New Orleans is a city of sensory-fueled experiences. The sound of second line celebrations and Mardi Gras, the taste of gumbo and a stuffed po’ boy, the sight of oak trees draped over a pastel-colored cottage home—all of these elements give the city a magnetic character.
When it comes to navigating New Orleans, fortunately, most of its most interesting neighborhoods are only minutes away from each other, making it easy to move from the bar-lined streets of the French Quarter to the jazz note–filled corners of Marigny’s Frenchmen Street. And in a city considered to have some of the best restaurants in the United States, no matter which neighborhood you choose, you definitely won’t leave without having a good meal. Here are some of the best New Orleans neighborhoods to explore.
Best For: Delving into the heart of the city’s culture
Tremé is considered the oldest African American neighborhood in the country, and few places in New Orleans exude the cultural vibrancy and pride of the city quite like it. The neighborhood’s impact on the city’s identity is undeniable; you’ll find generational recipes from this district in award-winning restaurants around New Orleans and joyous second line parades. All Bout Dat offers walking tours of the area, including a Black Heritage & Jazz City Tour that makes a stop at Congo Square, where free and enslaved Africans once met to celebrate their culture through music and dance. At the African American Museum, visitors can view the impact of Black culture in New Orleans through a number of exhibits. Lil Dizzy’s Cafe and Dooky Chase are both soul food institutions that have drawn people from around the world for a bowl of gumbo or crunchy fried chicken. Fritai first opened in 2021 by chef Charly Pierre and celebrates Haitian street food like plantains, stewed pork, and dumplings. In the evening, get a true taste of New Orleans music at Kermit’s Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge, where musicians serenade crowds into the early morning.
Where to stay
Book Now: The Brakeman New Orleans
Experience home away from home at this 18-room boutique hotel. There’s an on-site café that serves coffee and snacks, and a number of restaurants are within walking distance. On the grounds of a former railway station, the hotel sits directly across from the oldest still-operational cemetery in New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, where famous New Orleans’s voodoo queen Marie Laveau is buried.
Best For: Architectural wonders
The Garden District’s beautiful oak-lined streets are full of impressive homes with elaborate ironwork patios. Also referred to as Uptown because of its upriver location along the Mississippi River, it’s a great neighborhood to stroll through and admire colorful gardens and Victorian mansions. For breakfast, add your name to the list for a table at Surrey’s Natural Juice Bar, then enjoy its addictive bananas Foster french toast. Nearby Magazine Street is full of shops like Magazine Antique Mall, where you can find antique furniture and vintage house appliances. Heard Dat Kitchen offers some of the best food in the city that can be enjoyed on outdoor picnic tables or to go. Don’t miss the symphony of flavors presented in its Superdome: a blackened fish topped with mashed potatoes and lobster cream sauce. In the afternoon, take a ride on the St. Charles streetcar, which runs some 6.5 miles around the city and is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world.
Where to stay
Book Now: Hotel Saint Vincent
Check into Hotel Saint Vincent for eclectic design and festive energy. Located in the heart of the Lower Garden District and close to boutiques, restaurants, and coffeehouses on Magazine Street, this 75-room property debuted in 2021 with brightly colored accommodations that include floor-to-ceiling windows and vintage art. During the summer, guests can lounge by the large pool or grab an iced coffee and snacks at its French Vietnamese Elizabeth Street Café. At night, don’t miss dinner at the Italian-inspired menu at San Lorenzo restaurant followed by cocktails at the guests-only Chapel Club.
Best For: Partying the night away
Though often associated with bacchanalia, beads, and mega-sized Hurricane cocktails, New Orleans’s French Quarter does provide an accessible introduction to some of the city’s best food and quirky personalities. The Quarter’s pulse, Bourbon Street, offers plenty of action, including a bevy of music-filled hangout bars like Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar and Black Penny. Old Absinthe House, first opened in 1806, still serves cocktails like a frothy absinthe frappé, while Cane and Table offers a rum-inspired cocktail list paired with Caribbean bites. Galatoire’s is an institution serving dishes that include decadent fried oysters with a buttery meunière and bacon, and a fork-tender roasted chicken in stewed tomatoes topped with Creole seasoning. For contemporary cuisine and a setting to match, Saint John Restaurant is a popular brunch spot in the Quarter, but chef Eric Cook’s dinner menu’s slow-cooked white bean cassoulet with braised pork belly will stay on your mind long after your trip ends. Find unusual souvenir items at Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, including spell kits and tarot cards.
Where to stay
Book Now: Hotel Mazarin
Though just a minute’s walk from Bourbon Street, this 102-room hotel feels worlds away from its noisier neighbor. Room balconies, an intimate courtyard where complimentary breakfast for guests is served, a Prohibition-themed bar, and centuries-old Spanish architecture are just a few of its charms.
Best For: Live music
Make your way past the French Quarter to the pastel cottages and artist enclave that is Faubourg Marigny. Home to Frenchmen Street, a hub lined with jazz clubs and cafés, this neighborhood’s draw is a vibrant nightlife that’s not quite as overwhelming as the Quarter can be at times. For live music, Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro occupies a renovated 1800s storefront and brings in artists from across New Orleans and beyond for performances. At Studio Be, street artist turned gallery owner BMike has transformed a 35,000-square-foot warehouse into a space celebrating Black culture through mixed media art. At Bywater American Bistro, James Beard Award–winning chef Nina Compton and her team create dishes of roasted Gulf fish and wagyu beef lasagna as an ode to global comfort foods. Flip through a wide selection of books at independently owned Baldwin & Co., then head over to Botanicals Nola to cool down with smoothies featuring fun names like Ya Heard Me and Beaucoup Berries.
Where to stay
Book Now: Hotel Peter and Paul
Formerly a 19th-century church, Hotel Peter and Paul now features 71 antique-filled rooms, some with their own fireplace and lofts with a spiral staircase. Enjoy a Sazerac cocktail with small plates of brioche toast and roasted Gulf shrimp at the Elysian Bar on the ground floor.
Best For: Discovering new art
Enjoy some of the city’s most popular restaurants, retail shops, and art galleries in the Warehouse District, located 15-minutes by foot from the French Quarter. Every first Saturday of the month, Julia Street comes alive with galleries opening their doors for free entrance to new exhibits, including Ogden Museum of Southern Art and Contemporary Arts Center—where you can fuel up inside at Mr. Wolf Espresso while enjoying vibrant art and books on its shelves that celebrate Black culture. At the National WWII Museum, a new special exhibit highlights Japanese American veterans. You’ll also find some of the city’s most visited restaurants in this formerly industrial strip, including Pêche and Cochon—where a tender suckling pig with stewed okra, tomato, and pork jus is certainly worthy of its popularity.
Where to stay
Book Now: Kimpton Hotel Fontenot
One of the newest hotels to debut in the city in 2021, Kimpton Hotel Fontenot recently expanded in March 2023 with 12,000-square-feet of meeting and events space, 33 new guest rooms and suites, and a new French brasserie, called King. Service here represents the best of New Orleans’s welcoming spirit, from the bartenders at the always crowded Peacock Room to the front desk check-in experience. Don’t leave without trying a chocolate babka knot at the ground floor café, Gospel Coffee & Boozy Treats.
Best For: Home away from home
For a real neighborhood experience that feels far enough from the tourist center, but close enough to reach it via taxi in about 10 minutes, consider Mid-City. Located between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River, the neighborhood is home to the famous annual Jazz and Heritage Festival and more than 2,000 flower plant species to view at the city’s Botanical Gardens. Mid-City is also home to the New Orleans Museum of Art, which contains both domestic and international fine art pieces. Don’t miss the free Besthoff Scultpture Garden here. Though the best po’ boy in the city is always a hot topic of debate, many will name Parkway Tavern Bakery their favorite, especially the roast beef option. For classic Creole food with a lively atmosphere, make a reservation at Neyow’s for a bowl of its well-loved filé gumbo.
Where to stay
Book Now: 1896 O’Malley House
Located on a quiet street, this eight-room historic bed-and-breakfast features a courtyard to relax, and is just a 15-minute streetcar ride from downtown New Orleans. Guests can enjoy a complimentary gourmet breakfast each morning, including blueberry bread pudding.