When thinking about jazz, Cajun cuisine, and partying, New Orleans is at the top of the list. However, The Big Easy encompasses all of these aspects and so much more. Some of the United States’ best southern food, culture, and atmospheres.
Whether you find yourself in NOLA on a weekend trip with friends, a lengthy family vacation, or just a few hours for business, there is an array of awesome things to do in this city. You can spend hours just exploring the food scene or partying on Bourbon Street.
Although the French Quarter is the most well-known sector of New Orleans, there is so much more to discover. Mid-City, Bywater, and the Garden District are some of the other cool areas that also have a lot to offer.
A big part of your experience in NOLA comes down to where you stay and how close you are to your top priorities. Here are five of the best areas to stay in New Orleans!
We will kick off the list with the most obvious and famous part of New Orleans. The French Quarter is home to Bourbon Street and is the most well-known neighborhoods in the entire city. This is also the oldest established area in New Orleans, so there are a lot of historic focal points littered throughout.
A huge part of the French Quarter is the nightlife. Since it is home to Bourbon Street, constant parties are going on. If you still want to have some fun but want to avoid some of the dirty, seedy parts of Bourbon Street, visit Royal Street. This is almost a 180 flip as some of the city’s most expensive and fancy establishments are located.
Throughout the entire French Quarter, there is an incredible food and drink scene. One that is a must-visit is Café Du Monde. This is home to the most famous beignets in the United States. This is just one of many awesome locations to pop in and take in the cuisine.
Best place to stay in the French Quarter
Hotel Royal Sonesta. Address: 300 Bourbon Street, French Quarter (Vieux Carré), New Orleans, LA 70130, United States of America.
When traveling with a family, going to the French Quarter is a great idea, but it may not be where you want to stay. Uptown is a great alternative that is a bit safer and has more family-friendly attractions. Some of these attractions include visiting the Audubon Park and Zoo, riding the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, and just exploring the architecture.
On top of these things to do and see, there is a great mix of restaurants, bars, and cafes littered throughout the neighborhood. Everything from corner stores to food trucks to fine dining is all offered in Uptown.
Plus, Uptown is home to a lot of open, green spaces that add a beautiful layer to the city. You can even get a walking tour of the neighborhood. During the tour, you will get a sense of where the best restaurants where, admire a lot of the old-school mansions, and see a side of New Orleans that most people don’t experience.
Best place to stay in Uptown
Alder Hotel Uptown. Address: 4545 Magnolia Street, New Orleans, LA 70115, United States of America.
One of the younger, trendier areas in all of New Orleans is Bywater. Although this started as a quaint, old neighborhood the area of Bywater and Marigny has had a rebirth and is now the hipster part of town. Now, this area is full of awesome bars, small cafes, and family-owned accommodations like hostels and bed and breakfasts.
Among the art galleries and music, cafes is a bustling nightlife that differs from the one of Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street is both famous and infamous as it can be dirty, seedy, and dangerous in some areas. Bywater has live music venues and bars but offers a completely different experience than the stereotypical New Orleans party.
Overall, Bywater is kind of known to be a very unique part of New Orleans. So much so that it almost feels like its own city. Whether you decide to stay here or not, it is worth checking out and spending a day in.
Best place to stay in Bywater
Hotel Peter & Paul. Address: 2317 Burgundy Street, New Orleans, LA 70117, United States of America.
An awesome spot of New Orleans is Mid-City. What makes Mid-City unique is its awesome location to a variety of attractions in the city. This is a spot for adventurous people who do not want to only see the touristy spots.
For example, Mid-City’s location is located right between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. This gives you very easy access to watersports such as swimming, boating, and kayaking. Plus, these bodies of water encompass miles of hiking trails and beautiful natural areas.
In the summer, be sure to attend the Jazz and Heritage Festival that comes to Mid-City every year. When the festival is not going on, Mid-City is a very local area that does not have a high density of tourists like some of the other districts. That being said, if this isn’t your first time in New Orleans and you want a more authentic experience, this is the place to be.
Best place to stay in Mid-City
India House Hostel. Address: 124 South Lopez Street, New Orleans, LA 70119, United States of America.
Central Business District
Right next to the French Quarter is the Central Business District. As the name implies, this is the area of New Orleans that has huge buildings and office spaces. That being said, if you find yourself in New Orleans on a business trip, this is the place to stay. A majority of the activities and attractions are located outside of this neighborhood.
This probably is not where many families will stay, but there are a few things in the Central Business District that are attractive to casual visitors. First off, the Superdome is located here. This is the home of the New Orleans Saints football team, so if catching a game sounds like a fantastic Sunday afternoon, this is where you will be.
Another focal point is the crafty food scene that has found itself in the old restaurant buildings and food trucks. The French Quarter is a hotspot for cuisine, but don’t sleep on the Central Business District as its food culture is very underrated.
Best place to stay in New Orleans CBD
Windsor Castle Hotel. Address: 300 Gravier Street, Downtown New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States of America.
Where travel critics stay in New Orleans
Want to know where travel critics from publishers like The New York Times, Frommer’s, Fodor’s and Lonely Planet stay in New Orleans, Louisiana? Check out our overview of all recommended hotels, hostels and B&Bs in New Orleans.
“The impressive exterior of this former house of ill repute is frillier than inside, though there is still plenty to impress here. Antiques abound, and a smattering of country touches help create genuine, warm comfort. The beds are deep and piled with soft, girly linens; and room configurations are amenable to couples, families, and friends.” — Frommer’s.
Address: 4117 Perrier Street, New Orleans, LA 70115, United States of America.
“Beside Audubon Park, this ornate wooden masterpiece was built in 1884 to impress people attending the World Cotton Exchange Exposition. The rooms and guest lounge are heavy with antiques, and the verandah overlooking the park and St Charles Ave is lovely.” — Lonely Planet.
Address: 7004 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118, United States of America.
“An unmarked gate and leaf-canopied pathway lead to seven ultra-private one- and two-bedroom cottages with a large courtyard (some private, some shared). Each is gracefully but not overly antiqued amid gorgeous brick walls and gleaming hardwood floors.” — Fodor’s.
Address: 415 Dauphine Street, French Quarter (Vieux Carré), New Orleans, LA 70112, United States of America.
Best things to do in New Orleans
There are a lot of things to do in New Orleans and surrounding areas, including day trips, attractions, museums, sightseeing tours and many other activities. Here’s our list of 3 things you should definitely do when you’re in and around New Orleans:
Swamp and Bayou Sightseeing Tour with Boat Ride from New Orleans
Discover the mystique of the swamps and bayous on a sightseeing boat tour from New Orleans. Travel deep into the secluded bayous across the Mississippi River to witness Cajun life and spot native wildlife. Price: $52. More info.
New Orleans: French Quarter, Cemetery, and Voodoo Tour
Enjoy 3 tours in 1 on this 2-hour walking tour. Explore the French Quarter and Armstrong Park in the district of Treme. Visit the City of the Dead, the oldest cemetery in New Orleans. Learn burial customs and see the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau’s tomb. Price: $21. More info.
New Orleans: Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez
Board the Steamboat Natchez and be transported back in time! Journey along the graceful current and learn why New Orleans was founded on the beautiful crescent of the lower Mississippi River on this two-hour jazz cruise. Price: $45. More info.
Deciding where to stay in New Orleans
As you can see, there are a lot of things to explore, and deciding where to stay in New Orleans is important. Whether you stay in the French Quarter, Bywater, Mid-City, Central Business District or Uptown, all those neighborhoods are in good locations.
The atmosphere of the area, whether you travel for leisure or business, whether you travel with your family or friends, and proximity to the attractions you prefer to visit should probably be the deciding factors. Whatever your preference is, you’ll have a great time in New Orleans.
Check out our other articles about New Orleans: