New Orleans was recently named the #2 Best U.S. destination to Visit by Travel + Leisure magazine - an honor that we are thrilled and humbled to have received. It has even been said by a T+L writer “everyone needs to experience NOLA at least once.”

While we’re fortunate enough to experience how amazing our city is on a daily basis, having that same sentiment expressed by our friends around the world is priceless. 

Unlike most other cities, there is no shortage of unique culture or customs that set New Orleans apart from the rest. The events, food, festivities, traditions, style and more are among the many offerings that make a visit to New Orleans always adored but never duplicated. 

Check out all of the things that makes the Crescent City the one-of-a-kind destination it is below. 

Rebecca Todd

Second Lines

Sundays in New Orleans don’t feel complete without a second line. Whether celebrating one of New Orlean’s lively second line krewes,  the life of a loved one, or a well-deserved Saints victory, second lines are a quintessential part of New Orleans culture.

Zack Smith

Geaux Cups (To-Go Cups)

Not many cities in the world will ask you if you’d like your mimosa to-go, but, in New Orleans, the good times roll well beyond the confines restaurants, bars, clubs, and concerts. Grab your favorite cocktail (or mocktail) and GEAUX (go)! This unique perk makes tailgating, second lining and leisurely strolls throughout the city that much better. Be sure to check out our list of the top spots for to-go drinks here.  

Rebecca Todd

Above Ground Cemeteries*

Not many other places in the world can say that cemeteries are a must-visit attraction, but New Orleans is different. Because of its unique geographical position, tombs lie above ground rather than under, and the outcome is stunning.

Rebecca Todd

New Orleans Style Sno-balls

Some call them snow cones, others prefer shaved ice, but in New Orleans, the sno-ball reigns supreme. The ultimate summertime treat, sno-balls are made with crushed ice (the perfect texture is highly debatable), your choice of sweet syrup flavors and customizable toppings and fillings. Pro-tip: Order like a New Orleanian and top your sno-ball off with a generous drizzle of sweetened condensed milk, or go extra wild and follow our guide to DIY spiked sno-balls.

Paul Broussard

Neutral Ground

What most call a median is better known as the neutral ground in New Orleans. Not just good for dividing traffic, the neutral grounds are iconic patches of land used for prime real estate during Mardi Gras setups, streetcar hopping, second-line scouting and of course, a perfect NOLA photo-op.

Paul Broussard, NOTMC

Music Culture

Whether it’s the beats of bounce, the swing of jazz or the excitement of cajun-zydeco, nobody does music quite like New Orleans. The city is home to a number of legendary musicians, iconic music venues, the original genres that have swept the nation and continue to guide the culture.

Quest Meeks

Year-Round Festing

Most places have a single festival season but in New Orleans, the fun never stops. Winter is dedicated to Mardi Gras parades and more, while megafests such as Buku Fest, French Quarter Festival, and the coveted Jazz Fest are reserved for spring. Summer sizzles with events like ESSENCE Fest and Tales of the Cocktail, and food fests reign all during fall with the Oak Street Po-Boy, Mac'n'Cheese, and Beignet festivals.

Sorena Briley

Red Bean Mondays

It’s universally known that Mondays are one of the most dreaded days of the week, but in true New Orleans fashion, we flipped the script and created something to love. A pleasant surprise for visitors is red bean Mondays. This weekly delicacy can be found at just about any restaurant or household throughout the Crescent City. Pair it with your choice of fried chicken, pork chop, or smoked sausage for a Monday in NOLA done right.

Devonte William

NOLA Neighborhoods

New Orleans as a whole is truly a unique place made up of equally special neighborhoods. From the Mardi Gras Indian culture in Central City, the African American Heritage in Treme, or the stunning architecture of the Garden District, each avenue you turn down tells a different story. Discover more with our interactive NOLA neighborhood guides.

Zack Smith

New Orleanians

More than anything else, it’s New Orleanians that make New Orleans unique. Those born and raised in the Crescent City who contribute to the city’s vibrant culture–from everyday locals, Mardi Gras Indians and hospitality workers to street performers and streetcar conductors. Each and every native is one-of-a-kind fabric to New Orleans’ custom quilt.