The Biggest Mistakes Tourists Make In New Orleans

The Biggest Mistakes Tourists Make in New Orleans

As the Cajun French say, "Laissez les bons temps rouler"—let the good times roll. New Orleans is a destination unlike any other, steeped in history, famous fare and good times. Escape the snow in this famous all over the world city for its jazz, zydeco, blues, Cajun & funk events. New Orleans is like an art paradise for the soul. Certain mistakes should be circumvented so you can make the most of what is guaranteed to be an awesome trip.

Don’t talk about Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest hurricanes, and the most destructive, ever to hit the country. An estimated 1,833 people died in the storm and the flooding that followed; millions were left homeless along the Gulf Coast and in New Orleans. Sign of the devastation can still be seen outside popular and rich areas. At the very least, Katrina is traumatic to talk about. Don't mention it unless the local you're talking to brings it up.

New Orleans is more than the French Quarter

Do yourself a favor and don't limit your cultural experience of this marvelous city to the French Quarter. Stop in the Marigny and the Bywater districts, which are not far from the Quarter, for a more serene alternative to the jumble of drinking establishments; take a literary tour; marvel at the Mississippi; and visit Uptown and the Garden District by strolling along Magazine Street to see some of the most beautiful houses in the state (and possibly the country). The architecture is usually in a Greek revival-theme.

Don’t be alone in the Quarter late at night

Be smart and safe. This is the one neighborhood most frequented by tourists, who don't know the local way, so, naturally, crime there is high. Just recently, a man was shot dead and nine other were wounded around 2 a.m., according to news reports. People have been drinking, they are waiting in line to get into dancing clubs, and tensions are high. Locals have gathered in the past to demand more police protection in the neighborhood.

Don’t get a cab or rent a car

Use cab-hailing apps. The price is almost always lower, the drivers show up much faster; their cars are clean; and they love to chat with you (possibly giving a good advice on where to go and what to do). In general, they are also more reliable. Don't rent a car and get stuck in traffic; take the streetcar lines for $1.25 and ride the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world.

Don’t stay at a chain hotel

Why would you want to spend triple what you can actually get away with just to say you have slept in the French Quarter? Chances are you went to New Orleans to party, which doesn't usually mean staying in a hotel room anyway. Airbnb offers a huge variety of affordable rentals, even in the famed French Quarter or Downtown. Also, why wouldn't you want to support a local person as opposed to giving your money to a big company?

Don't eat an entire po-boy as one meal

Don't do it unless you don't want to eat anything else all day (which would be a mistake, considering the culinary magic New Orleans has to offer). Po' boys are usually cheap, huge, and very-filling. They are made with lots of meat, which is usually roast beef, or fried seafood like shrimp and crab. They also have mayo, lettuce, pickles, and tomatoes. One of the most famous places to get a po' boy in New Orleans is Verti Marte in the French Quarter.

Don’t be a stranger, talk to locals

There is never a better way to get to know a place you've never been before than by talking to the people who have lived there for years. New Orleanians are friendly and love their city, which is why they are happy to help curious tourists. They will tell you how things used to be, start a conversation with you while waiting in line, come to dance with you at a party...Be open to anything.

Go during the week

Avoid the crowds and save money on hotels and private rentals. You won't miss out on anything New Orleans has to offer. There is always something to do in this vibrant city. Live music events are not always scheduled on weekends. Take a look at the official events guide – entertainment shows, festivals, and sports events are literally happening every day until at least the end of March.

Don’t call it a night early

It's no secret that the fun and best musical events start after midnight. Make sure you're not drained by 11 p.m. And if you are, have some water and something sweet, or an energy drink if you really can't stay up, and continue to have fun. You can't go wrong with a hurricane drink and incredible music at the piano bar in Pat O'Brien's, Preservation Hall, House of Blues, and One Eyed Jack's.

Don’t forget to put sunscreen on

It may be easy to forget to apply sunscreen when  you're in New Orleans in March or April and where you come from is still cold, but don't make the mistake of living your skin unprotected. Sunburn, which you can get even if it's not scorching hot, is a sure way to ruin your vacation. New Orleans' coldest month is January when the average temperature overnight is 43°F.

Don’t overdo it with the beads

They are literally everywhere. Don't be a typical tourist by covering your entire self with beads. You're probably going to hit the person next to you with them while dancing and that will hurt him or her a lot. Stay classy – get some beads, have fun, throw them at people on Bourbon Street, but don't go overboard.

Don’t keep anything in your back pocket

Don't expect to find anything you put in your back pocket after a day on the streets of New Orleans during a festival. Pickpockets thrive that time of the year. But even if they don't snatch your wallet or phone, it is likely to fall out during all the jumping, excitement, parades, and other festivities.

Don’t go crazy on Day 1

Be smart and accept that you can't see, taste and explore everything in 24 hours. Don't spring through what can really be a great vacation. It may be hard to resist the urge to stay up all night but then you won't have any energy for thrilling adventures the following day. Every day is precious for visitors; make the most of all of them. 

Make time to see wildlife

Go on a swamp tour and see the state's natural phenomena – moss-draped bayous, alligators, swamp deer, and snakes. The more adventurous of you can kayak on Bayou Saint John, a popular inlet for fun recreational activities. The New Orleans Pass, a tourist discount card, already includes two swamp tour experiences at no additional cost.

Don’t fall for voodoo gift shops

New Orleans and voodoo faith go hand in hand. Tourist areas are taking full advantage of that with shops popping up on every corner. For an authentic experience, visit the Voodoo Spiritual Temple or F&F Botanica. The main focus of Louisiana Voodoo today is to serve others and influence the outcome of life events through the connection with nature, spirits, and ancestors. True rituals are held "behind closed doors" as a showy ritual would be considered disrespectful to the spirits.