Fall in New Orleans: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

The Big Easy beckons with great weather and lots to do

Cypress trees in autumn colors, Bayou, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Frank Krahmer / Getty Images 

Fall is an ideal time to visit New Orleans, Louisiana. The Big Easy's weather has cooled down from unbearable summer highs, the humidity has dropped into a tolerable zone, skies are blue, and many fragrant flowers are in bloom. It's time for celebrations, festivals, sports events, and Halloween. The later in the fall you visit, the nicer the weather will be.

Hurricane Season

While the weather from late September until late November generally makes it an ideal time to visit New Orleans, there is one rather big fly in the ointment: For all but the last three weeks of fall, it is hurricane season. From June 1 to November 30 in the Atlantic Basin is the risky season, and a hurricane or tropical storm can hit the Gulf Coast at any time, most likely from mid-August to late October.

If you plan on going to New Orleans during the fall, you should be ready to cancel in case your trip coincides with a powerful storm bearing down on the western Gulf Coast. New Orleans is at very high risk of flooding during tropical storms and hurricanes, and it is the last place you want to be on vacation if that's expected to happen. Keep an eye on the forecast; you generally get many days of warning ahead of a hurricane.

If you're in New Orleans when the forecast is predicting a hurricane, the safest thing to do is leave, if possible. Make your way out of the city quickly since planes might be booked and roads might be crowded with people leaving the area.

New Orleans Weather in the Fall

If no hurricane is churning out in the Gulf, you couldn't ask for much better weather than New Orleans in the fall.

  • Average temperatures in September: 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) / 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius)
  • Average temperatures in October: 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) / 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius)
  • Average temperatures in November: 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) / 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius)

September sees more rain than October and November in New Orleans—the latter two are the prime fall months to visit because of less rain and the best temperature ranges.

What to Pack

Because the temperature makes a significant dive from September to the end of November, what you should pack varies depending on when you plan to visit. A collapsible umbrella is handy no matter which month you visit.

In September, focus on summer clothes: short-sleeved shirts and tees, shorts and capri pants, sandals, and lightweight canvas shoes. It stays warm at night but you may want to take along a lightweight sweater or shawl to stay comfortable inside air-conditioned places.

Your October packing list should be similar to September. But you'll need jeans or other long pants by sunset time, along with a denim or other lightweight jacket, a sweater, and a long-sleeved top or two. Sandals and canvas shoes still are great for daytime, but you'll likely need some closed shoes for evenings at music clubs or restaurants.

November marks a big change—ditch the shorts and other summer wear for jeans, cotton sweaters, long-sleeved shirts, and a lightweight jacket or blazer to layer as needed. Ankle boots and other closed shoes will be the most comfortable in this month.

Fall Events in New Orleans

New Orleans is bursting with attractions all year, the most important being its world-famous music scene and renowned restaurants that serve up heaping plates of Cajun and Creole food not found anywhere else. It's a bucket-list city. But if you visit in the fall, you also can catch some engaging annual events.

  • Restaurant Week New Orleans: In September, spend a week or any part of it trying highly-discounted lunches and/or dinners by top gourmet restaurants.
  • Voodoo Music + Arts Experience: This three-day festival held in City Park has a huge lineup of big-name musicians in late October and includes art, a food court with top chefs, a beer hall, and a handcrafted marketplace.
  • Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival: For three October days in Lafayette Square Park, you can hear blues music on two stages, treat yourself to some mouthwatering food by 12 top local barbecue vendors, and check out the arts market.
  • Carnaval Latino: Celebrate Hispanic culture with many folkloric music groups, food, art, and a parade of about 20 floats, all taking place in October.
  • New Orleans Film Festival: Check out new movies you might otherwise miss at this long-running film festival that lasts a week in October. Depending on which pass you buy, the festival includes all sorts of parties.
  • Oak Street Po-Boy Festival: In early November, celebrate the New Orleans po-boy ("poor boy") sandwiches made in various styles by more than 30 vendors, accompanied by live music and shopping.

Fall Travel Tips

  • Even though it's fall, book your hotel room as far in advance as possible since New Orleans is a year-round draw, especially on the weekends, when people from around the region come.
  • If you are like every other visitor to the Big Easy, you will spend a lot of time (and even stay in) the French Quarter. It's wise to keep good track of your wallet and handbag while you are cruising down Bourbon Street or dancing to the music in a bar or club. Don't go out alone at night; take a cab if you aren't in a group or don't feel safe for any reason.
  • Expand your horizons a bit from the central French Quarter to find great music on Frenchmen Street and interesting shops, galleries, and places to eat on Magazine Street.

To learn more about traveling to New Orleans, check out our guide on the best time to visit.

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