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15 Things to Know About Living in New Orleans

Considering a move to New Orleans? Along with being one of the best U.S. cities for singles, NOLA is an iconic Southern city with vibrant live music, gorgeous architecture, Cajun and Creole cultural influences, and—of course—the city’s legendary Mardi Gras celebrations. Here are 15 things to know about living in New Orleans!

Find a New Start in Crescent City

Aerial view of skyscrapers in Downtown New Orleans. Photo by Instagram user @barracokevin

Photo via @barracokevin

The city of New Orleans has been through its fair share of hardship after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. However, in the following decades, Louisiana has bounced back with a revitalized economy—to the tune of 18,000 new jobs and $20.5 billion in investments in just the last couple years. The city has also implemented safer flood protection to help protect NOLA’s growth and economic progress. Housing is affordable, with New Orleans apartments and other rentals coming in just under the U.S. average, and median housing costs around 20% lower than the U.S. median. And with a cost of living nearly 4% lower than the national average, it’s possible to live affordably in the Big Easy!

Advance Your Career in New Orleans

A worker with Entergy demonstrating electrical safety. Photo by Instagram user @entergy

Photo via @entergy

With the number of New Orleans festivals and celebrations happening throughout the year, it’s no surprise that tourism is one of NOLA’s major industries. Professionals can also find jobs in sectors like energy, manufacturing, and healthcare. Seek employment at Fortune 500 company Entergy, headquartered in New Orleans. Join healthcare giants like Ochsner Health or LSU Health New Orleans. Be “The Best Part of Wakin’ Up” while working at the Folgers Coffee roasting factory. Work for other top companies in NOLA like IT leader DXC Technology, business consultant Deloitte, or advertising agency Morgan & Co. Or keep an eye out for new opportunities popping up daily, as New Orleans has become a hub for entrepreneurship and even hosts New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) each year!

Get Your Education at NOLA Colleges

Front of white building at Tulane University in New Orleans. Photo by Instagram user @tulanealumni

Photo via @tulanealumni

Thinking about moving to New Orleans for higher education? The Big Easy is home to tons of highly-rated universities and colleges. Check out the private Tulane University in Uptown, where you can study law and medicine at schools that have been around since the 19th century. Earn a degree in social work, criminal justice, or education at public Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO). Head to the public University of New Orleans in Gentilly, which offers top programs in business, engineering, and biology. Apply to the private Catholic liberal arts college for a humanities degree or specialize in nursing, medical or radiologic technology, and more at University of Holy Cross. Major in psychology, music industry studies, or criminology at the private Loyola University New Orleans in Audubon. Or get your degree in chemistry, physics, or public health sciences at the Xavier University of Louisiana in Gert Town.

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Enjoy New Orleans Outdoor Activities

Two people kayaking in a river. Photo by Instagram user @kayaknola

Photo via @kayaknola

Take advantage of the beautiful New Orleans weather—get outside and experience the city’s incredible outdoor recreation! Explore the enormous Audubon Park, where you can go swimming, play a round of 18 holes on the public golf course, or take the kids to the Audubon Zoo. Take in beautiful views of the Mississippi River during a Dinner Jazz Cruise with the New Orleans Steamboat Company. Check out the Louisiana wetlands, bike the trails, and see the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans at Chalmette Battlefield in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park. Spot local wildlife, hike along the marshes, or go crabbing at Bayou Sauvage Urban National Wildlife Refuge. Take a ride through the lagoons at New Orleans City Park on the romantic NOLA Gondola. Or get to know the local swamps in a kayak with New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours.

Take Advantage of NOLA Public Transit Options

Red streetcar carrying passengers in New Orleans. Photo by Instagram user @410inthe504

Photo via @410inthe504

As a designated walk-friendly community, New Orleans is perfect for exploring by foot! NOLA also offers plenty of biking opportunities that continue to improve, thanks to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Program. If you’d rather catch a ride to get around the city, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA) offers bus routes to destinations across the New Orleans metro. For a unique way to see the Big Easy while downtown, catch one of four streetcar lines. Or take a trip across the Mississippi River to Algiers Point on the Canal Street Ferry.

Discover Amazing Architecture

White St. Louis Cathedral with a purple sunset in New Orleans. Photo by Instagram user @tripadvisor

Photo via @tripadvisor

Architecture enthusiasts will love living in New Orleans! Just exploring the city and its various districts is like being on an architecture walking tour. You’ll find everything from Spanish Colonial and Greek Revival public buildings, to Victorian bungalows and Creole townhouses in NOLA, thanks to the city’s varied historical influences. Where are some of NOLA’s coolest architecture spots? Check out St. Louis Cathedral (the oldest cathedral in the U.S.) and The Presbytère in the French Quarter. Schedule tours of historic homes like Longue Vue House & Gardens in Lakewood or Pitot House in Bayou St. John. And, of course, you can always stroll through neighborhoods like Tremé, Garden District, or Marigny and Bywater to see some of the area’s most diverse and beautiful homes.

Explore the Cities of the Dead

New Orleans doesn’t have the typical cemetery setup. Because of the area’s high water table, placing caskets and coffins beneath the ground isn’t possible, so NOLA cemeteries are filled with beautifully designed and crafted mausoleums and other above-ground burial chambers. Because of this, the New Orleans Cities of the Dead (as they’re often called) are popular attractions among tourists and local residents. In fact, you can visit NOLA cemeteries like St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and St. Roch Cemetery to see the tombs of famous New Orleans historical figures like chess champion Paul Morphy and Homer Plessy of Plessy vs. Ferguson. Some of the cemeteries require guided tours by licensed tour groups, while others allow you to explore on your own—so be sure to check before going!

Hang Out in the French Quarter

A favorite among both tourists and local residents alike, the French Quarter is easily one of the best neighborhoods in New Orleans. Located in the heart of the city, the Crown Jewel of New Orleans is home to historic landmarks and gorgeous Creole townhouses, as well as some of NOLA’s top restaurants, nightlife, and street musicians. Looking for things to do in the French Quarter? Stroll around the beautiful Jackson Square to get some fresh air and see the work of local street artists. Explore the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum to check out artifacts and learn more about NOLA’s Voodoo history. Celebrate everything the French Quarter has to offer—from music and food to shopping—every April at French Quarter Fest. Grab some drinks and sing karaoke at the lively Cat’s Meow. Visit historic New Orleans classic Cafe Du Monde for Beignets, Coffee Black, or Cafe Au Lait. Try fresh Beignets, Jambalaya, Gumbo, and other New Orleans specialties at Cafe Beignet. Or make a dinner reservation at NOLA’s oldest restaurant and choose from dishes like Chicken Rochambeau, Classic Fish Amandine, and Creole Shrimp at Antoine’s Restaurant.

Let the Good Times Roll at Mardi Gras

Woman wearing purple, green, and yellow for mardi gras in New Orleans. Photo by Instagram user @nolamardigras

Photo via @nolamardigras

One thing everyone knows about NOLA is that it has the best Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S.! Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday) coincides with the season of Carnival, which dates back to the European Middle Ages and is celebrated all over the world from early January through early March. Experience the rowdier side of Mardi Gras celebrations in the French Quarter along the famous Bourbon Street, or take your kids to family-friendly Mardi Gras celebrations and parades throughout the city. Tour Mardi Gras World for an authentic experience year-round, where you’ll even see how famous festival floats have been created each year since 1947 in the Kern Studios warehouse! Get into the true spirit of Mardi Gras as satirical performers and brass bands in Krewe Du Vieux march through the streets. Or celebrate Mardi Gras in style with fellow cosplayers, gamers, and nerds at the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus!

Experience Other New Orleans Festivals

Large crowd of people at Jazzfest in New Orleans. Photo by Instagram user @jbrasted

Photo via @jbrasted

Mardi Gras isn’t the only festival in New Orleans you can attend! Whether you’re interested in art, culture, food, or music, NOLA has a festival for everyone! Attend the ten-day New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (or Jazz Fest), where you’ll hear all kinds of music—from Afro-Caribbean and Cajun to bluegrass and rap. Sample reds and whites from local wineries and dig into some of the Big Easy’s best food at the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. Hear empowering speeches from special guests like former First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris, or explore fashion and beauty exhibitions at the enormously popular New Orleans Essence Festival. Join thousands of runners as they try to escape roller derby players dressed as bulls during the hilarious San Fermin in Nueva Orleans—commonly called Running of the Bulls—which pays tribute to the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, Spain. Or check out the concerts, dance parties, and the largest LGBTQ parade on the Gulf Coast at New Orleans Pride!

Check Out the Incredible Museums

Girl walking on painted glass bridge. Photo by Instagram user @voyageurchic

Photo via @voyageuechic

Need fun things to do in New Orleans? Spend time at NOLA museums, art galleries, and cultural attractions! See exhibits featuring stories, artifacts, photos, and reconstructed vehicles and aircraft from World War II at the National WWII Museum. Find art from all over the world and an unforgettable sculpture garden when you explore the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). Learn more about famous jazz musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, and George Lewis—and even see some of their original instruments at the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Check out exhibits about life in Louisiana and the history of New Orleans at the Louisiana State Museum. Or get to know more about Southern literature, artwork, music, and heritage at the Odgen Museum of Southern Art.

Root for Your Local New Orleans Sports Teams

Saints football player showing off his muscles. Photo by Instagram user @saints

Photo via @saints

Living in New Orleans is perfect for you if you love sports! Catch the New Orleans Saints (NFL) in a football game at Caesars Superdome. Find the New Orleans Pelicans (NBA) playing basketball at Smoothie King Center. Cheer on the New Orleans Jesters (NPSL) at a soccer match in Pan American Stadium. Head to the pitch to watch the NOLA Gold Rugby (MLR) team take the field, or catch a match from local teams in the New Orleans Rugby Football Club—like Krewe Rugby Club, Pontchartrain Po-Boys, or the Sevens. Support the University of New Orleans Privateers, famous for their basketball and baseball teams playing in Lakefront Arena and Maestri Field. Or see the Tulane University Green Waves play football in Yulman Stadium, baseball on Greer Field, or basketball in Avron B. Fogelman Arena.

Listen to Live Music Almost Anywhere

If you’re looking for the best live music in New Orleans, you don’t have to go far—it’s all around you! Listen to jazz, blues, and funk at The Spotted Cat Music Club. Catch performances in the French Quarter featuring the famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Preservation Hall. Hear live honky-tonk piano sounds and soul music at Le Bon Temps Roule in Uptown New Orleans. Head over to Leonidas and dig the big brass, jazz, blues, and funk bands at Maple Leaf Bar. Find everything from heavy metal and punk to Eastern European folk at NOLA hidden gem Siberia Lounge in St. Roch. Or stroll through some of the best places in New Orleans, including Frenchmen Street, Royal Street, and Jackson Square, to see live street musicians.

Lose Yourself in NOLA Food

Table full of fried catfish, cornbread, and rice from Willie Mae's. Photo by Instagram user @williemaesnola

Photo via @williemaesnola

Cajun-Creole cuisine and Southern comfort food reign supreme among New Orleans’ best restaurants! Start the day right with Biscuits & Sausage Gravy, Shrimp & Grits, or Homemade Pancakes at Daisy Dukes Restaurant. Order favorites like the WJ Brunch Burger, BBQ Shrimp Toast, or Little Gem salad at brunch spot Willa Jean. Try the La Ceiba Gulf Fish, Summer Squash Burrata, or Pecan Crusted Fish at Creole restaurant Commander’s Palace in the Garden District. Find some of the best fried chicken in New Orleans at Willie Mae’s Scotch House, which also offers Baked Chicken, Fried Catfish, and a Fried Shrimp Platter. Taste seafood favorites like the Fried Louisiana Oyster Po-Boy, Fried Catfish Platter, or Crawfish Etouffee at Oceana Grill. Or get a taste of the Caribbean with Jerk Chicken, Red Fish, or BBQ Shrimp at Jamaican restaurant in Seventh Ward, Coco Hut.

Find Fun with New Orleans Nightlife

People walking in front of a bar that looks like a house. Photo by Instagram user @scottshilstone

Photo via @scottshilstone

Searching for the best bars in New Orleans? Head over to the French Quarter and enjoy drinks at historical Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, one of the oldest structures used as a bar in America. Try the House Old-Fashioned, Toki Highball, NOLA Irish Channel Stout, or one of more than 350 whiskeys on the shelf at Lower Garden District’s Barrel Proof. Visit New Orleans dive bar favorite Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge in East Carrollton for moody lighting and a friendly bar dog that will take “shots” with you! Enjoy a night out with live music, great drinks, and snacks like Chicken Wings, Spicy Meat Pies, and Funnel Cake Fries at classic Bourbon Street bar Hideout Bar. Catch the big game on TV, order from dozens of rotating draft beers like A Saison Named Desire, Festbier, or Purple Haze, and dig into some of the best bar food in NOLA at sports bar The Bulldog. Or enjoy drink specials and Saturday night drag shows at New Orleans gay bar Golden Lantern—just remember to bring cash!


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New Orleans, LA - 15 Things to Know

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.