Any time is a good time to visit New Orleans. However, we definitely have our favorite times of the year to take in all of the things we love so much about our city. And fall is one of them. After the summer slows down, the city picks up a nice pace. The weather cools down. Saints season kicks off bringing an exciting energy along with it. Fall festivals are in full swing. Those are just a few reasons that make fall the perfect time to visit New Orleans. If you find yourself in search of the perfect fall getaway, let our guide lead the way.
*Editor’s Note: Be on the lookout for special midweek travel deals at hotels throughout the city.
In New Orleans, the French Quarter gets lots of love, but just a short ferry ride away is quaint and cool Algiers Point. Catch the Canal Street ferry downtown and head across the river to Algiers Point to experience this charming neighborhood. During the fall, Wednesdays On the Point is the locals’ way to enjoy great live music, food, local artisans, and one of the best views of the city.
Cooler temperatures in the fall allow you to experience all of the unique outdoor landscapes that New Orleans and the surrounding areas offer. One of the best ways to do that is on a swamp tour. For those who may be weary of the great outdoors, you can get a sense of what a swamp tour is like before you venture out with a visual tour. Visit the nearby Barataria Preserve to see some of the region’s unique wildlife.
New Orleans has plenty of streets with vibrant architecture and interesting sights to explore. One of our favorites is Esplanade Avenue. Start the day by renting bikes (Free Wheelin’ Bike Tours or NOLA Blue Bikes are two great options) and ride down this gorgeous, tree-lined avenue. Stop by the sweet little CC’s on the corner of Esplanade Avenue and Desoto Street for an iced coffee (our favorite is the Mochasippi). Make your way down to the neighborhood grocery Canseco’s market, and pick up crawfish pies from the hot bar and a bag of local Zapp’s chips to-go. Ride down to the Bayou, and find the perfect spot to settle in and enjoy the sights of Bayou St. John.
Arguably one of the best way to start any day in New Orleans is with beignets. Make your way to Café du Monde on Decatur Street for beignets and a café au lait, or in their newest location in City Park. Once you’ve dusted your clothes with powdered sugar and had all the fried, delicious dough you can take, walk across the street and visit the St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the country. Take in the sights and sounds of Jackson Square where you’ll find street musicians, artists (and a few tricksters too).
Across from St. Louis Cathedral is the Cabildo, which features various exhibitions throughout the year. Visit the shops and galleries along Royal Street. Pop in the Frank Relle studio on Royal Street to see breathtaking images of some of Louisiana’s landscapes. Head to lunch at Muriel’s, and order the crawfish crepes and the shrimp etouffée. Afterwards, make your way up to the balcony for cocktails and fantastic people watching in the French Quarter.
It’s impossible to visit New Orleans without experiencing authentic, live music. It seeps from the streets. On Frenchmen Street you’ll find some of the best live music in the city. (We say some because there is incredible live music scattered throughout the entire city.) But for the purposes of this itinerary, we’ll stick to Frenchmen. All you have to do is show up on Frenchmen Street, and you can roam into any venue for great, live music. We usually like to start the night at Maison, then head to Blue Nile, DBA, and/or the Spotted Cat. Save for holiday weekends, most venues offer free admission. Check the venues’ websites for calendars.
Catch the streetcar at Carrollton Avenue and St. Charles Avenue and ride it all the way down St. Charles Avenue to downtown. The beautiful oaks and magnificent mansions on St. Charles can’t be missed. Walk over to Willa Jean and have all the breakfast pastries and coffee your heart desires. If you are like us and simply cannot pass on sweets, have one or (two or three) chocolate chip cookies at Willa Jean.
Now that you’ve fueled up, it’s time to explore. One could easily spend an entire day doing just downtown. Art lovers rejoice in the Arts District. History buffs get lost in the WWII museum. Contemporary artists w love the nearby Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Contemporary Arts Center which offer a look at local and Southern artists. Take a break from exploring and have lunch at Pêche and consider sharing fresh, raw oysters and the whole fish.
After a full day of exploring, walk over to the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery for a specialty cocktail before dinner at Compère Lapin. You might catch an art exhibit on display, as this hotel partners with local organization Where Y’at to showcase New Orleans artists throughout the year.