Gay New Orleans · City Guide
Planning a trip to New Orleans? Our gay New Orleans city guide is the page for you.
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Louisiana’s biggest city and home to some of the most unique and charming neighborhoods and architecture in the country, New Orleans is a hub of history, art and music. The city has forged itself a dynamic and eclectic culture through its multicultural population and fascinating history.
New Orleans is known across the globe as being a city of partying, nightlife and celebration. From the iconic Mardi Gras celebrations to the numerous Jazz festivals, there is always something happening in this joyful and eclectic city. New Orleans oozes laid back living and puts emphasis on enjoyment and fun, making it a fantastic destination for any gay traveler.
New Orleans also boasts a vibrant and diverse gay scene that is generally focused in the city’s French Quarter. The scene is bustling and energetic and as such, gay travelers can find a number of gay-focused venues throughout the city, many of which have long and established histories.
Gay Rights in New Orleans
Louisiana is one of the few southern states that have adopted hate crime legislation that specifically mentions sexual orientation and gender identity. There are also a number of legislative bills that guarantee LGBT+ individuals from discrimination in all forms on the basis of their identity.
Recent polls conducted in New Orleans reveal that whilst acceptance of LGBT+ people is generally evenly divided, acceptance is growing and opposition is decreasing. This is a reflection of the increasingly liberal attitudes of those living in the city.
Anti-discrimination laws mean that hotels and other venues are obliged to treat LGBT+ individuals with the same respect and dignity that would be afforded to any other guest, so gay travelers should feel generally at ease in the city.
The gay scene in New Orleans has an established and strong history. Most of the scene is located in the French Quarter, an area known for its charming European architecture, lively and vibrant streets and eclectic culture. Nightlife starts late in Athens. The main road for gay venues in the district is known as “Lavender Line” and many of the city’s gay bars and clubs are located within walking distance of one another.
With its stunning wrap-around balcony and iconic drag shows, it’s no surprise that Bourbon Pub and Parade is one of the city’s most popular gay bars. The venue is also one of New Orleans’s largest, spread over two floors and featuring multiple bars and dancefloors. The bar offers excellent happy hour deals and regularly plays host to the country’s most legendary drag queens.
The longest-running gay bar in New Orleans is The Corner Pocket, a classical bar that turns into a lively and energetic club after 9 pm. The Corner Pocket offers a unique clubbing experience in the heart of the French Quarter with affordable drinks and themed nights.
Read More: A Gay Guide to New Orleans
The French Quarter is the most culturally rich district of New Orleans and is a hub of historical landmarks, stunning architecture and design. The area is also the main gay district in the city, with many stylish gay bars and clubs lining its ornate streets. The Hotel Monteleone is a New Orleans institution and has been owned by the same family since its opening in 1886. The hotel is designed in a traditional 19th-century European style and features a heated rooftop pool and a fantastic on-site restaurant. The hotel’s location in the heart of the French Quarter means that the city’s best gay venues are within easy walking distance.
With its charming interior courtyard and creole styled rooms, the Hotel Mazarin is conveniently located close to much of the city’s gay nightlife scene. Guests can drink delicious cocktails and live music and the hotel’s on-site bar that serves drink and food into the late evening. Hotel Mazarin is exceptional value for money and the rooms are comfortably furnished.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
New Orleans is possibly best known for its Mardi Gras celebrations which take place annually in February. The traditional French festival draws upwards of 1.4 million people to the city every year as the streets explode with color, music and celebration. Mardi Gras has been celebrated in New Orleans since 1699 when French explorer and colonialist Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville arrived in Louisianna and slowly introduced the traditions, beginning with Mardi Gras parades and masquerade balls.
Since its introduction to Mardi Gras the city has celebrated the festival in its own unique and over the top way, combining Caribbean and African influence to create vibrant floats and decorations. Teams of festival organizers called Krewes coordinate the festivities and enforce the Mardi Gras color scheme of purple, gold and green. The French Quarter is at the centre of the celebrations and the quaint balconies that are so synonymous with the area become packed with revellers enjoying the festive atmosphere.
Read more: Mardi Gras In New Orleans.
Getting to New Orleans
New Orleans is served by the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and travelers can reach the city’s Downtown via a number of public transport networks.
The airport shuttle service picks up travelers from the airport and pick-up spots are marked in yellow and white. The shuttle goes to a range of hotels in the Downtown, Uptown and French Quarter of New Orleans and travelers should check to see if their hotel is included in the shuttle stops. The shuttle is relatively inexpensive and wheelchair accessible vehicles can be arranged with a week’s notice.
The airport also has a large taxi rank from which travelers can travel across the city. Uber and Lyft are both popular modes of transport in New Orleans and there are designated areas at the airport for individuals looking to rideshare.
Alternatively, the city bus also stops at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and makes 9 daily trips to Downtown New Orleans.
Getting around New Orleans
New Orleans is a large and sprawling city, however, its neighborhoods are easily navigatable and their compactness makes them easy to explore on foot. There are numerous public transport networks that are great alternatives to car rentals and enable travelers to experience a more authentic New Orleans.
The streetcars in New Orleans are iconic, but they serve a greater function than just aesthetics as they are also an efficient and popular way to travel around the city.
The city’s streetcar network runs on four main routes that transport riders to the most popular districts. The streetcars are a great way to view New Orleans and its distinct style and charm, with routes passing through the historic French Quarter, Downtown area and two university campuses.
Individual fares and multiple-day tickets can be purchased and the streetcar network is easy to navigate, operating much like buses in any other city.
For stunning views of New Orleans riverside, travelers should consider taking the ferry from the French Quarter to the city’s downtown business district. These starkly different locations can be traveled between for $2 on the very popular Canal Street Ferry.
The city has a bike-sharing program and the bike hubs can be spotted around the city and are noticeable with their bright blue colours. Travelers will need to register online to enjoy unlimited use of the bikes for a very affordable price. New Orleans has great bike lanes so travelers can cycle with comfort and ease.
Things to do in New Orleans
New Orleans is a vibrant and colorful city, full of exciting opportunities for entertainment and exploration. Some of the best things to do include:
- Explore the charming French Quarter
- Relish in the sounds of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
- Immerse yourself in the Marigny neighborhood
- Wander through the willows of City Park
- Visit the New Orleans Museum of Art
- Soak up the atmosphere of the Mardi Gras celebrations
Those living outside the United States will require a temporary travel visa, and these can be applied for through the official US Embassy website or in your local US embassy.
When to visit
Undoubtedly the best time to visit New Orleans is between February and May, during this period you’ll be able to appreciate the warm temperature without the stifling heat. These months are also the best times to experience New Orleans in its fullest and most vibrant form during the annual Mardi Gras celebrations. The celebrations usually peak in mid-February with the Mardi Gras Day Parade.
It’s slightly cheaper to visit in the autumn months when the weather is mild and prices on flights and hotels are at their lowest.
ATM machines are abundant in New Orleans, and the majority of establishments will accept credit and debit cards. However, some ATM machines and card readers may add an additional fee for transactions attempted with overseas cards.
The generally accepted and expected rates of tipping in New Orleans are 15-20% for good service.
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