View of the crowd at the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans

Best Time to Visit New Orleans in 2023 (Local Guide)

👉 Jump to: Best Time to Visit New Orleans | Travel Seasons | Weather & Climate | Tips | FAQ

The best time to visit New Orleans is during the months of October, January, March, and April. These are the cheapest least busy times of the year. The summer is extremely hot and humid and hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th, so these months should be avoided when deciding when to go to New Orlean.

Mardi Gras – mostly the month of February – can be the best time to visit New Orleans if you’d like to partake in the excitement. But it’s also an expensive and crowded time to visit. 

That’s the short answer. But read on, because your best time to go depends on what activities in New Orleans you’re looking to do! We’ll cover the best time to go to avoid crowds, for cheap prices, for the best weather. I’ll also explain when to go for couples, families, partiers, foodies, and music lovers. 

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When is the Best Time to Visit New Orleans?

If you are looking for the best prices, mildest weather, and thinnest crowds, then October, January, and early spring are the best time to visit New Orleans. If you’re prioritizing festivities over easy logistics and cost, consider visiting in February for Mardi Gras.

When you choose to visit New Orleans will depend on what you’re looking to get from the experience. Families and food lovers may enjoy the winter holidays in New Orleans due to events like Celebration in the Oaks and the customary fancy, discounted dinners at many restaurants in New Orleans (Reveillon Dinners). Discounted food can also be found during Restaurant Week in the summer.

Football fans may want to experience the beginning of the Saint’s season in September, and revelers will enjoy Mardi Gras. Music lovers may choose to attend Jazz Fest in April/May, while others may crave the exuberance of New Orleans’s Pride month or the strong spirit of Halloween.

When to Visit New Orleans to Avoid Crowds

View of the crowd at the side of the street
A crowd in Uptown New Orleans the Sunday before Mardi Gras

The best times to visit New Orleans for fewer tourists are April, October, or November, so take advantage of these opportunities if you hate crowds!

Tourism is highest in New Orleans around Mardi Gras. The exact date of Fat Tuesday varies annually, but it is the day before Lent begins: anywhere from February 3rd- March 9th. On Mardi Gras Day and for a couple of weeks leading up to it, expect crowds in the city, blocked-off roads, and a general increase in chaos.

Tourism also spikes during June and July when families are on summer vacation. 

When to Visit New Orleans for Cheap Prices

View of The Lucky Dog cart in the New Orleans French Quarter
The Lucky Dog cart in the New Orleans French Quarter–an institution and cheap way to grab a bite.

The cheapest time to fly to New Orleans is in January when flight prices decrease by up to 27%.

Hotel prices rise from January to April (with a peak in April) and then decrease from April to August (with a low in August). Between August and October prices once again increase before decreasing again in November and December.

While hotel prices are at their lowest in August, this is a generally undesirable time to visit New Orleans because of the heat, humidity, rain, and risk of hurricanes. December and January strike a better balance of low prices and desirable weather conditions.

When to Visit New Orleans for Couples

View of a horse-drawn carriages on Decatur Street in New Orleans
Horse-drawn carriages on Decatur Street off Jackson Square

The best time to visit New Orleans as a couple depends on your favorite date activities. Christmastime is romantic in Crescent City for two reasons. First, City Park and other areas of the city are lit up with festive lights. 

Second, there’s a tradition of Reveillon Dinners in New Orleans during the month of December. This is a tradition that dates back to the early 19th century. The term comes from the French word for “awakening.” For a couple of centuries, Creole families would wake for a Christmas feast in the middle of the night. 

Today, the tradition continues in a different form. Restaurants (particularly high-end ones)  frequently offer a prix-fixe Reveillon menu that appears only during the Christmas season. I can’t think of a better date night.

You can close your Reveillon Dinner out with a trip to the Roosevelt Hotel on Canal Street. It’s famous for its amazing lobby decorations around Christmas and will be a fantastic photo opportunity for couples.

Finally, if you’re looking to enjoy strolls down cobblestone alleys, horse-drawn carriage rides, or a comfortable trip on the deck of the Steamboat Natchez, the weather in the late fall through winter–or the early Spring (March or April)–should fit the bill. 

🛎️ Need a Hotel? Check out the St. Charles Coach House, where you can take the St. Charles Streetcar to Audubon Park

When to Visit New Orleans for Families

Different animal sculptures in the middle of a big fountain in Audubon Zoo in Uptown New Orleans
Audubon Zoo in Uptown New Orleans

The best time to visit New Orleans for families with kids is during the winter holidays. City Park hosts Celebration in the Oaks. This is a giant light display within the already-lovely grounds of City Park. You can explore on foot or take a train ride around the park.

Since snow is exceptionally rare in Louisiana, the city has found its own way to frolic in Wonderland. Miracle on Fulton Street is a holiday attraction in downtown New Orleans. Fulton Street (closed to vehicle traffic) displays a 30-foot Christmas Tree and fake snow. There is also live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays.

If you choose to visit in the Spring, you’ll still find plenty of attractions for the kids. Audubon Zoo and Putt-Putt and the train garden at City Park are beautiful in the early spring. The aquarium or the Louisiana Children’s Museum are great options for a rainy day. 

👉 Pro Tip: While you’re at Fulton Street, check out Fulton Alley for some swanky bowling.

When to Visit New Orleans for Party Animals

View of the crowd at the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans
A Mardi Gras float excites the crowd

Honestly, the French Quarter is always alive with the sound of revelers. You can’t pick a bad time to come let loose on Bourbon Street.

That said, some seasons are a little more festive than others. 

Mardi Gras is the best time to visit New Orleans to have a good time. Mardi Gras day varies annually, but it always falls between February 3rd and March 9th. 

Contrary to popular belief, Mardi Gras Day (also known as Fat Tuesday), is not the single best day for parties and parades. Locals get more excited about the week or two leading up to Mardi Gras Day when parades frequent both the Uptown and Midtown routes. You may want to plan your visit to catch the biggest parade of the season–Endymion.

Outside of Mardi Gras, there are St. Patrick’s Day parades and a French Quarter Halloween parade (Krewe of Boo).

New Orleans is a fantastic place to spend Halloween. Costumes are encouraged here year-round and the city is famous for its haunted reputation. As you can imagine, locals go all out for this holiday.  

When to Visit New Orleans for Food Lovers

An old signage of Vaughan's Restaurant in New Orleans

New Orleans is a Foodie’s paradise–there’s no bad time to visit the Big Easy for food lovers. 

That said, sometimes there are special deals that will allow you to eat more for less money.

Reveillon Dinners are special pre-fixe meals offered in high-end restaurants in December. Not only are the establishments showcasing their best work, but you’ll probably get a good deal on a three- or four-course meal.

Similarly, Restaurant Week occurs in June and offers special pre-fixe menus for a discounted rate. If you can brave the heat, humidity, and crowds, Restaurant Week might be your dream come true.

The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience also occur in June. It is advertised as one of the best culinary events in the nation, and proceeds go to local charities. If the June heat’s got you down, consider checking out the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival in November.

When to Visit New Orleans for Music Lovers

Arlo Guthrie performing on the stage of Tipitina’s music venue
Arlo Guthrie playing at Tipitina’s music venue

The single biggest event for music lovers is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival which occurs in the spring (April or May). The line-up has always included world-renowned musicians like Bob Dylan, B.B. King, and Van Morrison. Major local musicians have included Trombone Shorty, the Neville Brothers, and Dr. John.

Smaller music festivals also occur throughout the year. The French Quarter Festival in April always has a robust music lineup. 

Essence Festival is a huge concert held annually in the Superdome in July. There’s the Zydeco Festival in June and Bayou Boogaloo in May. 

When to Visit New Orleans for Beautiful Weather

View of the serene lake from the shore of Lake Pontchartrain
A gorgeous day on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain

October through April offer the best weather in New Orleans. The average upper temperatures in New Orleans are comfortably below 80° F (26.7° C) from October through April.

December-February can have isolated cold fronts that are uncomfortably chilly (30s-40s), but these are rare. Mostly, New Orleans is a place of respite from the cold.

July and August are the hottest months, with average highs in the 90s. The humidity makes it feel even hotter. And since it’s also hurricane season (June 1st – November 30th), these are great months to avoid.

The 4 Travel Seasons in New Orleans

When deciding when to go to New Orleans, it helps to divide the calendar into four general parts:

October – End of January in New Orleans

The author Meg and her friend posing near the Christmas decorations in Roosevelt Hotel
A friend and I at the Roosevelt Hotel, decorated for Christmastime

October through February is one of my top picks for when to visit New Orleans. The grueling summer heat subsides (though October still falls at the tail-end of hurricane season). Football season is in swing, Oktoberfest happens in City Park, and then the city comes alive for the Christmas season. 

During October, you can attend the New Orleans Film Festival, nicknamed the “Cannes on the Mississippi River” because it is one of the nation’s premier film festivals. The New Orleans Film Festival is internationally respected. 

During December, families in particular will enjoy Celebration in the Oaks and Miracle on Fulton Street. Couples may want to indulge in a special Reveillon Dinner. The crowd volume is low and hotel prices and flights tend to be cheaper.

February – Early March in New Orleans

View people watching the colorful float at the Uptown Mardi Gras parade
An Uptown Mardi Gras parade

Since Mardi Gras usually falls in February or early March (it varies based on the date of Easter and therefore Lent), these months are some of the most crowded and expensive to visit in New Orleans. 

Of course, they also give you the opportunity to witness one of our country’s most spectacular cultural events! 

The weather is usually pleasant in New Orleans in the winter, so the main questions revolve around how you feel about crowds, complex parking and logistics, and the price of traveling during Mardi Gras season.

Late March – May in New Orleans

A Jazz Fest inspired painting
A Jazz Fest collectible poster made into a painting

After Mardi Gras ends is a phenomenal time to visit New Orleans. There are fewer tourists, hotel prices drop, and the average daily high in April is 77° F. 

It’s also “festival season” in the city, with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the French Quarter Festival both happening in April.

By May, temperatures start to heat up (an average high of 84 ° F), but you’re still making it in and out before hurricane season.

🛎️ Need a Hotel? If you’re headed to Jazz Fest, check out Ashton’s Bed & Breakfast in the conveniently-located Bayou St. John neighborhood.

June – End of September in New Orleans

View of the boardwalk submerged by summer rains in Lake Pontchartrain
A dock near Lake Pontchartrain submerged by summer rains

This large chunk of months is all grouped together because they’ve got some things in common: they’re very hot and they have hurricanes.

While there may be tolerable days at the beginning of June or the end of September, most of the summer months (and into the fall) are overtaken by unbearable humidity in New Orleans. The risk of a hurricane derailing your vacation plans is a real risk.

Only visit New Orleans during this season if you’re very enthusiastic about Essence Fest, Restaurant Week, or experiencing part of Pride month in New Orleans.

New Orleans Weather & Climate

Here is a quick reference chart showing the average weather in New Orleans by month of the year:

MONTHMin Temp. (°F)Max Temp. (°F)Avg. Temp (°F)Days with RainHurricane SeasonHumiditySuperlative
[Sources: National Weather Service, Weather Underground]

New Orleans has a humid subtropical climate. This means the summers are long, hot, and humid. Brief but strong thunderstorms often occur during summer afternoons. 

The hottest month in New Orleans in August, and the coldest is January. It rains the most in June and October is the driest. The all-time low in New Orleans was 6° F and the recorded high was 104° F. Very rarely (a couple of times a decade), it will snow.

Hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th. Hurricanes pose a logistical and safety issue for both travelers and residents, who sometimes need to evacuate the area.

Tips for Visiting New Orleans

View of a mural  of a father and son in the flood in New Orleans
A New Orleans mural depicting survival after Hurricane Katrina

Plan for Staying Cool in the Heat

New Orleans has high humidity. This makes it harder for our bodies to cool themselves off because sweat can’t evaporate. People swear that 100° in a dry climate feels better than a wet one.

Don’t underestimate the toll heat and humidity can take on your body. Always carry a water bottle and take frequent breaks inside air-conditioned spaces. Carry cooling towels and electrolyte drinks or tablets if you can. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to heat illness.

📚 Related Reading: If you’ve got some extra time on vacation, make sure to check out these great ideas for day trips from New Orleans.

 Know What to Do if There’s a Hurricane

View of the heavy rain and wind in a neighborhood in New Orleans

If you visit during the New Orleans hurricane season (June 1st- November 30th), your plans could get derailed in the blink of an eye. 

The most effective way to stay safe is to monitor the weather before you even leave home. If a hurricane is headed to Crescent City, be willing to postpone or cancel your trip. Book refundable reservations if your trip falls in hurricane season. Many airlines allow you to cancel or change your flight for severe weather, so call and ask. 

If you’re in town and a major storm (a Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane) is coming, you should try to fly home before it hits. Airlines will often be willing to move your flight earlier, ahead of the storm. 

If you cannot get out of the city before a storm, stock up on bottled water and flashlights. Stay inside your hotel room, and hang out in the bathroom if there are tornadoes. Go to a shelter if your hotel advises it. 

👉 Read Next: Best Places to Travel in Louisiana

FAQs About When to Visit New Orleans

View of the wooden crates and hand painted signages

What is the Best Month to go to New Orleans?

The best time to visit New Orleans is during the months of October, January, March, and April. The weather is mild, crowds are thin, and prices are low. You’ll have plenty to see and do, like the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. 

What Time of the Year is the Cheapest to go to New Orleans?

January is the cheapest month to visit New Orleans. Flights are reduced by 27%. Hotels are also relatively cheap. December is also an inexpensive option. Avoid Mardi Gras if you’re trying to keep prices down.

How Many Days is Enough for New Orleans?

I recommend at least a 4-day trip for a first-time visitor to New Orleans. Most visitors spend between 3 and 5 days. If you are staying in the French Quarter and don’t plan to venture out, you may be okay with a 2- or 3-night stay.

What Time of Year is the Best Weather in New Orleans?

April has the best weather in New Orleans. The amount of rain is relatively low, and the humidity is at its lowest. The temperatures are mild, with an average temperature of 70.1° F.

👉 Read Next: Is New Orleans Safe?


New Orleans is great any time of year, but I hope I’ve helped you decide one of the best times to visit New Orleans for your trip! Next up, check out my guide to the best neighborhoods in New Orleans.

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