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Whether you’re considering visiting New Orleans or have already booked your trip, you’re probably wondering if there are some specific things you should be aware of before you go. I recently visited Nola and learned some helpful New Orleans travel tips that I’d like to pass on to you. These tips include things I learned along the way and things I think made our New Orleans vacation worth it.
1. Bring Cash
While there are plenty of places to use your card in New Orleans, you should also bring some cash.
There were two specific instances in which we needed cash. The first was when we visited Cafe’ du Monde, a popular Nola eatery known for their beignets. The cafe had signs that read ‘Cash Only,’ and since this is a tourist hotspot that might be on your bucket list, you don’t want to miss out.
The second time we needed cash was to purchase a day pass for the original New Orleans street car that runs on St. Charles Street, which cost us $3 per person. Furthermore, small bills are best since they only accept exact change. The good news, though, is that we could also use the day pass on other streetcar lines.
2. Don’t Walk Alone in the French Quarter Late at Night
This tip was actually given to us by the man who checked us into our hostel. Truth be told, we did notice the French Quarter was pretty quiet at night – though I’m guessing this may not be the case during Mardi Gras. According to the hostel employee, many people can be robbed there late at night. Therefore, if you plan to spend time in the French Quarter late into the night and are traveling solo, take an Uber back to your hotel. If you’re with a friend or group and want to walk, you should be fine as long as it’s not too late. We walked back to our hostel following a ghost tour, and we were okay since it was only around 10:00 p.m. As travelers, it’s important to always exercise caution, so if you can take an Uber or Lyft, that’s your best bet.
3. Visit the Cemeteries Early
New Orleans is known for their elaborate above-ground cemeteries, and if you want to see some while you’re there, make sure to do it early enough in the day. For example, we went to Greenwood Cemetery shortly before 4 in the afternoon. However, once we got there, we found out the cemetery closes to the public by 4:30 p.m. (though they ended up kicking us out at 4:15). Therefore, double-check the hours online if you have a particular cemetery in mind, so you avoid missing out.
4. Take a Ghost Tour
New Orleans has a lot of spooky history, which is further emphasized by the 18th Century architecture in the French Quarter. We took a nighttime ghost tour of the French Quarter, and I have to say, it was one of my favorite experiences. While this historic part of town is fascinating during the day, seeing it at night adds an element of eeriness that’s perfect for this kind of activity. We did a ghost tour through New Orleans Ghost Adventures Tours, which cost about $30 per person. The tour group met just outside the Quarter near the Red Door Tour booth located outside Landry’s Seafood on the corner of Decatur and St. Peters.
5. Spending Money on the Local Food is Worth It
Experiencing the local New Orleans food is an absolute must during your stay. I would add that you should try to eat local southern dishes every chance you get. The foods and flavors are so delicious and well worth it. You don’t have to spend a ton of money during your Nola vacation, but one thing you should feel free to indulge in is the food. My favorite dishes were charbroiled oysters, crawfish etouffee, cheese grits, and a classic buttermilk biscuit.
Frequently Asked Questions about New Orleans
Is New Orleans safe to visit?
Yes, New Orleans is generally safe to visit, especially if you stick to popular areas like the Garden District and French Quarter. However, we recommend not walking alone in the French Quarter at night. We noticed it was very quiet around there (for reference, we visited in August, so it was not as busy a time for tourists).
How much will 5 days in New Orleans cost?
This depends on where you stay. A decent hotel may cost more than $100 a night, leaving you out $500 on accommodations alone.
We stayed in a nice hostel on Canal Street that’s walking distance to the French Quarter for only about $28 per night. Regarding food, your biggest expenses will probably be nice dinners out, which can average $20-$30. But the good news is that you can save money on budget-friendly breakfast spots and popular inexpensive pastries like beignets. And if you stay in the HI Hostel in New Orleans, they have free breakfast every morning.
What’s the best time to visit New Orleans?
Weather-wise, the best time to visit New Orleans is in the Spring. And if you really want to get the full experience, traveling here during Mardi Gras should be an exciting time. However, not everyone is into busy tourist events either. We traveled to Nola during August, and while we encountered some rain, it wasn’t as bad as we anticipated, and we even had several days of sun. Another advantage of traveling here during the non-peak season is cheaper rates and fewer crowds.
Is New Orleans worth visiting?
Yes, I think New Orleans is absolutely worth visiting! This city is unique; there’s no other place like it. New Orleans has everything from history and architecture to food and music.
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About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer and comedian who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Sleep Advisor, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com