If it’s your first trip to New Orleans or you’ve been many times – 3 days in New Orleans is the perfect amount of time in the ‘Big Easy’. We’ve put together the perfect 3-day itinerary in New Orleans to ensure an amazing trip. Use this guide for help planning the perfect trip whether you are traveling during the weekend or visiting mid-week.
Jump to info on a weekend in New Orleans:
Where To Stay in New Orleans
We suggest staying in the French Quarter, as it’s within walking distance to most of the things to do in New Orleans, tons of great restaurants, and there is something for all budgets.
We recently stayed at the Le Meridien, which is located in the Central Business District next to the French Quarter. It was the perfect location for us! We could walk to Jackson Square, Bourbon Street, easily catch the streetcar, and everything was within was in a 15-minute walk. It was also key that we were able to get a good nights rest. We visited in June so it was super convenient to be able to walk back/take an Uber back to the hotel a few times to cool down and relax for a few minutes in between sightseeing in New Orleans. They also have a fun bar with great drinks, it’s a good spot to grab a drink before heading out for the night.
If you plan on spending most of your time in on Bourbon Street we suggest staying on Royal Street or Chartres Street. There are several small boutique hotels with not only a great location to all the action but are full of character and charm. There are some hotels right on Bourbon Street. If like to party all night and don’t mind the noise, this is an option too.
If you’re on a budget, consider not visiting New Orleans on a weekend. Hotel rates are much cheaper during weekdays, or you could do 3 days in New Orleans with only one night on the weekend.
Things To Do In New Orleans
1. Cemetery Tour
If you only have time for one tour in New Orleans go on a cemetery tour. Yes, it sounds weird, but it’s a must. The most famous cemetery in New Orleans in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, which you can only enter with a tour guide. It’s best to book a tour online here in advance. Tours do sell out on the weekends and high season, we suggest booking online here for $20. Tours are Monday-Saturday 10, 11:30 am, 1 pm and Sundays at 10 am only.
2. Visit A Medium
One of the coolest things we did in New Orleans is meet with Cari Roy, who is New Orleans most famous medium. We had our reading at Muriel’s in Jackson Square which is often referred to one of the most haunted places in New Orleans. Cari brought up people in our lives that we have never talked about on our website or mentioned. We had an amazing experience and now are definitely believers. Click here to learn more about Cari Roy and how to book a reading with her, her rates are $100 for 30 minutes or $150 for an hour. Walking around the French Quarter you’ll also see several people with tables set up to read tarot cards or a physic reading.
3. Go Kayaking
If you’re looking for a peaceful afternoon or looking for something adventurous to do in New Orleans, head out on a kayak. We really enjoyed our kayak tour. Our guide was full of New Orleans knowledge and history. Kayak tours are only $45 a person and are daily at 9 am and 6 pm. We went out at 6 pm and the weather was gorgeous. Click here to view kayak tour times and options.
4. Visit Frenchmen Street
If you love live music and are looking for some good Jazz music head to Frenchmen Street. This is our favorite spot for New Orleans nightlife. It’s way tamer than Bourbon Street but still a great time. It’s common to run into brass bands right our on the street. We did on Wednesday night. They were amazing! They ended up getting such a crowd that traffic was blocked until they finished.
5. Ride The Streetcar
The New Orleans streetcars are a super easy and cheap way to get to many of the attractions in New Orleans. If you don’t end up riding the streetcar head to St. Charles to get a great photo of one with the oak trees lining the track. If you’re spending a weekend in New Orleans consider getting a daily pass for $3 it’s good for 24 hours.
6. See The Floats At Mardi Gras World
If you don’t visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras you can still see the floats. Visit Mardi Gras World and learn about all the planning that goes into Mardi Gras each year and see some of the best Mardi Gras floats. If you’re looking for things to do in New Orleans with kids this is a great activity. Tickets are only $22 for adults and $14 for children.
Address: 380 Port of New Orleans Pl
7. Have A Drink At Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
Lafitte’s was built in 1722 and is the oldest structure used as a bar in the United States. It’s located on Bourbon Street but near the end so it’s a little quieter. It’s also considered one of the most haunted places in New Orleans.
Address: 941 Bourbon St
8. Wander Around Jackson Square
You’ll find yourself in Jackson Square multiple times when spending a weekend in New Orleans. Jackson Square is located in the French Quarter and right across the street from Cafe du Monde, the famous place for beignets in New Orleans. The Andrew Jackson statue and gorgeous St. Louis Cathedral are in Jackson Square. On the weekends in New Orleans, Jackson Square is full of artists selling their artwork and goods, during the weekend there are still some vendors.
Address: 700 Decatur St
9. Take A Ride On The Steamboat Natchez Down The Mississippi River
Ride on one of the last remaining steamboats in New Orleans down the Mississippi River. Cruises are two hours long and go by the French Quarter and city’s shoreline. There are several different cruises available and the most popular are the dinner cruises and jazz cruises. We recommend booking the jazz brunch cruise for $34, click here to book online.
10. People Watch On Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street is a great place to start the night, stay all night, or end the night. There is always something going on no matter what time of year you visit. Grab a drink and walk down the street or sit in a window seat and watch the world go by.
Where To Eat In New Orleans
New Orleans is a foodie destination, leave your diet at home because you won’t want to miss out. It can be overwhelming when picking where to eat in New Orleans so we put together our favorites that should be included on all 3 days in New Orleans itinerary.
Cafe du Monde
New Orleans’ most famous restaurant is Cafe du Monde serving up fresh beignets and their signature coffee with chicory. Established in 1862 this coffee stand is open 24 hours a day, it’s always a good time for a beignet in New Orleans. There is often a long line for a table so if you happen to be in Jackson Square and don’t see a line head over. If the line is really long go to the back side and order at the to-go window and get some beignets and enjoy them in Jackson Square. An order of beignets is actually 3 beignets so consider splitting an order. Located in the French Quarter. CASH ONLY
Address: 800 Decatur St
Royal House Oyster Bar
As the name suggests, the Royal House Oyster Bar specializes in Oysters. Their oysters Rockefeller are a must! They also feature an oyster duo which features oysters on the half shell and oysters Rockefeller. The menu has all the New Orleans favorites crawfish etouffee, shrimp & grits, Po-Boys, redfish, and more. Located in the French Quarter.
Address: 441 Royal St
They feature an all week brunch menu and endless mimosas for only $15. We highly suggest the truffled crab claws, turtle soup, and their eggs benedict with a New Orleans twist (Poached eggs, fried oysters, ham, English muffin, and sauce Hollandaise). Located in the French Quarter.
Address: 616 St Peter St
Every local we asked raved about Elizabeth’s, as well as our Instagram followers, Uber drivers, and hotel staff. If you’re spending the weekend in New Orleans this is the spot for Saturday breakfast. We visited for dinner and didn’t have to wait as most people don’t realize they also serve dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Everything on the menu was amazing! We ordered way too much but the whole menu sounded tasty. A few must items to order: praline bacon and deep-fried blue cheese oysters. Located in the Bywater area of New Orleans.
Address: 601 Gallier St
Another recommendation for locals is The Joint serving up the best BBQ in New Orleans. We opted to split a plate of their brisket with their housemade BBQ sauce, which was vinegar-based and way different (in a good way) than another BBQ sauce we’ve had. Portions are large so consider sharing.
Address: 701 Mazant St
St Roch Market
If you’re like us and want to try a little of everything head to St Roch Market. It’s an 1875 building turned into a cool market hall with several local restaurants serving up some of the best food in New Orleans. It’s great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We went on a Saturday morning and grabbed a coffee at Coast Roast Coffee and ordered some trash grits from Fete au Fete which is often referred to as having the best shrimp and grits in New Orleans. The trash grits are cheese grits with smoked pulled pork, grilled onions, smoked gouda, sriracha sauce, and a poached egg. Yeah, it’s a perfect hangover cure in case you had a wild weekend in New Orleans.
Where To Go Out In New Orleans
Our favorite place to go out in New Orleans is Frenchmen Street. This is the best place in New Orleans for live music and some of the best Jazz music in the city can be found any night of the week. If you’re lucky you’ll also run into a brass band playing right on Frenchmen Street. If you’re looking for great nightlife in New Orleans but want something way tamer than Bourbon Street, then Frenchmen Street is for you.
We’re not going to tell you not to go to Bourbon because that would just be silly. A visit to New Orleans wouldn’t be complete without visiting Bourbon Street. We suggest having a few drinks and snapping a few photos when all the neon lights on Bourbon Street turn on. No matter what time of year or what day of the week, the nightlife on Bourbon Street is always going on. If you’re spending a weekend in New Orleans, Bourbon Street will be crazy busy with bachelor and bachelorette parties which are very popular in New Orleans.
Bourbon Street is a great place for people watching. We love catching a table in a window and watching everyone walk by. We highly suggest visiting places beyond Bourbon Street while in New Orleans– if the only thing you see when spending a weekend in New Orleans is Bourbon Street, that is a big mistake. There is so much more to New Orleans than Bourbon Street, hence why we recommend 3 days in New Orleans so you can explore more of the city.
Getting Around New Orleans
If you are planning on staying in New Orleans and not venturing outside the city, we don’t suggest renting a car. Parking rates at hotels in New Orleans are often $30-50 a night.
We find Uber in New Orleans or Lyft is super easy – always there in less than 5 minutes, and super cheap. On our last trip 3 days in New Orleans, we took 20 Uber trips and only spent $173.22. Please note we visited in June and it was super hot, so we took Ubers for anything over a mile and we went all over the city. Uber and Lyft seemed to be about the same price when we compared. We just typically use Uber so we stuck with that.
New Orleans Streetcar
The New Orleans Streetcar is super easy and affordable. A 24-hour pass is only $3 and you can ride as many rides as you want and see many different neighborhoods in New Orleans.
The only way we would take a taxi in New Orleans was if our phone died and couldn’t order an Uber. You never know how much it’s going to be and you need to know where you want to go.
No matter how you spend a weekend in New Orleans you’ll have an amazing time. For more resources on thing to do in New Orleans, where to stay in New Orleans, or general New Orleans tips make sure to check out Visit New Orleans.
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Our trip to New Orleans was in partnership with New Orleans & Company, all opinions are our own.This post may contain affiliate links, see our disclosure