While New Orleans is known year-round as a melting pot of music, food and culture, the Crescent City raises the bar each Fourth of July weekend with the annual Essence Festival, the "party with a purpose."
Spread over a main stage and four "superlounges," the Essence Festival is the largest celebration of African American culture and music in the United States. Marking its 25th anniversary this year, the festival features a conversation with former first lady Michelle Obama and headline music acts including Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Nas and Pharrell Williams.
Events are scattered across the city, so the Essence Festival also offers a chance to take in the sights and sounds of New Orleans. The festival runs July 4-7.
Thankfully, there are plenty of regular, relatively inexpensive flights between Jacksonville and New Orleans. We pulled from travel site Skyscanner to provide you with a short list of flights and hotels handpicked for the occasion. (Prices and availability are current as of publication and subject to change.)
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Cheapest New Orleans flights
The cheapest flights between Jacksonville and New Orleans are if you leave on July 5 and return from Louisiana on July 7. Spirit Airlines currently has tickets for $280, roundtrip.
Top New Orleans hotels
Regarding where to stay, here are some of New Orleans’ top-rated hotels, according to Skyscanner, that we selected based on price, proximity to things to do and customer satisfaction.
The Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St.)
If you're looking to treat yourself, consider The Hotel Monteleone. The hotel has a 4.7-star rating on Skyscanner, and rooms are currently available for $179.
The Hotel Monteleone stands in the French Quarter within four blocks of Jackson Square, the Canal Street Shops, Harrah's New Orleans Casino, Cafe du Monde and lively Bourbon Street. Dining options include Le Cafe, serving buffet-style breakfasts and cooked-to-order selections.
The Columns Hotel (3811 St. Charles Ave.)
If you're looking for an inexpensive place to stay, try The Columns Hotel, which has rooms for $100/night. It overlooks St. Charles Avenue, and you can watch the famous streetcar go by — or ride it to the French Quarter.
The Hampton Inn & Suites Convention Center (1201 Convention Center Blvd.)
A third option is The Hampton Inn & Suites Convention Center. The 4.6-star hotel has rooms for $99/night. It's just across from the Ernest Morial Convention Center, the site of many Essence Festival events.
Featured New Orleans restaurants
New Orleans has plenty of top-notch dining options. Here are a few of the most popular, according to Skyscanner.
Cafe Du Monde (800 Decatur St.)
Let's start with the essentials: where to get beignets. For a popular option, check out Cafe Du Monde, which has an average of 4.6 stars out of 407 reviews on Skyscanner. This 24/7 French cafe (only closed on Christmas and during hurricanes) serves its patrons a mean cup of dark-roasted chicory coffee. Complement your cup of Joe with one of its famous beignets, gratuitously topped with powdered sugar and occasionally filled with fruit.
"This place is open 24 hours but is always super packed," wrote visitor Monica. "It is worth it though ... also not super expensive."
Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave.)
If you're looking for a local favorite restaurant pick, head to Commander's Palace, with 4.8 stars from 93 reviews.
"Jazz brunches are a tradition here in the garden room overlooking the courtyard," wrote visitor Michelle. "Cannot recommend this famous restaurant enough."
Jacques-Imo's Cafe (8324 Oak St.)
Also worth considering is Jacques-Imo's Cafe.
Located in uptown New Orleans on a section of Oak Street, Jacques-Imo's embraces and interprets the New Orleans funky psyche in a way that is fetching to both tourists and locals alike. Not your typical New Orleans restaurant — Jacques-Imo's Cafe has become one of the hottest food tickets in town, known for its eclectic mix of Creole and Cajun specialties, at reasonable prices.
"One of the busiest and smallest cafes in town because the food is wonderful and plentiful," wrote Cindee. "This is a neighborhood restaurant that is warm and friendly."
Lilette (3637 Magazine St.)
Finally, there's Lilette.
Born out of chef and owner John Harris' desire to create an intimate dining environment, Lilette enjoys both a loyal local following and a steady stream of visitors from around the country. Cheerful and sunny at lunchtime, at night the dining room takes a turn toward the romantic, awash in wine-colored walls and soft lighting.
"Chef and owner John Harris’ dream restaurant, dubbed by Travel and Leisure magazine as 'the sexiest dining room in New Orleans' features a menu that boasts such items as bone marrow toast, marinated anchovies and passion fruit butter Alaskan crab cakes," wrote Justin.
Featured local attractions
To round out your trip, New Orleans offers plenty of popular attractions worth visiting. Here are a couple of top recommendations, based on Skyscanner's descriptions and reviews.
The French Quarter (501 Basin St., New Orleans)
First up is The French Quarter.
Known also as as the Vieux Carré, the French Quarter is the heart of New Orleans as far as tourist attractions go. The iconic Bourbon and Royal streets run parallel here, offering a rambunctious nightlife at the former and unique boutiques at the latter. Countless restaurants and bars reside here, and finding jazz is as easy as catching multi-colored beads.
"The place for nightlife, social scene and overall fun," wrote visitor Kay. "When in New Orleans, go to the French Quarter. The French Quarter is always full of life and good vibes."
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (1427 Washington Ave.)
Lastly, consider checking out Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.
"Interesting place to get a glimpse of the macabre side of New Orleans," wrote visitor Morgan. "It's free, and there is no tour guide needed."
This story was created automatically using flight, hotel, and local attractions data, then reviewed by an editor. Click here for more about what we're doing. Got thoughts? Go here to share your feedback.