The Best Time to Visit New Orleans in 2023: Tips for Planning Your Trip

Best time to visit New Orleans. View of historic iron work building in the French Quarter

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New Orleans’ distinct culture of music, architecture, food, and nightlife make it an attractive place to visit at any time of year, though many people prefer visiting during the city’s warmer months to enjoy its outdoor activities and festivals. The best time to visit New Orleans varies depending on the season and your personal preference, but our tips will help you plan an unforgettable trip to the Big Easy.

To help you plan your next trip to New Orleans, here are some tips for choosing when to visit based on when festivals or events will be taking place and how busy the city will be overall.

Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash

Mardi Gras Season

If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans, one of the best times to visit is during Mardi Gras season. Mardi Gras season starts as early as the day after Three Kings Day, January 6th, all the way until the actual Mardi Gras day. Because of New Orleans’ long history and love of Mardi Gras, it’s going to be the most popular time to visit. That shouldn’t deter you from visiting, however. You can get plenty of Mardi Gras before the big event in late February or early March.

From January through Fat Tuesday, the city comes alive with music, parades, and parties. With its vibrant culture and renowned cuisine, there’s no better place to be during this festive time of year.

When it comes to experiencing Mardi Gras in all its glory, timing is key. If you’re traveling to New Orleans for the festivities, you’ll want to make sure that you’re there during the peak of the celebration. Parades usually begin around the Saturday before Ash Wednesday and last until the day before Lent begins. Although, there are parades, also called Krewes, as early as January 6, so don’t count out January as a great time to visit. It’s important to note that many parts of the city are closed off to vehicular traffic on parade days, so plan your trip accordingly.

If you’re looking for an even more immersive experience, consider attending one of the many festivals or parades that take place leading up to Fat Tuesday. There are a variety of events to choose from, from traditional second-line parades to more contemporary music festivals. It’s also worth noting that many restaurants, bars, and clubs will offer special menus and entertainment during this time. Find a complete festival and Krewe list here.

No matter how you choose to experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it’s sure to be a memorable trip. Keep in mind that this is a popular time of year to travel, so it’s best to book accommodations and tickets as far in advance as possible. With a bit of planning and some luck, you’re sure to have an incredible trip to New Orleans.

History of Mardi Gras

The celebration of Mardi Gras in New Orleans dates back centuries, and today it’s one of the most famous festivals in the world.

Mardi Gras began as a religious holiday celebrated by early French settlers in Louisiana. In 1699, French explorers brought their Catholic faith to the area and named the spot Pointe du Mardi Gras. By the late 18th century, locals had embraced the tradition of celebrating Mardi Gras with parades and parties. As time went on, the celebration of Mardi Gras grew, becoming more elaborate and grand. Today, Mardi Gras is celebrated in many cities throughout the world, but none quite like New Orleans.

Where to Celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Contrary to popular depictions of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you do not have to celebrate it on Bourbon Street to have a good time. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend Bourbon Street for families and even teens.

Festivals, krewes, and parades take place all over the city and the surrounding parishes. In fact, Jefferson Parish, where New Orleans is located, offers up Family Gras in Mardi Gras Plaza in early February. Safely experience Mardi Gras celebrations, local cajun and creole dishes, and outdoor concerts.

On the day of Mardi Gras, visitors can enjoy colorful floats, marching bands, and plenty of beads along Canal Street. The route changes every year, but it typically starts at Lee Circle and ends in the French Quarter. Another great spot for watching parades is at City Park, where a few family-friendly parades take place.

For those looking to learn more about the Mardi Gras tradition, be sure to visit the Mardi Gras World. Located in the Warehouse District, this location is the largest float designing and building facility in the world. Get an up close and personal look at authentic Mardi Gras costumes and tour the elaborate floats used in more than 80 percent of the Mardi Gras parades. You’ll also learn the history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans along with traditions and customs, including King Cake. Bonus, you can visit here year-round.

When is Mardi Gras in 2023?

Mardi Gras Day falls on Tuesday, February 21, 2023.

historic home in the Garden District during the best time to visit New Orleans

Spring in New Orleans

Early spring might see the tail end of Mardi Gras or a St. Patty’s Day Parade. It’s possible to combine these two events, depending on how long you will be in the Crescent City. St. Patrick’s Day always falls on March 17th, so at least that day is easy to figure out. In 2025, Mardi Gras is March 4th, and in 2030 Mardi Gras is March 5th.

Spring is one of the most popular times to travel to New Orleans. With its mild temperatures and festive atmosphere, there’s no better place to enjoy the season than the Big Easy. Whether you’re planning a trip to explore all of the city’s attractions or just looking for some good old-fashioned fun, here are a few tips for making the most out of your trip to New Orleans.

First and foremost, take advantage of the mild temperatures and make sure to pack light. The weather in New Orleans during the spring ranges from 50°F to 85°F. It’s best to dress in layers so you can adjust to any temperature changes.

Make sure to plan your visit during one of the city’s many festivals and events. With music festivals like the French Quarter Festival and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in April, there’s always live music happening in the city. There’s also a wide selection of excellent restaurants and bars in the city, so take some time to explore the city’s culinary delights. The Tennessee Williams Literary Festival is a personal favorite of mine. Best known for a Streetcar Named Desire, the playwright set his scenes in New Orleans. This festival also takes place during the spring months.

Finally, take some time to explore the city’s many historic landmarks. The French Quarter, Garden District, and other neighborhoods offer plenty of opportunities to experience New Orleans’ history. Make sure to check out some of the city’s iconic architecture and stroll along Royal Street for a taste of what makes New Orleans so special.

When it comes to traveling to New Orleans, spring is one of the best times of the year. With its vibrant atmosphere, mild weather, and countless attractions, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience on your trip to New Orleans!

Getting beignets is good any time of year when you visit New Orleans

Summer in New Orleans

The summer months are going to be hotter with average highs in the 80s to low 90s during the day. High humidity might make outdoor activities a little more challenging if you’re not used to it. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a great time to visit. This city is alive no matter the time of year, even in the hottest months!

Summer would be a great time to take advantage of all the exciting indoor attractions the city has to offer. Enjoy interactive historical figures and musical influences New Orleans has played a part in when you visit Vue Orleans. This new experience offers high-tech, no-touch, colorful interactive elements spanning the history of Crescent City from Camonche Hunters to Jelly Roll Morton and more influential figures. Then head to the 33rd floor where you’ll see a 360-degree mural of the Mighty Mississippi River and every tributary that feeds this important body of water. One more floor up, and you can take in the entire city from the outdoor observation deck.

Keep in mind that hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico is from June through November. It’s a good idea to check the weather before you travel to New Orleans. Active months for Hurricanes are August and September. That being said, the city is well-prepared and equipped with measures such as hurricane evacuation plans and shelters. I don’t avoid travel during hurricane season, but I would also recommend travel insurance to cover things such as trip cancellation and interruption.

Street Jazz in NOLA
Photo by João Francisco on Unsplash

Fall in New Orleans

Fall is one of the best times to experience the vibrant culture and energy of the city. From jazz festivals and outdoor events to tantalizing cuisine and unique attractions, you’ll find something to do no matter what your interests are.

From September to November, visitors are welcomed by warm temperatures and comfortable humidity levels. The summer heat has dissipated and crowds have thinned, so you can enjoy the city’s attractions without the hustle and bustle. September is when the city comes alive with fall festivities such as the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, and the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience.

For foodies, fall in New Orleans is a must-visit. From classic dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and po’boys to modern culinary delights like oyster shooters and softshell crabs, there’s something for everyone. The iconic beignets at Café du Monde and pralines from New Orleans Cooking School will satisfy your sweet tooth. I highly recommend a food-based walking tour through the French Quarter. You’ll not only get to sample these iconic dishes but get a history of the architecture as well.

For outdoor enthusiasts, there are plenty of activities to enjoy during your trip to New Orleans. Take a hike at City Park, explore the Louisiana swamps on an airboat tour, or go fishing in Lake Pontchartrain.

New Orleans Holidays

For a quieter, more relaxed trip, consider traveling during winter. December is another popular time for tourists to visit. The city celebrates Christmas with lights, parades, and live music performances.

The Christmas in the City lights extravaganza, The Allstate Sugar Bowl Fan Fest, the popular Oak Street Po Boy Festival, and the celebration of the Ursulines in the French Quarter are all great events to take part in when you travel to New Orleans during the winter months.

Best Time to Visit New Orleans

Peak season will be during Mardi Gras and either late February or early March, depending on when the holiday falls. That said, if you’re looking for a rich cultural experience (not on Bourbon Street) it is easily an event and experience you can’t get anywhere else and one of the best times to visit New Orleans. However, because it is iconic to New Orleans, expect large crowds the closer you get to Fat Tuesday. Other popular events such as Jazz Fest will also attract more visitors, but once again, it’s an iconic event and a great way to experience New Orleans.

I love the holidays, so I would also recommend traveling to New Orleans during the Christmas season. With the lower average temperatures, yet still comfortable enough to be outside, you can enjoy city lights through the city and Jefferson Parish.

Consider the Weather – New Orleans has hot and humid summers, with temperatures often reaching the 90s. If you’re looking to avoid the heat and humidity, consider visiting in the spring or fall, when temperatures are milder.

Best time to visit New Orleans without Crowds

Visit in shoulder season in the fall or = January, when the temperatures are a bit cooler. You’ll likely find cheaper rates at accommodations and maybe even some specials. Look for Hotel Deals – To get the best value for your money, try to stay in hotels during the off-season. Prices tend to drop during the winter months, but you may be able to score a good deal to save some money.

My vote personally would be mid-January. for the best time of the year. You’ll find neighborhood Krewe parades, and lower hotel rates, the temperatures are perfect, and with fewer tourists, you’ll feel as if the city is yours.

how to visit New Orleans

Now that you know when to go, it’s time to figure out how to get to New Orleans. You can fly directly into Louis Armstrong International Airport or take the train to Union Passenger Terminal. Once you’ve arrived, you can travel around the city by public transportation or by walking. A ride on one of the streetcars is also a must-do attraction and an exciting mode of transportation. The Historic Green line runs along St. Charles avenue through the Garden District and beyond, while the other lines run along Canal Street, the Riverfront, and Rampart streets. A one-day pass is only $3 and it’s both an effective mode of transport while also being a scenic ride. Parking, especially in the French Quarter will be tight and at times, not available.

If you’re driving into the city, I’d recommend the streetcars or walking. It’s a 10-15 minute walk from the Warehouse District. to the French Quarter for example, and a compact enough city that between the public transport and walking, you can see most of it.

How Many Days in New Orleans?

Initially, I’d start with a 4-day trip to New Orleans. I’ll be working on a full itinerary soon to give you an idea of what to see and do in those 4 days.

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