The Best Itinerary for New Orleans

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Whether celebrating a bachelor party, attending one of the town’s annual festivals, or just looking to get your fill of Cajun cuisine and frozen drinks, there are some things every visitor should check off their list while in New Orleans. To help, we’ve outlined the perfect three-day itinerary for New Orleans.

Friday: Check Into Your New Orleans Hotel

Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans

Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans; Oyster

First things first: Get to New Orleans and your hotel. NOLA is within driving distance of many southern towns, and direct flights are offered from numerous U.S. cities, including Austin, Denver, San Francisco, and New York. The French Quarter of New Orleans – the tourist center that’s home to Bourbon Street and Café du Monde – is where you’ll want to stay to cut down on taxi use.

Luxury hotels, boutiques, and even reportedly haunted properties are all available in the French Quarter, so you can easily find a spot that suits your style. Travelers wanting an upscale property in the heart of the action should compare the Royal Sonesta, which has a popular jazz club and oyster bar, and Hotel Monteleone, which is home to the famous Carousel Bar. Families and more low-key tourists may appreciate the apartment-style units at Grenoble House, a charming, 17-suite property within a historic 1800s building. Meanwhile, paranormal enthusiasts will love Bourbon Orleans Hotel, which offers free haunted history tours.

Grab Some Cajun-Creole Cuisine for Dinner in New Orleans

New Orleans is known for its fantastic food scene, ranging from cheap shrimp po’ boys to fine-dining seafood. Whether you choose to go the budget or gourmet route, there are several excellent eateries serving Cajun and Creole cuisines. Some well-regarded restaurants in the French Quarter include GW Fins, Commander’s Palace, and ACME Oyster House. Get your fill of jambalaya, blackened fish, muffuletta sandwiches, and soft-shell crab.

Catch Live Jazz at Preservation Hall in New Orleans

Preservation Hall, New Orleans

Preservation Hall, New Orleans; Oyster

Established in 1961, Preservation Hall is one of New Orleans’ most legendary spots, luring travelers with its traditional New Orleans jazz. Solo artists and bands play here every night at 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 p.m. Travelers can stand in line before the show for general admission tickets or book more expensive, reserved tickets in advance.

Saturday: Coffee and Beignets at Café du Monde in New Orleans

Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

Cafe du Monde, New Orleans; Oyster

Easily the most iconic treat in New Orleans is the beignet, deep-fried dough covered in powder sugar. Fortunately, they’re acceptable to eat at any time of day. Café du Monde is the most popular spot serving beignets, and it’s open 24/7. Another spot offering equally delicious beignets is Café Beignet, and there are a few locations within the French Quarter. Both options are known for their café au laits as well.

Tour the Garden District in New Orleans

Garden District, New Orleans

Garden District, New Orleans; Oyster

Take a step back in history in the Garden District, which was originally developed in the 19th century and is home to several beautifully maintained mansions and oak-lined streets. Travelers can take the classic St. Charles Streetcar from Canal Street in the French Quarter to the Garden District and hop off for a self-guided walking tour, or book a guided tour. After walking the gorgeous streets, stroll through the nearby Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, or grab a pick-me-up from French Truck Coffee.

Drink a Classic New Orleans Cocktail

New Orleans and alcohol are practically synonymous. Whether you choose a Hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s or a Pimm’s Cup from Napoleon House, both are made with rum. Of course, visitors can also take advantage of the law, which allows folks 21 and over to carry alcohol in the open. Daquiri stands line Bourbon Street for convenience. Other well-known spots to grab a drink include the historic Old Absinthe House and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar (the latter is allegedly the oldest structure used as a bar in the U.S., having been built in the 1700s).

Enjoy Live Music on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans

Live music is not contained to the French Quarter, and many locals will argue that the best shows are found on Frenchmen Street, about a 10-minute drive from the French Quarter. Visitors can simply walk down the street, popping into whichever bar sounds most appealing. Jazz, blues, funk, and brass bands can all be found here, and top venues include d.b.a., The Spotted Cat, and Blue Nile.

Sunday: Shop the French Market in New Orleans

French Market, New Orleans

French Market, New Orleans; Oyster

Operating daily starting at 10 a.m., the French Market is an open-air farmers’/flea market with a variety of vendors. Tons of food (including alligator), spices, jewelry, clothing, and more are all for sale here. It’s located about a six-minute walk northeast of Jackson Square, where artists are almost always displaying and selling their work.

Visit Other Sights and Galleries in New Orleans

Jackson Square, New Orleans

Jackson Square, New Orleans; Oyster

With your last remaining hours, hit up any other attractions on your list. Aside from Jackson Square, the French Quarter also offers the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, the Lalaurie Mansion (a 19th-century home where serial killer Madame Lalaurie lived), the lovely Beauregard-Keyes House with an outdoor garden, and the 18th-century St. Louis Cathedral. Art aficionados should walk along Royal Street, where numerous galleries are tucked inside charming, colorful houses.

Other Fun Things to Do in New Orleans

French Quarter, New Orleans

French Quarter, New Orleans; Oyster

Ghost tours are a great way to learn about and see the city. New Orleans hosts countless festivals and parades, from Jazz Fest to Mardi Gras to Southern Decadence, so if you want to add even more buzz to your getaway, plan it around one of these events. Last but not least, New Orleans Second Lines are a famous tradition for both weddings and funerals. Second Lines are parades fronted by a brass band, where followers are holding colorful parasols and handkerchiefs. If you happen to be there during one, join the back of the line!

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