the summer months, the sun can shine for as long as 11 hours each day, providing little break from the heat.
This French Quarter hotel is located on a quiet residential street just 2 blocks from Bourbon Street and within walking distance to Jackson Square, the French Market, and many famous New Orleans attractions.
Built in 1931, this four-story New Orleans business-district hotel is 2 blocks from the French Quarter and just 0.5 mile from the coffee and beignets of the historic Café Du Monde.
This hotel is in New Orleans in the French Quarter, a block from Bourbon Street and half-block to the business district. The hotel is in close proximity to the National World War II museum, Convention Center, and cruise ship terminals.
Located in Warehouse District, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, National World War II Museum, and Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Jackson Square are also within 1 mi (2 km).
Located in Uptown Historic District, this hotel is 1.1 mi (1.7 km) from Tulane University and within 3 mi (5 km) of Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Audubon Park. National World War II Museum and Ernest N. Morial Convention Center are also within 3 mi (5 km).
This historic Beaux Arts hotel in the heart of downtown New Orleans is .6 mi away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Harrah's Casino is 4 blocks away.
This elegant 14-story, New Orleans hotel is on the corner of lively Bourbon St and shopping-oriented Canal St adjacent to the French Quarter; Jackson Square is 4 blocks from this hotel.
This French Quarter hotel opened in 1886 and is within 4 blocks of Jackson Square, Canal St shops, Harrah's New Orleans Casino, Café du Monde, and the restaurants and jazz clubs of lively Bourbon St.