Are you wondering how to spend 3 days in New Orleans? Take it from me, this is the perfect amount of time to take in this great city. Just thinking of New Orleans brings images of powder sugar dusted goodness to my mind, but more about that later. I promise you that no two visits to NOLA are ever alike. New Orleans is a melting pot of cultures and attitudes. Whether you are here to enjoy Mardi Gras, sip cocktails all day, dance to jazz bands, or enjoy the local Cajun cuisine, New Orleans never disappoints. I mean, it was named one of the best places to travel in 2018!
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3 Days in New Orleans-Day 1
Where to Stay in New Orleans
When Marty and I visit New Orleans, we always stay in the French Quarter, New Orlean’s oldest neighborhood. We usually choose a hotel on or close to Canal Street because I love the convenience. You can easily walk all over the French Quarter, or conveniently catch the streetcar to explore other parts of the city.
Of course, we book through Hotels.com. Not only do they have the best rates, but we earn free nights. You can’t beat that deal! Check out their special New Orleans hotel deals.
If you prefer to skip the hotel and live more like a local while you are here, then consider staying in an apartment or house. Airbnb is a great option to get the real feel of New Orleans. New to Airbnb? Well, use our links to get a $40 credit toward your first stay! I mean, that’s awesome savings!
Best Breakfast in New Orleans
You have to start your New Orleans experience at the legendary Cafe du Monde on Decatur Street. In the first paragraph, I mentioned “powder sugar dusted goodness”, this is it! Everyone says don’t wear black to Cafe du Monde, but I say wear what you want. You are going to be covered in powdered sugar no matter what you’re wearing! Grab an order of beignets and a cafe au lait and start your day carb loaded. Don’t worry, you will walk it off! Cafe du Monde is always busy, so don’t be intimidated by the line. The Cafe’s staff is very efficient and used to the crowds, so the line actually goes pretty fast.
After getting your fill of beignets, head up the stairs by Cafe du Monde. This is the perfect spot to snap a selfie in front of the iconic Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral. After taking your picture, go across the street for a closer look at Jackson Square.
Jackson Square was originally called “Place d’Armes”, but was later named Jackson Square in honor of the Battle of New Orlean’s famous leader, Andrew Jackson. Jackson Square is surrounded by history and beautiful architecture. The oldest apartments in the United States, The Pontalba Apartments, surround the square. The Pontalba Apartments have been continually rented since their inception in 1850. Read more about their fascinating history here.
I love the life around Jackson Square. I recommend walking around the square and seeing all of the artwork lining the fence. Stop and enjoy some street performances, or get your palm read. Go inside the St. Louis Cathedral. For a $1 donation, you can pick up a self-guided tour brochure right at the entrance. The church is a true piece of history. The original structure was completed in 1727 but was destroyed in a fire in 1788. The town rallied and rebuilt the church about five years later. It’s definitely worth a visit.
If you would rather take a guided tour of this area, consider taking this walking tour and have an expert guide telling you fascinating stories about New Orleans history and culture.
French Market in New Orleans
After enjoying Jackson Square, head to the open-air French Market. The French Market is one of my favorite places in New Orleans. I love thinking that this was once the home trading post of the Native Americans of this area. Now granted, the market has come a long way since then but it’s still cool to think about.
Friends, I need to warn you, you might have sensory overload when visiting the French Market. There are so many sights, smells, and sounds that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Don’t let this happen to you! Take the edge off immediately by grabbing a glass of wine Alberto’s Gourmet Wine and Cheese. Those of you who read our blog know that I am always up for a glass of wine.
If you’re getting ready for lunch, the Market is a great place to grab a casual meal. Step up to J’s Seafood Dock and let them shuck a fresh oyster or two for you. Oysters, not your thing? I understand, mine either! Instead, try N’Awlins Cafe and Spice Emporium for some true Cajun cuisine including gumbo, etouffee, and bread pudding. The Crepe Cart is also a popular spot. This French treat can be made sweet or savory and is the perfect thing to munch as you explore the market.
One of our favorite things to do is to take a food walking tour of the city. Food walking tours allow you to learn about the food culture while exposing you to places you might not normally visit. Find a food tour that suits your need here.
Best Bars on Bourbon Street
I know it’s touristy, but you have to visit Bourbon Street while you’re in New Orleans. Start your evening off at Pat O’Brien’s great courtyard for some New Orleans cuisine and of course, their famous Hurricane. Spend the rest of the evening bar hopping while enjoying great music and the party atmosphere of this famous street.
Visit historic places like Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar and enjoy a Purple Drank while taking in the history of this building, believed to have once served as the base for the smuggling operation of the Lafitte brothers. Head to The Old Absinthe House to try one of their famous cocktails, the Ramos Gin Fizz or “The Absinthe House Frappe”.
One of our favorite things to do on Bourbon Street is people watch. Grab a hand grenade from Tropical Isle, and continue your journey down Bourbon Street. Friends, please take note, these drinks are cheap, sweet, and strong!
Pop into any of the clubs, like the Old Opera House, to check out the live music and dance a little, or just people watch some more. For a great jazz experience, stop in at Fritzel’s European Jazz Club. While there, be sure and get into their new speakeasy located upstairs. Just tell the hostess “the vampire sent me” and for a $5 cover, she will escort you to the second floor where you are transported to France in the 1920’s. Lounge around sipping cocktails, and enjoy their Bourbon Street balcony!
Better yet, let an expert guide take you to all the best drink spots in New Orleans. There are multiple tours that do just that! Find the cocktail tour that you want by clicking here.
Best Brunch in New Orleans
Today, I recommend heading to The Ruby Slipper for breakfast/brunch. The Ruby Slipper puts their own NOLA spin on traditional southern breakfast favorites. Munch on some applewood smoked bacon, buttermilk biscuits, and fried green tomatoes. For those feeling a little more adventurous, consider trying one of their quirky egg benedicts like the Shrimp Boogaloo Benedict, gulf coast shrimp over fried green tomatoes and a buttermilk biscuit all topped with a poached egg and a creole tomato bouillon sauce!
New Orleans Cemetery Tour
Participating in tours around New Orleans is a great way to learn about the rich history and culture of the city. There are several options of tours to choose from including bike tours, walking tours, and guided bus tours. Click here to check it out.
We recommend finding a tour that includes visiting the St. Louise Cemetary No. 1. During the tour, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the Voodoo religion, and the famous Voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau. You will see the gravesite of Marie in the St. Louise Cemetary No. 1, and have a chance to view the monument built by Nicholas Cage. See if you can guess which one it is when you visit.
When taking a tour, I would recommend asking how large the group will be before you book your tour. We prefer groups of 15 or smaller. This allows you to stay together easily and to hear your guide through the bustling streets of NOLA.
For American Horror Story Fans, this is a great resource to visit the filming sites of Coven. Right after the show aired, Marty and I went on a guided Coven tour that was exceptional, but recently I haven’t been able to find this tour.
Shopping in The French Quarter
Take some time to stroll the streets of Chartres and Royal today. Here you will find amazing artists, timeless antiques, and quirky little boutiques. I drag Marty here to treasure hunt every time we visit New Orleans. Recently, we found ourselves in one store surrounded by old records and musical instruments. You should splurge, and take home a unique souvenir from this area.
Be sure and have your camera ready as well (not in the stores though), there are endless photo opportunities awaiting you in the streets. We stop constantly in this area to snap photos of balconies, doorways, and of course, people.
New Orleans Music Scene: Frenchmen Street
Tonight you should head to where the locals hang out, Frenchmen Street. On Frenchmen Street, you will hear every type of music streaming out of the bars and into the street. Just listen to what you like, and then pop in.
Safety note: Although the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street are safe areas, the area between them can be sketchy after dark. We suggest taking a cheap cab or Uber for this outing. If you do choose to walk, be sure to take a group and stay together.
We suggest starting at The Spotted Cat for some great live jazz, just note that this is a cash-only bar, so bring your green. For an awesome music club, try the Blue Nile. The Blue Nile is broken into two separate clubs, one downstairs and one upstairs. The downstairs club is big, probably one of the largest on Frenchmen Street, but the upstairs has a balcony overlooking Frenchmen Street, and I am all about New Orleans balconies!
Consider this dinner and live jazz package for your visit to Frenchmen Street.
Best Jazz Brunch in New Orleans
Today, treat yourself to the best jazz brunch in New Orleans at the famous Court of Two Sisters. There is nothing better than sitting in the most beautiful courtyard in New Orleans listening to live Jazz music and eating mouth-watering food! Did I mention that the Jazz brunch is a buffet? You can eat enough to hold you over until dinner!
See the New Orleans Mansion in the Garden District
Head over to Canal Street to catch the streetcar for the Garden District. Go to the corner of Canal and Carondelet (Carondelet is the same street as Bourbon, it changes names when you cross over Canal) to wait for the streetcar. You will probably see other people just standing around waiting as well. The next stop on the line is St. Charles and Common. You can venture down to St. Charles and Common if the Canal St. stop is too crowded.
The ride costs $1.25 each way. We prefer the buy the Jazzy Pass (day pass) for $3 so that we can hop on and off as much as we would like, just be sure and have cash.
There are several self-guided tours of the Garden District online but I recommend a guided tour. You just get more insight into the history and the local area. Click here for some great Garden District tours.
Get Your Ice Cream Fix
After your tour (or during if it’s on your route), you MUST visit The Creole Creamery. This Garden District ice cream shop is like no other!
Be sure to bring cash because they don’t take cards.
You will find the craziest combination of ingredients in their ice cream, and they are so delicious! Of course, The Creole Creamery has your basic flavors like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and cookies and cream, but who wants that when you could have lavender honey, Thai basil coconut, or champagne violet (my personal choice).
Marty was feeling adventurous and went for this amazing sundae. I’m sorry, I don’t remember the name. I just know they drizzled the glass with hot fudge sauce, put in big scoops of chocolate fudge ice cream, added more fudge and topped it off with whipped cream and chocolate chunks! DIVINE!
After a long day of exploring, it seems like the perfect evening to do something romantic. How about dinner and a private boat tour on The Famous Steamboat Natchez. Or just a jazz dinner on the steamboat instead.
Cap your night off with one last trip to Cafe du Monde, I mean there’s no hurt in eating beignets at 2 a.m. is there?
Best Tours In New Orleans
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