New Orleans Itinerary
Explore the Best Food and Sights in the Bayou in One Long Weekend
New Orleans is an easy weekend getaway from almost anywhere in the United States and there's plenty to see and do with just 3 to 4 days in Louisiana.
From the debauchery on Bourbon Street to the shade found underneath ancient Spanish oaks, we were so excited to experience all that the Bayou had to offer. Naturally, our favorite part of the trip ended up being the food! With a strong French and Creole history, New Orleans cuisine has so much to offer – from fluffy beignets to decadent oysters rockefeller – along with exotic seafood and fantastic cocktails.
Walking the streets of New Orleans is the best way to explore the city! With live jazz bands, historic mansions and bars set open right to the streets, you can’t help by enjoy the art of slow Mississippi living.
Read on for the best restaurants, sights and things to do in our 3 day New Orleans itinerary.
For more photos, check out the hashtag #shershegoes_NOLA on instagram (@shershegoes)
New Orleans 3 Day Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival to Louisiana!
On our first day, we checked in and freshened up, before heading out to explore the Garden district. We hopped on the old fashioned no. 12 St Charles streetcar from the French Quarter to get there.
If you love old architecture and grand mansions, you'll find plenty of that in this leafy, shaded residential district! You can explore the district on your own, or book this 2.5 hour guided tour.
Since it is a suburb, a guide will help to better explain the history of the families who owned these historic mansions. We couldn't quite figure out which mansions belonged to Sandra Bullock or Payton Manning, until a nice local man shouted us over to let us know.Check availability for the Garden District tour here.
After you're done sightseeing, refuel with a delicious lunch at Commander's Palace. This bright blue restaurant is a long-standing institution in New Orleans so dress up!
Prices are more than reasonable though. We opted for the 3 course lunch menu and liked the turtle soup, creole cuban sandwich and bread pudding souffle! The best part? Commander's Palace offers a killer lunch drink special with 25 cent martini!Read a full post about our experience here.
After lunch, we checked out the famous cemetery at St. Louis! Because the city was built on swampland, tombs here are built above ground in elaborate stone crypts and mausoleums. Our guide told us all about local voodoo practices and the impressive mausoleums on our Voodoo tour, including Marie Laveau's crypt. I was definitely glad to be visiting the cemetery during the day!
We ended with dinner at our hotel and a great nights sleep. If you like scary, check out this Haunted Tour which explores all the ghosts, vampires and unsolved mysteries of the city. It was definitely too much for me so we skipped that, ha!
Other recommendations for where to stay in New Orleans:
Le Pavillon – A luxury old world hotel, Le Pavillon has old world elegant rooms in the French Quarter. The hotel primarily caters to business travelers but anyone will enjoy the city views from the rooftop Jacuzzi and outdoor pool.
Tired after a long day of sightseeing and shopping? Dine in at the hotel restaurant, The Crystal Room – it serves excellent French fare!
Royal Sonesta Hotel – This New Orleans hotel is a luxurious option within the French Quarter and features a stunning pool, gorgeous on site restaurants and a beautiful pool. Stay here for a great location near all the restaurants and shopping on Jackson Square and Bourbon Street!
The Bourbon Orleans Hotel – For a good time, stay at this 4 star New Orleans hotel. With refreshing welcome drinks at check in, comfortable rooms and a stunning saltwater swimming pool, The Bourbon is a sweet boutique spot close to Jackson Square!
Day 2: Enjoying the French Quarter
For our second day, we took our own food tour of the classic spots in New Orleans. First up, beignets in the French Quarter! The undisputed cafe to get your beignet fix while in New Orleans is Cafe du Monde.
I was expecting a sit down restaurants but it's more of an open air lot, with staff churning out powdered treats in factory line-esque efficiency. Wash it all down with a cup of cafe au lait! Just don’t expect to leisurely linger. It’s not so much a “cafe” as a stand with a roof awning and some lawn chairs.
New Orleans is also known for its local beers. We took a tour of some local craft breweries on this tour. Although we're not heavy beer drinkers, somehow we've taken so many spirits and beer tours over the years!
This extensive 3 hour tour picks you up from your hotel, and takes you on 6 tastings all throughout the city, from NOLA brewery to Urban South. It's a nice small group and you really get to learn a lot!Check tour availability here.
Afterwards, we spent the rest of the day exploring the charming French Quarter. Expect lots of street musicians, eclectic antique galleries and bars that open early!
For dinner, we ate at Sobou for fun, innovative creole cuisine. Menu items included things like yellowfin cones with avocado ice cream and sweet potato + chicory beignets. The spot is a bit trendy so there was a bit of a wait during prime dinner time and a couple things I wanted to try on the dessert menu had sold out.
That being said, the owners of Sobou are also the owner's of Commander's Palace, so you're definitely in good hands if you come here! For more photos and a complete review, you can check out my previous post here.
Overnight: The Hyatt Regency New Orleans
Day 3: Day Trip to Louisiana Plantations
On our third day in New Orleans we opted for a day trip to explore some of Louisiana's famous plantations. We visited Oak Alley, which was used as the set location for many Hollywood movies, including Interview with the Vampire and Beyonce's music videos. A neighboring plantation was the backdrop for 12 Years A Slave!
We took a guided tour of the New Orleans plantation and I thought it was really interesting. The guides dress up in period costume and the property is just stunning. I do recommend booking a tour, since they'll usually include round trip transportation from your hotel. The plantations are outside the city, and since we didn't rent a car for our trip, this was an affordable easy way to visit them!
The original entrance is a long drive way, lined on both sides with ancient oak trees that drape to form a canopy walkway. Called Spanish oaks, these trees are gigantic and just so beautiful.Check availability & all tour options here.
In the afternoon, we also took a gator tour which was adrenaline pumping and lots of fun… but bloody. There are lots of different swamp tours in the marshlands and it's a nice way to really get a feel for Louisiana's history. You'll definitely see alligators, snakes and other creepy crawlers on one of these!Check all tour options here.
We spent the afternoon people watching and antique browsing, and then had dinner at Felix's where you can try oysters three ways: oysters au naturel, rockefeller or char grilled. We had a sampling of each along with some po'boy sandwiches. If you're looking to try something exotic, Felix's also serves alligator. It comes in a garlicky sauce so you don't necessarily taste anything different than normal, but the texture is overwhelmingly chewy.
After, we headed out to bar hop on Bourbon Street!
Overnight: The Hyatt Regency New Orleans
Read more: How to Have Oysters 3 Ways in New Orleans
Day 4: Creole Cuisine
On our last day in New Orleans, we crammed in a couple more local food hot spots before flying out! We tried Cafe Beignet, another famous beignet spot that's more centrally located right in the French Quarter.
Compared to Cafe du Monde, the beignets here are much larger. Both places are tasty but if you’re looking for an actual cafe with plenty of seating and short lines, Cafe Beignet wins on convenience!
If you like New Orleans cuisine, you have to try this fun cooking class that teaches you how to make all the Cajun & Creole classics. We're talking gumbo, jambalaya, crab bisque, crawfish etoufee, -pecan pie and more!
We ran out of time but I would have loved to do this. Best of all, you get to eat throughout the cooking demonstrations and take home the secret recipes.Check availability & rates here.
For lunch, we stumbled on an eclectic vegetarian and gluten free spot called Green Goddess. We had a light lunch of pork belly and red eye gravy and some Indian food! This is a tiny spot that you’ll walk right by if you’re not looking for it, off a side alley in the French Quarter. There’s some outdoor seating spots as well.
Then it was time to pack up and fly home!
If we had had more time, another fun thing to do in the city would have been to explore the Jazz scene. New Orleans is well known as the birthplace of jazz and you can find jazz music in the bars, on the sidewalks from street performers – and even on cruises! The Steamboat Natchez Jazz Cruise is a really famous, romantic dinner for true jazz lovers.Check all Jazz experiences here.
The Best Things to Do in New Orleans
Soak up the scenery of the historic French Quarter, tour the elegant Garden District and experience the supernatural through the city’s cemeteries. Below are just a few of the fun things to do in New Orleans that you can't skip out on! Laissez les bon temps roulez!
1. Stroll through the Garden District
Explore the grand mansions of the Garden District, home to some of New Orleans’ wealthiest. See if you can spot Sandra Bullock’s and Archie Manning’s houses.
2. French Quarter
The oldest, most visited section of the city is here along with bars, restaurants and antique shopping galore.
Hop aboard the world’s oldest continually operated streetcar! The three main routes, St Charles, Canal and the Riverfront, will take you all across the city.
4. Louisiana Plantations
Plantations were once the mainstay of the state’s agrarian economy. Visit the genteel mansions at Oak Alley and be transported back in time.
5. Haunted New Orleans Cemeteries
The city is a swamp so the dead are housed in elaborate above ground mausoleums. Visit St. Louis #1, the burial place of Voodoo queen Marie Laveau, for a haunting experience.
Fun Tours in New Orleans
Have you been to New Orleans? Let me know your recommendations in the comments below!
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Haunted Cemeteries + Voodoo Magic at St. Louis Cemetery
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