We spent a couple of days in New Orleans on our Wedding Trip / Honeymoon… it was our first visit there.
Loved the city… we will be going back in the next year or so again for another visit (this one longer)
First off, Hotels in New Orleans tend to be quite expensive (and parking is super-high as well) … if you can afford the prices then staying somewheres in the downtown core is great.
If you can’t… or want to make it a longer visit (we found 3 days not long enough)… then look at staying a bit further afield… we stayed in the historic (and very picturesque) Garden District. Where we found a much cheaper (still a well rated Hotel on TripAdvisor) with FREE Parking. We cabbed in and out of the downtown core, and still saved oodles of cash vs taking a $ 250+ Hotel Room and paying for Parking too.
So do the math…
The Garden District was lovely… we walked St Charles and admired the old houses etc. We had drinks on “the porch” at The Columns (the Hotel itself looked very romantic… I might look into staying there sometime)
We took one of the city tours… we booked with VIP. They came right to our Hotel to pick us up… and would deliver us back at the end… or take us “within reason” to wherever we wanted to go.
The City Tour was not the hop-on hop-off variety… but rather a tour that took us a variety of places and told us about what we were seeing / passing enroute. It also included a stop at a New Orleans Cemetery.
The Guide was excellent (lol, altho as a History Buff, I have to say that his take on some Historical aspects, had certainly been enhanced for “entertainment” purposes).
We spent one evening on Bourbon Street… it was interesting… but not at all what we really expected (it was also busy… being the night of the Sugar Bowl). We thought there would be more Restauarants and such. There wasn’t… not much except the Bars, Tacky Souvenir Shops & Strip Clubs. Which was ok… just not what we were expecting I guess. It wore thin pretty quick IMO (also tho because the temperature was unreasonably cold… in the 40s)
We did however have a ok meal at the Desire Oyster Bar in the Royal Sonesta Hotel. And drinks “by the fire” at Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House … while the game was on.
The second night (after the city tour) we discovered Decateur & Frenchmen Streets. Frenchman is where the locals mostly go to hang out. Some great restaurants and places that play good music (Blues, Jazz, Zydeco etc).
Good eats on Frenchmen include Adolfo’s (Italian) and Melange (New Orleans fare / Creole)
We drove thru the Warehouse District at one point… and it looked interesting as well… (probably will want to explore it more next trip)
Due to a shortage of time we didn’t see enough of the historical places… which would be on my list for next time.
As we had our own car… we did however get to see some of the surrounding area, and the geography (which is amazing)… including I-55 coming in from Mississippi… which snakes its way between Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, with a good deal of it aboard the Manchac Swamp Bridge (which is almost 23 Miles long !!). The Bridge gives a peak at various Bayou settlements along the way.
We also travelled thru the Bayou to the east of the City via Chef Menteur Hwy when we left the city (enroute to Mississippi – Alabama – and Florida) … again very interesting scenery. There are organized tours that can take you out to and thru the bayou if you so desire. (Lol, not my thing… I’m not crazy about Gators & Snakes)
Hope this helps,