Just want to get away? Want to escape to a city that is full of life, color, joy, history and of course a love of celebration? Adventure to New Orleans.
Often times in my travels I have a total of 48 hours to experience a city (I’m a true weekend warrior). I’ve mastered the art of tackling the high points, finding some low points and squeezing the most out of every location I travel to. There’s a beauty in a quick 48 hour visit anywhere; there are no excuses, one must hit the ground running and be ready to experience just about every and anything.
Got 48 hours in New Orleans, let me guide you.
Traveling to New Orleans:
Ensure your travels allow for two full days in New Orleans. As a result of our location in Arizona, we often take the final flight out of AZ the night prior to any East Coast adventure beginning. For us that means a late Thursday night flight, allowing us to take off after the work or school day and arrive in New Orleans around 11pm. This provides the opportunity to spend all day Friday adventuring, all day Saturday exploring with a flight home mid-day on Sunday.
Additional Details – Hotels, Transportation, Plans to make ahead:
Before adventuring begins, feel confident in where you lie your head. Some top hotel selections include.
- Q&C Hotel and Bar, an Autograph Collection Hotel
The Queen and Crescent Hotel is a modern yet vintage inspired gem paying homage to New Orleans history. I have stayed here multiple times as I love the vibe as well as the customer service. The hotel is tucked sweetly between all things New Orleans. Sitting just .3 miles from Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, .7 miles from the Port of New Orleans and 1 mile from Frenchman Street. It’s breakfast selection allows for delicious fuel as your day begins and the rooms are quaint with incredible decor.
- New Orleans Marriott
Situated on Canal Street in the heart of New Orleans city center, New Orleans Marriott allows one to step outside and start their very own walking adventure. Providing easy access to all landmarks and attractions. This hotel has more of a corporate conference vibe, but provides New Orleans at your finger tips.
- Domio Baronne St.
Traveling in a larger group; bachelorette / bachelor party, family, girls weekend… Domio is an apartment-hotel experience providing the comforts of home with the amenities of a hotel. Domio is a new modern building located within the Warehouse District of New Orleans providing hip modern interiors.
- Andrew Jackson Hotel
If you’re looking for a haunted stay, the Andrew Jackson Hotel is famed for being an old all boys orphanage that burned to the ground. It is said to be haunted by the boys who perished in the fire. It is also famous for being the courthouse in which Andrew Jackson was fined for being held in contempt of court – leading to its famed name. Located in the heart of the French Quarter its architecture, long history, and Southern hospitality are unrivaled. It is set just far enough off of Bourbon Street to allow for a decent nights sleep, if the spirits allow.
Transportation is unnecessary in New Orleans. An easy 20 minute cab ride from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to the heart of the city will get you started. Uber, the Regional Transit Authority (including charming street cars), Blue Bike and of course your own two feet will be all you need to see and explore for the duration of your trip.
Hello! New Orleans! Wake early and get your day started. Our family often times uses our favorite TV shows and movies as inspiration for sites to see as we travel. On my most recent trip to New Orleans I was helping my bonus babe explore sites from the Netflix show The Originals. We used this Bustle guide to help us find key locations and sites. If you are not exploring shows and movie sites, here’s how you should navigate your day.
Day 1 is always when we hit the ground running. For one, it ensures we see, explore and do everything we dreamed of doing on our trip. For two, it allows for freedom, souvenir shopping and a slower pace to revisit favorites on Day 2. Without further ado… lets get day 1 started!
Explore the streets of the French Quarter and specifically Bourbon Street during the day. There is something so special about the combination of the French, Spanish and Haitian cultures that influenced the architecture of this beautiful city. The French Quarter predominately portrays Creole Townhouses with up to four-story structures and wrought iron balconies or galleries. The structures are made more charming with all of the hanging flower baskets, gas lamps and shutters. It is incredible to see these streets during the day prior to the nightly celebration and libations. The streets are more quiet and quaint and show the cities true roots and history.
Two incredibly important and historically relevant sites in New Orleans – Jackson Square with St. Louis Cathedral overlooking, sit in the heart of the city facing the Mississippi River. Surrounded by historical buildings and architecture, by day Jackson Square is a beautiful square providing a slow down from the fast paced city within its gates and an open-air artists colony lining its exterior gates. Artists share their craft, photos and paintings while performances abound. By night the artists colony converts to a magical and whimsical location filled with tarot card readers, fortune tellers and magicians. St. Louis Cathedral positioned to overlook Jackson Square has been a designated church site since 1721. Independent walking tours are available throughout the day, but what’s more incredible is the architecture and imagery by night. At the back of St. Louis Cathedral, the small statue of Jesus (which is picturesque during daylight) is back lit and creates a giant shadow on the Cathedral overlooking the French Quarter.
When in New Orleans you cannot miss stepping into a VooDoo Shop, VooDoo is a deep and lasting part of their culture. It’s a journey of the senses. But, truly, to understand VooDoo one must understand its roots. “VooDoo was brought to New Orleans in the 1700’s through slaves and was infused into the dominate religion of the region, Catholicism. Evolving to VooDoo-Catholicism. Today, VooDoo lives on through people who see it as part of their culture.” (read: The True History and Faith Behind VooDoo) At the very least, ensure you see a shop simply to say that you did.
Cafe du Monde and eating Beignets
If you didn’t eat a beignet, were you really in New Orleans? The answer – absolutely not. Cafe du Monde has been around since 1862 serving beignets and coffee, allowing it to name itself “The Original French Market Coffee Stand”. I’m thinking it could remove French Market and just state it was the original coffee stand. The menu is limited to beverages ranging from Cafe Au Lait, Chicory, Milk, Chocolate Milk, soda and water and beignets. Beignets, a square French style doughnut doused liberally in powdered sugar, were brought to Louisiana by the Acadians. All I can say is thank you. Eat these every chance you get. Morning, noon, night, open 24 hours a day, really it’s simply when it fits into your travels.
Y’all this place is below sea level. If you didn’t know, now you know, but I bet you knew. This poses a real problem when laying people to rest. As a solution, residents determined that individuals would be entombed in above ground marble chambers. Such a cemetery is a site to behold. Both guided and independent walking tours are available. Famous Orleanians to be found in these above ground cemeteries include: Marie Laveau (VooDoo Queen) & Civil War General P.G.T. Beauregard (more on this fella later…).
After all the walking, touring and eating, it’s about time to rest and rejuvenate. Enjoy a ride on the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar. Hop on near Canal Street and ride to the end of the line and back. It will only cost you $1.25 for the hour and a half rest and sight see. You will enjoy a ride down the neutral ground (most of us call this space the median) and see such sights as Loyal and Tulane Universities, Audubon Park and of course as we were told, you might just have a celebrity sighting. It is said that Drew Brees, Beyonce and other famous folks have or have had homes on this crescent streetcar route. Taking this ride also give you a chance to rest up for an evening walking ghost tour…
I’m not much of a ghosts, goblins and ghouls kind of gal… BUT, my bonus babe is. So on our visit to New Orleans we booked an evening walking ghost tour. Frankly, I have to admit, it is a must in a city rich with such culture and haunted history. Our tour was conducted by Haunted History Tours and our guide was Randy (get him if you can), we chose the haunted history tour because it sounded the most appealing to the both of us. The tour itself was awesome. We learned an incredible amount of history and of course haunted details of buildings and famous Orleanians (remember P.G.T. Beauregard). Pick the tour that appeals to you, there is a broad range including VooDoo and Vampire Tours, Ghost Tours by bike, Drunk History Tours, Paranormal Tours, Killers and Thrillers Tours… You get the point, you’ll find what you are looking for.
Ok, time to rest.. Night y’all…
As happy accidents do, the original plan fell apart, but what came together was much better. The intention was to wake and start the day with another round of Cafe Du Monde Beignets, but we moved slower as promised, we had a schedule plantation tour and the lines were just simply too long and lingering. Time wasn’t on our side. So, instead we walked Woldenberg Riverfront Park, caught the cool morning breeze, enjoyed the swooshing water of the Mighty Mississippi and stumbled into a new and better plan.
Ok, so Cafe Beignet is not Cafe Du Monde. But what it is, is a quaint little shop, with live music, more available seating, cleaner bathrooms and delicious beignets. Really all that mattered to us were the delicious beignets, but the rest was surely a win as well. It also happened to be located a mere 1 minute walk from where our tour bus was to depart from the Gray Line New Orleans tour terminal. Oh, and it was literally on the opposite side of Jackson Square, a mere .1 miles and 3 minute walk from Cafe Du Monde. I got multiple message on my Instagram feed to try Cafe Beignet as well as good old Cafe Du Monde and the suggestions were not only handy, they were welcome. Cafe Beignet is a full cafe serving breakfast, New Orleans specialties, sandwiches, specialty cocktails, a selection of sweets and of course beignets. I would recommend staying away from any other sweets (they just weren’t that good, we know we tried them). But, it did appear that all menu items were delicious and well received by other patrons. And we can definitely share from our experience, the beignets were GREAT!
A plantation tour is a must when visiting New Orleans. The Mr and I enjoyed a self driven and self guided tour of Oak Alley Plantation years ago. And the bonus and I enjoyed a guided tour bus and house tour of Oak Alley Plantation on our recent visit. First, plantations offer a rich and devastating look back on history that is important to learn and experience. Second, plantations provide beautiful insight to cultural differences from the past to present. And third, plantations are incredibly beautiful structures that have stood the test of time. There are a number of plantations to tour in New Orleans – Laura Plantation, Evergreen Plantation, Whitney Plantation and there is the possibility to see and experience a working plantation at Joseph Plantation.
Take note a plantation tour will take the majority of said day. It is a one hour bus ride, followed by two hours to explore the plantation, with a one hour return ride.
Want to feel like you’re really in the “Big Easy”? Stumble upon street musicians. They are sprinkled throughout the French Quarter and dot the perimeter of Jackson Square. You cannot miss their presence or their music. It is a beautiful sight to see, people performing so freely. Stroll by, take in a song and just enjoy. Street music is the ultimate and quintessential New Orleans.
One cannot walk down a street in New Orleans without finding a cute little boutique, an art gallery or a gift shop filled to the brim with goodies. Just ensure you make time to take time and shop. T-shirts, Praline’s, all things Cafe Du Monde… There is a gift for any and everyone. We leave purchasing souvenirs for our final day of travels, though we bop in and out of shops throughout our journey. This allows us to pick exactly what we like, go back to a cool shop on a corner and ensure we have room in our suit cases. It ensures we don’t buy too much and leaves us hands free during all of our previous adventuring. Shopping always adds joy to a slower paced day.
WHERE TO EAT
I saved the best for last…
There is an abundance of delicious food in New Orleans, so really, you can’t go wrong. But, I’ll share some of our favorites just to ensure you get a taste of the Big Easy.
1| Sylvain – This is my absolute favorite restaurant in New Orleans. Every. Single. Time. I. Visit. The Mr and I ate there on a date night on my first visit and ever since I’ve been hooked. I’ve taken co-workers and the bonus babe. Tucked into a carriage house within the French Quarter and just steps away from Jackson Square this little restaurant is quaint and delicious. The cocktails are incredible. The food amazing. Where I’ve tried most everything on the menu, I return again and again for the Sylvain Burger or the Chick-Syl-vain.
2| Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar – If a line around the block is any indication of something delicious and worth trying, then you best get in line. Felix’s in the French Quarter always has a line. And the line is well worth the wait. May I suggest saddling up to the Oyster Bar and watching the magic happen. Oyster shucking is an art the folk at Felix’s have mastered. Known for serving Louisiana Seafood, may I suggest that you dig into the Buffalo Oysters, the Bayou Platter Sample, Shrimp & Grits or the Fried Fish Platter.
3| Emeril’s Delmonico – Want to take it up a notch? Have a night to indulge in fancy a bit? Need to find a spot for a business dinner? Delmonico is the place. Visiting an Emeril restaurant in New Orleans is a must. Frankly, growing up he was the face of New Orleans cuisine, to miss a bite at one of his establishments just doesn’t seem right. Delmonico is situated on the famed St. Charles Ave Streetcar Line and serves traditional Creole cuisine. Enjoy the Stuffed Boudin Balls, Royal Red Shrimp Cocktail, Baked Oysters Jean Saint Malo, any entree you desire (I promise they’re all delicious), and be sure to end your evening indulging in the Traditional Bananas Fosters.
4| NOLA Restaurant – Though there are a number of other famous chef’s in New Orleans now, I have to stick with another Emeril restaurant. NOLA was my very first official New Orleans dinner dining experience. NOLA fuses Creole, Acadian and Southern cuisine. Tucked into the French Quarter, its exterior architecture is quaint and inviting, but once inside the fun begins. The three story restaurant has an “open-action” kitchen. Order Emeril’s famous Emeril’s Barbequed Shrimp, Aged Cheddar Cheese Popovers, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake and of course end with something sweet like Pineapple Rum Cake.
5| Commander’s Palace – Potentially one of the most famous New Orleans restaurants around since 1893. Tucked into the Garden District, sitting just across the street from Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, the now famous Commander’s Blue and white striped awnings draw one in. Having won seven James Beard Foundation Awards to date the menu speaks for itself. Enjoy brunch, lunch, dinner or just simply join Commander’s for dessert. Enjoy Crawfish Gnocchi, Southern Sweet Tea Glazed Pork Belly, the Classic Commander’s Salad or Chef Tory’s Playground Tasting Menu.
6| Brennan’s Restaurant – Named the “Best Restaurant in the World” by Conde Nast Traveler should at least be on your list to look into. Open in the French Quarter since 1946, with an old-world dining room takes guest back in time, while also providing incredible traditional Louisiana cuisine. Give Turtle Soup a try or dig into Crispy Shrimp Crepes Robuchon, Duo of Porcelet or Blackened Redfish. To note if traveling with kiddos, the Kids Menu is simple, yet satisfying.
7| Pat O’Brien’s – Because similar to Cafe Du Monde, were you really in New Orleans if you didn’t experience Pat O’Brien’s? The answer – maybe. One of the most famous Bourbon Street jaunts, known for it’s Hurricane, a beverage made up of a whole bunch of rums in order to not taste like rum (there’s a history behind this bevvy you may learn on one of your walking tours). Check out the patio for a quick drink or a small bite, but really go to enjoy the atmosphere. The food is ok, but to check the box that you experience Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans may be worth the just ok. Plus the front Main Bar just off of Bourbon Street is a great place to grab drinks with friends along your journey.
8| Arnaud’s Restaurant – Brunch? Did someone say brunch? Enjoy a jazz brunch at Arnaud’s on Sunday’s from 10am – 2pm. After a Saturday night on the town, there’s no better way to start a Sunday than with Sunday brunch. My mouth is watering. Enjoy their signature dish Shrimp Arnaud, Creole Cream Cheese Evangeline or Eggs Hussarde.
9| Effervescence Bubbles & Bites – Late night bites… I mean when adventuring in New Orleans, day becomes night and night becomes late night real quick. Effervescence is the spot to go. Open 4pm – 1ppm Wednesday & Thursday and 3pm – 1am on Friday & Saturday, you’re sure to feed a craving. The menu is full of delicious bites including Avocado Lettuce Cups, Grilled Levain Toast, Spicy Tuna & Panisse.
10| Don’t forget about Cafe Du Monde! I mean what would a food list be without adding it one more time? I promise you, you’ll thank me later!
* The Praline Connection – I asked locals on one of our tours where we should eat. All of the resoundingly responded with The Praline Connection. I cannot speak to the menu and the location seems to be currently temporarily closed, but, I had to share the local suggestion, because often times locals know best. So, if you’re in New Orleans and looking for a delicious pit stop chosen by locals, check to see of the Praline Connection has reopened. There is a pop-up in the airport you can try on your way out of town.
** To Avoid – Cafe Maspero on Decatur Street is always busy due to proximity to everything and access, however, the service is slow and the food mediocre. Don’t fall into the ease trap with this one. Similarly, don’t compromise and dine at New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Co. Service is lacking and there are far better options a few block off of the main drag of Decatur.
Want more, read New Orleans 24/7 since 1718 New Orleans Cuisine. They’ve got you covered!
Have an incredible trip! Share your stories with us!