Where to Stay in New Orleans: 8 Best Areas

Where to stay in New Orleans

Are you wondering where to stay in New Orleans? New Orleans is a large city with many great areas. Once you decide to take a trip to this amazing and dynamic city, you’ll want to decide where to stay. 

Whether you’re traveling alone, with a group or with a family, there are hundreds of accomodation options to satisfy your needs. 

New Orleans is especially famous for its luxury boutique hotels and quaint inns within close proximity to French Quarter. But, other areas outside of the city center are exciting too and far less expensive in comparison. 

This guide will do a deep dive into the eight best areas to stay in New Orleans.

Where to stay in New Orleans: 8 Best Areas

1. French Quarter, best area where to stay in New Orleans

When people think of New Orleans, French Quarter is most likely what comes to mind. As the historic heart and tourist hotspot of New Orleans, French Quarter is world-famous for its vibrant party scene, gourmet food and stunning architecture. 

Originally called Vieux Carré, or “Old Square,” the French Quarter truly grew as a tourist destination in the late 1890’s. With distinct, old-world French influences and Creole traditions, French Quarter is a cultural melting pot. 

You’ll feel a distinct sort of mysterious magic here and for good reason. A long-standing tradition of voodoo, a now-sensationalized version of the Vodou religion originated in Haiti, is prominent in the many cemeteries throughout French Quarter and told by fortune-tellers on the streets. 

Live music, specifically jazz, is ever-present here and you’re more than likely to hear trumpets and brass bands jamming out at all hours of the night. The most famous street here is Bourbon Street, the stuff of partying legend. 

Because this street is so popular, this guide will include a separate section on Bourbon Street itself. But, French Quarter isn’t all drinking and partying. 

The bohemian history here is worth traveling for alone, where you’ll learn about the long-enduring legends that have made New Orleans what it is today.

While French Quarter has an endless amount of things to do, checking out Jackson Square is a can’t-miss activity. At the heart of French Quarter, this is the perfect place to sit, enjoy live performances and people watch. 

Surrounding the square are traditional, wrought-iron townhouses, quaint shops, bars and restaurants. 

You’re free to carry around a drink here and watch street performers and fortune tellers earn their keep or stand in awe of the iconic St. Louis Cathedral that looms over the square. This architectural feat has triple spires, beautiful interior design and is still open to the public today. 

A stately statue of Andrew Jackson is also erected here in the square’s center. The Cabildo and The Presbytère are two culturally-significant buildings that stand facing Jackson Square. 

Now acting as a small museum, The Presbytère hosts two permanent exhibitions that outline Louisiana history and the part New Orleans played in its resiliency as a state. 

The Cabildo is also managed by the State Museum of Louisiana and outlines the history of salvery and racism in Louisiana, as well as the legacy of colonization.

Make sure to take a walk down Pirates Alley, a thin street packed with lots of historical buildings, unique shops and a distinct New Orleans history. It’s said that Andrew Jackson secretly met with pirate Jean Lafitte here, but like much of New Orleans lore, it’s hard to distinguish fact from myth. 

Royal Street is also architecturally amazing, filled with art galleries, antique stores and delicate balconies hanging over the busy streets below. Once you get hungry, hit Cafe du Monde, a historic cafe that serves up the best beignets in the city. 

There’s no shortage of places to get a drink, too. A signature French Quarter activity is going on a pub crawl. Make sure to try a sazerac, or the official drink of New Orleans made with cognac or whiskey. 

Lastly, New Orleans is a huge hub for jazz and live music, so be sure to get in a performance. Bars like The Funky Pirate on Bourbon Street or Preservation Hall on St. Peter Street regularly host local musicians. 

So sit back and relax or kick up your heels to incredible brass music playing all night long.

French Quarter is by far the most popular spot in New Orleans, so there’s no shortage of places to stay. This also means that prices tend to be higher here, as you’re in close proximity to many sights and activities. 

These range from luxury boutique hotels and major chains to smaller, more-budget friendly motels and AirBnBs.

2. Bourbon Street, where to stay in New Orleans for nightlife

Located within French Quarter, Bourbon Street is one of the most famous streets in the entire U.S. and a certified party town. Stretching 13 blocks from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue, Bourbon Street (and staying in a hotel here) is not for the faint of heart. 

Never quiet, even in the wee hours of the morning, Bourbon Street is filled with glowing neon lights beckoning travelers into exciting bars, night clubs and even strip joints. Bourbon Street has a unique history. 

The street itself was named for a French aristocrat family and not, as many people think, after the alcohol. You’ll always find music blasting, beads strung high from balconies, excited partiers strolling with “go-cups” and open doors and windows to all. 

Even if you don’t stay within close proximity to the street, Bourbon Street is a can’t miss area on a trip to New Orleans.

While Bourbon Street is primarily known for its raucous bars and noisey nightlife, some historical sites lie within the colorful vibrancy. The Royal Sonesta Hotel, opened in 1969, is located along Bourbon Street and is worth a peek inside. 

The exterior of the hotel is truly unique looking, with a glowing, navy blue sign that says “desire” on the front. Shady plants hang from the balcony as horse-drawn carriages saunter out front. In terms of culinary offerings, you can try a lot here that ranges from upscale to casual fare. 

Galatoire’s is a popular fine-dining institution and one of the oldest restaurants along the street, opened in 1905. You can get certified Creole classics here, like duck crepes and foie gras, as well as incredible, old-world ambiance. 

If you like seafood, there’s the stylish Desire Oyster Bar, serving fresh oysters and wine, and Remoulade, serving some of the best jambalaya in town.

You’re more than likely to find every type of bar here, but there are several worth calling out. Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, located on the corner of Bourbon and St. Philip streets is a testament to a bygone New Orleans era. 

Filled with cottage-like interiors, this centuries-old bar is dedicated to the mysterious privateer and hero of the Battle of New Orleans, Jean Lafitte. 

Another great place to check out for a little history is the Old Absinthe House building, dating back to 1806. 

Famous historians, poets, artists and political figures have all visited this small establishment with distinct saloon-like stylings. If you can handle it, try their classic absinthe cocktails and whisk away into a charming, old world.

Undeniably, Bourbon Street is the best place to party in New Orleans and is a top destination for celebrations of all kinds. 

Here, you’ll see large bachelorette and bachelor parties, birthday weekend celebrations, girls trips and college getaways and groups of people just looking to have an amazing party. 

While Bourbon Street is fun at all times of the year, the Southern Decadence Festival around Labor Day weekend is a LGBTQ-friendly celebration, while Carnival season and Mardi Gras in early spring bring in thousands of tourists and excitement. 

Unsurprisingly, if you’ve got small kids, this may not be the best area to stay in New Orleans. It is loud, nocturnal and just a little bit raunchy

Still, if you have a large group and are seeking the great party spirit that New Orleans is famous for, Bourbon Street is your place. 

Be aware that because the street is so popular, it can be hard to find hotels with open rooms on short notice, especially as Carnival approaches. You may be better off staying in another area on this list and just hitting Bourbon Street for a day trip.

3. Downtown/CBD, where New Orleanians do business

The Central Business District of New Orleans is the professional hub of the city, with glittering high-rises, fun bars and nightlife, open parks and upscale eateries dotted throughout the area. 

While the area is fairly modernized with corporate offices and residential apartment buildings, there’s also some interesting 19th-century architecture throughout the common streets. 

Filled with great options for live music, retail shopping and places to go out, it’s no surprise that CBD is quickly growing into a hub for young professionals and families. 

But, the area is quieter than French Quarter and perhaps a bit more upscale, making it a great place to stay in New Orleans if you want something a bit more peaceful.

This area is perhaps best well-known for the dazzling Mercedes-Benz superdome, the home of the New Orleans Saints. Catch a football game here during the season or a concert. 

For more live performances, you don’t want to miss a musical performance or play at the century-old Orpheum Theater. 

The acoustics and visual aesthetic in the theater are world-class and many local and international acts have called the stage home. You’ll even see weddings, Mardi Gras balls and corporate events hosted here throughout the year. 

For a bit of retail therapy, head to the South Market District, directly near the superdome. 

South Market has several boutique stores, major retail chains, vibrant galleries and great culinary options. 

The multi-faceted area has hotels, arts centers and live performance venues as well and is the perfect place to bring a date or just experience New Orleans culture.

If you’re traveling with kids, a great place to stop is the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Run by the Audubon Nature Institute, the aquarium has more than 3,600 animals from more than 250 species and is a great way to spend a day immersed in nature.

The bar and nightlife scene in the CBD has truly exploded in the past few years, with rooftop bars, swanky hotel lounges and casual sports taverns popping up throughout the area. 

In addition, because this area is popular with travelers coming for business, there’s several great hotels to choose from within close proximity to all of New Orleans.

Read also: Where to stay in Atlanta, where to stay in Austin, where to stay in Orlando, where to stay in Miami

4. Marigny/Bywater, bohemian bars and jazz music

Marigny is an area that can best be described as off the beaten path and their residents wouldn’t have it any other way. The full name of this eclectic neighborhood is Faubourg (an old term for suburb) Marigny and has a rich history. 

Located on a small stretch of land south of French Quarter and alongside the water, Marigny is trendy, unique and extremely popular with jazz musicians

There are several famous jazz clubs here along bustling Frenchmen street that regularly host both local and international acts. 

As one of the oldest areas in New Orleans, Marigny used to be a small, quiet residential area, but the neighborhood has become a tourist hotspot for music lovers and sight-seekers alike. 

If you’re looking for a quieter area that still has a vibrant energy, this is a great place to stay in New Orleans.

Marigny/Bywater is the perfect place to get your thrifting and shopping on. Harold’s Plants is a unique spot with a large array of plants, larger trees and flowers, all housed in a colorful warehouse worth exploring. 

Euclid Records is also here and is one of the last vintage vinyl stores in the city. 

But an incredibly popular spot here is the Frenchmen Art Market, a weekly art market that features local and international art and handmade crafts. You can stroll along this market and talk to the local vendors, many of whom hail from NOLA. 

Finish off a day by strolling or biking along the Bywater riverfront in the newly-established Crescent Park, perfect for picnics and sports activities.

Marigny/Baywater doesn’t have a ton in the way of major-chain hotels or resort spas for wild party groups. But, that’s a part of its charm. 

You’re likely to find several great B&Bs incorporated into old-timey Southern mansions, as well as newer boutique hotels along its colorful streets.

5. Mid-City/Lakeview, where to stay in New Orleans with family

Just north of French Quarter, the Mid-City/Lakeview area is perfectly livable and laid-back. Here, you’ll find unpretentious bars, po’boy shops and an undeniably welcoming attitude from the locals. 

If you’re looking to get out and see the sights but aren’t into the noisiness of the Quarter, Mid-City is your place. 

This area has some of the best international cuisine in the area and is great for families with little ones looking to play in open, outdoor green spaces. 

The famed Canal Street and Canal Streetcars run through this area and Mid-City itself is framed by the lush, expansive City Park

Because this area is so residential, you’ll find a wide range of accommodation options for visitors as well.

To get started, check out the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). Here you’ll find a collection of fine domestic and international art, fascinating exhibitions and charitable events scheduled through-out the year. 

Including classic art, you’ll also find immersive photography and visual experiences that depict the history of New Orleans. 

After, the New Orleans Botanical Garden is a can’t-miss here. This large garden, located within City Park, has over 2,000 species of flora and fauna and is expertly maintained by the city. 

The incredible Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden is also here which pays homage to Mexican-American artist Enrique Alférez. 

City Park itself is certainly a site to spend time exploring. The park itself spreads over 1,300 acres and is widely regarded as one of the best urban green spaces in all of the United States. 

There is an 18-hole golf course, multiple athletic fields, a Carousel Gardens Amusement park perfect for kids, and Big Lake, perfect for a sunny day of boating.

Mid-City is perhaps best known, however, for it’s quirky and eclectic bar and eating scene. There are several spots serving authentic, global-style cuisine, including Mexican tacos, Vitanemes bahn mi and fresh seafood. 

You’ll also have to grab a quintessential New Orleans snow cone from Pandora’s Snowballs, an old-timey window ice cream parlor. 

When you’re ready for some nightlife, check out Chickie Wah Wah, a fan-favorite live music venue that regularly celebrates local bands. 

There are tons of great bars within walking distance, like 12 Mile Limit and Finn McCool’s, that offer cheap cocktails and large dancing spaces to kick up your heels. 

In terms of accommodation, a popular hotel here is The Drifter Hotel, with retro 50’s-inspired stylings and week pool parties. There are several bigger hotel chains, boutique homestays and inns that are laid back and relaxing.

6. Garden District, an area that lives up to its floral name

Charming, green and filled with oak-lined streets and classic Victorian homes, the Garden District is a residential area and a great place to stay in New Orleans. If you enjoy walking, you’ll never get bored of all there is to see here. 

Romantic and just a little bit mysterious, Garden District is perfect if you’re looking for a quieter getaway

You’ll get an idea of New Orleans’ antebellum past, as this area was once made up of several Southern plantations. The plantations were eventually divided up into smaller residential lots, each with their own lush gardens, giving the district its name. 

The Garden District is now home to world-class restaurants, galleries, attractions and even a celebrity or two. This pleasant area is the perfect place to stop, sit a while and watch the world go by.

Get walking by checking out Magazine Street. Located at the southern border of the Garden District, Magazine Street doesn’t have the glamourous southern mansions of St. Charles Avenue. 

But what you will find are upscale eateries, boutiques and home shops that are perfect for window shipping. .

The nearby Garden District Marketplace is an 8,000 square foot marketplace home to up to 90 different food, art and craft vendors, showcasing the many small businesses in and around New Orleans. 

A visit here is not complete, however, with a visit to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. This haunting “city of the dead,” filled with raised tombs and mausoleums is one of the most famous sites in New Orleans. 

You may get a chill up your spine as you take in the overgrown vegetation and creeper vines, remembering a time that is long past. 

The nearby Garden District Book shop is a fan favorite with locals and visitors alike. The book store regularly holds author signings, book readings and other events, as well as boasts hundreds of books outlining Louisiana and New Orleans history.

Once you start getting hungry, you’ll have to check out Commander’s Place. Standing stately with ocean-blue and white exteriors, this dining house is practically a New Orleans institution. 

Their food is made with a mix of French and African influenced, locally-sourced Cajun ingredients. You can enjoy a meal and people-watch generations of New Orlenians in this large dining hall.

In addition, a lunch here is the definition of fine dining without the gourmet price. You’ll get two courses for around $20 and unlimited, 25-cent martinis, an unbeatable price for top quality. 

Another great spot is Stein’s Deli, where you can get scrumptious sandwiches and great beer. 

In terms of places to stay, the Garden District has a lot to offer at several different price points. You can stay at major brand-name hotels or check in to a smaller B&B or boutique hotel, which the Garden District is famous for. 

There’s a ton of great college and dive bars in this area for a casual cocktail or more upscale eateries that bring the Garden District to life.

7. Uptown, two universities and quaint stylings

Residential, leafy and historic, the Uptown area of New Orleans is home to several state-famous landmarks and beautiful architecture. 

The streets here have colorful and unique names recognized after cultural leaders and places, including Oretha Castle Haley, The Garden District, Irish Channel, the Black Pearl and Carrollton. 

The mansions along St. Charles Avenue, the area’s most famous street, are majestic and grand, hidden under ancient oak trees. 

Tulane University and Loyola University are both located here and their stately spires rise above raised Creole Cottages. 

In short, Uptown is beautiful, lively and steeped in rich tradition, passed on through many generations. And, there’s a ton to see and do for the whole family. 

But, if you just feel like laying back and relaxing in shady park, Uptown is the perfect place to do so.

Start a stay here by walking along the famed St. Charles Avenue. This street forms the northern border of the neighborhood and is a testament to urban splendor. 

All along the street you’ll see mansions, historic homes and businesses styled with a variety of classic Victorian features.

If you don’t feel like walking, hop on one of the famous St. Charles streetcars that travel along Uptown and the Garden District. You’ll see New Orleans’ famous shady oaks and lots of greenery whizzing by. 

Nearby Prytania Street is also a sight to behold and many walking tours start here. The Audubon Zoo is also located in Uptown and is a great family-friendly, nature-based experience located within Audubon Riverview Park. 

The park itself is free, has a two mile long bike and walking path and miles of green space for picnicking, playing and people watching. The zoo is a famed attraction, home to over 2,000 animals and a water park for children perfect for cooling off in the summer. 

Directly across the street from Audubon Riverview Park are the campuses of Tulane and Loyala, both open for the public to check out and walk around.

In terms of coffee, drinks and dining, Oak Street is a popular spot with college students and locals for its diversity of food options. 

Oak Street is the shining jewel of Carrollton, a neighborhood within Uptown, for its commercial shops, venues, art galleries, antique and thrift stores and New Orleans’ most famous live music club, Maple Leaf Bar. 

There are several historic hotels here with classically-styled Southern charm which can go for a pretty penny. But you’re likely to also find cheaper rooms in the off-season. 

Because there are two universities here, there are several college and dive bars in the area. Two include Snake & Jake’s and The Boot, with cheap beer and great dancing.

8. Faubourg Treme, soulful, historic and filled with pride

Faubourg Treme, known affectionately as just “Treme” by locals, is a historic area on the north side of French Quarter. 

Originally referred to as “Back of Town,” a major development project went underway to revitalize and refurbish this incredible area, calling upon its deep historical significance, jazz and brass band history and Creole roots. 

As one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, Treme is perhaps best known for being the main residential area for free people of color in the 1950’s and 60’s. 

Many consider this area to be both the birthplace of jazz and of the southern Civil Rights Movement. 

Unique and vibrant, Faubourg Treme rose to national prominence after the release of Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans, a 2008 documentary film, which uncovered Treme’s importance to Black America, as well as American history as a whole. 

The film also outlined how Treme fell into economic despair and faced urban decay and crime after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area. Since, the area has sprung back to life and has some amazing things to see and do. 

Several major artists and musicians have come out of Treme and an enduring artistic culture continues to thrive on Treme’s streets.

Just a quick walk from French Quarter, Treme begins at Armstrong Park (named after famed jazz musician Louis Armstrong. 

To start off, visit the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans’ oldest cemetery. This fascinating site includes hundreds of large, above-ground graves, many of which have begun to show their age. 

Stroll past each grave and imagine the larger-than-life stories of the buried, some of which date back hundreds of years. Thousands of visitors come to pay their respects to the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau or simply to honor those passed on. 

Then, make your way to where Treme got its start at Congo Square, now surrounded by Armstrong Park. Enslaved African Americans once gathered in the square to sell goods, make music and celebrate on Sundays. 

Today, residents and visitors still fill the square and you’re likely to see live music, picnics and dancing any day of the week. 

The Backstreet Cultural Museum has many priceless artifacts celebrating Creole artisanship, second line heritage and Mardi Gras indians, as well as contemporary photography.

If you’re a foodie, exploring Treme’s diverse cultural cuisine is a perfect activity. You’ll experience some of the best southern comfort food, brunch and drinks in all of New Orleans. 

You’ll also want to hit the St. Augustine Catholic Church, first set up in 1841, making it the oldest African-American parish in the U.S. There is a powerful memorial set up outside in honor of the Unknown Slave, made of two chains welded into a cross. 

The area of Treme itself doesn’t have a ton of hotels, but there’s several smaller B&Bs and guest homes to really experience an authentic stay in this area.

In terms of nightlife, if you’re looking for a fancy club, you’re better off staying in French Quarter. What Treme does have is authentic, low-key bars and taverns with live jazz music and lots of regulars who love to share their stories. 

This is a perfect place to stay in New Orleans if you’re looking to get away from the flashy glitz and get a cultural experience.

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