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New Orleans Visitor FAQS

Where's the best shopping? What does New Orleans offer to LGBT travelers? Read more of our FAQS.

How can I experience New Orleans' cultural celebrations and festivals this season? 

When visiting New Orleans, you can find something magical and unforgettable every day. Whether it's an opportunity to sample our exceptional cuisine, to learn about our rich cultural heritage or a music festival you seek, New Orleans has something for everyone.

New Orleans is known for it's festival calendar, filled with celebrations of food, music and the city's unique culture. Beginning with Mardi Gras and ending with Christmas New Orleans Style and New Year's Eve, our calendar year has a festival for everyone. And in a city that loves to party, many of our festivals and cultural celebrations are seeing record-breaking attendance levels. In 2014, French Quarter Festival saw more than 732,000 attendees in a four day period and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival hosted more than 430,000 people, its highest attendance levels since 2003. From Cajun and Zydeco to oysters to poboys to Carnival time, we invite you to experience our one-of-a-kind festival season.

Click here to check out the variety of festivals and more examples of fun just waiting to be had in New Orleans all year round.

I have not visited New Orleans in a few years. What can I expect? 

During your trip to New Orleans you'll have the opportunity to indulge in world-famous cuisine, savor specialty cocktails and dance the night away to some of the best live music in the world. Our laid back, friendly culture inspires guests to relax, kick up their heels and live it up.

The city is experiencing millions of dollars in hotel renovations and upgrades, there are more than 1,400 restaurants to choose from with new eateries popping up all the time and a variety of attractions to enjoy as well. The city balances a love for tradition with the energy of innovation, resulting in an eclectic vibe found no where else.

So prepare to let the stress of your 9-to-5 melt away. There are meals to be eaten, toasts to be made and new friends just around the corner.

How many visitors have been to New Orleans recently? 

New Orleans hosted 17.74 million visitors in 2017.  These visitors spent a total of $8.7 billion - the most visitor spending ever in the city's history!

What are my hotel choices? 

There are more than 22,000 in the downtown area and more than 38,000 in the greater metro area as of January 1, 2017, including small boutique treasures in the French Quarter, charming bed and breakfast properties, major downtown hotel towers and more.

What are my restaurant choices? 

From fine-dining to $7 po-boys, our food is both unique and affordable. Check out a few of our restaurants, where you will often times find world-renowned chefs cooking in the kitchen. Our city is home to internationally recognized culinary heroes, who are encouraged by locals and visitors alike to experiment in the kitchen and serve up some of the world's most unique and creative dishes that are always seasoned to perfection.

What are my options for shopping?

 New Orleans shopping -- from the French Quarter all the way Uptown to Magazine Street -- offers an array of retail choices. Options include The Shops at Canal Place, Saks Fifth Avenue, Jax Brewery, The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, as well as hundreds of boutiques, art galleries and antique stores along Magazine & Royal Streets and elsewhere throughout the city. Tax-free shopping offers international visitors even more reasons to experience New Orleans. For more information on Louisiana tax-free shopping, please visit www.louisianataxfree.com.

What type of events does New Orleans offer sports enthusiasts? 

New Orleans' line-up of sporting events and sports venues are sure to live up to every fan's expectations. The city is home to several sports teams showcasing premier events in football, basketball, baseball and soccer including the Saints, Pelicans, and the Jesters. The state of Louisiana, known as the "Sportsman's Paradise," is also renowned for its fishing and hunting hot spots.

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome completed an $85 million renovation; part of an overall $336 million renovation that began in 2006. Key significant enhancements include an expansion of the Plaza Level concourse by 50 feet, 135 additional new women's restrooms, additional concession points of sale on the Plaza Level, 3,100 additional Plaza Level seats, 186 digital concourse monitors and two new premium bunker club lounges. On October 4, 2011, Governor Bobby Jindal joined Saints Owner Tom Benson and key representatives of Mercedes-Benz USA to announce a 10-year agreement reached between the NFL Saints and Mercedes-Benz USA to name the Louisiana Superdome the "Mercedes-Benz Superdome." 

FESTIVAL PLAZA- CHAMPIONS SQUARE
In one of the most innovative downtown developments in recent years, the pedestrian mall adjacent to Superdome has been redeveloped into a 53,000 sq. foot sports and entertainment plaza with digital capabilities, food & beverage service and performance space. It is a popular gathering place for fans to congregate and get pumped up for the many events at the Dome and Smoothie King Center. This revitalization of a high profile area on the Poydras Street corridor creates one of the most "happening" places in a city that loves to have a good time. Club XLIV located just off the Square is an exclusive, posh venue to prepare for the game and is available for rental for private events.

NEW PRIVATE BOX SUITES
The total number of luxury suites in the Superdome is 152.

NEW SIDELINE SEATING
The sideline seating on the Plaza Level will be completely revamped, moving patrons closer to the action, with improved sightlines. The new seating units will add approximately 3,100 prime seats up close to the team benches.

REDESIGNED PLAZA LEVEL CONCOURSE
The Dome's Plaza Level concourse has been expanded and includes additional food service areas, specialty stands and restrooms. The new concourse also has all-new flooring, lighting, murals, color scheme and signage.

NEW PREMIUM GROUND LEVEL CLUB LOUNGES
Located below the reconfigured Plaza Level stands, the new premium clubs feature private entry directly from the parking garage, an upscale environment for private events, and high-end amenities including a fixed bar, lounge & table seating, television monitors and restrooms.

NEW LOOK OUTSIDE
These exciting new changes aren't limited to the interior of the Superdome. Louisiana's most famous landmark was recently outfitted with a shiny new look on the outside. The entire 400,000 sq. ft. of anodized aluminum on the exterior walls were replaced giving the photogenic building a bold, brassy look from every angle. A new dynamic LED lighting system replaced the former "wash lights" and illuminates the exterior of the Superdome. This energy efficient system will allow for unlimited color and lighting patterns that can be customized specifically for every event.

What are my options for LGBT travelers? 

New Orleans is well-known for its vibrant LGBT scene. There are over two dozen TAG approved hotels throughout the city several stellar LGBT clubs or bars. Visitors can enjoy amazing shopping in the French Quarter, on Magazine Street or at The Shops at Canal Place, or enjoy the New Orleans weather at one of the many LGBT friendly pools. Plan your trip around one of the city’s gay celebrations such as the Gay Easter Parade, Saints and Sinners Literary Festival or Southern Decadence Festival, known as the “Gay Mardi Gras” which takes place every Labor Day Weekend and draws over 100,000 visitors to the city each year.

What are my options for attractions and museums? 

New Orleans is home to attractions and museums that speak to the city's unique culture as well as general attractions sure to please any visitor. Examples include: plantation homes, riverboat cruises, tours, Café Du Monde, African American Museum, Louisiana State Museums, The New Orleans Historic Collection, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Audubon Zoo, Harrah's Casino and its entertainment-filled Fulton Street Promenade, New Orleans Museum of Art, Bestoff Sculpture Garden, City Park, the Botanical Gardens, Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots, Contemporary Arts Center, Louisiana Children's Museum, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Orleans Ballet, Audubon Insectarium, The Southern Food and Beverage Museum, Museum of the American Cocktail, The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World and the National WWII Museum.

What's the best way to get to New Orleans? 

There are plenty of flights into New Orleans! Airlines operating out of the Louis Armstrong International Airport include: Air Canada, AirTran, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, PeoplExpress, Southwest, Spirit, United, U.S. Airways and VacationExpress.

For the fourth consecutive year, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport has experienced an amazing increase in passenger volume and is the fastest growing airport in the U.S.According to year-end 2015 airport passenger data, the Airport served a total of 10,673,301 passengers, an increase of 9.1% as compared to last year. Building on six consecutive years of growth, the 2015 passenger numbers mark a significant milestone for the Airport. The continued increase is credited in large part to the growth of the New Orleans region as a top flight destination for leisure, conventions and business. Today, the millions of passengers traveling from New Orleans can select one of fourteen airlines presently operating at the airport for their air travel needs.

What are my options for taxis, buses, airport shuttles and streetcars? 

There are more than 1,200 taxis available on New Orleans' streets and at major hotels. Taxi rates are $3.50 plus $.30 per one-eighth mile thereafter. There is also an additional charge of $1.00 per passenger after the first passenger.

During peak visitor times (including Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest) taxi rates are $7 per person or the meter rate, whichever is greater. A fixed rate of $36 (one to two people) is charged from the airport to most areas of New Orleans. For parties of more than two, the fare is $15 per person.

RTA services are $1.25, including bus transportation and the streetcar. Thirty-three bus and streetcar lines are running daily. Bus service allows transportation throughout the city's major corridor, extending from the Faubourg Marigny to Riverbend.

Airport Shuttle, Inc. is the official ground transportation for Louis Armstrong International Airport, with service to and from New Orleans' hotels and other designated locations. Fare is $24 per person one way and a discounted $44 per person round trip is now available.

Does Amtrak service New Orleans? 

Yes, the City of New Orleans train is running to Memphis and Chicago, while the Crescent runs to Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York. The Sunset Limited runs to Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Tucson and Los Angeles.

What are my options for cruises? 

Norwegian Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean, Crystal Cruises and American Cruise Lines are currently sailing from New Orleans.

New Orleans is the perfect destination from which to set sail. We offer valuable pre and post cruise deals. And as a compact, walkable and filled with countless festivals and cultural attractions - many of them free - New Orleans makes for an affordable and unforgettable part of your vacation.

View cruise options.

What's new at the Convention Center? 

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (MCCNO), with 1.1 million-square-feet of contiguous meeting space, more than 140 different meetings spaces, two exquisite ballrooms and customizable auditorium space, is the sixth largest and one of the most technologically advanced convention facilities in the country. With the recent $52 million renovation, the facility added a 60,000-square-foot column-free ballroom dubbed “The Great Hall” in reference to the Convention Center’s first use as the Great Hall of the 1984 World’s Fair. The Great Hall has four divisible sections and 25,000 square-feet of pre-function space. Architectural redesigns include a large outdoor pedestrian plaza, interior and exterior balconies, and utilizes energy-efficient LED lighting that can be customized to nearly any desired color combination. The grand entrance on Julia Street overlooks a high-definition, customizable video display board welcoming each guest.

MCCNO is now embarking on an ambitious new venture that will revitalize the city's riverfront. The plan will invigorate the area and contribute to the city's continued growth. This project, situated on 47 acres upriver from the Center, calls for new retail, residential and entertainment components essentially creating the newest neighborhood in this iconic 300-year-old city. Learn more and explore the facility by clicking here.

What are New Orleans & Company and the City of New Orleans doing to be environmentally friendly? 

Call it green, call it sustainability, but being environmentally savvy is not a trend. It's an important business practice that's here to stay. That's why New Orleans is one of many destinations working to become more environmentally friendly.

New Orleans is happy to announce we now offer pedicabs as an alternative mode of transportation! Companies like Need a Ride can provide transport to neighborhoods such as the French Quarter, Marigny, Downtown and Warehouse District.

Second Line Stages, the first green independent stages in the United States, has opened its doors in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans. The $32 million project build the stages of the studio to the exact standards of the motion picture industry and to comply with the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver Certification.

Even Mardi Gras has gone green. Kern Studios, the largest producer of Carnival floats, began reducing the impact on the environment by using biodiesel in the tractors pulling floats along the parade routes and also reuses several of their floats for multiple Mardi Gras parades. The Krewe of Rex is using biodegradable string on their special Mardi Gras beads, preventing the beads from hanging in trees for extended periods of time.

Adding to a section of environmentally friendly practices, New Orleans is incorporating green practices into its famous festivals. On September 5, 2009, Project 30-90, the city's first all green music festival, featured several of local musicians to support the initiative.

In addition, Hotard, one of the area's leading providers of motorcoach transportation, switched to a greener fleet. The company has begun to introduce new motorcoach models that cut particulate matter, black smoke, by 90 percent. The company is investigating additional ways that it can go green, including the use of bio-diesel fuel.

Airport Shuttle New Orleans, the official airport transportation provider for the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, is going green with all-new clean burning propane hybrid vehicles. Propane is now being used in all of Airport Shuttle's vehicles, thanks to a new technology that enabled the conversion of existing engines to a propane hybrid.

As part of their dedication to serving the public, the Regional Transit Authority purchases environmentally friendly equipment and adopts initiatives and programs that helps reduce their environmental impact on our city, our region, and our planet. 

Is New Orleans a safe place for visitors? 

Yes. No other city in the world manages special events, crowd control and visitor safety as well as New Orleans.

New Orleans welcomes more than nine million visitors per year and celebrates like nowhere else with world class gatherings such as Mardi Gras and dozens of annual festivals and prestigious sporting events. The world's most prominent corporations and associations select New Orleans for conferences and business events ranging from a 10-person corporate board meeting to large association city-wide conventions with tens of thousands of attendees from around the world. 

Visitor Safety

As with any destination, we recommend that vacationers and convention attendees practice common sense and do not wander into deserted, non-tourist areas of the city. 

New Orleans & Company (formerly the NOCVB) and its tourism partners maintain great relationships with the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). The NOPD's senior leadership team is happy to meet with New Orleans & Company customers about their specific groups. In addition, New Orleans & Company informs the top leadership of the NOPD of the complete convention and visitor schedule so they may provide customized coverage in areas where specific events are occurring. 

The NOPD has implemented a new "Special Events Deployment Plan."  This plan essentially blankets the hospitality area (the French Quarter, Canal Street, the Marigny and Treme neighborhoods) with nearly twice the number of NOPD officers, dressed in new fluorescent vests, during major event weekends.  

Visitors to New Orleans can expect:

  • Police patrol on foot as well as Vespa scooters, golf carts, motorcycles and Segways throughout the French Quarter with special attention to Bourbon Street, Royal Street, Chartres Street, Jackson Square and parks. 

  • Police patrol of Convention Center Boulevard via patrol cars, Vespa scooters, Polaris carts and Segways.  

  • Mounted officers on horseback every night.  

  • Portable light boxes on major cross streets such as Canal, Iberville, St. Louis and St. Peter.  

  • Sky Watch towers to increase visibility, observation and police presence during special events.  

  • The permanent staffing of tourist areas is also routinely augmented by the assignment of Reserve NOPD Officers who are assigned on night shifts and weekends.  

New Orleans' popular tourist areas are among the most safe and walkable places for visitors of any city in America. 

Crime exists in all major cities. In New Orleans, the vast majority of violent crime is targeted criminal-on-criminal drug and retaliation acts which occur in inner-city neighborhoods. As with any destination, we recommend that vacationers and convention attendees practice common sense and do not wander into deserted, non-tourist areas of the city. 

How is New Orleans & Company prepared for hurricane season? 

The New Orleans & Company Tourism Crisis Management Plan, along with diligent and thorough preparation with an emphasis on safety, will assist visitors in responding appropriately to emergencies. 
The City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana have implemented a unified emergency communications plan to ensure the timely flow of information across the region in emergency situations. A comprehensive and effective city-wide emergency communications plan for the Greater New Orleans tourism industry has been developed for visitors.

Today, New Orleans is proud to not only be the nation's leader in fun, food, music and major cultural and sporting events, but now to be the most sophisticated destination in the world in all levels of emergency planning, execution and visitor management.

Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was authorized and funded to design and construct the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System for southeast Louisiana.

The Corps has strengthened and improved virtually all of the levees, floodwalls, pump stations and surge barriers that form the 133-mile Greater New Orleans perimeter system. The system that is in place now is stronger and more resilient than it has ever been in the area's history and is capable of defending against a 100-year level storm.

For more detailed information on the Greater New Orleans Hurricane & Storm Damage Risk Reduction System, please visit: http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Missions/HSDRRS/RiskReductionPlan.aspx

Or watch a computer-generated video with an aerial "flyover" view of the entire system and improvement efforts: http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Media/Videos.aspx

Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC) Surge Barrier:

  • Largest surge barrier wall in the world
  • The Corps' largest-ever Design-Build construction contract
  • Includes a concrete pile-supported wall across the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, more than one and a half miles long, and three navigable gated structures
  • Provides flood risk reduction to the Ninth Ward, Gentilly, New Orleans East, Orleans Metro, and St. Bernard Parish.

Gulf Intracoastal Waterway-West Closure Complex (GIWW-WCC):

  • Largest sector gate in nation and largest drainage pump station in world for removal of rainwater when structure is closed during storm events
  • Reduces risk for west bank portions of Jefferson, Orleans and Plaquemines parishes by removing over 25 miles of levees, floodwalls, gates and pumping stations along Harvey and Algiers Canals from exposure to storm surge

What are my options should I need medical care while visiting? 

Hospitals and urgent care facilities include:

What is the population of New Orleans?

According to 2010 Census Bureau estimates, New Orleans' population is made up of approximately 343,829 residents. Jefferson Parish, adjacent to New Orleans and a part of the metro area, is home to 432,552 residents according to 2010 Census data. New Orleans' hospitality industry is the city's largest employer with a work force that is 80,000 strong.