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How Do I Not Look Like A Tourist In New Orleans?


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Madelene Pender



In a vibrant city like New Orleans, it’s easy to spot tourists from a mile away. From their camera-toting demeanor to their oversized maps, they often stick out like a sore thumb. If you want to blend in with the locals and not be mistaken for a tourist in the fabulous Crescent City, there are a few tricks to keep in mind.


New Orleans is a city with a rich cultural heritage, distinct traditions, and a unique way of life. By taking the time to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere and adopt some insider knowledge, you can avoid standing out and enjoy an authentic experience of the city.


In this article, we will explore various ways to not look like a tourist in New Orleans. From how to dress like a local and avoid typical tourist activities to embracing the vibrant neighborhoods outside of the French Quarter, we’ll provide you with valuable tips to blend in seamlessly.


So, if you’re ready to dive into the essence of New Orleans and experience the city like a true local, let’s get started!


Dress like a Local

One of the easiest ways to avoid looking like a tourist is to dress like a local. New Orleans has its own distinct style that showcases both casual comfort and a touch of flair. Here are some tips to help you blend in with the locals:

  • Opt for comfortable and lightweight clothing, especially during the hot and humid summer months. Choose breathable fabrics such as linen or cotton to stay cool.
  • Avoid wearing overly touristy clothing like “I Love NOLA” t-shirts or Mardi Gras beads. Instead, opt for casual, neutral-colored outfits.
  • Embrace the local fashion by incorporating elements of New Orleans’ rich cultural heritage. Consider wearing a floral-print dress or a shirt with subtle Mardi Gras colors.
  • Don’t forget about footwear. Comfortable walking shoes or sandals are essential for exploring the city’s charming streets and vibrant neighborhoods.
  • Accessorize with a wide-brimmed hat or a stylish pair of sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun while adding an extra touch of New Orleans charm to your outfit.

By following these dressing tips, you’ll seamlessly blend in with the locals and feel comfortable as you explore the unique atmosphere of New Orleans.


Avoid Traditional Touristy Activities

While it’s tempting to visit the popular tourist attractions in New Orleans, taking a detour from the usual tourist path can provide a more authentic and memorable experience. By seeking out lesser-known, off-the-beaten-path activities, you’ll not only avoid the tourist crowds but also discover hidden gems that showcase the true spirit of the city.


Instead of spending hours in line for a famous beignet at Café du Monde, consider trying the equally delicious beignets at local neighborhood spots like Morning Call or Café Beignet. These places often have shorter lines and offer a more intimate and local feel.


Another way to avoid the touristy crowds is by exploring alternative neighborhoods. While the French Quarter is a must-see, don’t limit your exploration to just this area. Venture out to neighborhoods like the Marigny or Bywater, where you can immerse yourself in the local art and music scene, visit unique boutiques, and enjoy authentic dining experiences.


Additionally, try to avoid the typical tourist traps for dining and entertainment. Instead of dining at chain restaurants or crowded tourist-oriented venues, seek out local eateries that serve traditional New Orleans dishes. From po’boys to gumbo to crawfish boils, indulging in the local cuisine will give you a true taste of the city’s distinctive flavors.


Lastly, skip the typical souvenir shops lining the streets of the French Quarter and opt for locally owned businesses or markets. You’ll find unique and locally made crafts, artwork, and souvenirs that are not only more authentic but also support the local economy.


By avoiding traditional touristy activities, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of New Orleans’ culture, support local businesses, and create unforgettable memories during your visit.


Explore Outside of the French Quarter

While the French Quarter is undeniably the iconic heart of New Orleans, there is so much more to explore beyond this historic district. Venturing out to other neighborhoods will allow you to experience the true diversity and local flavor of the city. Here are some areas worth exploring:

  • Marigny and Bywater: These adjacent neighborhoods, just downriver from the French Quarter, offer a bohemian charm with their colorful shotgun houses, vibrant street art, and lively music scene. Explore the local bars, galleries, and offbeat shops that line the streets.
  • Garden District: Known for its beautiful historic mansions and oak-lined streets, the Garden District is a picturesque neighborhood perfect for strolling. Take a self-guided tour or join a guided tour to learn more about the area’s unique architecture and history.
  • Uptown: Uptown is home to attractions like the Magazine Street shopping district, Audubon Park, and Tulane University. Spend the day wandering along Magazine Street, with its charming boutiques, art galleries, and local eateries.
  • Mid-City: This neighborhood is a treasure trove for food lovers. Visit the iconic Parkway Bakery & Tavern for a classic New Orleans po’boy or explore the diverse array of eateries along the bustling Canal Street.
  • Algiers: Across the Mississippi River lies Algiers, a historic neighborhood with a distinct small-town feel. Take a ferry ride and wander along the streets to admire the colorful houses and enjoy the stunning views of the city skyline.

By venturing beyond the French Quarter, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the varied neighborhoods and local communities that make up New Orleans. Each area offers its own unique charm, cultural attractions, and hidden gems waiting to be discovered.


Learn Some Local Phrases and Customs

One surefire way to blend in with the locals in New Orleans is to familiarize yourself with a few local phrases and customs. This will not only help you navigate the city more smoothly but also show your respect for the local culture. Here are some phrases and customs to keep in mind:

  • Lagniappe: Pronounced “lan-yap,” this word is commonly used in New Orleans and means a little something extra or an unexpected gift. Embrace the local spirit by using this word and appreciate the little extras you may encounter during your time in the city.
  • “Who Dat?”: This phrase is a rallying cry for New Orleans Saints fans and is a common greeting amongst locals. It’s a way to show support for the city’s beloved football team and can evoke a friendly response if used in the right context.
  • Respect Mardi Gras traditions: If you happen to visit during Mardi Gras season, familiarize yourself with the customs and traditions associated with this festive celebration. Respect the elaborate costumes, throwback beads to the paraders, and enjoy the spirit of the season without causing any disruptions.
  • Mind your “P’s and Q’s”: New Orleanians value manners and politeness, so remember to say “please” and “thank you” when interacting with locals. Being courteous and respectful goes a long way in making connections and immersing yourself in the city’s culture.
  • Embrace the local music: New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz, and music is deeply ingrained in the city’s culture. Take the time to listen to live music, whether it’s in a famous jazz club or a neighborhood bar. Don’t be shy about dancing or tapping your feet to the rhythm.

By learning a few local phrases and embracing the cultural traditions, you’ll show your appreciation for the city and its residents. It’s a wonderful way to connect with locals, break the ice, and truly immerse yourself in the spirit of New Orleans.


Eat Like a Local

When it comes to experiencing the true essence of New Orleans, there’s no better way than through its incredible food. The city is renowned for its unique and diverse culinary scene, fusing flavors from French, African, Spanish, and Caribbean influences. To eat like a local, here are some tips to guide your dining adventures:

  • Po’boys: Indulge in this iconic New Orleans sandwich made with crispy French bread and filled with either fried seafood or roast beef. Head to local favorites like Domilise’s or Parkway Bakery & Tavern for an unforgettable po’boy experience.
  • Gumbo and Jambalaya: Sample the rich and flavorful Creole stews of gumbo and jambalaya. These dishes are a melting pot of spices, meats, and vegetables. Be sure to try gumbo with seafood or andouille sausage and jambalaya with a mix of shrimp, chicken, and sausage.
  • Crawfish Boils: If you visit during crawfish season (usually spring), join a crawfish boil gathering and savor the spicy boiled crawfish. Don’t be afraid to get messy while peeling and enjoying these tasty crustaceans.
  • Beignets: A trip to New Orleans wouldn’t be complete without indulging in the famous powdered sugar-dusted beignets. Skip the long lines at Café du Monde in the French Quarter and try spots like Morning Call or Café Beignet for equally delicious treats.
  • Local seafood: New Orleans is blessed with a bountiful supply of fresh seafood. Feast on oysters, shrimp, crab, and fish prepared in various culinary styles, from chargrilled to blackened to fried. Visit renowned seafood joints like Acme Oyster House or Casamento’s for a true taste of the Gulf Coast.

Remember that eating like a local in New Orleans is about embracing the city’s diverse flavors and culinary traditions. Venture beyond the typical tourist areas and seek out neighborhood eateries and local seafood markets for an authentic dining experience.


Whether you’re indulging in traditional staples or discovering innovative twists on classic dishes, New Orleans’ food scene is sure to leave a lasting impression and satisfy your taste buds.


Use Public Transportation or Walk

When exploring a new city like New Orleans, it’s essential to make use of public transportation or opt for walking whenever possible. Not only will this help you blend in with the locals, but it’s also a practical and eco-friendly way to get around the city. Here are some reasons why you should consider using public transportation or walking:

  • Streetcars: Hop aboard one of New Orleans’ iconic streetcars for a charming and nostalgic way to travel. The St. Charles Avenue streetcar is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world and will take you through the beautiful Garden District. The Canal Street and Riverfront lines are also convenient for reaching popular attractions.
  • Buses: The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) operates a comprehensive bus system throughout the city, making it easy to travel to various neighborhoods and attractions. Download the RTA GoMobile app for real-time bus schedules and route information.
  • Walkable City: New Orleans is known for its unique neighborhoods and vibrant streets that are best explored on foot. Walking allows you to really immerse yourself in the city’s charm and discover hidden gems along the way. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes, especially when navigating the historic cobblestone streets of the French Quarter.
  • Bike Rentals: Another popular option is to rent a bike and explore the city’s bike-friendly streets and designated paths. Many rental shops offer hourly or daily rates, making it convenient to see the sights and cover more ground at your own pace.
  • Avoid Traffic and Parking Hassles: New Orleans can get congested, especially during major events or festivals. By using public transportation or walking, you can avoid the stress of finding parking spots and dealing with traffic. This allows you to fully enjoy your time in the city without the hassle.

By using public transportation or embracing the walkability of New Orleans, not only will you save money and reduce your carbon footprint, but you’ll also have the opportunity to experience the city like a local. You’ll encounter the sights, sounds, and daily life that make New Orleans truly unique.


Be Respectful of the Culture and History

New Orleans is a city steeped in rich cultural heritage and a fascinating history. As you explore and interact with the locals, it’s important to show respect for their culture, traditions, and history. Here are some ways to be respectful during your time in New Orleans:

  • Learn the History: Take the time to learn about the history of New Orleans, including its diverse cultural influences, the impact of slavery, and its resilience in the face of natural disasters. Visit museums and historical sites to gain a deeper understanding of the city’s past.
  • Respect Sacred Spaces: New Orleans is home to several historic and sacred sites, such as cemeteries and churches. When visiting these places, be mindful of their significance and adhere to any rules or guidelines set in place. Avoid disrespectful behavior, such as loud conversations or taking selfies in inappropriate locations.
  • Embrace the Local Traditions: New Orleans has a rich tapestry of cultural traditions, from jazz funerals to second lines and voodoo practices. Embrace these traditions with an open mind and show respect by observing from a distance and refraining from intruding on sacred ceremonies or rituals.
  • Listen and Learn: Engage in conversations with locals and listen to their stories and experiences. Ask questions respectfully and show genuine interest in their culture and traditions. This will not only deepen your understanding of the city but also foster meaningful connections with its residents.
  • Watch Your Behavior: Be mindful of your behavior and actions in public spaces. Avoid excessive drinking, rowdy behavior, and littering. Keep in mind that New Orleans has a vibrant street culture, but it’s important to strike a balance between enjoying the festivities and being respectful to those around you.

By being respectful of the culture and history of New Orleans, you contribute to the preservation and appreciation of its unique heritage. This allows you to engage with the city in a more meaningful way, fostering a deeper connection and appreciation for everything it has to offer.


Support Local Businesses

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture of New Orleans and contribute to the vibrant community is by supporting local businesses. From restaurants and shops to music venues and art galleries, here are some reasons why it’s important to prioritize local businesses during your time in the city:

  • Preserving the City’s Unique Identity: Local businesses are an integral part of the fabric that makes New Orleans special. By supporting them, you help preserve the city’s unique identity and maintain the authentic charm that attracts visitors from around the world.
  • Encouraging Economic Growth: New Orleans relies heavily on tourism for its economy. By supporting local businesses, you contribute directly to the success and growth of the city. Your patronage helps create jobs, boost the local economy, and sustain the livelihoods of those who call New Orleans home.
  • Discovering Hidden Gems: Local businesses often offer experiences that are off the beaten path. Whether it’s a neighborhood eatery serving up traditional family recipes or a boutique showcasing the work of local artists, you’ll have the opportunity to uncover hidden gems and find unique souvenirs that capture the essence of New Orleans.
  • Quality and Authenticity: Local businesses are often committed to providing high-quality products and services. From farm-to-table restaurants sourcing ingredients locally to independent artists crafting one-of-a-kind pieces, you can trust that you’re getting an authentic and memorable experience when you support local establishments.
  • Connecting with the Community: Experiencing New Orleans through its local businesses allows you to connect on a deeper level with the community. Interacting with business owners and employees provides a personal touch and allows you to learn more about the city, its history, and its residents.

When you support local businesses in New Orleans, you become a part of the city’s story and contribute to its continued growth and success. So, make the choice to dine at local restaurants, shop at independent boutiques, and attend live performances by local musicians. Your support not only makes a difference but also adds to the vibrant tapestry of New Orleans.



Congratulations! You’ve now picked up valuable tips on how to avoid looking like a tourist in New Orleans and immerse yourself in the local culture. By dressing like a local, exploring outside of the French Quarter, learning local phrases and customs, eating like a local, using public transportation or walking, being respectful of the culture and history, and supporting local businesses, you’ll enjoy an authentic and unforgettable experience in the vibrant city of New Orleans.


Remember, blending in with the locals is not about losing your own identity, but rather about embracing the spirit of the city and respecting its unique heritage. By adopting these tips, you’ll have the opportunity to truly connect with the people, traditions, and charm of New Orleans.


So, get ready to roam the vibrant streets, savor the mouthwatering cuisine, sway to the rhythm of the jazz, and create lasting memories in this captivating city. Let the infectious energy of New Orleans guide you as you explore, discover, and embrace the magic that this beloved city holds.