Free Walking Tours

Free New Orleans Travel Guide

Here at Nola Tour Guy, we are experts and not only the history and culture of New Orleans but also knowing the best things to do in New Orleans, The best places to see and the best places to eat in New Orleans. We’ve put it all together in the following Free New Orleans Travel Guide.

You’ve probably seen other guides online. Most of these guides are written to promote paid links. The writers of these guides get a percentage of sales, this is called affiliate links. Our guide features no affiliate links, we are sharing our favorite things to do in New Orleans based on our actual knowledge and passion.

New Orleans is a vibrant sensory experience, full of colorful streets, soulful rhythms, and unforgettable tastes. It’s the culinary heart of Creole and Cajun cuisine, and beyond delights from gum­bo to shrimps and grits, it’s the city that invented he muffuletta, the beignet, and the char-grilled oyster.

New Orleans, is famous for it’s iconic architecture, the New Orleans Saints, and perhaps the most famous street in America—Bourbon Street. Did you know you can legally drink on the street anywhere in New Orleans? Here locals like to say, “Only in New Orleans!” After a day, you’ll quickly see why.

From where to catch legendary New Orleans live music to the best restaurants in New Orleans, and every other must do activity, including including swamp and plantation tours. Check out our guide.

Free French Quarter Walking Tours
Free French Quarter Walking Tours

Best Time to Travel to New Orleans (what is the weather like there?)

New Orleans is a wonderful place to visit in any season. But summers can get hot, the average high temperature is around 90F (or 32C). In addition hurricane season runs from August until November. That said, the crowds are smaller and the prices for hotels are lower. So if you don’t mind warm (and often rainy) weather this can be a good time to visit but we’d recommended purchasing travel insurance encase there’s a hurricane.

Winter is a great time to visit New Orleans. December and January see the streets dressed in their holiday best with multiple events and concerts, yet the overall crowds are lower, and hotel rates are cheaper. February in NOLA means Mardi Gras, the city’s most crowded season, with over 4 million party-goers from around the world.

The weather is also on your side -Louisiana has mild winters, with temperatures averaging in the 50s at night and 80s during the day. All of these factors combine to make NOLA an excellent winter destination!

Spring in New Orleans starts early, like mid February. Which also happens to be around Mardi Gras time. Mardi Gras falls anywhere between early February to March. Spring is the busiest time of year hosting the biggest festivals like Jazz Fest, because it has the best weather. So restaurants, bars and hotels might be much more crowded.

Why is winter the best time to visit New Orleans

Winter in New Orleans is honestly just as wonderful as any other time of the year! December and January see the streets dressed in their holiday best with multiple events and concerts, yet the overall crowds are lower, and hotel rates are cheaper. February in NOLA means Mardi Gras, the city’s most crowded season, with over 4 million party-goers from around the world.

The weather is also on your side -Louisiana has mild winters, with temperatures averaging in the 50s at night and 80s during the day. All of these factors combine to make NOLA an excellent winter destination!

Here’s your guide month by month to enjoying New Orleans in the Winter:

When is the Best time to visit New Orleans

The answer to this question will depend on what you’re interested in. Do you want to come for a quiet weekend and soak up the unique culture, architecture, and food that New Orleans has to offer? Or do you want to party? New Orleans’s most famous motto is: Laissez les bons temps rouler or let the good times roll. What you want to do could effect when is the best time to visit Click here and find out more

What to do on a rainy day in New Orleans

Something all those beautiful shots of New Orleans you see on Instagram never show is that it rains something around 200 days of year in New Orleans. We think everyone that visits should pack an umbrella. In the winter months from December to February, it is often cold rain or even freezing rain. In the summer months, the heat is usually cooled off by a late afternoon sprinkle though sometimes these can turn into serious down pours. Either way, you need indoor activities, keep in mind it is also quite hot here in the summer, so these indoor activities could also be a great way to dodge the heat and often over 70% humidity. We’ve broken down our list by neighborhood so where ever you find yourself stuck, you’ll find something to do close by.Click here and read our guide on what to do on a rainy day in New Orleans

What is The Garden District Known For?
What is The Garden District Known For?
Best things to do in New Orleans

There’s a lot of things to do in New Orleans. From drinking on Bourbon street to strolling among the ancient live oaks in City Park check out our guides below to find out more things to do in New Orleans

Best things to do in The French Quarter

The French Quarter is probably the most famous place in New Orleans but isn’t it just a tourist trap. We think it’s famous for a good reason. In 2023, the French Quarter remains one of the most intact historic and dynamic neighborhoods in the country and is still worth visiting. So, what to do in the French Quarter in 2023? click here and find out.

Free things to do in New Orleans

Here are things we think everyone should do when they visit, that might be a bit more underrated, or even off the beaten path. All are free, or nearly free.

Click here and find 15 things to do for free in New Orleans.

Things To Do in New Orleans While on a Business Trip

New Orleans is the largest city in Louisiana and has many businesses and places steeped in history and tradition. Tourists come from all over to experience the city, but not everyone comes for pleasure. People also travel to the Big Easy for business trips, conferences, and everything in between. But what do you do after the business is wrapped up for the day? click here and find out.

Best things to do as a Female Solo Traveler

Is New Orleans a safe destination for solo female travelers? Absolutely! New Orleans is a place beloved by solo travelers, especially The French Quarter, due to its walkability, friendly residents, and various activities for one. With the proper preparation and precautions, visiting New Orleans can be as safe as any other major city. Shop local and get your fortune told at Jackson Square, eat Banana’s Foster where it was born, see how the world-famous Bourbon Street compares to the southern mansions of The Garden District, and more! We’ve also included our top safety tips for New Orleans, specific for solo female travelers. Click here for Best things to do as a female solo traveler.

Best Places to go in New Orleans

The French Quarter is probably the most famous place to go in New Orleans and we definitely think you should check it out. It has been continuely occupied for 300 years. More then likely your hotel will either be in or close to the French Quarter but there lots of other places to check out in New Orleans. From antebellum mansions of the Garden District, to the quiet serenity of St Louis Cemetery #3 check out our guides to the Best Places to go in New Orleans.

What cemeteries are open and worth visiting?

One of the most famous things about New Orleans is its cemeteries. These cemeteries are in the famous backdrops of movies like Easy Rider, the Anne Rice novels, and many other fantasy, horror, and historic fictional works. These sites have long caught the imagination of people. These cemeteries also reflect the many cultural, ethnic, economic, and roots that have shaped New Orleans over the centuries.

Read our guide about what Cemeteries to visit in New Orleans

What is The Garden District known for?

The Garden District is crowned as New Orleans’s, elegant, opulent side; the charming Victorian, Italianate, and Greek Revival mansions peeking out from oak-lined streets are a direct contrast to the stacked townhouses of the crowded French Quarter. Check out our guide to the Garden District here.

Best Day trips from New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana, is chalk full of things to do. but there is also so much more to explore outside of New Orleans on a day trip. From swamps to plantations to some stranger destinations Use this list and the map below to take yourself on a self-guided driving tour of day trips from New Orleans, Louisiana

Gudie to Bayou Saint John, New Orleans.

Bayou Saint John is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, and there are so many things to do, including a historic cemetery, Water fun, historic mansions, outdoor art, celebrated southern food, and craft cocktails, to name a few. We think there’s lots of reasons to visit Bayou St. John but the main draw might be a visit to one of New Orleans’s famous cemeteries on the only free cemetery tour in the city.

Check out our guide to Bayou St. John here

Things to Know before you come

People in New Orleans are extremely friendly. I like to say aggressively friendly. This might seem off putting if your coming form somewhere like New York City where people don’t talk to each other but this is normal and a great way to find out about things to do and places to eat and what peoples experiences are, and isn’t that what travel is all about? Get a drink at a bar and you might find yourself chatting with locals, just let it happen.
Category five Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005, flooding 80 percent of the city. It’s not polite to ask strangers about their Katrina experience many locals still have PTSD from this experience.

New Orleanians love wearing costumes, for pretty much any reason. If you are coming for a holiday like Halloween or Mardi gras you should consider packing a costume or buying one when you arrive. If you want to experience Mardi Gras, be sure to book well ahead of time and be ready for hotel rates to be higher than at other times of the year. Also, many popular sightseeing attractions are closed during Mardi Gras, so it’s if your coming for Mardi Gras don’t expect to do much besides celebrating Mardi Gras.

New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz. So seeing live music should be on your to do list. Be sure to try Gulf seafood. Whether it’s raw, boiled, fried, stuffed in a po’ boy, served in an étouffée or prepared any other way, a plate full of should be on everyone’s to do lists. New Orleans is one of the top ten cities in the United States for the number of annual visitors. and it’s very popular for conventions Louisiana is divided into parishes rather than counties like the other states, and greater New Orleans spans eight parishes. The motto of New Orleans is “Laissez les bon temps rouler,” or “Let the good times roll.” and we think it really sums it all up

Where to see live music in New Orleans

Music flows through New Orleans, as important to the people of the city as the oxygen they breathe. Artists such as Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong, Ernie K. Doe, and The Soul Rebels proudly come from New Orleans.

The city is probably most famous for being the birthplace of Jazz but did you know it is also arguably the birthplace of Rock and Roll? And that many of the greatest musicians in the USA still play here on a regular basis?

Check out this article and learn where to catch live music in New Orleans!

Ethical Guide to surviving Mardi Gras (is Mardi Gras for you?)

Carnival is upon us, and you may be planning your adventure through New Orleans to catch the sights and sounds of this sensational tradition known as Mardi Gras. Whether your are a seasoned veteran or a first timer, a local or a visitor, there are always ways to deepen your experience of Carnival and fulfill your desires. This festive time of indulging and embracing ones carnal desires (Carnival means “lifting of the flesh”) is a practical measure to prepare the home and the body for a time of Lenten fasting. We have to rid our home of stores of sugar, flour and alcohol so we will not be tempted by them in the season to come. Mardi Gras day is our last hurrah before the season of abstinence moves in. Here’s a guide to making it count and making sure you don’t have to beg too much forgiveness when it’s all over

Spooky ways to celebrate Halloween in New Orleans

New Orleans already has a spooky and paranormal reputation that precedes it due to the city’s unique history. This history has influenced many books, movies, and legends that have used the city as a setting to create a mysterious world. On Halloween, a holiday already filled with fun and spookiness, the city comes alive with spooky ways to celebrate Halloween.

How to Get Around

The New Orleans Transit Authority operates four streetcar lines: the St. Charles line, the Canal Street line, the Riverfront line, and the Rampart line. Have your exact fare ready as they do not give change. ($1.25 one way) They also offer a Jazzy Pass which can be purchased online. Taking a streetcar is part of the fun as well as convenient transportation. The historic vehicles are part of New Orleans history.The green St Charles line street cars were built around 1948, they are truly antiques. Streetcars are the most iconic way to travel in New Orleans and are definitionally recommend but be aware they are a leisurely form of travel.

Buses: There are 40 different RTA bus routes that run across the city of New Orleans. A one-way ticket costs $1.25, and a $3 all-day Jazzy Pass gets you unlimited rides for 24 hours. Important bus lines are the 91 Esplande bus that runs from the French Quarter to City Park and the 11 Magazine bus that goes from the CBD (near the French Quarter) to shops on Magazine and the Garden District.

RTA Ferries transport travelers to Algiers from Canal street for $2 per ride. You can catch the ferry from the foot of Canal and it’s great way to check out the Mississippi river.

We strongly recommend checking out their App to buy tickets and find our more info on routes and schedules. You can also use Google Maps enter in the address you want to go and hit the bus icon and Google will give you directions on how to get where your going on public transportation.

Bicycles New Orleans is a relatively small city. We at Nola Tour Guy usually ride our bicycles to work to our walking tours and it usually only takes about 20 minutes. The city has been added bicycle lanes but we still strongly recommend wearing a helmet as New Orleans drivers are some of the worse in the country. Another thing to be aware of is the potholes. Our streets aren’t the smoothest. If this hasn’t deswaded you from riding a bicycle around New Orleans check out our Blue Bike program there are also several local business that rent bicycles.

the Garden District

The Green St Charles street cars have been operating since 1948!

Best Restaurants in New Orleans (where to eat from a local)

New Orleans is famous for food. Muffuletta sandwiches, po’boys , oysters Rockefeller, and bananas foster all originated here, after all. Before we talk about where to eat lets talk a little about the food. You will see places advertising “Creole” and “Cajun”. Both Cajun and Creole dishes are native to Louisiana and found all over New Orleans. However, Cajun and Creole are unique ethnic groups with their traditions, culture, and cuisine. Cajun food was brought to Louisiana by the French Acadians, who migrated from Nova Scotia 250 years ago after the Seven Years War. Today, Cajun food is found all along the bayous of Louisiana, combining French and Southern dishes. They used to say a 7 course Cajun meal is a six pack of Bud and some boudin sausage.

More challenging to define, the term Creole holds no official definition but is generally said to have elements of French, European, African, Caribbean, or Hispanic descent mixed with a flair that is distinctly New Orleans. The impact of Creole culture is an inseparable part of the city. So the way to think about it is Urban vs Rural. Creole culture was historically centered around New Orleans and the French Quarter while Cajun culture is centered around the Bayous that surround the city.

Where do the Locals Eat in New Orleans French Quarter?

To find the best food in The French Quarter, you should first ask, “Where do the locals of New Orleans eat?”

Luckily, the locals here at Nola Tour Guy are happy to share with you the best places to order Cajun and Creole food in The Quarter!

Check out the best restaurants in the French Quarter

Check out Frady's for an off the beaten path experience.

Frady’s in the Bywater is a totally unique experience in the Bywater.
Definitely worth checking out

Check it out

Yakamein: New Orleans secret hangover cure.

New Orleanians have been slurping down a secret cure to hangovers for years, it’s called Yakamein!

Best Tours in New Orleans

We think that walking tours are the best way to see the city of New Orleans. Walking tours can go into so much more detail then bus tours. Nola Tour Guy offers FREE Historical Walking Tours, French Quarter tours, cemetery tours, Garden District Tours and Private Tours of New Orleans. How can our expert guides lead you through; the most interesting and historic neighborhoods in New Orleans for free? We are so sure you will love our tours you will gladly pay what you feel the tour is worth ($15-25 per person is suggested). Unlike other free walking tours in New Orleans, Nola Tour Guy is not a corporate chain but is run by local guides who are passionate about our history and excited to share with you the unique culture of the city they love. Our goal is to demystify the city so you’ll walk away understanding what makes New Orleans unique and important to us and to the world.

Bus tours vs Walking Tours

New Orleans is a city rich with history and unique culture to explore. Walking tours of the city offers much more than a bus tour. You might save your legs with a bus tour, but you would also be spending to much money, being crowded into seats, and straining to listen to the tour guide and take pictures at the same time. By opting to take a walking tour of New Orleans, you can avoid dealing with those inconveniences while learning about the history of the city up close.

Bus tours vs Walking Tours

Free French Quarter Walking Tour

The French Quarter is more then just Bourbon Street. The French Quarter is a place of constant change, settled by the French, ruled by the Spanish, occupied by the Americans, and the second-largest port of entry for Italian immigrants in the 19th century. In the 20th century, it became a haven for artists, musicians, and bohemians. Learn about it’s entire 300 years of history on a walking tour with Nola Tour Guy in way more detail then any other tour in the city

Learn more about our Free French Quarter Tour here. Learn more about all our Free Walking Tours here.

5 Reasons To Navigate New Orleans With a Tour Guide

You might not think you need a tour guide on your trip to New Orleans and while that is true booking a tour can enhance your trip in immeasurable ways. New Orleans has a complex long and layered history and on a walking tour you will learn so much more detail about everything. Check out our 5 Reasons To Navigate New Orleans With a Tour Guide

Free New Orleans Self-Guided Walking Tours with maps

We think our free “Pay what you feel” walking tours offer a great way to learn about New Orleans unique history for a price everyone can afford. But we understand that not everyone can join us for our excellent free “pay what you feel like” walking tours. With this in mind, we have created the following self guided versions of our tours that you can take at your own pace anytime you’d like. Scroll down and read about each of these tours, if you see one you’d like to do click on the button and you’ll be taken to the page. These guides will give you a great way to see some of New Orleans most important neighborhoods, which include the French Quarter, the Garden District and our cemeteries. These New Orleans self-guided walking tours can also serve as companion to our free guided walking tours. Each one includes written directions and a custom Google Map which you can use to follow along.

Check out all our Self Guided Tours here.

New Orleans Cemeteries

It might seem strange to you to want to tour a New Orleans Cemetery but New Orleans Cemeteries are extremely unique. However, by exploring a “city of the dead”, we can actually learn a lot about how people in the past lived, and perhaps even gain clues on how we should live today.

The first thing I think we all learned when either a grandparent or a beloved pet died is that life is impermanent, and that death is sudden and often random. This was especially true in New Orleans in the 19th century, when premature death was quite common. I don’t think it’s much of a leap to connect New Orleanians’ propensity for wild celebration to this proximity to death.

New Orleans has lots and lots of cemeteries and two very famous ones. Learn more about what Cemeteries to visit in New Orleans and why. Which ones are worth visiting and why? check out our guides.

Why Are People Buried Above Ground in New Orleans?

One of the most notable features in New Orleans cemeteries is the above-ground tombs. The cultural practices of the French and Spanish heavily influenced how the dead were buried. You will see similar tombs in Spain, France, Latin America and Puerto Rico. Another reason is that New Orleans sits near the Mississippi River and has a high-water table. Historically, this made burying the dead a difficult task. The graves would often flood. To combat this, New Orleans residents built intricate tombs raised above the water table

Learn about why people are buried above ground in New Orleans by clicking here

What Cemeteries are open in New Orleans in and what one's are worth visiting?

One of the most famous things about New Orleans is its cemeteries. These cemeteries are in the famous backdrops of movies like Easy Rider, the Anne Rice novels, and many other fantasy, horror, and historic fictional works. These sites have long caught the imagination of people. These cemeteries also reflect the many cultural, ethnic, economic, and roots that have shaped New Orleans over the centuries.

Since Covid-19 two of the most famous cemeteries in New Orleans are either closed or have limited access, Check out our guide to find out about what other cemeteries are worth visiting.

New Orleans Cemetery Etiquette

Allow me to bestow upon you a courteous request to respect the dead when you visit a New Orleans Cemetery, by considering the following in this article.

Why you should visit a cemetery in New Orleans

Walking around a cemetery full of crumbling tombs might seem pretty creepy, and unless you’re a certain type of person, you might find the thought unsettling, or even wrong. However, by exploring a “city of the dead”, we can actually learn a lot about how people in the past lived, and perhaps even gain clues on how we should live today.

Find out why you should visit a cemetery in New Orleans

Free French Quarter Walking Tours
Free French Quarter Walking Tours

What we are about:

Nola Tour Guy is a collective of passionate guides, both men and women, who are experts in the history of New Orleans. Our goals are to give tours that are intellectually stimulating, historically accurate and FUN. We only offer walking tours because we believe that walking is the best way to see a city and learn about it and at a price everyone can afford. Nola Tour Guy offers no novelty tours only the real history brought to life by our passionate guides. Join us, you won’t be disappointed..

What is the Garden District Know For?
Eric took us on a walk around the French Quarter and discussed more than the usual main sights. He gave us an insider’s feel for what it’s like to live in Nola, plus environmental insights. He never talked down to the crowd but instead elevated the usual tour guide info. I would have given this five stars, but he was so efficient our tour lasted only a little over an hour.
Shelly Cox
Shelly Cox
Very interesting tour
Lucy Guilfoyle
Lucy Guilfoyle
I highly recommend taking this tour. Eric was great! Knowledgable, friendly and genuine, which is something I appreciated a lot, telling you things as they are. Not a commercial tour but a truly local one. And being part of a small group of 7 people is really enjoyable too. The tour took about 1h30 and it was full of insights. I took it towards the end of my trip so it helped me to fill the rest of my days with interesting activities, I wouldn't have known of otherwise.
Aline Noizet
Aline Noizet
So thorough, excellent, educational, and, at appropriate times, quite humorous.
Fred Marks
Fred Marks
Very informative.
Claire Saint Cyr
Claire Saint Cyr
We went on an excellent tour of the Garden District with David. David was knowledgeable, passionate, and very engaging. Loved learning about the interesting history of the district, architecture of the buildings, the veritable cast of rich eccentrics and how this all ties to New Orleans’ own unique history. I was hoping for a tour that was as entertaining as it was educational and this absolutely hit the mark! Would 100% recommend!
Anusha Chatterjee
Anusha Chatterjee
Great tour! Very interesting and knowledgeable1
Ann Kastelen
Ann Kastelen
We had a super time with David. Very knowledgeable and nice! He has an academic background in history and I liked how he told us the history, but also helped you think about different aspects of the same facts from diverse points of view. He also shared good tips for food and other places to visit. I would really recommend him for the French Quarter tour and also other ones.
Anna Bordon
Anna Bordon
David was great! Very enthusiastic about New Orleans history and full of interesting facts. He also answered all of our questions and gave great recommendations on where to eat and other places to explore. Also love that you can pay him at the end based on how much you liked the tour. Highly recommend! New Orleans has so much interesting history.
Minna Wang
Minna Wang