New Orleans, Louisiana is packed with plenty of exciting things to see and do. With excellent music on every corner, flavorful food to satisfy every taste, and an abundance of museums and activities, you can find something for everyone. After settling into your New Orleans vacation rental, head out to explore the shops of the French Quarter, ride the streetcar to Audubon Park, or sign up for a ghost tour. Depending on the weather and your interests, some seasons may be preferable to others. Take a look at the city’s highlights during different seasons, so you can easily figure out the best time to visit.
There is no getting around it, New Orleans in the summer is hot and humid, with average temperatures climbing to a steamy 90 degrees or more during the day in July and August. Evenings drop to mid-70s, and can bring some relief as the sun goes down. It is also the city’s rainy season, with average rainfall about 5 to 6 inches each month. This is low season in New Orleans, so the city is less crowded, and you can find lots of great deals on vacation rentals, restaurants, and entertainment.
Know what to pack and you will be prepared for the heat and rain summer brings to New Orleans. Bring light clothing, sandals, and a bathing suit for swimming. Sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat, and sunscreen with protect you from the sun during the hottest time of the day. Rain gear, such as a light water-proof jacket and umbrella, is necessary in case you get caught in a summer storm.
Hot temperatures don’t mean that there isn’t still plenty to do. It is a city of festivals, and the summer is no different. Every June, the city hosts the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival, featuring some of the best local performers. If you prefer R&B music, check out the Essence Festival in July. The Satchmo SummerFest celebrates local jazz musician Louis Armstrong every August, with a packed schedule of music and dancing. Afterwards, enjoy the specially priced prix-fixe menus of local eateries during COOLinary.
Escape the heat during the day by exploring the many museums and restaurants throughout the area. The National World War II Museum has guided tours from military veterans, who offer a unique perspective on the exhibits. The museum also offers Sunday Swing during the summer, which you can enjoy music and dancing from the era. Kids will love visiting the penguins at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and the butterflies at the Insectarium.
The heat begins to drop during the fall months, bringing more activity to New Orleans. Temperatures hover around the 80s during the day, and drop to the 60s and 70s at night. It can still be quite humid, especially during September and early October. While not as rainy as the summer, there is still a chance for late afternoon storms. This is also peak hurricane season, so travelers should keep their eye on weather reports.
Pack light clothing and sun protection if traveling in early fall, with a light jacket in case the nights get cool. Late October and November has more fall-like weather, so long-sleeve shirts and pants are better clothing options. A rain jacket and umbrella is useful in case of rain.
Fall is an excellent time to explore the parks and squares of New Orleans, all within easy reach from your vacation rental. Adults love the sculpture garden of City Park in Mid-City, while kids have fun visiting with their storybook friends at the park’s Storyland. While there, be sure to ride the antique wooden carousel in the William A. Hines Carousel Gardens and taste the beignets at Morning Call. Other outdoor options include Audubon Park, Louis Armstrong Park, and Lafayette Square. Magazine Street hosts first Fridays each month, where art galleries open their doors to the public at night and stores hold sidewalk sales.
There are plenty of fall festival options, especially during October. Music lovers can choose from the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival, the New Orleans Swing Festival, or Voodoo Music and Arts Experience. For arts enthusiasts, check out the New Orleans Film Festival or Art for Arts’ Sake. If you visit on Halloween, view the spectacular costumes of the Krewe of Boo Halloween Parade or take a spooky cemetery and ghost tour.
Winter is the coldest part of the year in New Orleans, but temperatures remain mild compared to other parts of the country. Highs typically reach into the 60s during the day, with lows dropping to the 40s and 50s at night. Although some days may be humid, overall it is the least steamy season. Average rainfall is around 5 inches during the winter months, so there is still a chance of a quick shower.
You don’t need to pack your heavy winter coat, a lighter jacket is enough to keep you warm. Long-sleeved shirts, dresses and lightweight pants are great options, and packing layers is a must. Bring comfortable walking shoes, and keep an umbrella on hand in case rain appears. The city rarely sees snow, so leave winter boots at home.
December travelers enjoy “Christmas New Orleans Style,” a month-long event of holiday festivities and fun. It begins with the Krewe of Jingle holiday parade along Canal Street. view the amazing floats, then head to Magazine Street or the French quarter for unique holiday shopping. At night, marvel at the light display among the trees at City Park’s Celebration in the Oaks or sing Christmas carols by candlelight in Jackson Square.
January features the AllState Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for football fans. Depending on the year, Mardi Gras may be held in January or February. For many people, it is a must-see event, with tons of parades and music throughout the city. If you are in New Orleans for sightseeing, take note that many attractions close during Mardi Gras week. Outside of Mardi Gras, New Orleans is typically quieter during late winter, with great deals on vacation rentals and entertainment.
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Springs is peak travel time in New Orleans, and it is easy to see why, with cool temperatures, low humidity, and the most festivals of all seasons. Temperatures range between 70s and 80s during the day and 60s to 70s at night. Flowers begin to bloom, filling parks and squares with color. Humidity is low, making it comfortable for walking during the day. Spring is one of the drier seasons, with precipitation is around 4 inches per month.
Comfortable clothing for outdoor activities is a must in spring. Pack light pants, sundresses, short-sleeve shirts, shorts, and sunscreen for the day, with a light jacket for night. Rain is still a possibility, so add an umbrella to your suitcase just in case.
Festivals abound in the city during the spring. Depending on the year, Mardi Gras may be held in March. One of the largest music festivals, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, is held in late April and May, bringing both local musicians and international acts to the stage. Earlier in the season, the French Quarter Festival celebrates local jazz musicians and traditional New Orleans cuisine. For foodies, there is Freret Street Festival, Brunch Fest, Pontchatoula Strawberry Festival, or Crawfish Mambo.
Aside from the larger festivals, visitors find smaller events in the local squares and parks. Louis Armstrong Park hosts free jazz concerts during select weeknights in the spring. City Park hosts the Spring Garden Show in its botanical garden, with beautiful exhibits and family-friendly activities. Over in Audubon Park, guests pull up a lawn chair for Music Under the Oaks. Festive parades are held on St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, especially in the French Quarter. Restaurants begin to open their patios, so when it’s time to eat, grab food at St. Roch Market, Roux Carre, or Bayou Wine Garden and dine in the sun.
5. The Best Time to Visit?
While the city is bustling year round, the best time to visit for most travelers is during the spring. This season provides excellent weather and a wide variety of festivals for the entire family to enjoy. The cooler temperatures allows you to explore City Park and Audubon Park during the day, or enjoy one of the many walking tours at night. The choices of food, music, and art festivals means you are sure to find something for anyone’s interest. Consider visiting New Orleans in the spring to get the most out of your time in the Big Easy.
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