The Best Time To Visit New Orleans For Every Type Of Traveler

Plan the perfect NOLA vacation with these insider tips.

New Orleans Carriage Ride

Courtesy of New Orleans Tourism

It’s hard to argue with Bob Dylan’s maximalist endorsement: “Everything in New Orleans is a good idea.” But if you’re planning to visit the Crescent City, it does pay to be intentional about your travel timing. The best advice for getting the most out of your stay? Think about your priorities and schedule your trip accordingly. Read on for recommendations on avoiding hurricane season, beating the heat, and navigating Mardi Gras.

New Orleans Mardi Gras Masks and Beads

Courtesy of New Orleans Tourism

When To Visit for Mardi Gras

Carnival season kicks off on Jan. 6—the Epiphany—and runs up until the day before Ash Wednesday. That leaves roughly a four to eight week window during January and February to indulge in parades, parties and king cakes. If Mardi Gras is on your bucket list, do yourself a favor and check the parade schedule. About 80 parades criss-cross New Orleans neighborhoods during Carnival season each year. If you plan it right, you can stake out a spot and see two or three in a row. Expect crowds and energy to amp up the closer you get to Fat Tuesday. Two of the flashiest evening parades (Endymion and Bacchus) headline the final weekend. Zulu and Rex famously close out the show on Mardi Gras day.

Uptown New Orleans Azaleas

Courtesy of New Orleans Tourism

When To Visit for the Best Weather

There’s a reason early spring is the high season for New Orleans travel. March and April bring lower humidity, comfortable temperatures and outdoor festivals from Freret to the French Quarter. You’ll likely pay more for airline tickets and hotels, but there’s nothing quite like strolling (or jogging, if that’s your thing) through the Garden District when the azaleas are in full bloom.

New Orleans Live Music First Line

Courtesy of New Orleans Tourism

When To Visit for Live Music

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival draws thousands of people to New Orleans over two weekends in late April and early May. Go for the headliners, sure. But another perk of scheduling your visit during Jazz Fest is the explosion of live music in venues throughout the city. Bars on Frenchmen Street and beyond pack their musical lineups throughout the week and keep the festival spirit going long after the sun sets on the Fairgrounds. 

Hansen's Sno-Bliz New Orleans Snowball

Courtesy of New Orleans Tourism

When To Visit To Score Major Deals

Summer in New Orleans brings triple-digit heat and unforgiving humidity. That said, budget-minded travelers can take advantage of perks and markdowns at some of the city’s best hotels during June and July. Grab a snowball and spend plenty of time indoors during the day (the National WWII Museum, Ogden Museum of Southern Art and New Orleans Museum of Art are all worthwhile options). You can enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife once things cool off each evening. Keep in mind, hurricane season runs from June to November, but peaks in late August and September.

New Orleans Halloween

Courtesy of New Orleans Tourism

When To Visit for Spirited Fun

Known for its haunted history year-round, New Orleans takes things to the next level during the month of October. Catch the mystical “Krewe of Boo!” parade or ride the streetcar down St. Charles Avenue to see elaborate Halloween decorations, including a dramatic display of satirical skeletons. You can also take a guided walk through one of the city’s above ground cemeteries, tour a haunted house or go on a ghost hunt carriage ride. And remember, for New Orleans natives, “costume” is a verb—not a noun—so pack accordingly.

When To Visit for Holiday Traditions

Snowbirds can appreciate Louisiana’s tropical winters, with average December temperatures staying well above freezing. And unless you book your stay during the Sugar Bowl, you likely won’t have to dodge too many crowds. Don’t miss the bedazzled lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel (stay for a snack or a sazerac) or a chance to go sailing with Santa on the steamboat Natchez. Dozens of restaurants offer their take on the Creole tradition of Réveillon Dinners, while the majestic live oaks in City Park set the stage for a magical festival of lights—tickets required. Ring in the new year with fireworks over the Mississippi and a Fleur de Lis drop in Jackson Square.

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