Perfect 3 Day Itinerary for New Orleans, Louisiana
I can’t believe it has taken us this long to travel to one of the most popular cities in the country – New Orleans. Probably right behind Las Vegas for it’s party reputation and probably right behind Nashville for bachorlette population (honestly, we cannot escape them), New Orleans certainly has a reputation. This is most likely why we have not gone here sooner – we are not party people. But New Orleans is so much more than all of that – full of history, beautiful architecture, and incredible food. If you are going for the parties, you will have no shortage of fun. But if that is not your scene either, let me show you the other side of New Orleans that is waiting for you.
Know before you go
There are a few different types of trips you can have while traveling to New Orleans so make sure to plan ahead on the type of trip you plan on having. And if you are planning on going just to experience Bourbon Street, make sure to experience the other side that NOLA has to offer. We had no issues feeling unsafe but be aware when walking around at night. Also, be careful traveling during hurricane season which occurs in the fall.
Where to stay?
This will depend on the type of trip you are looking to have visiting NOLA. For us, staying in the French Quarter was not appealing so we instead stayed in the Garden District. Our Airbnb was situated right on Magazine Street where many restaurants, shops, and cafes are located and it was also just a few blocks to St Charles Street where the street car trolley stop is located. It was about a half hour walk to the French Quarter from where we were staying and if we wanted to, we could take the trolley which we did several times. Regardless of where you chose, make sure it is central to what you want to see and close to a trolley stop to give you the most flexibility.
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What is there to do?
- Take a ride on the street car – renting a car is not a requirement on this trip and the public transit is actually quite comprehensive in getting you where you need to be. The RTA has a great mobile app that allows you to purchase and use tickets as well as explore maps, track vehicles, and give an eta on arrival times. This app is really awesome and user friendly so if you are going and plan on using the public transit, definitely download this app.
- French Quarter – the most iconic neighborhood in all New Orleans and the most touristy.
- Home to the famous Bourbon Street. That party scene I was talking about? This is your jam. Warning to those with kids to just avoid Bourbon Street after 6PM unless you feel like explaining a lot about people after what they will witness. But there is so much more to do in the French Quarter that is definitely worth seeing!
- The shops here are very entertaining – from antique shops to the French Market Place flea market to souvenirs stands to witchcraft essentials to praline everything, you will enjoy the hunt for the perfect purchase.
- Jackson Square and the St Louis Cathedral – a beautiful park situated smack in the middle of the French Quarter and meticulously maintained. This area is home to many musicians, entertainers, and psychs so it certainly lends itself to good people watching.
- Cemeteries – because New Orleans sits below sea level, all cemeteries are above ground and give the city that haunting aura. You can visit on your on or attend one of many walking tours available.
- Take a walking tour – this is a great neighborhood for it – from history and food tours during the day to ghost tours at night, they offer it all and it is a great way to learn about New Orleans.
- Hop aboard the steamboat ferry and take a ride down the Mississippi River.
- Garden District and Bywater Neighborhoods
- These are located on either side of the French Quarter and Downtown areas
- This is where you want to situation yourself and find a place to stay. We stayed in the Garden District – this neighborhood is quite and has easy access to the sightseeing destinations. We stayed at an Airbnb but I think on a return trip we may be tempted to book at Hotel Peter and Paul in the Bywater.
- Both have some of the best food in New Orleans so do not overlook some of the off the beaten path spots as they are authentic and delicious. We did an entire evening food touring the Bywater as there were just too many amazing options to pick one! And we had our favorite meal of the trip in the Garden District.
- Excursion outside the downtown area – we only had time for one excursion with a three day trip so if you have longer, fill in the extra time with some of these suggestions:
- City Park – the one area on our itinerary we did not make it to due to the lack of time. This park is enormous fitting two Central Park’s inside it. There is so much to do – from walking trails, to various gardens, to golf, to museums – it is If you have an extra day or a spot in your three day weekend where you could.
- Whitney Plantation – one of the most famous plantations in the state of Louisiana, this sugarcane plantation that offers tours focusing on the lives of enslaved people. We did not make it here on this most recent trip but the reviews are overwhelmingly positive as a must do.
- Bayou tour – This was the excursion we picked. The most common activity is hopping on a boat to jet around and see the gators, but when I was looking into companies, it seems like the fun thing to do is feed them to get them visible so they are now habituated to do so. That just did not sit right with me. I continued to look at alternative ways of exploring the bayou and stumbling upon kayaking – that sounded perfect. We love kayaking and it feels like you are way too close to the water to have artificial gator encounters.
- Barataria Preserve – travel south of the city to discover Louisiana’s wild wetlands. There are over 26,000 acres to explore via boardwalks and dirt trails through various terrains including bayous, swamps, marshes, and forests, to see many different animal, bird, and plant species.
- Have a rainy day? Visit a museum! There are tons in the area including the World War II Museum, the Mardi Gras World, or the activities at City Park.
Where to eat?
New Orleans is know for some staple cuisines – soft, sugary, hot beignets are very popular but that just scratches the surface of the creole fueled city. Crawfish in all forms, jambalaya, gumbo, poorboys, ettoufee, Mississippi rabbit – the list goes on. It is impossible to try all the food in a three day trip – but we certainly tried our best.
Here are our must stops:
- There are many markets throughout the city – take advantage of sampling a variety of foods
- Mosquito Supper Club if you are into dinner party styled, tasting menu dinning – this was by far our favorite meal of the trip and elevated to one of our top meals in a long time
- Willie Mae’s Scotch House – best fried chicken in the country
- Turkey and the Wolf for hype worthy sandwiches
- Cafe Du Monde is a beignet must
- The Elysian Bar / Bacchanal Fine Wine and Spirits – sister restaurants that were so good we went to both
- We also enjoyed our meals at Gris-Gris and Cochon Restaurant
There are also tons of spots to grab a drink or find musical performances – there were still COVID measures when we visited so unfortunately we did not get to see any musical performances and it was difficult to make it to the bars as well but these are on my list for our return visit:
- Tiki Tolteca
- The Carousel
- The Jazz Playhouse
- May Baily’s Place
- Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
- Delachaise Wine Bar
- Cane & Table
Here is a perfect three day itinerary for exploring New Orleans! With all our three day itineraries, we like to leave on Thursday night to get a full day in on Friday.
|Day 0||Evening||Arrival |
Grab dinner local
|Day 1||Morning||French Quarter|
– Cafe Du Monde for beignets
– French Market Place
– Jackson Square / St Louis Cathedral
– Wander the streets
– Walking tour
– Food: Willie Mae’s Scotch House
|Evening||Food: Mosquito Supper Club|
|Day 2||Morning||Excursion of Choice: Bayou kayak|
|Afternoon||Excursion of Choice: Bayou kayak|
– Crescent Park
– DIY Food Tour
|Day 3||Morning||Garden District|
|Afternoon||Brewery: Urban South Brewery|
Food: Turkey and the Wolf
Ice Cream: Parish Parlor