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Planning Your Trip

New Orleans is a revelatory nightlife town, gustatory paradise and jazz mecca that has lately been transformed into a hideaway for artists, musicians and celebrities. Packing for a city that has so much to offer can be tricky, so here are some smart suggestions.


Exploring the City

While New Orleans is known for its lavish Mardi Gras parades, there is more to do than simply waltz down Bourbon Street. Garden tours and plantation day trips should also be on your to-do list, so here is what to pack to enjoy all of this Southern jewel.

 

  • New Orleans is hot, hot, hot — that goes for the nightlife and the weather. Bring lightweight, comfortable clothing that can keep you cool. Think short-sleeve button downs and breezy dresses that won’t let the humidity put a damper on your trip.
  • Women should bring a sturdy pair of heels or wedges to navigate the French Quarter’s narrow streets at night when the crowds can surge and you might just be compelled to dance as a brass band passes by.
  • Comfortable flats are a good shoe option for visiting the Garden District, taking a tour of a local plantation or just perusing the sculptures at NOMA.   
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Cultural Considerations

Dress codes that were once stringent at high-end New Orleans establishments have become relaxed in recent years, but many restaurants still advise male diners to wear a jacket and ask that all guests avoid shorts and baseball caps.  

 

  • A lightweight linen sports coat adheres to the suggested dress of famous institutions like Commander’s Palace and Galatoire’s but still keeps you cool.
  • Men should bring closed-toe leather shoes; many top-tier restaurants and bars will not allow men to wear sandals or flip-flops inside. Sneakers might be allowed, but the manager might not be happy about it.
  • While jeans have become the norm for evenings out, consider dressing up for an upscale dinner. Stylish patrons are often rewarded with prime tables.    

Weekend Getaway

From jazz clubs to beignet cafés, there is a lot to see and do in New Orleans. From historic districts to famed nightlife, the Big Easy is best enjoyed when you pack these essentials.

 

 

 

  • Bring a travel umbrella and keep it in a tote bag or backpack throughout your visit. New Orleans sits on the banks of the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast, so rain showers can sweep in at a moment’s notice.
  • New Orleans weather is usually hot, so pack comfortable walking sandals that will keep your feet cool as you tour the city’s streets and gardens. (Pack a more stylish pair of shoes for nights out at the city’s fine-dining options.)
  • If you’re in town for Jazz Fest or another outdoor music festival, bring a small blanket to keep you comfortable and clean when sitting on the grass or ground.
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Don't Forget:

Take along a linen or straw hat with a wide brim to keep the sun off of your face and neck. Baseball caps are shunned at some of the city’s fancier bars, so it’s best to bring a more stylish option that’s still versatile and practical.  


New Orleans almost overdelivers when it comes to culinary institutions, city walking tours and outdoor adventure. Don’t miss out on any of it by reserving your favorite activities in advance.

Dining Reservations

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Get your first taste of the French Quarter at the Davenport Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, which features live music throughout the week and is named in honor of local jazz headliner Jeremy Davenport. Then get your fill of Creole cuisine at Arnaud’s, a restaurant that has been serving seafood gumbo for more than 100 years. Make sure to reserve a table at Café Amelie to linger in the 150-year-old courtyard while sipping innovative cocktails. And while you don’t need to reserve in advance, don’t skip a stop at Café du Monde, the legendary coffeehouse that is known for its scrumptious beignets.  

Spa Appointments

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Schedule in some rest and relaxation to counteract the riveting nightlife by reserving a spa treatment with a little local flavor. The Voodoo Ritual treatment at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans spa captures the city’s magical and mystical heritage with a locally crafted herb poultice made of absinthe, cypress and moss. It will cast a spell of relaxation that will last all the way through your full-body massage.  

Tours

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While the French Quarter might hold the city’s best nightlife, the city’s Garden District has its charm with antebellum mansions and pristine gardens. Explore it on your own by hopping on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar that drops you right in the heart of it. Head outside the city limits to tour Oak Alley Plantation, the most photographed plantation in Louisiana, which boasts 25 acres of natural beauty and a 300-year-old alley of gorgeous oak trees.

Outdoor Excursions

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The bayous and swamps surrounding New Orleans are breathtaking areas steeped in history and a little voodoo magic, and there are multiple ways to explore them. Go paddle boarding or kayaking on Bayou St. John, a picturesque body of water right inside the city. Take an airboat tour of the cypress swamps outside the city to see alligators, herons and exotic plants — airboats can go farther into the swamps than boats so you get a truly unique experience.

There’s a magical spirit in New Orleans. Thanks to its rich American history and confluence of French, Spanish, African and Creole cultures, the port city on the Mississippi River brims with diverse delights and an eternal buzz. It’s a place where hauntingly beautiful cemeteries are as much a draw as buildings that date back to the early 18th century, and where a single cocktail is as iconic as the storied dining room that serves it. Whether you come to revel on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, for the annual Jazz & Heritage Festival, or just to soak up the vibrant culture, expect to be charmed by the Crescent City.


Cultural Treasures

Synonymous with Mardi Gras celebrations and rollicking fun, New Orleans also offers visitors a host of cultural gems. These can be explored through the lens of the city’s rich history, from iconic squares to magnificent beaux-arts mansions, or its flourishing art scene and plentiful museums. 

 

 

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Friends Getaway

When planning a rendezvous with friends, the Big Easy beckons with the perfect balance of captivating culture and carefree fun. Days brim with history and art-infused outings or easygoing strolls through bustling squares, manicured gardens and charming, tree-lined streets. Later, jazz-filled nights are fueled with free-flowing cocktails and spicy Creole cuisine. 

 

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