I grew up in Louisiana, just hours away from New Orleans. From traveling with family, friends, school groups, work trips, or for a romantic getaway, there’s so many ways to enjoy the city. With about a dozen trips under my belt and several friends who are life long locals, I want to share some of the best spots to visit if you only have one weekend to experience the best of the Big Easy.
New Orleans has one of the most notorious “vibes” on the planet. Whether you’ve visited or not, you know the city has a feeling and heartbeat. The food, the people, the architecture, and the town’s attitude are all equally unforgettable. As one of the most culturally unique destinations in the world, there is too much of New Orleans to adequately cover all in one weekend. We know that many of us don’t get enough time off work, and we must squeeze as many memorable moments into one trip as possible. While the one-weekend visit will have you longing for more, here’s your weekend itinerary for your quick getaway to New Orleans. Save some headaches and many hours of planning by stealing my itinerary. Here we go!
FRIDAY: FLY TO NEW ORLEANS & HIT THE TOWN
- Of course, fill in the blank with your home airport
- Depending on your work schedule and location, you might be able to catch a flight after the work day. Otherwise, you might want to schedule time off to fly over.
- Arrive, commute into New Orleans, and check in to your stay
- Recommendation: Just take a Lyft or Uber from the airport. It will be pricey, but it’s much easier than all other transit options. For such a short trip, we recommend staying in a hotel in either the French Quarter at the iconic Hotel Roosevelt or near the Garden District at The Pontchartrain Hotel. If you stay at the Pontchartrain (pronounced pahn-cha-train), check out the very cool Hot Tin rooftop bar.
- Kick off the trip with dinner, dessert, and drinks
- Honestly, you could eat just about anywhere in the city and get a fantastic meal. But if you want the best, stop by Arnaud’s, Commander’s Palace, or Brennan’s for an unbelievably incredible cajun or creole dinner.
- If you can stand to forgo the homemade bread pudding for dessert, go for a pick-me-up that will knock your socks off at Cafe Du Monde. Balance the powdered sugar goodness that is a freshly fried beignet with dark roasted chicory coffee. You’re in for a treat before heading out for drinks! What’s a beignet? Well, saying it’s similar to a donut with no hole would be an accurate description. But that’s even a little offensive to this Louisiana native as nothin’ should steal a beignet’s thunder.
- For after-dinner drinks with a uniquely New Orleans flair, head to the Carousel Bar to enjoy a mojito or sazerac to the sound of a live jazz band. Is the world spinning? It’s not all in your head – yet! If you’re lucky enough to get a seat at the Carousel Bar, the bar moves a full rotation every 15 minutes.
- Head back to the hotel and rest for the next day
SATURDAY: MARDI GRAS & ALL THAT JAZZ
- Jazz Brunch
- Recommendation: enjoy a live jazz brunch buffet at Court of Two Sisters. We promise this is not your grandma’s buffet. The menu offers spicy gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, meats, and of course, all the fixins.
- Shop and explore the French Quarter
- Take a tour of Mardi Gras World
- Since the spirit of Mardi Gras is always alive, but not every Tuesday is Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras World is the perfect place to see how the magic happens. On tour, you’ll learn about the history of Mardi Gras, see artists at work sculpting float pieces, tour massive floats, and even enjoy a slice of king cake.
- Eat Po-Boy’s for lunch
- Recommendation: Try the shrimp or roast beef po-boy at Joey K’s in the Garden District.
- Meander through the Garden District
- This area is perfect for wandering through the shops to find handcrafted gifts, souvenirs, or works of art. Find shops of all kinds, from vintage to baby boutiques to large retailers like West Elm.
- Rest and Recoup at the hotel
- Along with the name, the Big Easy comes with a laid-back attitude. You’ve done a lot of walking and good eating so far. Now it’s time to rest, nap, or dip in the hotel pool. Take a minute to recharge your phone and your own batteries before another night of hitting the town.
- Early dinner at a local restaurant
- Recommendation: whichever of the spots from last night’s suggestions you didn’t hit!
- After dinner fun – choose your own adventure – evening river cruise or ghost tour
- Combine music and sightseeing in one go with an evening on the Creole Queen River Cruise. For 2.5 hours, enjoy sounds Louis Armstrong would be proud of as you take in the views along the Mississippi River.
- If ghosts and scary stories are your thing, take a late-night ghost tour to visit the spooky haunts of the city. Honestly, we are NOT into spooks and spirits, so we have no personal recommendations for you. Check out these recs of haunted tours from NewOrleans.com. No one knows the city better than they do!
- Commute back to your overnight stay and rest up for tomorrow’s travel day
SUNDAY: CANAL STREET & SUNDAY BRUNCH // FLY HOME
- Streetcar tour of New Orleans
- Hop on the Canal Streetcar for a casual tour down Canal Street. Hop off and catch the St. Charles Streetcar you can ride to brunch. This is a fantastic way to get one last look at what all sides of New Orleans are like. It’s safe, secure, and definitely budget-friendly.
- Commute to one of the New Orleans airport
- Check in at the airport and kiss the Louisiana goodbye (for now!)
Need another weekend escape? Check out our guide to a chill weekend in Miami!