I have been coming here for years and it has changed . It is so dirty and smells of vomit and urine. The food in the French quarter has gone downhill and is barely passable. But nothing is more disappointing then the amount of homeless that are strung out on drugs and beg for money aggresively. The people that work in the French quarter are rude and ignorant. My children in their 20's found the French quarter to be disgusting as well. Will never go back!!!!
So, the bad stuff first. A reviewer (Brian, I believe) mentioned New Orleans' ugly, negative characteristics, and I'm not going to lie and say he's making them ALL up. He isn't. I gave the city four stars rather than five in an attempt to be objective about these things. It's true that in N.O., the politics tend to be corrupt, crime is a problem, it's dirty, the heat is oppressive, and the public school system is sketchy unless you live across the lake in Mandeville or somewhere like that. However...
I've lived in 6 different states and 9 different cities, and I've never felt more at home or at peace than when I'm in New Orleans. Each time I leave (especially since Katrina), I literally grieve and immediately start planning how and when I can come back. It sounds corny, but I feel a sense of "magic" there, and it's as if all my anxieties and problems sort of disappear when I get into town. No matter where I go, nothing compares to the way I feel when I'm in New Orleans. The place (for me) carries a sense of, "Everything is OK. Just relax and enjoy the day." There is no judgment, pressure, or expectation to "hurry up," "do it right," defend my perspective, or compete for anything (except parking, haha). You don't have to work on Mardi Gras, dinner can last for 2-3 hours, and people frequently greet each other - even distant acquaintances - with hugs. No one cares if you're quirky or traditional, bubbly or reserved, etc. New Orleans as a community simply "gets it" - that life is about the present moment, laughing and having fun, being with friends and family, expressing yourself, and simply living your life.
So, yes, if you live in New Orleans (or just visit), you will need to lock your doors, keep your valuables out of plain view, and avoid talking to weird drunk dudes if you're alone. I have to do the same thing when I'm in Atlanta or D.C. If it's important to you to live in an efficiently run city in which potholes are promptly repaired (or repaired at all), government buildings open on time, and/or the smell of rum and beignets doesn't linger the morning after a parade or festival, you'll probably dislike New Orleans. If you like uniqueness (and are maybe even a little different yourself), rich and vibrant culture, and a slow and easy lifestyle, there is absolutely no place like it. :)
BTW, anyone (say, the reviewer I mentioned above) who says N.O. shopping is poor or downplays the quality of the food really isn't being very honest.
I lived in New Orleans for a year and a half. It truly is a great city full of great food and culture. I moved to New Orleans from Baton Rouge, so I found it a refreshing change with lots of things to do. There is always something new and exciting going on in this city. The Jazz Fest, usually occurring around April or May, attracts visitors from around the world. The Christmas parade runs through downtown and makes for a great family outing. Mardi Gras, perhaps what New Orleans is most famous for, is also a pretty adventurous season. Parades usually start in January and last through Fat Tuesday. Tuesday festivities include a full day of back to back parades, followed by lots of partying on Bourbon Street.
New Orleans also has great culture and museums. The downtown streets are old cobblestone and make you feel like you're in an old Western film. I would recommend the Aquarium of Americas for families. The children's museum is right next door also. A few short steps further is the Riverwalk, which consists of many shops and restaurants. I like to go to the top floor and use the telescope to look out into the distance. There's water for miles, but you might just catch a bird doing something interesting.
Of course New Orleans does have crime and there are parts to steer clear from. Anytime you are downtown at night, it's best not to be alone. The police have gotten really good about patrolling the area to keep crime down. I lived in the middle of downtown, in a secured building, and never had issues with a break in or robbery. Don't let the bad things you've heard about the city keep you away.
I lived in New Orleans for 15 months. I have never seen so many people so proud to live in an absolute dump. It's amazing how proud of this filthy place people are. The crime is absolutely horrible. I lived in a "nice" area and was scared to go out of my front door. Everywhere you drive, you fear for your life. You have to spend a fortune to live in a so called "nice" area. The cost of living is OUTRAGEOUS! It is like a third world country. People are trashy. Businesses are all trashy. Houses are very poorly kept. The landscape is ugly. People always talk about the great food. I never understood that either. In New Orleans you have Boudreaux's poboy stand that looks like it's about to fall down and people rave about how that's like the best food in the world! In New Orleans that's wwhat they talk about good food. Some Po Boy restaurant that's falling to pieces, right next door to the projects. I am so glad I got out of there. I will never understand why so many people love New Orleans.
I have many fond memories of New Orleans. As a child we would spend summers there with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. As a young adult I would travel there and always find something new. As an adult, I got the thrill of living there for 5 years. Now, as a parent, I bring my children there.
My most favorite time of year to go to New Orleans is for Jazz Fest. It happens every year at the same time; the last weekend in April, the first weekend in May. To me, this is the festival that epitomizes what New Orleans is; a merging of music, culture, food, and fun. It is unlike anything I have experienced anywhere else. And I have to tell you I have traveled, world-wide, extensively.
Unfortunately, New Orleans has been publicized strictly for Bourbon Street. Folks! This is about five blocks of night life out of the entire city!! Not fair. New Orleans has so much to offer. You can tour the Garden District, Canal Street, the bayous and swamps outside of the city. You can walk along the river, around the lake. You can canoe along the river, the bayous, the lake. You can walk up and down Magazine Street and explore all of the art galleries with the local art.
There is so much to offer here. New foods, new sites, new sounds. My favorite thing about this city is that around every corner you find street music, new types of food, and new sites. This to me, is what gives this city its unique soul and sound.
If you are looking for a unique adventure, travel to New Orleans. And you don't have to stay in the famous French Quarter. Try staying in the Garden District or on Magazine Street for a different view of this amazing city.
New Orleans is a city that I visit often. I have family there and love having and excuse to visit this awesome city. Everyone asks about Mardi Gras when I mention going to New Orleans. And, yes, they certainly know how to throw a party in New Orleans. The French Quarter is practically never closed and there is usually something fun going on there, but there is so much more to New Orleans than the parties.
The food in this town is amazing. The Camellia Grill is my number one place for breakfast. You don't have to go to a big name restaurant either to get good food. There are plenty of small, family-owned cafes and diners that have some of the best Cajun food ever made. There is some great shopping in town, too. From the French Quarter, where there are dozens of shops, you can walk to the mall on Canal. And, the history of New Orleans is evident everywhere you go. The city is has some of the grandest old homes and largest oak trees I have ever seen. They have various walking-tours available as well. Some are strictly factual and historic, others have fun themes. I've been on both types of tours and enjoyed them equally. The parks in town are beautiful too. We have so much fun taking the kids to the parks in the Garden District and near the university. I think there is something for just about anyone to enjoy in New Orleans.
I have lived in the city of New Orleans, on and off, for most of my life. Compared to just about any other city I have been to, New Orleans has a certain "je ne sais quoi" that is unmatched just about anywhere else. It is hard to define but it is a combination of classic Southern hospitality, the Big Easy's old world charm, its rich culture and history and of course, a culinary adventure that leaves no stone unturned and no taste bud unstimulated. In New Orleans you'll find many great restaurants with famous names attached to them.
New Orleans may have its drawbacks but they are relatively minor ones. Plan on visiting before summer really gets started because it gets quite hot here. Bourbon Street, while famous, is an unabashed tourist trap. To see the real New Orleans venture out of the French Quarter a little bit. Hardcore shopaholics might be a tad disappointed if they expect all the haute couture of Rodeo Drive, but Canal Place or Magazine Street will serve in a pinch.