This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

While New Orleans is known for throwing a good party, it’s also a cultural mecca that offers something special for every type of traveler. If you’re interested in putting down that Hurricane and venturing away from Bourbon Street — which I highly recommend, by the way! — follow these 10 tips you probably won’t find in a guidebook to help you make the most of your next trip to the Big Easy.

Bring the Kids to Mardi Gras

While most people think of Mardi Gras as a lewd, adult party, the reality is Carnival is a very family-friendly event. While most of the debauchery takes place on Bourbon Street and involves tourists, locals will bring their entire families to the parade route to witness the beautiful floats and catch an assortment of “throws” from the masked parade riders, including beads, plush toys, doubloons and other unique keepsakes. In fact, flashing for beads is actually a very uncommon practice among locals and is highly frowned upon along the traditional parade routes. As long as you avoid Bourbon Street with the kids — which is a good idea for all times of the year — Mardi Gras can be an amazing and fun experience for both locals and visitors of all ages.

Catching "throws" during parades is a must-do activity for both adults and kids during Mardi Gras. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Catching “throws” during parades is a must-do activity for both adults and kids during Mardi Gras. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Sip a Sazerac Instead of a Hurricane

It’s no secret that we love a good cocktail here in New Orleans. In fact, we invented the first cocktail, the Sazerac, which features Rye Whiskey, Peychaud’s Bitters and a lemon peel. Try this iconic beverage at the Sazerac Bar inside The Roosevelt New Orleans hotel just outside the French Quarter.

Forget the Hurricanes on Bourbon Street. The Sazerac is the must try cocktail of New Orleans. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Forget the Hurricanes on Bourbon Street. Sazerac is the must-try cocktail of New Orleans. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Learn the Lingo

Getting around town is a lot easier when you understand the local lingo. Directions here, for example, are based on the locations of the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, so instead of saying north, south, east and west, you’ll likely hear people referring to lakeside (north), riverside (south), downriver (east), and upriver (west). Also, a median in New Orleans is called “the neutral ground,” which has its origins from Canal Street literally being the neutral ground between the French Quarter and the American Sector of town.

Even the process of ordering food and drinks here is special. If you want to leave a bar or restaurant with your drink, this is perfectly acceptable as long as you ask for a “go-cup.” If you order a Po-Boy in town, you’ll probably be asked whether or not you want it “dressed,” which is simply a way of asking if you want lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on your sandwich.

Now, you'll know what you're getting when you order a Po-Boy "dressed." Image courtesy of <a href="https://www.shutterstock.com/pic-182374085" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
Now, you’ll know what you’re getting when you order a Po-Boy “dressed.” Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Shop Til You Drop on Magazine Street

While the French Quarter has its charm, you should definitely spend an afternoon strolling along Magazine Street. This thoroughfare through New Orleans’ Uptown neighborhood is filled with local bars, restaurants and boutique shops that’ll satisfy any style. If you have time, schedule a haircut or a shave at Aidan Gill For Men, where you’ll feel like a Southern gentlemen as you get your ears lowered while sipping on a fine whiskey or beer.

Stroll the many eclectic shops of Magazine Street. Image courtesy of Flikr.
Stroll the many eclectic shops of Magazine Street. Image courtesy of Flickr.

Where to Eat Like a Carnival King or Queen

In New Orleans, we don’t eat to live — we live to eat! While you can’t go wrong with traditional favorites like Commander’s Palace, Galatoire’s, and Antoine’s, I believe Chef Susan Spicer’s flagship restaurant, Bayona, is perfect for a truly memorable fine dining experience in an idyllic French Quarter setting. If you’re looking for something a little less fancy but still want to sample some truly local creole and cajun cuisine in a funky, laid-back atmosphere, head over to Jacques-Imo’s in the Carrollton neighborhood for a meal you won’t soon forget — the alligator cheesecake alone is to die for.

Bayona is the perfect spot for a romantic and delicious dinner in the French Quarter. Image Courtesy of Bayona's Facebook Page.
Bayona is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner in NOLA’s French Quarter. Image Courtesy of Bayona’s Facebook page.

Head to a Music Club Off Bourbon Street

While Bourbon Street gets all the hype, the best music in town can be found outside this famous party spot. Spend a night on Frenchmen Street, where you can wander in and out of countless music clubs, including iconic the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro or the Spotted Cat Music Club. Many great New Orleans artists have standing gigs on various nights throughout the city, including John Boutté at D.B.A. on Saturdays and the Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf Bar on Tuesdays.

Seeing a show at Maple Leaf Bar is a truly iconic New Orleans experience. Image courtesy of Maple Leaf Bar's <a href="https://www.facebook.com/mapleaf.oak/" target="_blank">Facebook page</a>.
Seeing a show at the Maple Leaf Bar is a truly iconic New Orleans experience. Image courtesy of Maple Leaf Bar’s Facebook page.

Explore the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater Neighborhoods

If you want to venture outside the traditional stomping grounds of the French Quarter, head to the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater. These funky and hip neighborhoods offer many alternative and edgy music clubs and bars, such as the quirky AllWays Lounge & Theatre and the Hi-Ho Lounge. For a truly special night, check out Bacchanal, which features a wine shop with a corking service as well as a courtyard where you can sip wine, enjoy small plates and listen to local music under the stars.

Sipping wine at Bacchanal in the Bywater Neighborhood is a lovely way to spend an evening. Image courtesy of Bacchanal's <a href="https://www.facebook.com/bacchanalnola/photos" target="_blank">Facebook page</a>.
Sipping wine at Bacchanal is a lovely way to spend an evening. Image courtesy of Bacchanal’s Facebook page.

Head to a Crawfish Boil if You’re Visiting During the Spring

Here in New Orleans, we don’t have spring — we have crawfish season. From late-February through May, bars and restaurants around the city will honor this delectable crustacean with traditional (and spicy) boils featuring all the vegetables, sausage and crawfish you can eat. For a truly traditional and tasty boil, try Salvo’s Seafood on the West Bank, where you can get an all-you-can-eat deal for just $20. Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never had crawfish before — there are always friendly locals around who are happy to show you the art of eating these tasty critters.

Spring in New Orleans means it's time to dig into some crawfish. Image courtesy of <a href="https://www.shutterstock.com/pic-407492227" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
Spring in New Orleans means it’s time to dig into some crawfish. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Take a Stroll in Our Parks

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle, take some time to explore the city’s beautiful urban parks. Audubon Park in Uptown offers a picturesque two-mile walking and biking loop, as well as the world-famous Audubon Zoo. Visit the Tree of Life, a stunning live oak tree next to the Zoo, a favorite relaxation spot for locals. City Park offers numerous activities from paddle boat rides and golf and is home to the New Orleans Museum of Art. Take time to stroll through City Park’s Old Grove, which features the oldest live oak trees in the city, many of which are more than 800 years old.

Old Grove in City Park is home to live oak trees that are more than 800 years old. Image courtesy of <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-157796681/stock-photo-city-park-trees-in-new-orleans.html?src=fVxIXees-HHkiCRuV_YZhQ-1-0" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
Old Grove in City Park is home to live oak trees that are more than 800 years old. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

The Best Way to Get Around Town

See the city by taking the St. Charles Streetcar Line. For just $1.25 per ride, you can ride down stunning, oak-lined St. Charles Avenue and see many of the beautiful southern mansions of NOLA’s Uptown neighborhood. The streetcar line is also conveniently located within walking distance of the Garden District, and brings you close to shopping and dining hotspots near Magazine Street. For a real treat, especially when it gets a little too hot, take a ride from Canal Street to Audubon Park.

While the streetcar is one of the most scenic ways to get around town, it’s not the most reliable form of transportation. As the oldest continuously operated electric railway in the world, the streetcars serve limited routes and come at variable and unpredictable times — if you’re in a hurry, you might be better off using Uber or Lyft to get around town instead.

While the streetcar is a fun and beautiful way to see the town, it is not always the most reliable form of transportation. Image Courtesy of Shutterstock.
While the streetcar is a fun and beautiful way to see NOLA, it’s not always the most reliable form of transportation. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Have you ever been to New Orleans? What are your favorite things to do there?

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
5.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.