There’s no doubt that Mardi Gras is a great time to visit New Orleans. The city is filled with color, activity and excitement. You can witness first-hand some of the 300-year old traditions associated with Mardi Gras; watch as the flambeaux carriers light the night sky with torches in a procession that lights the way for the coming floats, or attend one of the many grand Twelfth Night balls. Yes, New Orleans is filled with pleasures of all kinds during Mardi Gras, and it’s also filled with people.
There is no busier time in New Orleans than during the raucous pre-Lent celebration. French quarter hotels, restaurants and streets are bursting at the seams. It is certainly an experience everyone should enjoy at least once in their lifetime, but if crowds and a bit of over-indulgence aren’t your idea of a great vacation don’t cross New Orleans off your travel to-do list! In fact, you might experience an entirely different New Orleans by visiting at another time of the year – one filled with family fun, a strong tradition of cultural arts, world-class dining and history
Booking a hotel room in New Orleans may be a lot easier when you visit during another time of year besides Mardi Gras. New Orleans is always a popular tourist destination, but during Mardi Gras, finding a room in a French Quarter hotel
is nearly impossible due to the popularity of the location. Before or after the festival when the Crescent City receives fewer visitors, hotels everywhere have more rooms to offer. Search online or speak to a travel agent to learn which New Orleans hotels offer “off-season” discounts. Paying less for a luxury hotel room is one more reason to visit the city after the crowds thin out.
New Orleans in the Fall
Autumn is a great time to head down to New Orleans. While the Big Easy may not rival the autumnal splendor of Maine or Vermont, you can enjoy the cooler fall weather and the beauty of the historic tree-lined streets while you’re there to attend a New Orleans Saints football game, the New Orleans film festival, the Ponderosa Stomp, the Voodoo Music Experience or the start of New Orleans’ cultural art season.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints kickoff their season in late September, but you don’t have to be the world’s biggest football fan to enjoy attending a game at the Superdome. Visiting the Louisiana Superdome is an event in itself and the colorfully dressed fans make it feel like you’re in the middle of a Mardi Gras parade with their “Big Chief” costumes, voodoo garb and lively dancing.
Voodoo Music Experience
The Voodoo Music Experience began in 1999 and has become one of the most heavily attended music festivals in New Orleans. It’s held in City Park, just a short drive from the French Quarter, (or take the Canal Streetcar Line for a true New Orleans experience) and features contemporary rock, alternative, and hip-hop artists. Visit The Voodoo Experience online for more information and this year’s featured artists.
New Orleans in the Summer
You may not think of New Orleans as a family-friendly destination, but the city is filled with enough adventures to keep your family busy no matter how long you stay.
The best way to get an up-close look at the Louisiana bayou is to take a guided swamp tour. You’ll see statuesque water fowl, nutria, snakes and maybe even an alligator or two. There are several companies that offer group and individual tours; look for a licensed vendor that provides complimentary transportation to and from your hotel.
Plantation Home Tours
Taking a tour of New Orleans’ plantation homes is like participating in a live history lesson. There are several antebellum mansions to visit, each with its own grandeur and history to explore. Call the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce to get a list of participating plantations and guided tour vendors.
New Orleans in the Winter
For foodies, winter may be the best time of the year to visit New Orleans. With few tourists visiting you can dine with the locals and those hard-to-score restaurant reservations are easier to get. New Orleans is home to some of the world’s most delicious and diverse cuisine featuring, of course, fresh seafood from the Louisiana coast. Whether you want to try African, Cajun, Louisiana barbecue, soul food or a traditional po’ boy sandwich, winter is a great time to eat your way through New Orleans because there’s still plenty of time to shed those extra pounds before the Mardi Gras festivities begin.
There’s no bad time to visit this great city. The food, music, hotels, festivals and adventures are plentiful any time of year – and so is the hospitality, so come on and let those good times roll.
This guest post article was written and provided by Charles Watkins who is a freelance writer and avid traveler.