Nawlins, The Big Easy, Nola. No matter what you know it as, New Orleans is known for three main things…Mardis Gras, Jazz, and great food. There is so much to see and do in this city you really need a week to take it all in. If you’re looking for a getaway to a city full of culture, amazing eats, and live music, The Big Easy is where it’s at. Here is my itinerary for a 3 day weekend in New Orleans, including what to see, what to eat, and what to do.
3 Day Weekend in New Orleans
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Visit the Garden District.
A beautiful neighborhood home to the city’s mansions and the popular Magazine Street. Spend an hour walking around admiring the amazing and unique architecture of the local homes. Nola is known for very colorful housing, so you can expect to see pink, yellow, and mint green houses! You can stop by Buckner Mansion, made famous from the hit TV show American Horror Story: Coven.
French Quarter, New Orleans
Buckner Mansion, New Orleans
Take a stroll down Magazine Street to do some shopping and get a bite to eat. On Saturday and Sunday, brunch is a must! Atchafalaya has live music and a fantastic bloody mary bar. Ruby Slipper has a huge menu to suit all preferences and a lot of seating (check in on Yelp to get buy one, get one free mimosas!). Make sure to call ahead for reservations or put your name on the waitlist because these are popular places with long wait times.
Stop by Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (as seen in the Vampire Diaries spinoff show, The Originals). This above ground cemetery is one of the oldest in New Orleans. It’s surrounded by high cement walls and the mausoleums have such a beautiful and mysterious look from the years of weather. The tombs were built above ground to keep the bodies safe from the frequent flooding in New Orleans. You can hire a tour guide or walk it alone, but it closes strictly at 3pm and if you get locked inside you are stuck overnight unless you call 911!
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
Check out some of the local art galleries on Magazine Street then head to dinner at Commander’s Palace. By looking at the bright, turquoise exterior you wouldn’t expect this to be a fancy place. Wrong! There is actually a strict dress code that must be followed in order to be allowed entry. Girls in dresses and men in slacks and jackets. The food is incredible, but it is a bit pricy. This is an extremely popular tourist spot so call at least one day ahead to get reservations.
Head over to The Bull Dog to get a drink and unwind on the patio under the twinkly lights. In the evening you can watch people walk by or watch the game on their outdoor TV. Try and get a seat near the fountain made from beer taps!
For a big night out, check out Frenchman Street (it’s the less dirty version of Bourbon Street). The street is lined with bars, all playing live music and you’ll find both locals and tourists here. You’ll want to bar hop until you find one that has music you really enjoy. DBA, The Blue Nile, and Maison are a few popular bars with great vibes and good music.
Spend a day in the French Quarter.
Start your morning off with beignets and coffee from the famous Café du Monde. Beignets are similar to doughnuts, basically just fried pastry dough covered in powdered sugar (tons of powdered sugar!). You can get 3 for $2.75, but one and a half is plenty so consider sharing them. Café du Monde is open 24 hours so you can always come back for more later!
Beignets at Cafe du Monde
Wander around Jackson Square to see local artists, listen to live jazz, and do some shopping. Head over to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to see a few famous tombs, including Nicholas Cage’s and Marie Laveau’s. You might be thinking, Nicholas Cage isn’t dead. And you’d be right! When he turned 50 he decided that he wanted to be buried in this cemetery, so he had his tomb built in the form of a large, bright white pyramid that really stands out from the rest of the cemetery. Weird dude. Because of recent vandalism, the cemetery only allows you to enter with a tour group so book ahead or buy right at the entrance for $20. Be sure to do this earlier in the day because it closes at 3pm.
Jackson Square, New Orleans
Stroll through the French Market for souvenir buying and grabbing a snack or drink. Grab an ice cream daiquiri or a snow cone at the entrance and wander down the indoor market to check out local handmade jewelry and crafts. Get a couple voodoo dolls for $5 or souvenir T-shirts for family back home. Everything closes up by 5pm so make sure you get there by early afternoon.
French Market, New Orleans
Eat lunch at Royal House. When it’s nice out you can sit up on the balcony, but New Orleans tends to be very hot or rainy so you’ll want to eat inside if that’s the case. For those who like sweet drinks, order the Voodoo Juice. If whiskey is your poison, get the mint julep. Start your meal off with the crab claws – this is the best thing on the menu! The sauce is amazing, buttery, and seasoned. Perfect for dipping your bread in. I’m not a seafood person and I loved this! If you want to get a real taste of New Orleans style food, Royal House offers a Taste of New Orleans sampler entrée. You get jambalaya, gumbo, and crawfish etouffee. It comes with bread as well so be sure to save your crab claw app so you can dip your bread in the sauce! Check in on Yelp for a free appetizer with purchase.
A Taste of New Orleans, Royal House
New Orleans is known for it’s voodoo culture and I highly recommend checking a few places out, even if it’s not really your thing. Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo is a small shop full of crystals, oils, herbs, jewelry, and everything voodoo. They do not allow any photography inside the shop because they have religious shrines in here, actively used by those who follow. Around the corner you can visit the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum for a $7 entry fee. The front shop offers books and voodoo dolls if you’d like to purchase a souvenir or learn more about the history.
Marie Laveaus House of Voodoo
Voodoo Dolls at the Voodoo Museum
Wander up Royal Street to see Madame LaLaurie’s torture house. If you’ve watched American Horror Story: Coven, you’re familiar with the story. Back in the 1800’s, Madame LaLaurie was a prominent New Orleans socialite with a disturbing, secret life. She tortured and murdered her household slaves up in her attic. The mansion nowadays is beautiful and you would never suspect that anything terrible happened here! Oddly enough, Nicholas Cage purchased this house thinking it would inspire him to write a horror novel. Again, I say weird dude.
Madame LaLaurie’s Torture House
For dinner, try Bayou Burger on Bourbon Street. They have amazing burgers and you can build your own (make sure to add the bayou sauce!). This place has really good gluten free buns for those with Celiac or gluten intolerance.
If you’re feeling brave, take a night ghost tour of the city. You’ll get to learn some history and walk off the heavy food you’ve been eating for the past 2 days.
For your last day in Nola, take an airboat swap tour! You’ll get to ride along the swamps and see alligators in their natural habitat. Trip Advisor offers a ton of different tour companies so you’ll want to find one that fits your budget. Most airboat tours are around $50 per person, but you can find regular boat tours for $20/pp. Almost all of the tours offer transportation to and from your accommodation because the swamps are usually about a 30 minute drive out of the city.
Alligator Mural, Garden District
If you haven’t had any true New Orleans food yet, head over to Joey K’s on Magazine Street for a fried shrimp po’boy. This is as New Orleans as it gets. You don’t have to like seafood to like this sandwich as long as you enjoy fried food. Make sure to order it fully dressed and then add ketchup or hot sauce to get the max flavor. Their blackberry cobbler a la mode is to die for, so make sure to save room for it!
Fried Shrimp Po’Boys at Joey K’s
Hop over to Lafitte’s Blacksmith shop for a drink in the USA’s oldest bar. Built in the early 18th century, this is considered the oldest standing structure housing a bar in the U.S. It’s a small litte tavern, dimly lit, and looks like it could have truly been a blacksmith shop back in the day.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
At least one night of your trip needs to be spent on Bourbon Street. This is essentially the Las Vegas of the South. You can legally walk around in public with alcohol and the street is lined with bars. Make sure to start your night at Pat O’Brian’s with a couple of Hurricane drinks. They come in tall glasses and if you return your glasses to the bartender before you leave you’ll get $3 back per glass so don’t forget! Then make your way onto the street and pick a bar! Beware of the smell. It smells really, really bad. If you want an easy drink to carry around opt for the Hand Grenades. They come in tall, bright green plastic souvenir cups with a little plastic grenade inside. Bourbon Street can be a lot of fun but be careful because people get crazy here.
Hurricane drinks at Pat O’Brian’s
And so ends your 3 day weekend in New Orleans. Hopefully you got to see and do everything you wanted in this short period of time. Now that you’ve had a little taste of the city, you should start planning your next trip out here for Mardi Gras!
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Have you been to New Orleans? What was your favorite part? I’d love to hear what you thought of the food, the music, and Bourbon Street!
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