Since I grew up not that far from New Orleans, I have gotten a lot of travel related questions regarding the “Big Easy” over the years. So I will try to hit the highlights and if you have any further questions that I do not cover, feel free to contact me.
My best advice is leave the cell phone off, forget about work and enjoy yourself in NOLA. Life is too short….
Where is the best area to stay?
Before I moved to NOLA in March 2010, I usually stayed in hotels in the Central Business District or the Warehouse District. The hotels are usually a bit newer and cheaper and you can get a pretty good deal on the weekend unless there is a convention in town. Click on the map below if you are not familiar with the area.
It is an easy walk to the French Quarter and there are cabs always waiting at most of the hotels.
Which Hotel is the best??
Well, this is certainly a question of your tastes and desires but just like any large city, there are a lot to choose from. My stays were usually for JazzFest or some music related event, so I sought a place that was clean to crash for a few hours of sleep and had hot running water.
I have used Hotwire.com many times to find hotels in NOLA and other cities and if you have never used Hotwire before, here is a rundown on how it works:
- Pick the dates of your stay and area you would like the hotel to be located
- Hotwire will show you the prices for hotels with amenities and star ratings (without disclosing the names)
- You decide which, if any, you’d like to purchase (read this first)
- Once you agreed to purchase, the name and address of the hotel will be revealed
I have had some sweet deals over the years and never had an issue with the hotels. I always pick the ones that were 3.5 stars or higher in quality.
If you would rather know what the hotel is before you hit the buy button, Orbitz is a good option that I have used in the past and have gotten great bargains.
If a Bed and Breakfast is your desire, then try here. B&B’s are spread out all over the city and I have never stayed at any but heard good reviews. If you need a 2nd opinion, I always use TripAdvisor.com.
Any other questions, feel free to contact me.
Best time of year to visit?
July through September can be a bit hot and humid but the rest of the year is usually quite nice. If the weather is bad, find a place to have a drink.
Is it safe?
The easiest answer is “Exercise Common Sense“. Or as a buddy of mine once told me “If you wouldn’t walk there in your own city, then don’t”. Enough said….
Do I need to rent a car?
If you are flying into NOLA, my answer is generally no if you are going to stay in the city. The average price of a car rental is generally anywhere from $40-60/day depending on car type.
I have noticed in the past few years that taxes on rentals at the airport have gone up considerably. So if you are searching for a car online, make sure you look at the taxes and fees.
The second thing to consider is your parking situation which can, depending on hotel choice, run you another $25-40/day. So you can reach over $80/day for a car you are not going to use very much.
I used the shuttle from the airport to the hotel and either my feet or a taxi when in town. $80/day can buy a lot of taxi rides….
Depending on your destination, the streetcar or the bus is another option.
If you need a vehicle for a day trip, there are a few car rental places in the area that I have listed below:
- Avis – 2024 Canal St.
- Budget – 1317 Canal St.
- Enterprise – 1939 Canal St. or 1019 Baronne St.
- Hertz – 621 St. Louis St at the Omni Royal Orleans
Where is the best places to listen to music?
Even though I like music festivals much more than heading out to the clubs, the choices are many. If you are wondering what is happening, either head here to see if any of the musicians from Treme are in town or head over to the listings at Offbeat.
I personally like the Frenchmen Street area as the clubs are small and you feel closer to the musicians.
Where do you recommend to eat?
Wow, that list is rather long… I have eaten at many restaurants since my return but there are more places to eat now than before Katrina.
If you have a particular restaurant in mind, go over to BlackenedOut.com and do a search for a review. They are very thorough, usually have pictures of the food and also very funny…
What else is there to do in New Orleans other than eat/drink/listen to music?
Even though my tastes tend toward the aforementioned, there are still lots of other activities to do.
If you have kids (even if you don’t), the Aquarium and the Audub0n Zoo are nice places to spend some time.
Judging by the lines of people I see in the French Quarter, the Ghost and Voodoo tours are popular and I see the Swamp Tour bus heading out with people on a daily basis.
The Cemetery Tour is a must-see that you can easily walk through on your own, but the guides usually have some good stories to keep you entertained.
You can take a ride on the Algiers Ferry where Creighton did his final dive.
Find a bench with a beverage of choice and watch the people walk by. Always highly entertaining…
Call your boss to say that you are taking a few more days off….