Do you know those places you visited once and you wouldn’t return? Well, I can tell you NOLA is the one city I look forward to seeing yearly! In fact, I’ve visited New Orleans every summer since I was a child; my momma is a native. I shared some highlights of my trip to the Essence Festival on Instagram this year. Given the number of questions and comments I received, I just had to share where to stay in New Orleans within walking distance of everything and some of my favorite moments from my trip.
The best place to stay in New Orleans
You first need to know that New Orleans is a compact city, so most things to do are in close proximity. Secondly, the best way to explore the city is on foot, bike, or streetcar.
The French Quarter is undoubtedly the heartbeat of NOLA thanks to its convenient location to all the best things to do and explore in the city, including the iconic Bourbon Street. Most people think the best place to stay in New Orleans is the center of the French Quarter.
But, I recommend staying just on the edge of the French Quarter to avoid the crowds, and it’s a nice reprieve from the all-night parties. Also, areas such as the Central Business District or the Warehouse District are home to some of NOLA’s iconic restaurants and points of interest.
Hotel Indigo New Orleans French Quarter
Photos Credit: DonahueFavret
Our home for this trip was the newly renovated Hotel Indigo New Orleans French Quarter, just one block from Bourbon Street in the central business district. The Hotel Indigo offers 143 beautifully decorated guestrooms, including nine balconies suites. The hotel sits at the intersection of St. Charles and Common along the St. Charles streetcar line access.
The Hotel Indigo New Orleans French Quarter is a boutique lifestyle hotel inspired by the city of New Orleans.
From the colorful welcome of infamous second-line umbrellas in the lobby to the art wall of thoughtfully curated shadow boxes that celebrate the vibrancy of this quintessential New Orleans tradition.
Common Interest NOLA at the Hotel Indigo New Orleans French Quarter
The Hotel Indigo has a first-floor lounge and restaurant called Common Interest, which mirrors the high-spirited city vibes. Common Interest serves Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner until 2 am. Some of our favorites were the Debris + Grits, slow-roasted seasoned beef over goat cheese grits. Also, the Riverbend Griddled Butt’ah Burger is the perfect play on sweet and savory. It’s dressed with melted cheese, sauteed onions, and a unique jelly and fries.
During our stay, we observed what makes Common Interest different from other hotel restaurants. The restaurant is a communal environment for guests and locals to gather.
Getting Around New Orleans
Everyone loves the nostalgia of an old-fashioned streetcar ride! Four streetcar lines run through some of the most iconic areas of New Orleans—the historic St. Charles Avenue line, the Canal Street line to Cemeteries and City Park, the Riverfront line, and the Rampart-St. Claude Avenue line.
The St. Charles streetcar line is a short walk from the Hotel Indigo New Orleans French Quarter and is one of the oldest and most famous lines.
Its route spans Uptown to the Central Business District and passes by classic New Orleans stops, including the historic Garden District.
For shopping and other dining options, Magazine Street runs parallel to St. Charles Ave. This is just a few blocks from the route and a cool place to explore. You can find lots of local boutiques and local restaurants, and the famous NOLA sign too!
What We Did in NOLA
Whether visiting New Orleans during Essence Festival or Carnival Season, there is always a unique celebration of NOLA culture. Including Madi Gras, Endless festivals, concerts, music shows, second lines, and parades.
Since Essence Festival takes place over the July 4th holiday, the city is extra festive! The best place to view the fireworks is along the Mississippi Riverfront. Typically the street is blocked for traffic, so t the street is blocked for traffic, so the best option is walking. It’s just a ten-minute walk from the hotel to the riverfront via Chartres St and St Louis St. Or you can make your way to the 4th Fest on the River at Crescent Park, for entertainment and a prime view.
The One Thing You Must Do In New Orleans
If there’s one thing you must do in New Orleans, it’s a sightseeing tour! There are lots of city tour options from carriage rides, to bus tours and of course walking tours.
No matter which option you choose, the best way to see NOLA’s rich history and culture is through the eyes of a local.
From celebrity homes to precious landmarks, there is plenty to see!