Where to stay in New Orleans for first time: 6 Safe areas

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote articles about staying in New Orleans without a car and for families (I will put the links to them at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find the safe places to stay in New Orleans for first-time visitors and tourists.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in New Orleans for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in New Orleans and recommend some of the best hotels in New Orleans for various budgets.

New Orleans, often referred to simply as NOLA, is a vibrant and culturally rich city located in the southeastern part of the United States, in the state of Louisiana.

Founded by French explorers in 1718, the city was named after Philippe II, Duke of Orleans. It has a complex history involving French and Spanish colonial rule, as well as a significant African influence due to the transatlantic slave trade.

The city is a hub for jazz music, and the city is often referred to as the birthplace of jazz. You can find live music performances, especially in the French Quarter and on Frenchmen Street.

It is is renowned for its unique and flavorful cuisine. You can try dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, beignets, and po’boys. 

New Orleans hosts the famous Mardi Gras, a vibrant and colorful carnival season celebrated with parades, music, and elaborate costumes. Even if you’re not visiting during Mardi Gras season, you can still experience the magic of the festival at Mardi Gras World. 

The French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carré, is the historic heart of New Orleans. It features narrow streets, historic buildings with cast-iron balconies, and a lively atmosphere. Bourbon Street, in the French Quarter, is known for its nightlife and entertainment.

Is New Orleans safe to visit?

New Orleans is generally safe to visit, but like any major city, it has areas with varying levels of safety. The city has a reputation for crime, and certain neighborhoods have higher crime rates. The French Quarter and popular tourist areas are considered safe for tourists. 

To stay safe in New Orleans, it’s essential to remain vigilant, especially at night, and be cautious of pickpocketing and petty crime. Stick to popular well-lit streets at night, walk in groups, avoid wandering into unrecognizable neighborhoods and stay aware of your surroundings.

Public transport such as buses and streetcars are safe to travel, it is best to use a reputable taxi, Uber/ Lyft at night to get around, only walk on popular streets. Also be aware and check the weather if you visit during the hurricane season (July to October).

Where to stay in New Orleans for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in New Orleans for first-timers and tourists are French Quarter, CBD, Warehouse/Arts District, Garden District, Uptown, and Faubourg Marigny. Remember that safety can vary within these neighborhoods, so it’s important to exercise general caution no matter where you stay. 

It is recommended to choose well-reviewed and reputable accommodations to ensure your safety during your stay. If you’re unsure about a neighborhood, ask locals or your hotel for advice.

The French Quarter is the best area for tourists who want to be in the midst of the action. It is the heart of New Orleans known for its historic architecture and vibrant nightlife. This area is home to iconic sites like Jackson Square, Bourbon Street, and Cafe du Monde.

The Central Business District and Warehouse/Arts District are the great areas to book your hotel if you prefer a quieter atmosphere but still want to be close to the French Quarter’s attractions.

Garden District and Uptown are safe areas in New Orleans but they are not as close to major attractions as other neighborhoods. You’ll need to take a short ride in Street cars/ Uber to reach the French Quarter. 

Faubourg Marigny offers a more local atmosphere with vibrant nightlife and live music and easy access to major attractions. It is fine during the day, but at night, I recommend sticking to Frenchmen Street between Esplanade and The John.

I recommend booking your hotel in well-known areas, and avoid unfamiliar neighborhoods that have higher crime rates such as Treme Lafitte, St. Claude Desire, Lower 9th Ward, and Florida.

During my trip to NOLA, I stayed at the Quarter House located on Rue Chartres, French Quarter. The hotel has a quiet and central location in the French Quarter, easy access to major attractions such as Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, Canal Street and the River.

Below is a map of the popular areas in New Orleans for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in New Orleans first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in New Orleans first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in New Orleans, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in New Orleans have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

6 Safe areas to stay in New Orleans for first-timers and tourists

1. French Quarter

The French Quarter is one of the most popular areas in New Orleans for first-timers, known for its historic charm, music, and nightlife. It is generally safe for tourists during day and night, especially in well-traveled areas, but always stay alert wherever you go.

The French Quarter is home to many of New Orleans’ most famous attractions, including Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, Bourbon Street, Royal Street’s antique shops, and the historic French Market. You can easily explore these iconic sites on foot.

The French Quarter is known for its lively and colorful atmosphere. It’s a hub for live music, street performers, and a wide range of restaurants, bars, and cafes. You’ll experience the city’s unique culture and traditions up close.

The French Quarter boasts beautiful historic architecture with its charming Creole townhouses, balconies, and courtyards. Exploring the narrow, cobblestone streets is like stepping back in time.

From world-famous beignets at Cafe du Monde to fine dining restaurants, the French Quarter offers a diverse culinary scene. You can savor traditional Creole and Cajun cuisine in this area.

Bourbon Street is famous for its nightlife, with numerous bars and clubs open late into the night. If you enjoy partying and live music, this is the place to be.

Staying in the French Quarter means you won’t need a car to explore many of the city’s top attractions. You can easily walk or take a short ride on a streetcar or bike to nearby neighborhoods.

You’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the unique culture and traditions of New Orleans, from second-line parades to jazz performances and Mardi Gras celebrations.

Keep in mind that the French Quarter can be bustling and noisy, especially during peak tourist seasons and major events. Overall, it’s a great choice for those looking to soak up the city’s history and culture.

Best places to stay in French Quarter for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, great 5-star hotel, located on Canal Street, at the edge of the French Quarter, a short walk from the famous Bourbon Street, easy access to cable car. It has Live jazz some nights during the week.
  • Mid-range ($$): Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, 4-star hotel situated in a central area on St Louis Street, French Quarter, featuring an Outdoor swimming pool, and 5 restaurants.
  • Budget ($): French Market Inn, 3-star safe central accommodation located on Decatur Street, walking distance to Bourbon Street, Aquarium of the Americas, and Harrah’s New Orleans Casino.

2. Downtown (Central Business District)

The Central Business District (CBD) is another popular area to stay, especially for first-time tourists who want a quieter and more upscale atmosphere while still being close to the French Quarter and many of its attractions.

CBD tends to be well-patrolled and safe, but like any urban area, it’s advisable to remain aware of your surroundings.

The CBD is well-connected to New Orleans’ streetcar lines, making it easy to explore other neighborhoods like the Garden District, Uptown, and beyond.

The area is home to Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a massive indoor arena, hosting a wide range of events, including NFL football games, basketball games, concerts, and major sporting events like the Super Bowl.

You’ll also find The Smoothie King Center, another important sports and entertainment venue in the downtown area. It serves as the home arena for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.

Best places to stay in New Orleans CBD for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): NOPSI Hotel New Orleans, great 5-star hotel, located on Baronne Street, Downtown New Orleans, featuring a year-round outdoor pool, and an on-site restaurant. It also has bike hire and car hire services. 
  • Mid-range ($$): The Eliza Jane, in The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, great comfortable and safe 4-star hotel located on Magazine St, in the CBD, a short walking distance from the French Quarter, St. Charles Streetcar line, Harrah’s Casino and the Aquarium of the Americas.
  • Budget ($): Residence Inn by Marriott New Orleans French Quarter Area/Cen B , 3-star accommodation located in a quiet location on St. Charles Ave, featuring 24-hour front desk, and on-site parking for those who drive. Close to Union Station, Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

3. Warehouse/Arts District

Warehouse/Arts District is a centrally located area, offering a slightly quieter setting while still being close to downtown attractions. It is known for its art galleries, museums, boutique shops, and great dining. It’s generally safe, especially during the day and in popular areas.

The area is home to Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, making it convenient if you’re in town for a conference or event. Many convention attendees choose to stay here for its proximity to the venue.

It also hosts several cultural attractions, including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Contemporary Arts Center and the National WWII Museum.  

Best places to stay in Warehouse/Arts District for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Maison de la Luz, 5-star hotel situated in a safe convenient location on Carondelet Street, easy access to the French Quarter, National WWII Museum, and the St. Charles historic streetcar line, for services to Tulane University and the Garden District.
  • Mid-range ($$): Ace Hotel New Orleans, 4-star hotel located in Warehouse District, only a few mins walk to Harrah’s Casino, featuring a seasonal outdoor pool and 24-hour front desk.
  • Budget ($): The Mercantile Hotel, popular 3-star hotel located on South Peters Street, Arts- Warehouse District, featuring 24-hour front desk and private parking. 

4. Garden District

The Garden District is a charming, upscale residential area with historic mansions and oak-lined streets. It’s considered safe for tourists, but exercise normal precautions, especially at night.

Magazine Street, the district’s main commercial thoroughfare, is lined with boutiques, shops, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a great place for shopping and dining, and it offers a more relaxed alternative to the busier French Quarter.

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is a must-visit in the Garden District. It’s famous for its above-ground tombs and has been featured in movies and TV shows.

The St. Charles Avenue streetcar line runs through the Garden District, making it easy to access other parts of the city, including the French Quarter and Uptown.

If you prefer a more peaceful and tranquil environment to unwind after a day of exploring, the Garden District offers a quieter atmosphere compared to the French Quarter.

Best places to stay in New Orleans in Garden District:

  • Mid-range ($$): Maison Perrier Bed & Breakfast, 4-star historic, good value for money hotel located on Perrier Street in a safe and quiet neighborhood in Uptown/Garden District, short distance from St. Charles Avenue, and Magazine Street. 
  • Budget ($):  St Charles Inn, Superior Hotel, popular 3-star safe and nice hotel located in Saint Charles Avenue,  the Garden District, 10 mins from the French Quarter.  It has a 24-hour front desk and free parking which is a bonus for those who drive. 
  • Budget ($): Club Wyndham Avenue Plaza, 3-star accommodation located in a safe, beautiful area of the Garden District, easy access to the streetcars to visit the popular attractions in the French Quarter. 

5. Uptown

Uptown is a diverse and vibrant area, known for its mix of residential neighborhoods, tree-lined streets, and local charm. Staying in Uptown offers a more relaxed and authentic New Orleans experience. 

Uptown is generally safe, especially around Tulane and Loyola Universities, but be aware of your surroundings, especially in more residential areas.

Audubon Park and the adjacent Audubon Zoo are popular attractions in Uptown. You can relax in the park, have a picnic, or take a leisurely stroll among the oak trees.

The St. Charles Avenue streetcar line runs through Uptown, offering a scenic and convenient way to explore the neighborhood and other parts of the city.

Best places to stay in New Orleans in Uptown:

  • Budget ($): Alder Hotel Uptown New Orleans, popular 3-star hotel, located in Magnolia Street, in a quiet safe area in the historic Uptown district, within walking distance to Ochsner Baptist Medical Center.
  • Budget ($): Brent House Hotel, 3-star safe hotel located in a safe quiet area, near the hospital and the Uptown district, on Jefferson Highway, short drive by car from the CBD and the Morial Convention Center

6. Faubourg Marigny

The Faubourg Marigny is known for its vibrant music scene and artistic culture. While it’s generally safe, some areas can be less well-lit, so take precautions when walking around at night.

The Faubourg Marigny is known for its lively music scene, with numerous venues featuring live jazz, blues, and other genres. Frenchmen Street, in particular, is famous for its vibrant nightlife scene with a variety of bars, clubs hosting local musicians.

The neighborhood is characterized by its colorful and well-preserved Creole cottages, which provide a charming and unique backdrop for your stay.

 Crescent Park, a riverfront park that runs along the Mississippi River, is within walking distance. It provides scenic views of the river and a lovely place to relax or take a leisurely stroll.

Best places to stay in New Orleans in Faubourg Marigny:

  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Peter and Paul, great 4-star hotel, 20 mins walk from French Square, in a safe location.
  • Mid-range ($$): Royal Frenchmen Hotel and Bar, 4-star hotel located on Frenchmen Street.
  • Budget ($): Blue60 Marigny Inn, 3-star good value for money hotel, safe street parking, located a short distance from St Louis Cathedral.

In conclusion, the French Quarter, CBD, Warehouse/ Arts District, Uptown, Garden District, and Marigny are the best places to stay in New Orleans for first-timers and tourists. These are safe neighborhoods in NOLA for tourists, offering a variety of accommodations for all budgets.

You can continue reading about New Orleans in these articles:

I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful. If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

4 thoughts on “Where to stay in New Orleans for first time: 6 Safe areas”

  1. I am planning to be on New Orleans February 28th through March The 3rd. Planning on staying at the embassy suites. I will have a car for 2 days. Two questions, is the embassy suite close enough that I can walk to some of the places? Like the French quarters And do I really need a car if I stay at embassy suites? Thank you in advance for all your help. Is embassy suites a good place to stay? I keep seeing that reviews that aren’t the best.

    • Embassy Suites by Hilton New Orleans is located in the Arts- Warehouse District, still in the center of New Orleans, within walking distance/ public transport ride from most sights. It is very close to the Mississippi River, within 15-25 mins walk from French Quarter depending where you want to reach.

      I didn’t stay in this hotel, but according to booking.com reviews here, the hotel didn’t have overall good reviews (only a score of 6.9) and not good value for money. I recommend finding a hotel with a guest’s overall score of at least 8.0 for a comfortable stay.

      For 2 days only explore the major sights within the city center, you don’t need a car. If you bring a car, you can park at your hotel and get around easily by walking, using street cars, and occasionally taxi/Uber. Parking in the hotels usually costs USD 50/ day and many hotels have limited parking, especially in the Downtown area.

      I’m not sure what your budget and preferences are, but if you are looking for a hotel with free parking, have a look at St Charles Inn, Superior Hotel. It has overall good reviews and is conveniently located in the Garden District, right on the right on the St. Charles Streetcar line with connections to the French Quarter (10-15 mins ride away).

      If you want to stay in a similar hotel as Embassy Suites (which is a 4-star hotel in the Arts- Warehouse District), with better guest reviews, look at this list here.

  2. Stay away from Canal Street at night, and that section of Bourbon between Canal and Iberville. A lot of shootings happen there.
    Beware of panhandlers, which are just about everywhere in the quarter. They can become aggressive sometimes.
    Watch your drinks carefully, men as well as women. You could end up getting “rolled” or worse.
    Do not eat from the frozen daiquiri shops unless you’re a fan of ptomaine.
    Don’t be afraid to say no to the test tube ‘shot girls’ in the bars, who can be very pushy and forward. The drinks are weak and before you know it you’ll have blown through a hundo in fruit juice.
    Stay where it’s crowded and well lit and have a buddy system if possible.
    The bicycle rickshaws are fun but very pricey.
    Watch where you’re walking. In a lot of spots the sidewalks are uneven or in poor repair. In the street be careful because the police are on horseback 💩and there’s always plenty of discarded beads, drink containers and waste of one kind or another to step over.

    That’s most of the major stuff. If you follow the rules you’ll have a blast !

    • Thank you, Paul, for taking the time to give your advice on staying safe when visiting New Orleans. By staying aware and taking precautions, you can reduce your risk and have a good time in the city.


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