You can’t go wrong with our top 3 neighborhoods in the Big Easy
New Orleans is one of those cities whose reputation precedes it. It has Mardi Gras. It has Bourbon Street. It hosts over a thousand conventions every year. But that doesn’t mean deciding where to stay in New Orleans is a simple task; in fact, some of our favorite parts of this dynamic city might not even reach the pages of the guidebook. We’ll give you the lowdown on the Big Easy’s best local gems and well-vetted attractions and, of course, places to stay in New Orleans, LA to have the most authentic and comfortable experience.
The French Quarter might steal the spotlight, but this charming neighborhood is just a little piece of the fabulous city of jazz and beignets. In this article, we’ll introduce you to our three favorite ‘hoods in the Big Easy so you can decide where to base yourself during your stay. And since New Orleans is an excellent destination for the kids’ spring break, a romantic couples’ getaway, a vacation with friends, and all sorts of business trips, we’ll recommend some different things to do for every type of trip.
Although, if you’re wondering where to stay in New Orleans whether you’re flying solo or with the grandkids in tow, Stay Alfred’s New Orleans travel apartments offer what everybody wants. Find us at the corner of “upscale amenities of a hotel” and “the privacy and space of a home.” Without further adieu, let’s explore our top neighborhoods in New Orleans.
Central Business District
If you’re coming to town for business, pleasure, or something in between, you’ll probably find yourself in the CBD for one reason or another. It’s the “downtown” area of New Orleans, with great shopping, restaurants, theaters, sports arenas, parks, and more. If you’re the type of traveler who likes walking everywhere and staying in the heart of the action, the CBD might be a good place for a home base. And, since we’re all about convenience, Stay Alfred has set up shop in three snazzy buildings just off Canal Street.
For travelers who want a taste of NOLA history during their stay, check out the recently renovated Stay Alfred on North Carondelet Street, which features totally modern apartments in a landmark building designed by famed architect James Gallier. Maybe you like just a bit of history, then Stay Alfred at Factors Row might be more your style, located in the Big Easy’s original Cotton Exchange building but completely updated with amenities like a fitness center and sundeck. Looking for a touch of luxury in your life? Stay in style at Stay Alfred at Hibernia Tower, featuring a stunning rooftop pool and lounge area with sweeping views of the city. All of our travel apartments feature full kitchens and modern-day essentials like fast WiFi and flat-screen TVs.
Neighborhood Highlights: Central Business District
The “main drag” of the CBD is Canal Street. No, not where you buy knock-off Rolexes (that’s in a different city). There’s no sign of a canal nearby either, though city planners originally wanted to build one. But if you do happen to think, “Wow, this is one wide street!” you would be correct; Canal Street was the widest street in the world when it was built. Today, it’s most famous for the historic streetcars that provide transportation around the New Orleans metro and for the slew of attractions in the area.
For Couples: Central Business District
Step back in time and take your special someone out for a sophisticated night in the CBD. Grab a beverage at the classic Sazerac Bar or Victory before cozying up for a romantic dinner for two at August or Herbsaint, both known for high-end French cuisine. Round out the perfect date night with a show at the Saenger Theatre, the Orpheum Theater, or the Joy Theater, all of which host plays, films, concerts, and more on a regular basis.
For Friends: Central Business District
Just because it has “business” in its name doesn’t mean the CBD doesn’t know to have a good time. In fact, this area is most likely where you’ll go if you want to have fun. For friends visiting the Big Easy, watching a Saints game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome or a Pelicans game at the Smoothie King Center are New Orleans bucket list essentials, and both arenas are within walking distance of any Stay Alfred travel apartment in the CBD.
Before or after the game, grab some drinks or eats at one of the CBD’s best bars, like Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar, a favorite for Cajun fare just a block away from the Superdome. More solid bets for a good time include Voodoo Two, CellarDoor (don’t miss the shareable small plates), and Polo Club Lounge (massive wine selection). Trust us, in this town, you’ll never be thirsty. And don’t forget to ask for a go cup!
For Business Travelers: Central Business District
Most business travelers will find themselves in the CBD at some point during their visit, whether for a show at the massive Ernest N. Morial Convention Center or a dinner at one of the CBD’s fabulous restaurants. But before all of that fun stuff happens, you’d better fuel up with coffee and breakfast at a convenient cafe in the area. Café Bon Ami serves up coffee drinks with friendly service and a few cozy tables. Known not only for their java but also fresh juices, Pulp and Grind is another solid bet for morning essentials.
For something a bit heartier, check out Willa Jean, where you can indulge in homestyle Southern breakfasts or just go for their warm, fresh cornbread. Not only do all of these options make us excited for early mornings, they’re also within walking distance of our Stay Alfred travel apartments and the convention center!
For Families: Central Business District
NOLA may have a reputation that’s less than kid-friendly, but we’re here to say “don’t believe everything you hear!” New Orleans is absolutely perfect as a school break destination, and the CBD is where you’ll find some of the top things to do in New Orleans with kids. From the fascinating Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium to the Louisiana Children's Museum built specifically for the little ones, you’ll never run out of things to do. Also add the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas to your list of things to do in New Orleans, and any kid who is into airplanes or submarines will find The National WWII Museum totally awesome.
Wondering where to stay in New Orleans with kids? Choose a Stay Alfred travel apartment in the CBD and walk to all the highlights.
Known for New Orleans icons like Bourbon Street, Jackson Square and Cafe Du Monde, the French Quarter is hard to describe in just a few words. This historic neighborhood is the original core of the city, founded in the early 1700s and shaped by French, Spanish, and Caribbean influences to become the vibrant place it is today. You’ll find world-class restaurants, boisterous parades, Old World architecture, and a spirit that is undoubtedly New Orleans.
Wondering where to stay in New Orleans’ French Quarter? You’ll find quaint, quiet streets here and raucous areas where the party keeps going well into the night, so the accommodation options vary within the French Quarter itself. However, since it’s just on the other side of Canal Street, you can slumber peacefully in a Stay Alfred travel apartment on a tranquil CBD side street, then walk to the French Quarter in mere minutes to get your fill of revelry.
Neighborhood Highlights: French Quarter
Colorful facades, wrought-iron balconies, and talented street musicians give the French Quarter its one-of-a-kind ambiance. It might feel a little bit like Europe, with centuries-old buildings and cobblestone streets, but the island vibes and soulful jazz music give it a unique flavor that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
For Couples: French Quarter
If we had to choose the most romantic neighborhood in the Crescent City, it would definitely be the French Quarter, thanks to the charming courtyards and cozy restaurants that make any old day feel like a special occasion. In some cities, you might have to search high and low for a romantic restaurant, dress to the nines, and order a pricey bottle of wine to make a dinner date one for the books. In the French Quarter, you could wear sweatpants to dinner at Bayona, Irene's, or Cafe Amelie (though we recommend wearing something a little nicer) and it would still feel like an episode of The Bachelor. Choose a courtyard table for peak #couplegoals.
For Friends: French Quarter
There’s plenty of information about French Quarter bars in guidebooks and the blogosphere, so we’ll offer some recommendations to help you feel better after a night on Bourbon Street. And nothing cures a New Orleans hangover quite like a hearty brunch. Thankfully, the French Quarter is home to a number of brunch stalwarts, like The Court of Two Sisters, known not only for their massive buffet of Creole-inspired fare, but also for the daily jazz serenades that add a touch of sophistication to your experience. Other brunch classics include Muriel’s, featuring live jazz tunes every Sunday, The Ruby Slipper Cafe, and Stanley Restaurant.
For Business Travelers: French Quarter
For convention goers or meeting attendees, you might want to stay as far away from Bourbon Street as possible. But that doesn’t mean the French Quarter is a no-go zone. In fact, the French Quarter is where you’ll find some fabulous choices for a business dinner or a boss-friendly night out. One of the oldest restaurants in the country, Antoine's, is always a good choice. After all, if it’s good enough for several presidents, Pope John Paul II, Jimmy Buffet, and a slew of other celebrities, it’s probably good enough for your boss or clients.
For Families: French Quarter
As a popular bachelor(ette) party destination, you might never think to bring the kiddos into the French Quarter. Well, there’s a whole lot more to the French Quarter than drunken debauchery, so as long as you avoid Bourbon Street and the wee hours of the night, your experience should be quite family-friendly.
Treat the kids to an iconic New Orleans dessert, the beignet, but we’re willing to bet they won’t be too keen on the line at legendary Cafe Du Monde. Skip the crowds and dig into a bag of sugary goodness at Cafe Beignet, which has two locations in the French Quarter. The little ones will also love sampling goodies from confectionary landmarks like Leah's Pralines or The Fudgery. Once the (older) kiddos are all sugared up and full of energy, a good way to walk it off is by taking a ghost tour through the French Quarter’s most haunted areas with a tour company like New Orleans Ghost Adventures Tours.
The Garden District
Home to opulent mansions, impressive landscaping, and generations of Crescent City elite, the Garden District is old-school New Orleans in a nutshell. Numerous TV shows and movies have been filmed here, and it’s always a favorite spot for photo ops due to its magazine-worthy appearance. And, in true New Orleans fashion, there’s even a famous cemetery (Lafayette Cemetery No. 1) which is worth a visit for anyone interested in ghost stories or eerie history.
Neighborhood Highlights: The Garden District
The Garden District is a quick 10-minute drive from the CBD, but to turn the journey into a true New Orleans experience, hop on the streetcar. It may add a few extra minutes to your jaunt across town, but the time is well worth it. Snap a streetcar selfie for a nice souvenir!
For Couples: The Garden District
If strolling down the tree-lined avenues of the Garden District isn’t lovey-dovey enough, this neighborhood is a wonderful place for a date. Turn off the phones, forget about your emails, and enjoy quality time with your special someone – old-school style. As generations of New Orleans couples have done, pull up a chair for a meal (ideally jazz brunch) at the Garden District legend, Commander's Palace. For almost 150 years, long before Tinder was around, locals shared a bowl of turtle soup while engaging in deep conversation. You can do it too!
For Friends: The Garden District
Even though it doesn’t have the wild reputation of the French Quarter or the culinary buzz of the CBD, the Garden District is still worth a visit for friends looking to have a good time. This traditionally residential area is welcoming more and more neighborhood bars and restaurants that are just as fun during the day on a Sunday as on a Friday night.
When the weather’s nice, The Tchoup Yard is a must. This eclectic collection of outdoor bars and food stands has plenty of seating and lawn games, so it’s a fantastic place to spend a couple hours with your squad. In the mood for beer and barbecue? NOLA Brewing Tap Room is the Garden District’s only brewery, which doesn’t only feature beer, but also finger-lickin’ good barbecue fare and a breezy rooftop. Speaking of delicious finger food, The Rum House is the place to go not only for rum, but for wickedly good Caribbean-inspired tacos. Seriously, how is the rum and taco combo not more popular?
For Business Travelers: The Garden District
If you’re visiting the Crescent City on business, there’s no doubt you’ll be working hard during the day. Once evening rolls around, you may be searching for a low-key watering hole where you can wind down – a place where the locals go that’s off the tourist route. Head for the casual Garden District bars like Parasol's for cheap beer and sports on TV or The Bulldog, Uptown for serious analysis paralysis when it comes to beer (they’re known for an incredible beer selection). Or if you prefer to wind down with a glass of wine, Bouligny Tavern is sure to have something intriguing to sip.
For Families: The Garden District
Need a break from the busy French Quarter and CBD? Take a breather in the leafy Garden District; it’s the perfect place to recharge and refuel. But first, if the kids are curious about the wonder that is the Mardi Gras parade float industry, check out Mardi Gras World. This massive complex is where the floats are made and stored, and an informative tour will answer all your burning questions about how the floats come together.
Hungry families then flock to Turkey and the Wolf for sandwiches, Mahony's for po’ boys, or District Donuts Sliders Brew for burgers and sweets. All have a kid-friendly atmosphere and menu items for every palate.
Enjoy your trip to The Big Easy!
With that, we hope we’ve made your “where to stay in New Orleans” decision an easier one. The Big Easy will be waiting to welcome you with jazz music and beignets galore. And your Stay Alfred travel apartment will be awaiting your arrival with the perfect mix of comfort and style.
We’ll let you take care of packing your Mardi Gras attire, your Saints gear, or your convention center best, but if you need any advice on the essentials, just refer to our trusty packing list. If we can help you find your ideal New Orleans travel apartment, call us at 1.866.232.3864, and we’ll be thrilled to provide personalized recommendations in less time than it takes to get a go cup from the bar. See you in the Crescent City!