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New Orleans
Gardens of Eden

What to eat. When to go. What to wear. Consult our Travel Tips for inside advice on how to get the most from your trip to New Orleans.

City of Festivals

Everyone knows about Mardi Gras, but festivals take place throughout the year in this spirited city. Find your interest and book a trip.

2012 (some dates not available at time of print).

Feb. 21

Mardi Gras

Mar. 21-25  

Tennessee Williams / New Orleans Literary Festival

Mar. 23-Apr. 1

Spring Fiesta –
historic homes & courtyards open for public tours

Mar. 24-25

New Orleans Road Food Festival

Apr. 12-15

French Quarter Festival 

Apr. 27-May 6

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

May 22-26

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience

Jun. tba

New Orleans Oyster Festival

Jun. 9 -10

Vieux To Do  - 3 Festivals on one weekend:

Jul. 6 -9          

Essence Music Festival –
celebrates contemporary African-American music/culture

Aug. 2-5

Satchmo Summerfest –
honors New Orleans’ native son, Louis Armstrong

Sep. tba

Seafood Festival

Oct. 12-14

Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival

Nov. tba

Po-Boy Festival –
restaurants throughout the city bring their version of the iconic sandwich for sampling

Nov. tba

Words & Music Festival –
authors, editors, agents and entertainers
celebrate William Faulkner, once a French Quarter resident

Nov. 17-Jan 1

Christmas New Orleans Style

Mid Dec.

Treme Creole Gumbo Festival

Dec. tba

Annual Holiday Homes Tour


Jazz Bars & Brunches

The relationship between jazz and food run deep in New Orleans. Firmly entrenched in the city’s culture, Sunday brunch is served with anything from mimosas, jazz, gospel music to a buffet-style Bloody Mary bar (Café Atchafalaya) or BYOB. Try one of these late-morning/early-afternoon feasts and settle in for an enriching experience. Then, head out to a jazz bar in the evening. As the most touristed strip in the city, Bourbon Street has its share of choices. The small and intimate Fritzel’s Jazz Pub, billed as the oldest operating jazz club in the city, offers traditional jazz and a classy spirit. The artsy, more off-the-beaten-trail Frenchman Street is awash with contemporary music locales including small authentic holes in the wall like the Spotted Cat, the Apple Barrel Bar for blues, and the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, a New Orleans’ original.


Jazz Clubs:

Public Transportation

Driving around a city with few left-turn opportunities and no landmarks besides water can be daunting, and parking during a festival impossible. Fortunately, New Orleans has convenient public transport in the form of buses and historic streetcars, which locals have used since the 18th century. Three streetcar lines take you past the city’s main attractions in a grand old way of travel. The Jazzy Pass makes it easy to hop on and off streetcars and buses without worrying about exact change and transfers. While the standard one-way fare is $1.25 (seniors and the disabled pay only $0.40), a one-day Jazzy Pass costs a mere $3 and is available at Walgreens drugstores, various hotels, grocery stores, banks and retailers in the city.

What to Wear

The semi-tropical climate in New Orleans means fairly mild winters (60s daytime average, but quite chilly at night) and hot, humid summers with average temperatures in the 90s. Wear light cotton and lightweight fabrics from mid-April to late October when the air is heavy and sticky, but bring a light sweater or shirt for air-conditioned interiors. Winter travelers should pack a light umbrella or poncho, wear layers and top off with an overcoat or jacket. Upscale restaurants suggest nicer attire for dinner (jacket and tie for men; skirt, dress pants or a dress for women) and business casual for lunch. Older, established restaurants like Galatoire’s enforce a dress code. Otherwise, the city sports a casual and bohemian flavor. Be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes. Streets in the French Quarter and in cemeteries have uneven pavement and walking tours are a popular way to see the city.

Local Food Specialties

An amazing variety of flavors await your taste buds in New Orleans. A rich blend of European, African, Native American, Cajun and Cuban flavors cannot be replicated anywhere else.

Specialties include:

  • Bananas Foster – Creole dessert made of flambéed bananas, rum and vanilla ice cream
  • Beignets – French donuts (aka: fried dough with clouds of powdered sugar on top); ordered with chocolate milk or café au lait
  • Crawfish Étouffée – thick crawfish or shrimp stew served over rice
  • Gumbo – chicken, sausage, seafood or okra stew over rice
  • Jambalaya – bold and seasoned rice dish made with chicken, sausage, seafood or any of those combined, prepared in a large variety of ways
  • Muffuletta – massive sandwich served on round, seeded Italian bread loaf and topped with Provolone cheese, salami, ham and marinated olive salad
  • Po’Boy – the quintessential local lunch is an overstuffed sandwich served in crispy, flaky French bread slices with any of the following: catfish, crab, grilled or fried shrimp, oysters, roast beef with gravy, hot or smoked sausage, ham and cheese. “Dressed” means added tomatoes, mayo and pickles.
  • Praline – (pronounced PRAH-leen) a sugary Creole candy classically made with pecans

For more background and recommended venues to try these specialties, visit:

Mind Your Manners

Welcoming and friendly, Southerners mind their manners by using sir and ma’am liberally; visitors should do likewise. It’s also polite to get the city name right. Correctly pronounced noo-OR-lunz or noo AW-linz, avoid calling it New Or-LEENZ—a sure sign of a tourist. Natives also do not refer to their city as The Big Easy; it’s NOLA instead. Pronunciation of street and district names can also be confusing (Lagniappe is pronounced LAN-yap and Vieux Carré is VYEUH ka-RAY or VOO k’RAY). Directions will take you uptown, downtown, lakeside and riverside rather than east, west, north or south. Brush up on local terminology, sayings and expressions with A Lexicon of New Orleans.

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