A trip to New Orleans, Louisiana is not one you will soon forget. From enjoying the city’s vibrant jazz music to the delicious Creole cuisine, you will not be disappointed with your experience. This city’s music and food well represent the melding of French, African and American cultures that has occurred here. At almost every corner, you can experience the festive Mardi Gras spirit of New Orleans with around-the-clock nightlife. The unique architecture throughout the French Quarter makes you feel like you have been transported back in time to the early experiences of the city 300 years ago. We recommend spending at least 2-3 days in New Orleans (allowing you plenty of opportunities to try out different restaurants) or more if you want to explore beyond the French Quarter. Here is our concise quick guide on visiting New Orleans, Louisiana.
FYI: This post is based on a trip taken in early January
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What to do in New Orleans
French Quarter Walking Tour
A walking tour is a great way to see the French Quarter as the area is easily walkable. We took a self-guided audio tour that is no longer available, but this French Quarter Walking Tour hits most the same spots (Jackson Square, Bourbon Street, St. Louis Cathedral, etc.). This company offers several other tours as well including a Secrets of the French Quarter Tour and a self-guided option. In addition to taking a walking tour of the French Quarter, make sure to explore some of the different costume and voodoo shops in the area for a fun experience as well.
A food tour is one of the best ways to see New Orleans since food is such a large part of the culture. On our food tour, we ate seafood gumbo, pralines and beignets as well as drank delicious cocktails. It was a really fun and delicious way to experience the city! We love walking food tours and highly recommend taking one in any city. See our Why you Should take a Food Tour While Traveling post.
City Park is a beautiful, large, green space, located just outside of the French Quarter. It is full of heaps of big oak trees. We enjoyed spending our morning walking around this large and expansive park. Alternatively, you can rent bikes to ride around the park rather than walk it.
FYI this park is located about 2 miles from the French Quarter so you can either walk or Uber to get here if you are staying in the French Quarter. We opted to walk, and the walk from the French Quarter to City Park went by very quickly as we passed by a lot of different types of classic New Orleans architecture. We really liked seeing all the different, and some very impressive, southern houses along our walk to the park.
Visit a Cemetery
This may sound like an odd recommendation but the cemeteries in New Orleans are interesting to see because they are above ground (because the water table is quite high) and very impressive. We visited St. Louis Cemetery #3 (on our walk to City Park) but there are different cemeteries you can visit throughout the city.
Other Things To Do
Below are New Orleans activities our friends/family have done and recommended but we either did not have time to do them or they were not operating when we visited in early January.
- Plantation Tour
- Airboat Swamp Tour
- Steamboat Natchez (Jazz Steamboat)
- Presbytere Museum (Katrina/Mardi Gras Museum)
- New Orleans Jazz Tour
- WWII museum
Where to Eat in New Orleans
Adolfo’s is a hole-in-the-wall Italian Creole restaurant. It our favorite place we ate at during our entire time in New Orleans. The ocean sauce served with many of the dishes is out-of-this-world good. Make sure to get a dish served with this sauce! The ambiance in the dimly lit and small dining room makes for a more fun experience too. FYI, this is a cash-only restaurant.
Clancy’s is an elegant Creole restaurant with a supper club vibe. This restaurant is slightly higher priced but a great place to celebrate a special occasion (we celebrated Sam’s birthday here). The first courses we ate here were our favorites! FYI, this restaurant is located about 5 miles from the French Quarter so you will need to take an Uber or other form of transportation to get here.
Mother’s Restaurant is a diner where you can get classic Southern Creole food including red beans/rice, jambalaya, shrimp po’boy, fried chicken and seafood gumbo. This diner is simple and without any frills, but you will definitely get a good homestyle meal here.
Cafe Du Monde
This New Orleans classic stop is a must. The beignets are so delicious, and the atmosphere is fun as it is located off the main square in the French Quarter. We stopped at Cafe Du Monde several times for coffee/beignets while in New Orleans and would recommend you do the same. The beignets here were one of our favorite foods in New Orleans and they are quite inexpensive.
Deanie’s Seafood is a classic seafood restaurant that provides you with some of the most delicious yet simple seafood options. We ate here for lunch and really enjoyed the fresh fish of the day. We were based in the French Quarter so we ate at the French Quarter location but there are several locations throughout the New Orleans area.
Where to stay in New Orleans
We HIGHLY recommend staying in the French Quarter because you will be within walking distance of most of the main attractions and activities/restaurants we suggest. The Dauphine New Orleans is where we stayed and we recommend it as is located right in the heart of the French Quarter. The location and price were on-point, and we found the rooms to be comfortable. There are a lot of unique Airbnb’s in the New Orleans area too so make sure to check into those if you are looking for somewhere a bit more memorable to stay.
We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to New Orleans. Anything you’d add to our guide to visiting New Orleans, Louisiana? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Please leave us a comment!
And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!
Looking to save on your trip? See some of our travel budget guides below for more tips on this.
- 5 Ways to Save on Flights
- How to Fit all your Luggage in a Carry-On
- How to Save on a Rental Car
- How to Book Accommodations on a Budget
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