Welcome the break of day in the Big Easy
In a party town like New Orleans, it's a safe bet that most people out watching the sunrise probably haven't been to bed yet. Perched on the Gulf of Mexico on the banks of the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchartrain, New Orleans is a vibrant city any time of the day or night. Wrought iron balconies, historic mansions and waterfront parks, coupled with the city's sleepy charm in the early morning hours make it a wonderful place to watch the sunrise whether you're beginning your day or just ending the night.
Best time for each season
New Orleans sunrise times vary, depending on the time of year. In winter, following the solstice in mid-December, sunrises begin around 6:50 a.m. As the calendar moves on toward spring and the days get longer, the sunrise comes earlier in the morning. After the vernal equinox, the sun begins to rise in New Orleans around 7:00 a.m. in early March and as early as 6:00 in late May. Following the summer solstice in mid-June, the days begin to get shorter as the autumnal equinox approaches. Sunrises in July and August happen closer to 6:15, and by the end of September the sun rises around 6:50. After daylight saving time in early November, the sunrise schedule shifts again, and the sun comes up closer to 6:30.
Weather and seasonal considerations
New Orleans has a subtropical climate, which means warm and sometimes humid weather. Rainfall and storms are fairly common in the region, and cloud cover can put a damper on sunrise-watching, so be sure to check the weather report before setting your alarm for an early morning call. In winter and spring, the weather is pleasant, and you're more likely to experience sunny, clear days that are ideal for sunrise-watching. During summer and fall, humidity is high, and the possibility of a hurricane or tropical storm increases dramatically. Mardi Gras is in February and is an immensely popular time for tourists, so crowds are likely.
Best places to view a sunrise
You can't beat an elevated vantage point, like a rooftop, when it comes to watching the sunrise. The Pontchartrain Hotel has a rooftop pool and bar that is open to the public. You can gain access in the early morning hours to catch the view, but the bar won't be open until the afternoon. Surprisingly, one of the best places to take in sunrise views in New Orleans is ... a gym. Guests at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans can access the fitness center located on the 32nd floor. It has huge windows and striking views of the city, making it a great place to watch the sun come up. Members of the Hyatt loyalty program can take in the sunrise on the Hyatt's rooftop, beside a saltwater pool. If you'd prefer to watch the sunrise a little closer to the ground, New Orleans has some charming and verdant outdoor locations. Crescent Park opens at 6:00 a.m. The lush and verdant area boasts a steep bridge visitors can climb for an elevated view of the rising sun. The Fly, a stretch of land on the banks of the Mississippi River just behind the Audubon Zoo, is another beautiful outdoor location where you can watch the golden rays spread over the river as the sun begins to light up the sky.