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New Orleans, the home of Mardi Gras, Southern cuisine, and vibrant nightlife. If you have never been to New Orleans before, you are in for quite the treat. To soak up the most of this cultural wonderland, you want to come between February – May, when temperatures are cool and comfortable. If you want to avoid the excessive tourist counts and craze of Mardi Gras, the best time to visit New Orleans is from December – January. The city is calm, hotel reservations are easier on your wallet, and the weather is still cool and crisp.
For direct flights to New Orleans, you can fly Air Canada. Other airlines with layovers include United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, WestJet Airlines and Copa Airlines. Note that the cheap flights to New Orleans most likely have multiple layovers.
MSY is a major international airport and brings in thousands of Canadians each year, ready to experience the “true” South. Luckily for travellers, that means plenty of options for getting from the airport into the city centre.
Shuttles are available from the airport straight to local hotels and other destinations in the city centre for approximately $24 USD per person.
Taxi booths are on the first level just outside of the Baggage Claim Belts 1 and 14. You must wait in line to take a taxi. Taxi rides to the city centre cost approximately $36 USD for the Central Business District (CBD) or French Quarter for up to 2 people. For groups of 3 or more, the cost is approximately $15 USD per person.
The A-Airport Limousine is a luxury transportation provider at the airport. You can request a one-way service from the company at a kiosk just outside of the baggage claim area. Rates are approximately $58 USD for 2 people and $118 USD for up to 8 people.
The Jefferson Transit Authority (JET) and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) have 9 departures from the airport to the city centre. Use the Airport-Downtown Express (E2) by JET for $2 USD. The ride takes approximately 50 minutes to the city centre. You also have the Airport Express 202 Bus from RTA. The fare is approximately $1.50 USD.
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As a major metropolitan city, New Orleans has more than enough options for getting around town. From the historic streetcars to being on foot, you can explore the sights, culinary adventures, and more with ease.
Taxicabs in New Orleans are available throughout the city centre. The initial meter fee is $3.50 USD, and then each additional 1/8 mile is charged at $0.30 USD.
Bus and Streetcar
RTA operates in the city centre and outskirts of New Orleans. Purchase a 1-day Jazzy Pass for $3 USD or a 3-day Pass for $9 USD per person and get unlimited travel on all buses and streetcars downtown. In the downtown area, most of your travel will be on the streetcars, but around the borders of the city centre, you will need to take the bus lines. You can text your stop ID on the RTA mobile app and they will respond with the next pick-up time and bus line near you.
New Orleans offers Uber and Lyft ride sharing services. These are private car services that you must book in advance. The fare depends on the time of the day, service selected, and the number of people you want to transport in the vehicle.
New Orleans is a walkable city, but also very bike-friendly. In the French Quarter, you can get around much easier with a bike than in a motored vehicle. Several companies rent bikes, including American Bicycle Rental Company & Free Wheelin’ Bike Tours, Bicycle Michael’s, and Bike Easy. The fares for rentals vary depending on which area of town you are in and the number of days or hours you rent.
Car rentals help you get to the areas outside of the CBD and French Quarter. However, on-street parking meters in the Warehouse District, Marigny, French Quarter, and CBD average $3 USD per hour. Therefore, using a vehicle can become costly.
Canadian citizens can enter the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program, which lets them visit for 90 days or less without requiring a travel visa. A passport is required, and travellers must have an Electronic System for Travel Authorization approval. For foreign nationals, please check the U.S. Department of State website.
The city of New Orleans is one of those cities that never seem to rest. Throughout the year, there are events, festivals, and plenty of attractions. La Nouvelle-Orleans was established in 1718 and it still holds true to many of its French roots. While known as New Orleans today, it is home to over 300,000 people and attractions to keep everyone busy year-round.
New Orleans is a vibrant, safe city for the most part. However, when you are a new visitor, there are a few items to keep in mind.
Get to know the language
One thing that might throw you off is the way to pronounce names of areas while you are in New Orleans. Locals take offense when you get their language wrong. For example, “New Orleans” is pronounced as “Naw-lins.”
Know the drinks
To truly experience the night life of New Orleans, you need to know the signature drinks on Bourbon Street. Try yourself at a Hand Grenade or Crawdad Bloody Mary – both local favourites. You can also get the official Mardi Gras drink, known as the Ojen.
Avoid certain areas after dark
The city sees a heavy tourist count per year; therefore, they do what they can to keep it safe. However, there are some areas you must try to avoid during the late hours, such as the districts outside of city centre.
The challenge of driving
From the cost of parking to the difficulty of finding parking spots, it is better to take a cab or use public transportation than try to navigate New Orleans in a car. Parking meters are marked, so if you do park there, do not skip the meter fare – or your vehicle will be towed.