Explore New Orleans with Expedia’s Travel Guides to find the best hotels, flights, holiday packages and more!
The beating heart of America’s jazz heritage, the streets of New Orleans are saturated with musical history – the result of a melting pot of European, Latin American and African cultures. The birthplace of hugely influential personalities such as musician Louis Armstrong and writer Truman Capote, the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (known locally as Jazz Fest) celebrates this city’s rich cultural heritage with one of the largest music festivals in America, bringing together music, food and the arts in celebration of this vibrant city’s contribution to the cultural fabric of America.
Food is just as important as music in New Orleans, and whether you’re wandering the streets with a beignet in hand (the city’s signature sweet, made from fried dough sprinkled with sugar) or tucking into some traditional Creole soul food such as jambalaya or gumbo, you’re guaranteed not to go hungry in this city. With a hire car at your disposal, the delights of New Orleans are yours to explore.
Fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Kenner, around 13 miles west of the city. From there it’s a 20-minute drive down the I-10 E to arrive in downtown New Orleans. During events such as Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, it may be cheaper to instead fly into Baton Rouge, 89 miles north of the city or Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi 77 miles east.
With a hire car you can easily drive to a host of interesting locations close to New Orleans, including the city of Lafayette (around two and a half hours’ drive) considered the centre of the Cajun and Creole culture that defines much of the deep south. Gulfport (the second largest city in Mississippi) is also an hour and 20 minutes away, and boasts a long strip of white, sandy beach and plenty of good weather to enjoy it in.
Choose from a wide selection of hire car providers in New Orleans to suit every budget and requirement, from Alamo and Dollar to Thrifty and Hertz.
Mardi Gras is one of the most lively celebrations hosted in New Orleans in February or early March each year. The city is awash with colour as giant floats wind their way through the streets, accompanied by exuberant dancing, live music and plenty of fun costumes. Royal Street is also a great visit – one of the oldest streets in the city dating from the French colonial era, lined with high-end antique shops and art galleries. If you fancy escaping the crowds, then the City Park provides some tranquillity, dotted with gardens and waterways as well as the New Orleans Museum of Art, containing excellent displays of African, Asian and Native American art which reflect the city’s multicultural history.
Further afield, your hire car can help you explore beyond New Orleans to destinations such as Houma (approximately an hour away), where the Wetlands Music Festival is held annually in October, or the capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge (an hour and a half drive) – a city with over 300 years of history.
Driving in New Orleans, like much of America, is largely straightforward, with wide lanes and simple road layouts. Cars drive on the right hand side of the road and you can overtake on both sides. You can also perform a U-turn at the end of most junctions – it will be marked if you are not allowed to do so.
Most American cars are automatic, so remember to request a stick shift if you would prefer one.
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