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Picturesque, vibrant and jazzy, New Orleans, Louisiana is a dazzling destination for a short trip or weekend getaway.
That said, planning a New Orleans Itinerary can be perplexing. Everyone knows to go to Bourbon Street, but what else is there to see in New Orleans? Let us assure you: There are many incredible things to do in New Orleans, Louisiana!
To help other travelers discover the best of the city, we have created a perfect 3 Days in New Orleans Itinerary that highlights the top attractions, must-try foods and the best NOLA bars.
3 Days in New Orleans Itinerary
In our itinerary for New Orleans, we feature must-see sights, the most delicious things to eat, the best places to listen to music and a few legendary bars…and we squeeze them all into a 3-day trip to New Orleans. Formatted as a day-by-day guide, our NOLA 3 Day Itinerary is all you need to plan your trip!
While we highlight what to see in New Orleans in 3 days, we know you may actually have more (or less) time in the city. Whether you are visiting New Orleans in a day or are planning a New Orleans 4-Day Itinerary, we have got you covered. In addition to our Three Days in New Orleans guide, we offer New Orleans trip planner suggestions for one to five days at the end of the article.
Planning a Weekend in New Orleans
NOLA has long been a weekend party destination highlighted by excessive debauchery. With booze flowing and beads flying on Bourbon Street, revelers sip drinks until the wee hours of the morning. To be honest, my first time in New Orleans was spent entirely on the world-famous Bourbon Street.
However, as I planned a return trip, it was my fuzzy memory of 2 days in New Orleans that prompted me to actually do a little research before arriving. While Bourbon Street is a blast, there really is a whole lot more to fit into a New Orleans Itinerary. When I decided to meet friends for a long weekend in New Orleans, I was tasked with planning a New Orleans 3 Day Itinerary – and we were intent on experiencing NOLA beyond Bourbon Street.
The New Orleans Weekend Itinerary that I planned for my NOLA girls’ trip included bar hopping at night, but we went outside of the French Quarter for daytime sightseeing and neighborhood exploration.
How To Plan a Trip to New Orleans
We cover the top New Orleans Things To Do in our itinerary, making it easy for fellow travelers to plan their trip. That said, there is a lot more to planning a vacation than figuring out what to do in New Orleans. Visitors are also tasked with determining how to get there and where to stay.
Therefore, in addition to offering our advice for the best things to see in New Orleans, we also share essential advice – such as when to go to NOLA, our recommended New Orleans hotels and a few of the top places to eat.
As you begin to make your NOLA travel plans, staying organized is key! Use a travel planner – like our Printable Travel Planner – to stay on top of all the details of your New Orleans trip.
Best New Orleans Itinerary
We have devised the best way to visit New Orleans in three days. In addition to our day-by-day 3-Day New Orleans Itinerary, we share our top recommendations to make it as easy as possible to plan your vacation. Plus, we have a New Orleans map of attractions to orient yourself with the city layout. This New Orleans travel blog post includes everything you need to know to plan your perfect NOLA trip!
Save, Pin or Bookmark this NOLA Itinerary to plan (and during) your trip to New Orleans!
DAY 1 of Your New Orleans 3-Day Itinerary
On the first day of your 72 hours in New Orleans, get a full dose of the French Quarter! See the sights, discover delectable tastes and go barhopping on Bourbon Street.
Explore New Orleans French Quarter
A must on every New Orleans travel itinerary, the French Quarter is the heart of the city. Elegant architecture and lively music fill the colorful lanes. Immersing yourself in the historic French Quarter is a must do in New Orleans.
Start at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park Visitor Center. The small museum is one of the Free Things To Do New Orleans – and the onsite rangers are helpful with questions (plus they have free bathrooms).
After learning about the city, the best way to get your bearings in the French Quarter is by simply strolling the picturesque streets. While wandering is highly encouraged during your 3 Day New Orleans Itinerary, you will want to make sure to take in these top sights.
What To See in New Orleans in 3 Days: French Quarter Sights
Unlike big US cities – such as NYC and Chicago – you won’t need a detailed checklist of sights in the French Quarter for your 3 days in New Orleans Itinerary. However, as you roam around the district – taking in the opulent architecture and listening to street performers play music – we recommend seeking out the best French Quarter attractions.
A National Historic Landmark, Jackson Square is a central hub of activity in the French Quarter. Created in 1721 (but rebuilt after the 1788 Great New Orleans Fire), Jackson Square is styled after Place des Vosges in Paris. With a central fountain and wrought iron fencing, it is undeniably beautiful.
The square is named for General Andrew Jackson (who would later become the 7th president of the United States). An equestrian statue of Jackson sits in the center of the square – as it has since 1856.
A few famous attractions flank the square – and we detail those next!
St. Louis Cathedral
Located on Jackson Square, the St. Louis Cathedral ranks as the oldest cathedral in the United States and is a New Orleans must see sight.
Visitors are free to go inside the church. Interested guests can take a self-guided tour (brochures are available for a small donation) or join one of the docents for a guided tour.
Also located on Jackson Square, The Cabildo is a historic Spanish colonial building that once served as City Hall. The building now houses the Louisiana State Museum.
Visiting the museum during your 3 day trip to New Orleans will help you even better understand it’s history. The New Orleans collection features photographs, the timeline of the building and a celebration of all things NOLA! Tickets are required to enter.
Faulkner House Books on Pirates Alley
On a small side street behind the cathedral, Faulkner House Books is an inconspicuous bookshop. Once the home of famed American author, William Faulkner, his books – as well as Louisiana literature and rare finds – are available to peruse. It’s well worth including in your New Orleans vacation planner.
Indulge in a Classic New Orleans Dessert at Café Du Monde
Take a quick break from your New Orleans sightseeing to get a taste of a much loved NOLA treat: a beignet. It’s the absolute best dessert to eat in New Orleans…and the place to get them is at Café du Monde (which is just a few steps away from Jackson Square).
Since 1862, the Café Du Monde coffeeshop has been serving the puffed and powdery French-style donuts – and they have perfected the art. Trust us on this one…you’ll want to go back for more during your three days in New Orleans.
Beignets are as much a part of New Orleans culture as Mardi Gras – so while Café Du Monde is the most popular place to get the iconic sweet treat, it isn’t the only place. If you want to taste test the best beignets in New Orleans (or just don’t want to wait in the long line at Café Du Monde), stop by Café Beignet on Royal Street to try their powdered sugar treats, too.
Moonwalk Riverfront Park
A brick promenade sandwiched between the Mississippi River and train tracks, the Moonwalk Riverfront Park is a pedestrian walkway offering fine views of the Mighty Mississippi.
The walkway, which is one of the top New Orleans attractions, is a great way to get to the next New Orleans Must See sight, the French Market.
New Orleans French Market and Shops of the Colonnade
Originally established as a Native American trading post, for more than 200 years the French Market has been a bustling center of commercial activity.
Although today it seems more geared toward tourists, visitors can shop, eat and enjoy at the vibrant market hall. We think walking through the market is a must do New Orleans activity.
Eat Lunch in the French Quarter
If you are getting hungry, take a break from your exploration of the French Quarter and stop at Coop’s Place for lunch. Seafood Gumbo and Rabbit & Sausage Jambalaya are the house specialties – but the menu offers an array of Southern favorites.
Note that Coop’s Place is adults-only; if you are planning an itinerary for New Orleans with kids, go to Oceana Grill instead, where they serve divine Louisiana Crab Cakes, delicious Oysters and fun Alligator Bites – or grab something from the market.
After lunch, set off for Royal Street – one of our favorite streets in the French Quarter.
A shopping and dining destination, Royal Street features grand architecture, antique shops and fine art galleries. However, the real reason we suggest including it in your New Orleans trip itinerary is for the excellent street musicians!
Musical Legends Park
The small Musical Legends Park features several life-size statues of some of New Orleans most well-known local musicians. While it is not necessarily a must-see on your itinerary for New Orleans, it is a pretty park that often hosts live music performances.
End your self guided French Quarter walking tour on the most famous street: Bourbon.
While not particularly pretty during the day, Bourbon Street is the center of French Quarter nightlife. Regardless of whether or not you are joining the party, we think it is a must-see for your New Orleans weekend itinerary.
New Orleans Ghost, Voodoo and Vampire Tour
There is no way that you can be in New Orleans for 3 days without getting a glimpse of the city’s spookiness!
As nighttime approaches, go all in and get an introduction to NOLA’s dark side on a New Orleans Ghost Tour. Local guides lead participants through the streets of the French Quarter sharing New Orleans history and some of the horrors that have occurred through the centuries. Plus, your guide can give you tips on New Orleans nightlife. Reserve your spot!
New Orleans Food: Dinner in NOLA French Quarter
We think food is a very important part of your NOLA itinerary – there is so much seriously good food in the city! For your first dinner, indulge at one of the classic French Quarter restaurants serving iconic New Orleans eats. We have a few restaurant recommendations; choose the one the best fits your taste and budget.
Founded in 1914, Napoleon House specializes in Muffuletta and Po-boy sandwiches and is a New Orleans institution. Steeped in history, the casual eatery is a bit eclectic, but – believe us – the Muffuletta’s are out of this world!
Acme Oyster House
Acme Oyster House has been serving up New Orleans seafood since 1910 – and it is the place to go for grilled oysters during your 3 day itinerary for New Orleans. Just get there early to avoid the long line!
Brennan’s is a New Orleans fine dining establishment credited with creating the sweet dessert, Bananas Foster. Although the posh restaurant is usually pricey, during happy hour at Brennan’s they offer nibbles at a discount and half-priced bubbles in their Roost Bar and Courtyard. Check Happy Hour times and plan your New Orleans travel itinerary accordingly.
If you are looking for upscale Creole fare, stop into SoBou where they offer sumptuous meals in a stylish setting.
Antoine’s Restaurant New Orleans
To really take it up a notch, make reservations at Antoine’s, the city’s Crème de la Crème in French-Creole cuisine. The historic eatery is credited with creating Oysters Rockefeller and is all well-known for their Baked Alaska – plus, they offer an option for bottomless drinks!
Bourbon Street: A New Orleans Experience
End the first day of your 3 days in NOLA back on Bourbon Street. Bounce your way up the street, partaking in generous drink specials and potent cocktails at some of the best bars in New Orleans.
Little Tropical Isle Hand Grenade
Start in Upper Bourbon Street (which is actually the southern end) and work your way toward the glowing neon signs. Stop for a sugary sweet Hand Grenade cocktail at Little Tropical Isle, one of the many must-have drinks in New Orleans.
Stop by Cats Meow, the world-famous karaoke bar. Take your turn at the microphone or angle for a balcony spot that overlooks the street (be sure to ask about happy hour specials).
This block is the epicenter of Bourbon Street, so pop into any other place that looks entertaining!
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
To continue your bar hop, walk north to the eclectic LGBTQ district of Bourbon St and down St Ann. This area hosts many great NOLA gay bars, and then continue on to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar.
A Bourbon Street favorite (and, in our opinion, a must on your New Orleans trip planner), Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is housed in one of the oldest buildings in New Orleans (it dates to 1722). Try a one of their famous frozen cocktails and sing along to the piano tunes!
If you get hungry as the night rolls along, fill up with a cheap hot dog from one of the roving Lucky Dogs food carts; they are a staple of New Orleans night life!
DAY 2 of Your 3-Day Itinerary New Orleans
On Day 2 of your New Orleans Three-Day Itinerary, venture out of the French Quarter to a few must-see NOLA sights, visit a museum – then end your day listening to live jazz music.
Breakfast at Café Fleur de Lis
In the morning, you may need a rebound from your big night out on Bourbon Street! Feast on a savory Southern-style breakfast at Café Fleur de Lis.
The small greasy spoon serves generous portions of classic fare. I enjoyed the Creole Country Breakfast, but their Shrimp and Grits get rave reviews from fellow patrons.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
After a filling breakfast, join a tour of the famous St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Although some travelers might question visiting a cemetery on vacation, St. Louis Cemetery No 1 is a top New Orleans attraction.
Dating to 1789, the St. Louis Cemetery is the oldest in the city. The above-ground graves – a NOLA oddity – are burial sites for numerous famous citizens, including the New Orleans Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. The New Orleans cemetery, however, can only be visited on a guided tour. Find out more here!
NOLA Green Space
Before lunch, stretch your legs and fill your lungs with fresh air at one of the best parks in New Orleans, either NOLA City Park or Louis Armstrong Park.
City Park is a fabulous destination for your 3 Day Itinerary New Orleans. Bigger than Central Park in New York City, New Orleans City Park is an expansive urban green space that features a multitude of attractions. To get to the park, hop on the #48 streetcar on the Canal Street line.
Besides the lush landscapes, paths and lakes, the top things to see at City Park are the New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden, the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park and the Botanical Gardens. And, if you have yet to taste the iconic beignets from Café du Monde (or are ready for another round), you can try them at the City Park location.
Louis Armstrong Park
Marking the northwestern boundary of the French Quarter, Louis Armstrong Park is easy to reach on foot. While not as massive as City Park, Louis Armstrong Park is loaded with history and one of the interesting places to visit during your 3 day New Orleans trip.
The city center park has shade trees, walking paths, art installations and water features. Congo Square, on the southern corner of the park, has been a point of celebration for centuries. During the late 1700s, African slaves gathered at Congo Square to play drums, dance, sing and trade goods.
Lunch Outside of the French Quarter
For lunch, dine at one of the famous restaurants outside of the French Quarter. Top picks (which are conveniently located between City Park and the French Quarter) are Katie’s and Willie Mae’s Scotch House. Alternatively, board an old steamboat for a sightseeing cruise and lunch on board.
Katie’s, which was featured on the TV show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, is a family-owned spot that specializes in oysters and seafood. Definitely try the savory crawfish beignet!
Willie Mae’s Scotch House
Family-owned and operated, Willie Mae’s was established as a neighborhood eatery in 1957. Today, it is known for churning out famous fried chicken, red beans and rice and soul food favorites to hungry patrons.
Steamboat Cruise with Lunch
Learn about the history of New Orleans and take in the spectacular scenes along the river from one of the last surviving NOLA steamboats while enjoying an onboard lunch.
The historic Natchez Steamboat takes passengers on a ride along the Mississippi River and includes narration about some of the remarkable events the shaped New Orleans. Book your seats here for Steamboat Natchez.
Pro Tip: Upgrade your riverboat experience with an evening Dinner and Jazz experience aboard the Natchez. Find out more!
New Orleans Museums
If you haven’t run out of steam yet, one of the fun activities to include on your Weekend in New Orleans Itinerary is to visit a New Orleans Museum. We are sharing two of the top centrally located museums in New Orleans here, but we share details about more interesting cultural museums later in the blog post.
World War II Museum
The National World War II Museum, located south of the French Quarter in the Warehouse District, is one of the best museums in New Orleans. Packed with artifacts and interactive displays, the state-of-the-art museum details the events of World War II in an informative and engaging way. Buy your tickets!
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
After a long renovation, the Audubon Aquarium – along with the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium – are set to open in summer 2023. Animal lovers will definitely want to put the aquarium on the list of New Orleans Things To Do!
Early Evening Jazz at Preservation Hall
Whether a jazz aficionado or novice listener, attending a jazz concert at Preservation Hall is an iconic experience and one of the fun things to do in New Orleans, LA.
The intimate jazz performances at Preservation Hall (where there are no bathrooms and no food or drink) are a NOLA tradition that began as jam sessions in a gallery. Today, visitors can buy tickets for bench seating or standing room only for a memorable performance put on by local New Orleans jazz musicians.
Marigny District and Frenchmen Street Jazz
For dinner, drinks and entertainment on Day 2 of your 3 Days in New Orleans Itinerary, go northeast of the French Quarter into the Marigny District. The area’s main street, Frenchmen Street, is teeming with cool jazz clubs and hip restaurants – offering a tamer bar-hopping experience compared to Bourbon St.
In our opinion, this authentic corner of NOLA is not to be missed on your Weekend New Orleans, Louisiana Itinerary – and we are highlighting a few of our favorite things to do.
Sazerac at The Maison
The Maison is one of the best venues for live jazz and dinner. With a soulful ambiance and an amazing drink list (try the Sazerac, it’s a New Orleans original), it’s the perfect place to start the evening.
Marigny New Orleans Restaurants
Alternatively, visitors who have had their fill of Southern Creole food have many options in Marigny.
Go to the 24/7 dive bar, Buffa’s, for excellent burgers – or opt for a unique hot dog from Dat Dog (where you can get an Alligator or Crawfish Sausage topped with Etouffee).
Three Muses, Barrilleaux’s and Sukho Thai all have excellent international fare on their menus, if you’d like to switch it up from traditional New Orleans cuisine.
Best Bars in Marigny
After dinner, create your own bar crawl on Frenchman Street that is highlighted by music.
A few of our favorite spots in Marigny are Blue Nile, d.b.a. and The Spotted Cat – all of which feature live jazz music.
DAY 3 of your 3-Day New Orleans Itinerary
On the last day of your Three-Day Itinerary New Orleans, delve into one of the best-preserved neighborhoods in NOLA, then go alligator-spotting in the swampland.
Brunch at The Ruby Slipper Café
Start your day at The Ruby Slipper Café – one of the hottest brunch spots in New Orleans. Established in 2008 after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the popularity of the restaurant quickly grew – and there are now multiple locations throughout the South. Proudly proclaiming that they ‘live for brunch’, the bennies and omelets are incredible…as well as the mimosas and bloodys!
Garden District NOLA
The Garden District provides a perfect escape from the crush of the French Quarter – and is a must-see neighborhood for your New Orleans Itinerary 3 Days.
Hop on a St. Charles Streetcar for a ride along St. Charles Avenue into the Garden District, where the streets are lined with historic mansions and magnolia trees. Explore the district on foot to gaze at the classy dwellings.
Best Things To Do in New Orleans Garden District
We think it is best to simply wander through the Garden District, letting your senses and curiosity lead the way. That said, there are some iconic sights in the neighborhood that are not to be missed.
Be sure to seek out the Garden District Book Shop (a local favorite), Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (free to roam on your own, unlike St. Louis Cemetery) and Commander’s Palace (a NOLA landmark since the late 1800s).
In fact, consider eating lunch at Commander’s Palace, the upscale restaurant is famous for Turtle Soup and lunchtime 25-cent martinis (but it also has a pretty strict dress code and a pricy menu!).
Visitors can also stroll into the Lower Garden District to see the Buckner Mansion and then pop into Urban South Brewery for a local, mid-day craft brew.
Top Tip: To ensure you don’t miss a thing, book a spot on a highly rated New Orleans Garden District Tour.
Make your way to the southern boundary of the district, Magazine Street. The 6-mile thoroughfare stretches south from Canal St. to Audubon Park along the curve of the Mississippi River.
Walk along the street where it passes through the Garden District, popping into boutique shops and chic eateries.
The Rum House (known for Caribbean tacos), District Donuts Sliders Brew (serving delicious sliders and donuts) and Joey K’s (a casual Creole spot) are all good choices. To be honest though, with so many excellent options on Magazine Street, you can wander until you find something that fits your mood.
Pro Tip: If you want to venture further south in the Touro District (a sub-district of Garden), check out Tchoupitoulas Street where the famous Tipitina’s music club and NOLA Brewing Company are located.
NOLA Airboat Tour
If time allows, end your 3 perfect days in New Orleans on a swamp boat tour.
On a small-group airboat swamp tour, participants experience the Mississippi River and Barataria Preserve by boat. It’s one of the top things to do near New Orleans.
Aboard the airboat, passengers ride through swamp, marsh and lakes in search of alligators, bald eagles and other wildlife. Best of all, unlike other tours, this tour includes round-trip transport from New Orleans! Get the details!
Pro Tip: Travelers interested in a full day tour for their last day of their Three Day Itinerary New Orleans can opt for a combo Swamp Boat and Plantation discovery tour. Participants are taken deep in the bayous in search of wildlife, treated to a traditional southern lunch and then visit two of Louisiana’s plantations. Find out more!
More Things To Do in NOLA
We have shared our top suggestions for what to see in New Orleans in 3 days – but there are more activities you can add to your NOLA vacation itinerary! From museums and cultural attractions to tours and day trips, there is plenty to see and do in the city.
More New Orleans Museums and Cultural Attractions
We recommended a few museums in our NOLA 3-Day Itinerary – but there are several other museums in New Orleans to visit. We are highlighting a few of the top rated places to visit in New Orleans.
New Orleans Museum of Art
Located in a beautiful building within New Orleans City Park, the Museum of Art houses artifacts and masterpieces – plus a sculpture garden. If you can squeeze in a visit to the museum on Day 2 of your 3 Days New Orleans Itinerary while at City Park, it’s highly recommended!
New Orleans Jazz Museum
Music fans will definitely want to visit the Jazz Museum while exploring New Orleans in 3 days. Housed in the historic mint building, there is a small exhibit on coins and a much larger jazz exhibit.
Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras is the biggest celebration in New Orleans – and it’s marked by fabulous parades, costumes and King Cake. Visitors planning a trip to New Orleans can learn more about the festival can get a behind the scenes tour of Mardi Gras World.
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
An old apothecary dating to 1823, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the past. From preserved medicines to ancient medical tools, the intriguing artifacts are displayed over two floors – and there is an inviting courtyard that is open to guests, as well.
Louisiana Children’s Museum
A fun museum for travelers planning a family-friendly New Orleans Itinerary, the Louisiana Children’s Museum at City Park offers interactive learning exhibits and play areas designed specifically to stoke creativity in kids.
New Orleans Tours and Day Trips
We shared our top picks for themed tours and day trips in our New Orleans 3 Days Itinerary, but travelers with other interests (or who are staying for more than 3 days) might want to add one of these fabulous tours or day trips to their vacation plan.
French Quarter Food Tour
Throughout our 3 Days in New Orleans Itinerary, we highlighted some of the best restaurants and even offering suggestions of what to eat. However, guests who want a guided tour to the local cuisine should consider joining a New Orleans Food Tour in the French Quarter.
On a highly-rated lunch food tour, visitors get to sample food – like Seafood Gumbo and Creole Brisket – while learning about the history of the cuisine. Get the details!
New Orleans Bus Tour
Get acquainted with the city beyond the French Quarter on a fun and informative bus tour in New Orleans, LA. On the 2-hour tour, visitors take in the sights from Marigny to City Park to the Garden District – including time for a few stops to explore on foot. Reserve your seat!
Mardi Gras New Orleans Tour
A New Orleans City Tour with a heavy focus on the famed Mardi Gras celebrations, tour participants are led to the top Mardi Gras sights, while learning about Fat Tuesday traditions, the voodoo rituals and pirate legends. Check it out!
Oak Alley Plantation Tour
It is possible to include visiting a plantation on your trip planner for New Orleans- and there are several historic plantations open for visitors.
One of the most beautiful and often photographed plantations, Oak Alley Plantation was built in 1839. Visitors are transported back in time to the Old South as costumed guides lead the way through the opulently decorated rooms and impressive grounds. Book the tour!
The National Historic Landmark Whitney Plantation offers visitors a unique perspective on southern plantations, telling the terrible story and sad history of the slaves that worked there, rather than that of their owners. The moving exhibits and first-person stories detail the reality of the life of slaves living on the plantation. Learn more here!
Top Travel Tips For Planning a Trip to New Orleans
We have outlined the best 3-Day New Orleans Itinerary – but there are a few more things to consider when you plan a trip to New Orleans…like how to get there, where to stay and our top packing hacks. But first, we are sharing insight into when to go and how long to stay in New Orleans.
When Is The Best Time to Visit New Orleans?
Now that you know how to spend a weekend in New Orleans, let’s talk about the best time to visit. Weather and festivals are the two biggest factors in determining what is the best month to visit New Orleans.
New Orleans Trip in Spring
Springtime – from February to May – is peak season in New Orleans. The weather is warm and numerous events and celebrations take place (like the world famous Mardi Gras). Of course, the crowds are thick – and accommodations can cost a bundle.
Summertime New Orleans Vacation
Planning a trip to Louisiana in the summertime has its pros and cons. In the summer, NOLA can be sweltering with high humidity and temperatures that push into the 90s. It also rains a lot in the summertime. That said, hotel prices are more affordable (maybe splurge for a hotel with a pool!).
Visit New Orleans in Autumn
The autumn can be a great time to visit New Orleans. The weather tends to be pleasant…but full disclosure: September is smack in the middle of hurricane season.
Winter Trip to New Orleans
During winter, the weather cools off (with high temps hovering around the 60s) and New Orleans sees the fewest tourists (making it possible to get a deal on a hotel). Both of those reasons is why we think a winter vacation is the best time to visit New Orleans!
Planning a Trip to New Orleans Festivals and NOLA Events
The city of New Orleans hosts numerous festivals, conferences and events throughout the year, attracting guests from all corners of the world. Mardi Gras is the most famous, followed by the Jazz and Heritage Festival, but there are a total of 130 festivals a year in the city!
Additionally, the lively party atmosphere makes New Orleans an attractive destination for bachelor parties, girls weekend trips and top sporting events (such as the NFL Super Bowl, NCAA March Madness and College Football Bowl Games).
Whether you are visiting for Mardi Gras or a New Orleans New Year’s Eve, celebrating a birthday or hosting a bachelorette party, you can use our New Orleans trip itinerary to help plan your amazing time in the city!
How Many Days in New Orleans?
Deciding how many days to spend in New Orleans should be based on interest, budget and overall timeframe available for the trip. As not all travelers are planning to visit New Orleans in 3 days, we are sharing sample New Orleans Itineraries suggestions for shorter and longer NOLA trips.
One Day in New Orleans
Building a New Orleans One-Day Itinerary is tough; there is just so much to see and do! However, if that is all the time that you have, then we recommend making the most of it.
How To Create a 1 Day Itinerary New Orleans
An easy way to plan your New Orleans 1-Day Itinerary is to simply follow Day 1 of our 3-Day Trip to New Orleans Itinerary.
That said, guests limited to visiting New Orleans in one day who want to see more than just the French Quarter could get a sweeping overview by using the convenient Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour.
2-Day Itinerary New Orleans
While we think NOLA deserves more than two days, there is a lot of sightseeing you can fit into a 2-Day New Orleans Itinerary! That said, in order to make the most of your time, you will want to have a detailed trip plan.
How To Create a New Orleans 2 Day Itinerary
To create the best 2 Days in New Orleans Itinerary, simply follow Days 1 and 2 as outlined in our detailed 3 Days in New Orleans trip plan.
However, if Garden District exploration and/or the swamp tour is more intriguing to you than City Park and the National WWII Museum, simply swap Day 2 for Day 3 (but still venture into Marigny for jazz at night!).
New Orleans Itinerary 4 Days
With 4 days in New Orleans visitors can really get a good feel for the city! The extra time will allow you the opportunity to see more of the region on a day trip.
How To Create a New Orleans 4 Day Itinerary
To plan a 4-Day New Orleans Itinerary, we recommend using our outlined Three Days in New Orleans Itinerary as a base for your trip. Then, on the last day, take a full-day tour. We recommend either taking the combo Swamp and Plantation Tour or spending the day at the Whitney Plantation or Oak Alley.
New Orleans 5-Day Itinerary
Planning 5 days in New Orleans? No problem, that’s plenty of time to really experience the city! You can use our recommendations for what to do in 3 days in New Orleans and discover them at a leisurely pace – or you can beef up your trip plan with even more activities
How To Crate a New Orleans Itinerary 5 Days
The best way to plan a 5-Day New Orleans Itinerary that is filled with top sights and activities is to use our above tips for 4 Days in NOLA to start. Then on your final day, spend the morning at one of the New Orleans Museums and the afternoon on the French Quarter Food Tour.
How To Get to New Orleans
After you decide how many days to spend in New Orleans, you will need to determine how to get there. New Orleans, Louisiana can be reached by plane, train, boat or car.
Flights to NOLA
Most visitors arrive at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). The airport has nonstop flights from Phoenix, Philadelphia, Boston and DC to name just a few! When we start our search for the best airfare, we use SkyScanner.
New Orleans Airport to New Orleans
There are several ways to get from the NOLA Airport to Downtown – including Private Transfers, Shared Minivans, Taxicabs or Uber (although they cost about the same) and the bus (which has infrequent travel times, but is cheap).
Amtrak to New Orleans
There is limited passenger train service via Amtrak in New Orleans. One of the most popular routes connects Chicago, Memphis and NOLA. However, it is not a particularly fast or cost-effective way to travel…but for train enthusiasts, it could be a lot of fun! Find more information on the official Amtrak website.
Port of New Orleans
The Port NOLA is one of the largest cruise ports in the United States. Many cruise ship itineraries originate (and terminate) in New Orleans with 4- to 7-day itineraries to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.
Where To Stay in New Orleans
Choosing where to stay for 3 nights in New Orleans is quite the task! Choices range from posh boutique hotels in the French Quarter to downtown Central Business District high-rise brand hotels to mid-city hostels to Airbnb Apartments.
New Orleans Accommodations Recommendations
Although there are many choices of hotels in New Orleans, we are sharing a couple recommendations based on our personal experiences.
Inn on St. Ann New Orleans Hotel
On many of our trips to NOLA, we have stayed at the Inn on St. Ann, which is located near Louis Armstrong Park and just a few minutes’ walk to Bourbon Street.
In addition to its proximity to Bourbon Street, what we loved about the Inn on St. Ann was the character of the property, the (relatively) quiet street and the quaint courtyard. Plus, the rooms are affordable in comparison to other nearby hotels. Check rates and availability!
Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans
For my Girls’ Weekend in New Orleans, we opted to stay at the Sheraton New Orleans on Canal Street. The Sheraton is in the Central Business District just steps from the French Quarter and ideally located to reach numerous other NOLA attractions. What I loved about the Sheraton is the spacious, clean rooms with amazing views, comfortable beds and the rooftop pool. Check rates and availability!
What To Pack For Your New Orleans Trip
Comfortable Shoes for Your New Orleans Trip
We include a ton of walking in our New Orleans Itinerary – so be sure to pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes! I love my lightweight Columbia shoes for women and Kris prefers wearing Merrell trail shoes for urban sightseeing.
Weather Appropriate Clothing for 3 Days in New Orleans
New Orleans has a subtropical humid climate – which means that summers are hot and it rains year-round. We’ve already mentioned that the best time to go to New Orleans is from December until May (and it may be wise to avoid the city from June to November, which is hurricane season).
That said, while winters are pleasant – you should still bring a coat. Spring is already getting warm – so consider bringing clothing that can be layered. Summer is downright hot – wearing breathable clothing, a wide-brimmed travel hat, sunscreen and insect repellent is practically required. In Autumn, temperatures don’t really start to drop until November – prepare for summer temps if visiting in September or October.
Because it can rain all year, we recommend bringing a packable raincoat and a travel umbrella on your NOLA trip and a great day bag to organize and secure all of your essential, everyday travel items.
Travel Camera for Visiting New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana is a photogenic locale! Rather than trying to capture the scene with a cell phone camera, we recommend upgrading to a DSLR camera. We carry a Canon Rebel with an everyday 18-135mm lens on all our travels. It is a great camera for beginners as it is easy to use, relatively affordable and comes bundled with heaps of accessories!
Travel Insurance for New Orleans Three Day Itinerary
Things To Do in New Orleans Map
Use this link to Google Maps for an online, interactive version of our Map of New Orleans attractions to better orient yourself with the layout of the city and location of sights.
Before You Go: New Orleans Fun Facts
Now that you are well on your way to planning your New Orleans Itinerary, we have a few last fun facts for your vacation!
French Quarter Street Plan
The streets of the French Quarter were laid out in the 1700s and were named for French royalty and nobility. The names and street plan survive today (including Bourbon Street, which is not named for the alcoholic beverage, but for the French House of Bourbon).
Mardi Gras Trivia Facts
Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans date to the 1800s. However, NOLA did not host the first US Mardi Gras party – that honor goes to Mobile, Alabama. Also, the Mardi Gras colors have meaning: Purple is for justice, Green is for faith and Gold is for power.
New Orleans Nicknames
New Orleans has several nicknames that you might hear when you visit New Orleans for the weekend. Well known as The Big Easy and, although there is contention surrounding who coined the moniker and when, it is agreed that the name embodies the laid-back, easy-going, slow-paced life in the city.
New Orleans is also referred to as the Crescent City – simply because it’s situated on a curve of the Mississippi River that resembles a crescent moon.
Let The Good Times Roll
During your 3 Days in New Orleans, you will likely hear the French phrase, Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler – which means Let the Good Times Roll. It’s the city’s very appropriate motto!
We Want To Know: Have you spent 3 Days in New Orleans? What were your favorite things to do? Is there anything you would add to our 3-Day New Orleans Itinerary? Give us your best tips in the comments below!
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