How to Spend 3 Days in New Orleans21 March 2016
A while back, I wrote about some of my favorite things to do in New Orleans, which has become one of our top posts on The Brave Little Cheesehead. We frequently get questions from readers about how to cram everything into a long weekend. To make things easier for you while you're planning a trip, I've written out in detail the itinerary I made. We hope this helps inspire you as you're deciding what to do in New Orleans!
DAY 1 | Bourbon Street Bar Crawl
A visit to Bourbon Street is a must for every first-time visitor to the Crescent City, though we wouldn't recommend spending more than a half-day or so there. Start your weekend off by stashing your things at your temporary residence. We made an excellent decision by staying at Lanaux Mansion, a lovely B&B nestled between the French Quarter and Frenchman Street. Not only was its location perfect for our plans, its owner Ruth is a sweet little old woman who will really take care of you. If you imagine spending your mornings sipping coffee and nibbling on some sweet rolls at a charming wrought iron cafe table right outside the private entry of your own room, then Lanaux Mansion is the spot for you.
|Photo courtesy of Kyle Janowski|
Spend your second day venturing outside of the French Quarter by renting bikes and DIY-ing your own tour, or join a group with Confederacy of Cruisers. This little local outfitter will set you up with a knowledgeable guide and cruisers for a few hours and offers a variety of different tours. We opted for the Creole New Orleans bike tour, but if you want to mix a leisurely ride with a culinary adventure, go with the Culinary New Orleans tour or the Cocktails in New Orleans Tour.
For about four hours and $49, we followed our guide Keith through the incredibly colorful Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, checked out traditional shotgun style houses in the Bywater, cruised through Treme learning about its history and musical culture with a ride through Louis Armstrong park, and even stopped at a local bar for a Bloody Mary. Your tour will be a maximum of 8 people, so you'll have plenty of time to stop for photos and explore interesting things you see. It was among the highlights of our trip.
|Photo courtesy of Kyle Janowski|
Your morning cycling adventure will come to a close just a few short blocks from Frenchman Street. Before the crowds hit, stop at Marigny Brasserie for some lunch, and choose to sit up at the bar if you can. While the piano man plays classic jazz tunes in the background, chat up the bartender, and try some of the homemade moonshine.
Before you know it, Frenchman Street will come alive. Spend the rest of the evening wandering in and out of the bars, letting your ears be your guide. From be-bop to honky tonk to dixieland jazz, you'll find live entertainment in every place you visit, and you won't be disappointed. Make sure to stop into dives like d.b.a, the Spotted Cat, Snug Harbor and Bamboula's, and take a break at Three Muses for a bite to eat or stroll through the pop-up open air market where you'll find local photographers, silk screen printers, jewelry makers and furniture craftsmen displaying and selling their creations.
DAY 3 | DIY Garden District Walking Tour
On your last day in New Orleans, stop at Cafe Beignet on Royal Street in the French Quarter for a breakfast of -- you guessed it -- the city's famous sweet, puffy treat. If treasure hunting is your thing, spend the morning exploring the little galleries on Chartres and antique shops on Royal. You'll find costume jewelry, crystal dinnerware, vintage music paraphanalia like guitars and records, and so much more. Once you've had your fill, pick up the historic 12 St. Charles streetcar at Canal and Carondelet, which will set you back about $1.25 for fare. Enjoy the ride out past the Robert E. Lee Monument along St. Charles Avenue until you arrive at Washington Avenue.
From here, you can head about six blocks north to visit the Lafayette Cemetery No. 2. Enjoy an eerie walk among the mausoleums and above-ground crypts, designed for floods during hurricane season. Some visitors prefer St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, but while you're in the area, this is a great place to stop. As I've mentioned before, New Orleans cemeteries are hauntingly beautiful.
Before embarking on your walking tour, consider stopping at Commander's Palace for lunch. We didn't have time to experience this New Orleans classic while we were in town, but had we had more time, this certainly would have made our list.
With some advance planning, you can be sure to see some of the most famous mansions within the Garden District. Structure your own walking tour around what interests you most, but we recommend following this list, which includes the houses from Benjamin Button and Jason Statham's The Mechanic, as well as the stained glass house and the Buckner Mansion where FX filmed its third season of American Horror Story: Coven.
When you've finished your tour, head back to the French Quarter, stopping by Johnny's Po'Boys. While the award for the best po'boy in New Orleans is often debated, this one made the top of our list. We recommend the shrimp and fried chicken po'boys with a side of fries. And of course, a final stop at Cafe du Monde might seem to be in order.
Keep these trip ideas all in one place. Pin our New Orleans Weekend itinerary!