Things to keep in mind and research when planning your trip to New Orleans:
WILL YOU NEED A CAR?
If you’re staying in or near the French Quarter or Downtown, there’s no reason to rent a car. Most everything is walking or a short cab (or uber) distance. Further afield sites, such as plantation homes or swamp tours, usually offer downtown pickups for an added cost. However, if you’re further afield, and if you want to check out some sites outside of the French Quarter, consider a car rental. Public Transit works on specific, limited routes. Parking in and around the French Quarter can be an expensive endeavor.
FESTIVALS EVERY WEEKEND
There’s always a festival going on in New Orleans. Check ahead of time to see what parades you can see or be a part of while in town. There’s a couple good sites that will list festivals and events happening each weekend. WWOZ Outdoors also has a listing of Second Line and Mardi Gras festivals.
NEW ORLEANS BY FOOT
Walking tours are a great way to see the city. Whether it’s neighborhood tours, cemeteries, or food, it’ll help situate you in place. For a bargain price, Free Tours by Foot doesn’t charge for the tour - just tip well! Popular tours will book up at least several days in advance. You can also download audio guides to do your own walking tour at your own pace - they’ll cost only a couple of dollars to download.
MEDIA TO WATCH
New Orleans has been well covered by books, movies, TV, and more. I like seeing a bit about a place before I’m there. More light-hearted fare includes Girls Trip (sorry, no ziplines over Bourbon Street), Now You See Me and The Princess & the Frog. While it’s wildly inaccurate, American Horror Story: Coven does feature several characters and stories from the dark and twisted history of the city. The devastation and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are covered extensively, both in heartbreaking and occasionally hilarious detail in the documentary When the Levees Broke, and later in HBO’s narrative series Treme, the latter of which focuses on music and musicians.