New Orleans Unplugged: A Local's Tourist Information Handbook

Sat Dec 02 2023

New Orleans Tourist Information Handbook

New Orleans is a vibrant and richly steeped in culture from past to present. Known as ‘The Big Easy,' tourists flock here for its unique Creole flair, the iconic French Quarter, live music scene, and delicious cuisine.

But navigating the city on your own as a tourist can be daunting - which is where New Orleans Unplugged: A Local’s Tourist Information Handbook provides essential advice based on experience of local travel agents who have lived in or near The Big Easy for years.

In this document, readers will be provided with tips from experts that cover all aspects of visiting New Orleans – from popular attractions and mouth-watering meals to off-the-beaten paths activities beyond the typical tourist offerings.

Whether you plan on soaking up a unique mixology class in Marigny or want help exploring the Garden District, this guide has it all! Delve inside now and start turning your dreams of seeing ‘Nawlins into reality! New Orleans holds plenty of hidden gems outside the well-trodden spots that make many travelers come back time after time; don't miss out by relying solely on reviews online but instead embark upon an insider tour with us today!

Key Takeaways

  • New Orleans is a popular tourist destination offering world - famous attractions such as Jackson Square, the French Quarter and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
  • Visitors can explore the unique cultural offerings ranging from vibrant street music on Frenchmen Street to exploring old plantation sites during their stay.
  • The best time to visit depends on one’s travel plans with peak season being February through May while September till January offer more economical prices with greater potential for storms or heavy rains.
  • An array of transportation options are available including buses, rental cars, bicycles and Uber/Lyft rides catering to any traveler's preference.

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Overview of New Orleans

This section provides an introduction to the city of New Orleans, covering key details such as location and climate, the best time to visit, and transportation options.

Location and climate

New Orleans is located in the Southern United States, bordered by the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain to the north. It has a humid subtropical climate with hot summers, mild winters, and frequent precipitation throughout the year.

The temperatures are moderated somewhat by its proximity to water bodies such as rivers and lakes, resulting in relatively consistent readings all year round. On average, New Orleans receives 61 inches of rain annually--the most of any U.S city--with peak rainfall occurring from March through August.

For those looking to escape cold weather during winter months, New Orleans offers warmness throughout December-February periods on most years; with temperatures averaging between 38 – 65 F degrees (3 – 18 C).

Best time to visit

New Orleans is an intrigue destination all year round, its mild climate and bustling energy making it a great place for travelers to explore. The best time to visit the city depends on personal preference and ability to battle with crowds.

February through May is New Orleans' high season when temperatures tend to be mild and steady in the mid-seventies, and long comfortable days allow for leisurely outdoor exploration of its culture, cuisine & sounds embalmed in history.

This is also peak tourism season meaning that many accommodations have higher pricing due to increased demand while popular attractions fill quickly during this time period.

Travelers looking for a more economical way of travelling can benefit from visiting during the shoulder seasons - September till January - as prices are significantly lower compared to other months thanks to fewer tourists coming into town; yet caution must be taken as there’s more potential for heavy rain or humid humidity summer storms which could ruin your holiday plan altogether! Those seeking to experience Mardi Gras should plan their trip around Lundi Gras (the Monday before Tuesday Gras) along with Mardi Grso day itself; though hotel bookings need done at least several weeks ahead of time if you wish guaranteed rooms & beds.

How to get around

Exploring New Orleans is easy, no matter what your preferred mode of transportation. The city operates a comprehensive bus system with frequent routes that are economical and dependable.

For travelers looking for something faster or more personalized, there are always Uber or Lyft rides available - just remember to follow the ride-sharing laws in Louisiana. Bike rentals can be found around town if you want to explore on two wheels, while those preferring their own set of wheels can rent cars from any number of local rental services.

Lastly, for exploring local attractions such as Jackson Square and Café du Monde, the best way may simply be by foot—just make sure you've studied up on your maps before setting out! Ultimately however one chooses to get around New Orleans; it's never been easier thanks to electronic mapping applications and printable PDF maps that give directions throughout the entire city.

Top Things to Do

From walking around the French Quarter and discovering hidden street music to taking a swamp tour or exploring local art museums, there are plenty of exciting activities in New Orleans for visitors to try.

Stroll through the French Quarter

The French Quarter of New Orleans, or more commonly known as the Vieux Carré, is one of the most famous and iconic neighborhoods in America. Beyond its bustling nightlife, beautiful architecture spanning several centuries, and hidden alleyways illuminated by colorful street lights lies a cultural and historical experience you won’t find anywhere else.

As you walk along Royal Street pass store fronts selling pralines and vie for space with 19th-century iron balconies overhead, let the unique vibrancy of this neighborhood transport you to another time.

Explore St Louis Cathedral—the oldest continually active cathedral in North America –and take note of striking mosaics and sculptures adorning twelve fully finished chapels inside.

Additionally get lost in galleries like across famous Jackson Square or visit The Historic New Orleans Collection - lack home to an extensive library from regional artists since 1789! Also explore The Cabildo housing artifacts which tell tales from Louisiana Purchase while indulging into Cajun spices & Po’boy sandwiches at eatery off Decatur Street – There are plenty options to devour!

Visit popular attractions like Jackson Square and the New Orleans Museum of Art

Jackson Square in the historic French Quarter is one of the city’s most popular tourist spots. Anchored by St. Louis Cathedral, the 18th century plaza was originally established to be a community gathering spot and market for locals but has since become an icon for travelers visiting New Orleans.

The expansive grounds are great for picnicking and people watching as colorful street artists line up near the large bronze statue of renowned French General Andrew Jackson in tribute of his dominant role during Battle of New Orleans during War of 1812.

Visitors can explore historical landmarks like Cabildo Museum that takes its name from Capitole de la Louisiana housed inside or just enjoy free concerts at picturesque park area surrounded by restaurants and shops before venturing over to iconic Bourbon Street nearby.

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, affiliated with Smithsonian Institute, exhibits wide array works from region including photography, folk art pieces and artifacts related to its influence on American music culture such as Jazz and Blues while also playing an active role in preserving region’s history through lecture programs featuring local authors present their work discussing places, people or events associated with South Louisiana distinct traditions.

Explore the vibrant street music scene on Frenchmen Street

Frenchmen Street is New Orleans's lesser-known, yet must-visit destination for music enthusiasts. Located in the heart of the French Quarter and extending four blocks from Esplanade Avenue to Basin Street, this vibrant street features an array of genres such as jazz, funk, reggae, brass bands and more.

Popular venues like The Spotted Cat Music Club and Maison frequently showcase live soulful jams from local musicians who often invite audience members to join them on stage. Unlike its well known counterpart Bourbon Street where a party atmosphere follows day and night, Frenchmen Street offers laidback vibes during late evening hours after performances have ended.

Adding even more charm to the area are casual restaurants like Three Muses that overlooks century old buildings with balconies draped in lights giving it a genuine New Orleans aesthetic.

Take a swamp tour for a unique experience

Swamp tours are a great way to explore the wetlands of Louisiana and experience nature up close. From leisurely paddleboat trips through cypress swamps, to kayaking hikes over moss-draped waterways, these wilderness adventures offer an unforgettable opportunity to interact with diverse wildlife in their natural habitat.

Local guides equip visitors with comprehensive knowledge about the region’s ecosystem, providing background on different plant species as well as information about native birds and animals like alligators and nutria rats.

Best of all, there is something for everyone: family float trips in shaded areas, nights out under the stars for couples looking for romance during their vacation or wild day cruises showcasing wonders hidden beneath lush canopies.

Before embarking on a tour it is important to look into where you want to go, how long you have available and if special clothing is required – most places ask that sandals be replaced by waterproof shoes which make climbing steep embankments easier.

Stay on a plantation for a night

Staying on a plantation in Louisiana is an experience like no other. From private cottage accommodations with views of centuries-old oak trees to learning about the region's rich history and culture, visitors will be amazed by what they can discover while staying at a plantation for the night.

Visiting plantations provides tourists with insight into life during the antebellum era as well as opportunities to explore area attractions such as museums, art galleries, local restaurants and bars.

Additionally, many plantation sites offer organized activities that include cooking classes led by professional chefs or guided tours of the grounds with knowledgeable experts who share stories of their family heritage.

Best Places to Eat, Drink, and Shop

Enjoy local favorites such as Café du Monde and Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar, and explore New Orleans' many restaurants that offer up traditional cuisine, seafood dishes, and unique dining experiences.

Experience the city's bustling shopping scene with diverse options from boutiques to markets.

Local favorites like Café du Monde and Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar

New Orleans is known for its vibrant and diverse culinary scene, with locals and tourists alike visiting iconic restaurants like Café du Monde for a dose of beignets and chicory coffee.

Established in the French Quarter back in 1862, Café du Monde has become an integral part of the New Orleans experience; you can find it open at all hours along Decatur Street. If you’re looking to indulge in shellfish or barbeque dishes, head over to nearby Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar.

This historic venue serves up fresh Louisiana-style oysters, crawfish boils, po-boys and more constructed from traditional recipes that have been around since the 1800s. It is recommended that you make reservations before visiting either establishment as they typically get full quickly during peak times— but their deliciousness makes it worth your while!

Recommended restaurants for seafood and traditional New Orleans cuisine

New Orleans is an exciting food destination offering a plethora of unique and delicious seafood and traditional cuisine perfect for sampling while on vacation. One highly recommended spot for seafood is Oceana Grill, which has been serving up Creole specialties since 1989.

They specialize in dishes such as spicy smoked sausage gumbo and chargrilled oysters that perfectly embody the local flavor of New Orleans. Another favorite local restaurant is Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar, providing favorites from raw oyster bars to gumbo served with an array of flavored butters- literally something for everyone! For those looking to experience classic NOLA eats in a no-frills divey atmosphere then Coop's Place should not be missed.

Established in 1983 it serves up vittles like po'boys, boudin balls, feasts of boiled seafood - all great examples of the distinctive flavors found only in Louisiana cooking. Last but not least The Chloe comes highly recommended for its modern twist on the city’s traditional culinary creations like Turtle Soup or Bananas Foster French Toast as well as being one of the best places to watch live music performances at night completing this intense cultural exploration into formulating your own understanding of what makes New Orleans dining so remarkable!

Where to find unique and authentic shopping experiences

New Orleans is a city of vibrant culture, offering a vast range of unique shopping experiences. From the Voodoo stores where you can pick magical trinkets and souvenirs to high-end outlets selling luxury goods, no matter what visitors are looking for, they will find it in New Orleans.

Many streets are lined with boutiques that offer handmade items from around the world or unique clothing and accessories designed by local artists. The French Quarter also has its fair share of antique shops full of treasures just waiting to be discovered.

To experience an authentic taste of New Orleans culture, don't forget to visit one (or more!) of the bookstores littered throughout the city - here you can browse old into modern titles on history, literature and art written about this incredible city’s past present and future! With a rich mix European influences coupled with Caribbean vibes At every turn uniquely presented through fashion aesthetics music which trolls down both sides off Canal street as well as locals spilling their hearts onto dusty shelves hidden away between nooks & crannies housed expressly tucked away within historical alleyways & buildings symbolizing ‘Nawlin’s heritage – guests venture bravely outwards bound never knowing what might show up next at another shop they thought only did beignets!

Tips from a Local

Learn about the city from a true New Orleans resident and get insider knowledge on all of the best places to visit, eat, drink, shop and relax!

A week-long itinerary suggested by a New Orleans resident

A week-long itinerary in New Orleans is a great way for travelers to experience the best of what the city has to offer. Start off your week with a stroll through the iconic French Quarter and take in its vibrant architecture.

After visiting popular attractions like Jackson Square and admiring works at the impressive New Orleans Museum of Art, head over to nearby Preservation Hall for some classic jazz music on Frenchmen Street.

The historical atmosphere will continue with a Swamp Tour that takes you into Louisiana's unique cypress swamps where alligators lurk among bald cypress trees - an unforgettable experience! Get a taste of genuine Creole cooking by dining out at world renowned restaurants like Commander's Palace or Café du Monde, then explore local shopping spots along Magazine Street or stroll around charming boutiques further off-the-beaten path.

Off-the-beaten-path activities and places to visit

New Orleans offers even more than most travel brochures let on. Experience the city from a local's perspective by visiting some of its hidden gems and areas just waiting to be discovered.

Wander around Jackson Square in the historic French Quarter, where cobblestone streets lined with historical buildings offer an insight into Louisiana past – you may even see costumed characters coming together in Congo Square bringing vibrant street music, all part of this unique city culture.

Get off the tourist track at night and explore musically thrilling performances found along Frenchmen Street or try your luck at one of New Orleans' less-traveled casinos. Spend some time getting to know nature on a peaceful boat cruise down Bayou St John or take a guided tour through City Park, full of lush greenery and history both big and small.

Budget-friendly options for dining and entertainment

New Orleans offers wide ranging dining and entertainment options that won't break the bank. From some of the most famous seafood spots in town, like Café du Monde or Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar, to local favorites such as Papa Noël's for unique po boys.

It really doesn't require spending large to eat well when visiting New Orleans! The city also has many free activities such as strolling through the beautiful French Quarter and exploring locally owned shops — a great way to get a feel for the culture and pick up memorable souvenirs at reasonable prices.

There are plenty of family friendly venues which offer budget-friendly access too, like City Parks' festivals or Jazz in the Park series - either of these can be enjoyed without breaking your pocket! Of course no trip would be complete without experiencing live music; visitors have several free music choices including locals performing around Jackson Square, Frenchman Street Jams or on Royal St Gallery Walk evenings.

Tips for traveling with children in New Orleans

Traveling to New Orleans with children can be a fun and exciting experience for the whole family, but it's important to be aware of what activities the city has available that cater specifically to kids.

Fortunately, there are plenty of family-friendly resources and attractions in the Big Easy that will make your trip extra memorable!

When visiting New Orleans with children, look for hotels or Airbnb accommodations that offer kid-friendly amenities like playrooms or kitchenettes. Lounges equipped with TVs and video games are another great option when traveling long distances.

There are also some fantastic free places you can visit – such as City Park which offers playgrounds, a sculpture garden, walking trails, and Storyland – making it an ideal spot for families looking explore outdoors! For even more fun activities to do around town try exploring museums dedicated primarily to kids including the Louisiana Children's Museum and Audubon Aquarium of Americas while other popular spots include rides at Jazzland/Six Flags park, fishing at Lake Pontchartrain Cruises (for all ages!) or simply strolling down Magazine Street admiring unique boutiques along the way.

Where to find self-care and relaxation options in the city.

New Orleans is an excellent destination for travelers seeking a little rest and relaxation. The city offers an abundance of spas, massage parlors, yoga studios, nail salons and exercise classes to suit everyone’s needs.

Popular areas such as the French Quarter and Magazine Street provide an array of establishments for pampering services. For a more immersive experience, guests can try out one of the floating spa treatments at Maison Borée or book themselves into the Peninsula Spa at The Roosevelt Hotel, where they can enjoy relaxing body treatments plus steam rooms and saunas.

Other wellness retreats like Yoga Massage Holistic Center offer a variety of holistic therapies including yoga classes, meditation programs and therapeutic massage sessions in calming environments near City Park or Bayou St John.

Visitors looking to explore their physical health can join local fitness clubs like Bootcamp New Orleans or KIXBOX Lost Love NOLA—where weekly spin classes are available to invigorate tired bodies with upbeat music—or take part in outdoor activities such as paddle boarding along Lake Pontchartrain.


New Orleans Unplugged: A Local’s Tourist Information Handbook is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to explore all the city has to offer. Through insider tips and experiences, this guide offers travelers a local's perspective on New Orleans and helps them discover hidden gems that can't be found in other tourist guides.

With suggestions for activities, restaurants, music venues, shopping locations, and more– as well as thoughtful advice on how to get around the city – this handbook provides everything needed for planning a magical trip to Louisiana's famous Crescent City.

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