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New Orleans is a city that welcomes people with open arms — and glasses that are always at least half-full. But what made New Orleans such a popular tourist destination has just as much to do with its history as its personality.

All Aboard to New Orleans

Founded in 1718, New Orleans is one of the oldest tourist destinations in America. It was also one of the most secluded ones, too. But that changed following the Civil War, when transcontinental railroads meant easier access to the Big Easy.

So many new visitors required more first-class hotels, restaurants and other tourist attractions to accommodate them with plenty of good times — and plenty of reasons to keep coming back.

All That Jazz

Stories by writers like Lafcadio Hearn and George Washington Cable continued to put New Orleans on the map in the 1800s. But the early 1900s is when winter travelers began to flock down south to get the full experience of Carnival season, horse races at the Fairgrounds, French Quarter shops and the cocktails the city had become known for creating (of course).

When the 1940s rolled around, so did the jazz scene. Clubs sprang to life. Record studios opened. Musicians innovated. And the Birthplace of Jazz was, well, born. Now, the city with so many great hotels, along with a unique culinary heritage, had more than enough music and entertainment for tourists to enjoy.

All Are Welcome

Once the jazz scene was in full swing, everything else fell into place. Tourism boomed for decades thanks to an expanded Carnival season complete with new events like Southern Decadence that gave everyone reason to celebrate.

Today, New Orleans welcomes over 18 million tourists in a normal year. Even better, the city hosts more than 135 festivals, too. It’s uncertain how many cocktails get consumed every year, but who’s counting anyway? You can count on New Orleans to forever be the home of hospitality. And you’re always invited to the Sazerac House.


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