A New Orleans 3 Day Itinerary to Get To Know The Best Of This City
The only difficult thing about planning a trip to New Orleans is picking the best things to do if you don't have more than five days to spend there. Ideally, one might want to set aside a week for their vacation to New Orleans in order to really get to know everything this amazing city has to offer. However, it may not always be possible to make it a long trip so if you only have three days or even just a weekend, you can use the itinerary we have put together here and make sure you are not missing out on some of the major "must-do" things in this city.
How to Plan A 3 Day Trip To New Orleans
New Orleans is such a unique city in that it made us feel like we were not even in the US anymore. We have yet to experience a city in this country that is so different and offers so many unque things to experience than New Orleans. What was our favorite part of the visit? FOOOOOOOOOD! Yes, we'll get to that because who goes to New Orleans and doesn't want to, at least, try some of the culinary delights? Sure, a lot of folks may visit for the party scene (yes, it offers a lot of that!) but with such a rich history, the culture and cuisine are two things that you can learn a lot from on your trip to New Orleans.
Where To Stay In New Orleans
We stayed inside the French Quarter at Place D'Armes Hotel, one of the most highly rated hotels. It is no surprise to us that this hotel is one of the best places to stay in the French Quarter. The location allowed us to be walking distance to everything which meant not having to spend money on renting a car or getting taxis to get around.
If you want to make your trip more hassle-free, choose a place to stay in the French Quarter. You'll thank us for this recommendation, whether you are visiting during the busy times or during the heat of summer and you want to get back to your hotel quickly after some sightseeing!
Day 1 - Must See French Quarter & Nightlife
It's best to start your three day trip right in the heart of it all: the French Quarter. With so much to do in just this place alone, you can see why some may want to spend more time in New Orleans. With one day to try to see this area, you'll want to make sure you have a good plan.
With the French Quarter being the historic center of the city, you can spend hours just roaming the streets admiring the colorful colonial buildings with their inviting balconies adorned with cast iron railing. You'll undoubtedly want to stop and snap some photos with the beautiful architecture as your backdrop. At times you may even feel as if you are roaming in some European town far away!
Things to do in a nutshell: Jackson Square and St. Louise Cathedral, beignets from Cafe Du Mond, see the Mississippi River, Bourbon Street, parks, shot at French Market
St. Louis Cathedral has to be on the top of your list for sightseeing in the French Quarter. It is THE oldest cathedral in the Unites States that still continues to be used. It has both French and Spanish in it's history and was even burned down once!
Directly across from this cathedral is Jackson Square, a great place to stroll and check out art on display as well as street musicians and more!
From there, you'll want to make your way over to Decatur Street. This historic stretch will introduce you to some great dining options as well as shopping (we list the our recommended restaurants in New Orleans later in the article). You may be inclined to grab a seat at Cafe Du Monde to enjoy some tasty beignets. These sweet treats are a must-eat when in New Orleans!
Once you've had a delicious beignet accompanied by a few sips of chicory coffee from Cafe Du Monde, you'll be energized to spend some time in the French Market nearby. This covered market makes a great place to get away from the heat for a while if you happen to visit in the summertime. There are some unique treats you can try here as well as some souvenir shopping. Otherwise, just walking around and checking out all the unique products is a lovely way to spend some time as well.
The French Market dates back to 1782 and is considered the oldest market in the US, so that alone should be reason enough to give this place a top spot on any visitor's bucket list of places to see in New Orleans.
If you're not much of a "partier" like us and still want to have something to do in the evening that is both entertaining and fun, head over to Fritzel's European Jazz Club. We enjoyed our time sipping drinks and listening to the live music here and reminisce about our time there often.
Here are some of our favorite attractions and tours if you really want to pack your first day in New Orleans with more fun:
Day 2 - Garden District Nearby Sightseeing
On the second day this itinerary takes you out of the French Quarter to give you a taste of just what's outside and around New Orleans. History and architecture will still be the main theme on todays adventures around New Orleans.
Things to do on your second day in a nutshell: Ride Trolley, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, Eat At Commander's Palace, Haunted Tours
We suggest getting on the trolley and heading over to the Garden District. In New Orleans, the trolley is referred to as a streetcar and you will want to hop on the famous St. Charles Streetcar. The line on which this streetcar runs on is the longest in the city and the railway system is the oldest in the world! Check fares and schedules so that you'll know exactly where and when to get on.
Along the edge of the French Quarter, you can get on at the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Common Street. To Stroll through the Garden District, you can get off at St. Charles and Jackson and walk a couple of blocks down to Buckner Mansion which is a nice historic landmark to start your tour.
From the Buckner Mansion, walk down Coliseum Street (heading Southwest) and be sure not to miss some other historic landmarks such as: Carroll-Crawford House, Pritchard-Pigot House, Walter Grinnan Robinson House, and Musson-Bell House.
Once you hit Washington Avenue, you can go on a quick walk in the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. This historic cemetery is where some of the very first Irish and German settlers are buried. Make sure it is open to the public before your visit, as there can be some repair work done at times.
Pro-tip: Take an umbrella with you if you are visiting in the summer. It will help block the sun on your walk as well as provide some shade to help keep you a bit cooler.
Before heading out of the Garden District, have some dinner at Commander's Palace and enjoy a bit of Creole fare.
On your way back over to the French Quarter, stop over in the Central Business District to get a feel for the "Downtown" of New Orleans. You can also just ride through and check out the scene.
To close out your second day in New Orleans, check out a different scene over on Frenchmen Street. It's like a more chilled out version of Bourbon Street. The Spotted Cat Music club was one of our favorite places to hang out on this street.
Day 3 - Take A Day Trip To Oak Alley Plantation
On the third day of your New Orleans vacation, you're in for a treat at Oak Alley Plantation. There are some other plantations you can visit as well. We chose Oak Alley Plantation solely on the photos we had seen and how beautiful the oaks trees looked. We were pleasantly treated to much more than the picturesque pathway created at the front entrance of the plantation. The entire property is an enchanting place to explore. While it is gorgeous in appearance now, there is an ugly history of slavery in it's past. It is an important part of America's history that we felt was something we needed more education on and visiting this plantation gave us a small glimpse into that.
You can certainly do a half day trip to Oak Alley Plantation from New Orleans if you want to have more time for activities before you leave. However, we highly suggest a night's stay in one of the cottages at the Oak Alley Plantation Inn. This historic landmark with sugar cane fields, stunning architecture, and peaceful gardens is worth spending a night at so that you can truly take it all in.
Staying here will give you a chance to experience it without all the tours and crowds that come in during the day. You'll be able to take your time strolling through the property in the evening and even take photos without anyone else in them!
Insider tip: Try the mint julep after taking the tour of the house. It will hit the spot!
Best Time To Visit New Orleans
If New Orleans is on your USA bucket list of places to see, make sure that your trip is not dampened by visiting at a "bad" time. Here are some tips of what to consider for your visit to the Crescent City.
One thing to keep in mind is that whether you are in New Orleans for a 2 or 3 day weekend, you'll be doing a lot of activities outside. Having said that, you'll want visit at a time of year that allows for the most comfortable temperatures outdoors. Most of the time you'll be out and about walking in the streets or checking out the sites and the weather can really make or break your trip.
We happen to visit New Orleans in the early part of July only because that is the time our friends were going and they were the ones who invited us. At the time, I was 4 months pregnant and still feeling pretty "light" and energetic. It was definitely a great place to babymoon and I would recommend it to anyone! However, I would not recommend going in July. Even if you are not pregnant, the heat and humidity is pretty intense during this time of year.
The ideal time for a trip to New Orleans would be during Spring and Fall months. It will still be warm quite warm even if you go in May, but a lot more tolerable that July and August. You'll be able to go out and walk around most of the day without feeling like you are going to pass out from the heat and sun beaming on your head!
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, staying in the French Quarter will make it easy to get around. Since you will be spending most of of your three days in New Orleans in and around that area, you'll be able to just walk to wherever you need to go. Additionally, walking will allow you to explore and see more!
Not having a car will also be less of a hassle since you won't need to search for parking (it can be though in the French Quarter!) The trolley (streetcar) is a great option for getting around in New Orleans. It's easy and convenient and stops at all the great attractions to help you get your sightseeing in without having to drive yourself. Riding the streetcar in New Orleans is an experience in itself and also give syou the chance to look around and see things along the way.
There were times that we also used rideshare apps to get around. The distances are not far so the fares are reasonable. We didn't have to use this option more than a couple of times. Mostly, it came in handy due to my pregnancy and just sheer convenience and ease.
Where To Eat In New Orleans
If you don't eat in New Orleans have you even been there?! A huge part of visiting New Orleans has to be focused on the Creole and Cajun cuisine. These dishes, native to New Orleans are a must-try for visitors. Here are our top restaurant picks where you can have the best:
- The Original Pierre Maspero's - (Try the fried alligator and Cajun sampler)
- Nola Poboys
- Mr. Ed's Oyster Bar and Fish House
- Deanie's Seafood
New Orleans Three Day Getaway Final Thoughts
This New Orleans 3 day itinerary is based on our own personal experience. We wanted to share all of our favorite attractions and places to go sightseeing so that visitors to this amazing city can have an epic experience like we did. Not only did we meet up with another couple friend of ours here, but it was also an unforgettable baby moon for us. We hope that the information in this article can be helpful if you are planning a trip to New Orleans, but if you have any questions or want more tips, please drop us a comment below!
Here are some other epic places to visit around the United States:
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- How To Spend A Day San Francisco
About the Author
Hi! I'm just a California girl addicted to travel and adventure with a passion for art and dance on the side. Born in Iran, but I consider myself a citizen of Earth, adhering to the belief that "The world is but one country and mankind its citizen." I strive to make a positive impact on everyone I meet and learn as much as possible from them. My degree out of college is in Marketing. However, I entered the hospitality business at an early age and worked my way up to hotel management. After about 13 years in that industry (5 of which I was a hotel assistant manager), I made the decision to move to Thailand and leave the 9 to 5 grind behind. My husband and I set off for a life of living abroad and hopes to continue traveling the world, just 3 months after our wedding. It all started with the two of us, along with our cat, together in Thailand. Can't wait to see where life takes us next!