Where to Stay, Play, and Eat in New Orleans

The Big Easy is a supremely easy choice for student groups wanting a little vibrancy along with their history. Plus, it's immensely affordable and has a veritable plethora of budget-friendly attractions, lodging, and eateries full of the South's best gumbo, po' boys, and fried chicken. Read on and plan your own student group trip to New Orleans!


NOLA Houses Pixabay Public Domain

Reviewers suggest that for budget-friendly hotels, you head to the Garden District. While the stately name sounds as if it'd be more expensive, and it's true that the area is full of elegant mansions and antebellum manors covered in ivy, it's surprisingly affordable. The average in this lovely district ranges from$60 to $150 depending on the star rating of the hotel in question. There are plenty of bed and breakfasts, inns, and if you're daring, hostels, to fill in the gaps although the smaller inns might not let you cram as many group mates into a room as possible to cut down on the individual cost. If you have enough of you, you might even be able to get a slightly higher priced hotel close to the French Quarter and split the costs.

Also, traveling to New Orleans you should be aware of the high and low seasons as this will interfere with the affordability of your trip. If at all possible, traveling between June and September is recommended, though it is hot, as the low season with the fewest travelers. December to January is the shoulder season with slightly higher prices than the low season but not so bad as the high season which starts in February, gearing up for Mardi Gras. As the city lies in a subtropical region, temperatures are pleasant enough in the winter for active touring though in the summer months it can get very hot and humid.


Streetsign French Marketplace in New Orleans in French Quarter

Where to start? New Orleans is a wonderful city for touring on foot although there are excellent means of touring by cable car, horse-drawn carriage, and others. The French Quarter is always one of the top destinations as a highly historic, continuously vibrant, and hauntingly enchanting district. Here you can take a guided tour and learn that it is the oldest district in the entire city and hear the ghost stories of all the deeds which have been wrought around the Vieux Carré. Jackson Square, less known by name perhaps, is a second-ranked attraction playing home to the St. Louis Cathedral, a magnificent historic Roman Catholic cathedral with a Disney-like facade. Tours of the interior are available for a small donation but the square itself is free to tour. Also in Jackson Square is the Cabildo, a historic site built in the 18th century as the center for the Spanish rule government set in the city, and later as the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer in 1803. Over the years the building has seen many uses but today it is open to tourists, for a small donation, as a museum and historic landmark well worth viewing.

Other sites such as the Audubon Nature Institute, which includes a zoo, aquarium, and Insectarium, charge admission but are well worth the price. This is ranked as one of the best zoos and aquariums in the entire country and this giant complex is set in a stunning design of lush natural beauty replete with exotic creatures from all over the world. The New Orleans Power Pass, their version of the tourist card, is an excellent way to see the city on a budget as you get free or discounted entrance to a number of attractions, including the Audubon Nature Institute and bus tours of the city. It is certainly something to look into when deciding on New Orleans as your destination.

If you don't come during Mardi Gras, never fear. Year round, the museum Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World allows visitors an inside look into the world of the grand Carnivale complete with costumes, floats, and other props used by the krewes during the parades. You might also be interested in visiting the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Civil War Museum, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, or even the Historic Voodoo Museum while you're in one of the most diverse and exciting cities in America.


Beignets Neon Sign in New Orleans, Louisiana Bakery

Beignets Neon Sign in New Orleans, Louisiana Bakery

This is what a lot of people look forward to, especially when visiting New Orleans. The city is practically as well known for its food as it is for Mardi Gras. Some of the restaurants might not be exactly super cheap, but don't let that scare you away. The experience alone, the symphony of flavor on your taste buds, will be enough to convince you. However, as a way to cut down on costs, share your plate with a friend and split the bill.

Affordable eats are everywhere, though, and it's not unusual to find a place to eat for less than $15 a person. St. James Cheese Company is a prime example where you can get a reasonably priced gourmet cheese sandwich or if you're a veggie eater, Carmo is your ticket. There are tons of cafes and diners that offer up plenty of southern classics for a low price that are sure to delight your palates and get you ready for a full day of touring. Crazy and wild spots like Dat Dog give you the weirdest concoctions you've ever seen on a hot dog, but it works and it's a local favorite. Also, the French Market, which is a recommended touring destination, also includes many cafes and restaurants with delicious meals and fresh ingredients like Cafe Du Monde, one of the best places to get cafe au lait and beignets while you rest from a day of walking.