4 Days in New Orleans
Updated: Sep 24
After just a couple of hours post landing, New Orleans became one of our favorite American cities that does not feel American-at all!The heavy influences of creole culture and cajun cuisine make this a unique experience and destination. Swayed by the notes of jazz filling every corner, drifted by the savory smells that lingered in my taste buds, and carried away into believing legends of haunted places. We invite you to discover the best of New Orleans through our complete 4-day itinerary, and yes! We're going way beyond bourbon street!
New Orleans is the most popular city in Louisiana on the Mississippi River and near Mexico's Gulf Coast; It is known for its festive atmosphere, exuberant nightlife, jazzy live music, and bold/ spicy culinary flavors. Nicknamed the" Big Easy," this melting pot combines historical and generational French, African and American immigrants' cultures.
Best Time to Visit New Orleans:
🔸February to May: has good comfortable weather.
🔸June to September: is extremely hot so bring sunglasses, a hat, and plenty of sunscreen. 🔸October to January: it begins to cool down.
🔹 January to March: Mardi Gras 🔹May: New Orleans Jazz Fest 🔹 September: Hot Air Balloon Festival 🔹October: Halloween Parade
🔹 December: Nola Christmas Fest/ Holiday light show in City Park.
⚜️ March to June: Crawfish season ⚜️ May: Food and Wine Festival ⚜️ June: Oyster Festival / Cajun-Zydeco Festival ⚜️ July: Tales of the Cocktail Carnival ⚜️ September: Fried Chicken Festival
We decided to visit at the end of September during their Fried Chicken Festival; being foodies that we are-and, we couldn't have been happier with our decision. Despite the weather still being extremely hot, lines were short, hotel accommodations were affordable, and bourbon street only slightly had that infamous vomit smell. So for us, that was a win, win! No matter when you decide to visit New Orleans, I promise you this: There will always be a party going on with the best live music, and the food will be so full of flavor, it will blow your mind!
Transportation from the airport: I have to hand it to New Orleans, the most organized airport we've been to! So easy to navigate... They even have a designated area for App related pickups 🙌🏽, so we knew exactly where to wait for our Uber. 💃🏽🕺🏽
With so much free time (not having to look for our Uber driver), we decided to take a bunch of selfies! At that moment, I knew this trip would be hassle-free and easy going...
Day 1 -- Exploring The French Quarter & sailing the Mississippi River to Algiers Point...
We arrived in New Orleans at precisely 9:11am. After Taking our Uber downtown, we decided to skip checking-in and headed off to one of our favorite breakfast spots -- Willa Jean!
We had: * Louisiana Crab Benedict * BBQ Shrimp Toast
* A couple of lattes * Cookies and milk with cookie dough
After breakfast, check into your hotel, or if it's too early, drop your bags off. We stayed in the downtown area, walking distance to the French Quarter. If you're looking to party all night, then staying in the French Quarter is ideal for you. We knew we wanted a sound free sleep, so we opted for the more relaxed downtown area. During the next 4 days, we'll be doing a lot of walking, so I recommend comfortable shoes. Now that we're luggage-free, let's start exploring Nola at its core-- strolling around the French Quarter! Grab a welcome early morning frozen drink at Erin Rose-- Open 21 hours and known to have great po' boy (a traditional Louisiana sandwich). Still, my favorite thing there is their frozen Irish coffee... so good!
Traveling with kids & Heat survival tip: If you're traveling to New Orleans during summer, the best spot to cool off at (besides a restaurant/ bar) is the aquarium... The AC is always blasting in there! Plus, you get to see cute little sea creatures. The aquarium is also an excellent google map location point to find the ferry area stop to cruise the Mississippi River. This general area has outdoor festivals (in this case, the fried chicken festival), shopping malls, and restaurants.
Near the aquarium, on canal street, take the ferry and sail the Mississippi River. *Money-saving tip: instead of booking a cruise to sail the Mississippi, take the local ferry for just $2! & get Nola's view from Algiers point. The ferry leaves every 30min and coming back every 15min.
Once on Algiers Point, you can find local bars and restaurants. The vibe in this part of town is way less touristy and very local; there's really not much happening. We were full, so instead of eating, we decided to hunt for colorful houses. We found 3 main areas with beautiful vivid, colorful houses; throughout this itinerary, I'll share all these locations with you. Beginning with Algiers Point -- our favorite homes were on De la Ronde street, Vallette street, and Oliver street. Take a look at the beauties we found!
After some strolling around, make your way back to the French Quarter via ferry.
View of Nola from Algiers Point.
If its the weekend and you make it back to the French Quarter by 2pm ( they close at 2:30pm and re-open at 5:30pm), head to Sylvain for some cocktails. After, visit Jackson Square and walk around. You'll find live music, street food, art for sale, and fortune teller gypsies...real or scam? Share your experience on a comment below if you decide to have your fortune read. New Orleans is known for its ghostly spirits. In fact, it's said to be the most haunted state in all U.S.A! In Jackson Square visit: The St. Louis Cathedral.
Nearby you'll find Pirates Alley, an 1830's cobblestone street alley full of vendors and artists hanging out. In the mood to see a show? Head on to Le Petit Theater, one of the longest-running theaters in the United States, established in 1916. Then find a nook, escape the southern heat and drink! @napoleonhousenola has the best #pimmscup we've ever had; went in for one stayed for 3! Beyond the Pimm's Cup, this is a great spot to try a Muffuletta at. The Muffuletta is an Italian on the go sandwich that's usually picked up at a deli or grocery store and served cold. Invented in 1906, this type of sandwich was created by an Italian immigrant and first made and served at the French Market in New Orleans. Years later, Napoleon House adapted this recipe and brought it into a sit-down restaurant, making it a hot dish to enhance the flavors. What's in a Muffuletta?
🔸Seeded Muffuletta bun 🔸Extra virgin olive oil 🔸ham 🔸salami 🔸 pastrami 🔸 provolone cheese 🔸Swiss cheese 🔸olive salad... Yum!
Ready for bar #4? Have cocktails inside a spinning, functioning carousel! At Carousel Bar inside the Monteleone Hotel. Touristy? Sure!! A must-do? Absolutely!!! Where else can you feel like a kid and grown-up at the same time!?! Plus, they make fantastic craft cocktails here. This is a great spot to try one of New Orleans signature cocktails -- The Sazerac, handcrafted to perfection! Heads up, this bar is always crowded, so if waiting for a seat, just keep walking straight, and you'll find a second bar that's part of the hotel, crowd-free! This is the perfect spot to wait while a chair in this carousel opens up; just keep an eye out!
Having the Mississippi River right there, it's no surprise Nola is filled with amazing seafood spots. One of our favorite Happy Hour Oyster spots in the French Quarter was Luke's Restaurant. We loved it so much, we came here twice! Raw Oyster are .75¢, and Fried Oyster are $1.25 -- beyond happy hour, they have a fantastic selection of specialty oysters! Definitely, a place for foodies to check out! Have an early dinner here and save room for dessert, our next stop...
Drip Affogato Bar--
@dripaffogatobar has the best affogato flight in NOLA!
What's on my plate?
* Green Tea
You can end your first night in New Orleans walking along Royal Street. In that area, you'll find Preservation Hall-- a very famous old school jazz club & Pat O' Brien's -- an old school bar, established in 1933 that's famous for their hurricane drinks. Or instead walk along Bourbon Street -- where all the partying happens, there's no shortage of bars and restaurants in this area! We opted to join a ghost tour offered by " Free Tours by Foot."
New Orleans is known to be one of the most haunted cities in the U.S.A.
TV shows, movies, and documentaries are often shot here do to it's spooky setting and haunting legends. Groups of tourists gather up in Jackson Square at night to go on a guided ghost tour, where they take you to haunted bars, restaurants, and houses! This photo was taken on the rear side of the St. Louis Cathedral. It's a haunting sight with the shadow of the statue of Jesus projected in such a grand way. Yet, it's supposed to symbolize openness and acceptance. I recommend selecting a tour that's no longer than 1.5 hours; anything longer will seem like a lecture and will not be fun. Our tour ran over to 2.5 hours, and we were over it by that point. Nevertheless, I do believe these tours could be fun, depending on the tour you choose. Maybe next time we visit, we'll do a paying tour and compare the difference. Also, haunted bars instead of haunted places and people might be more fun... you get to drink along the way with every stop! -- end of day 1
DAY 2 -- Cruising through Frenchmen Street, Faubourg Marigny, and the ByWater district...
Today is all about colorful houses, the best live jazz music scene, and good beignets! The two most popular places in New Orleans to try a beignet are Cafe Du Monde -- established in 1862 ( cash only ) & Cafe Beignet. We went to both and had a favorite. For us, it's Cafe Beignet all the way! The Beignets were lighter, fluffier, and tasted so fresh!!! Head here for breakfast, a great way to start your day.
After breakfast, head on to the French Market for some shopping, snacking, and if feeling adventurous, some wild gator game meat --tastes a lot like chicken, just a bit tougher. Today we'll be doing a lot of walking, so make sure to bring those comfy shoes; your feet will thank ya!
Up next, we'll be taking a city walk (approximately 4 hours). We'll see more local neighborhoods, rail tracks, warehouses, colorful homes, and make two stops along the way-- for lunch and one for wine and snacks. From the French Market, we're heading on to Faubourg Marigny and ending in the ByWater district. We'll pass another popular market along this walk St. Roch Market, which we will not stop at. Still, you totally can :) I'll give you the street name and general area to some of my favorite homes. As these are private residences, I will not disclose the full address regarding the owners privacy. Make as many stops as you like. Go out there, explore, and get lost! We had so much fun doing so and felt like little kids on a colorful treasure hunt! That's part of the fun-- getting lost and finding these beautiful houses!
Not as crazy as the French Quarter, not as far as Bywater, but right in the middle, we found the neighborhood of Faubourg Marigny to be one of our favorites! Just the right amount of walking in the southern heat, this more secluded neighborhood is boasting with bohemian bars, local jazz clubs, and Cajun bistros. Ohh and the houses I mean, look at this beauty!!! This is our first stop, a 6 min walk from the French Market. Located in Esplanade Ave, this pink beauty will make any dancing disco queens dreams come true!
A 4 min walk after, find this home full of sunshine and ready for spring all year round on Chartres St.
A 9 min walk from there, this Barbie dream home can be found on Marigny St.
A 7 min walk after, say hello to red doors in Burgundy St.
* Challenge: can you find what street theses are on? Leave a comment if you found these!
Find popping colors on Clouet St.
Hungry? Stop at Red's Chinese for Lunch--2min walk from our last house!
We were a little skeptical about trying Chinese food in a city like New Orleans-- known for it's bold Cajun flavors and Creole cuisine. But since we were already in the area and Fernando really wanted to give it a try, we decided to give it a go. After our first appetizer we fell in love with this place... Add it to your list of places to eat at! It will not disappoint! This restaurant has infused traditional Chinese food with Southern flavors and eccentric charm... Super yum!!
Fall in love with all the street art murals in the area. This was my favorite one!
Find my favorite house in Nola at Independence St.
End your colorful journey at Bacchanal-- This is such a cool spot! They have a wine store where you can buy refreshments and snacks with a fantastic cheese selection. After your purchase, simply give your items to the chef, and he'll make up a plate for you 😍, then head upstairs or to the patio for some live music!
After cooling off at Bacchanal, head back over to the Frenchmen street area to find some of the best live jazz music spots. But before, enjoy happy hour at Cane & Table (3-6pm). We loved having cocktails and eating their Haitian Fried Chicken! A local gem bar, far enough from bourbon street yet close enough to all the local jazz clubs!
Here were some of our favorite spots for live Jazz in Nola: Street Jazz at Jackson Square. This is free and impromptu as its local jazz musician sharing their love of music for a tip. So, no planning ahead
(unless there's a festival) chances are you might be walking by and spot them! Stop, listen, tip, and chat when they're not playing. People in New Orleans are super friendly, we made new friends that day!
Jazz, drinks, and bites at Three Muses. Check their website before arriving as they have different set times. The one we went to was 7pm, and those guys were killing it!
Find more street live Jazz on Frenchmen street, have an outdoor party with your
to-go drink, and don't forget to tip!
Our last Jazz spot goes to The Spotted Cat, where we ended our night. This spot is also based on different set times, so check their website before going. There's no cover charge (unless it's a big band playing), and this spot is cash only.
Need a sugar fix? Head on to Cafe du Monde for a beignet! This spot is cash only and open 24 hours.
--end of day 2
Day 3 -- Magazine Street & The Garden District...
Today we're riding the streetcar. Yes, it may be slower than an Uber, but it's such a neat experience! Plus, you get to relax and take the scenery in... Ride the streetcar uptown to magazine street! It's only $1.25. The St. Charles Avenue line is the oldest continuously operating street rail system in the world! Up and running since 1893!
Magazine Street--For breakfast head over to Surrey's Cafe; its hipster vibes will prep you for the vintage shopping coming up next!
After breakfast, go vintage shopping at one of the cutest stores ever--
Century Girl Vintage
We stopped for sweets at :
After strolling Magazine Street, make your way down to the Garden District. In the Garden District, you'll find mansions own by celebrities, estates used in famous Hollywood films and TV shows, and a mansion turned restaurant that offers $.25 martinis.. what!?!? The Garden District is where the other half lives-- the super-wealthy other half that is! Worth a stroll on a day, you're feeling fancy... The vibe in this neighborhood is upscale with muted colors and elaborate gardens... Hence its name 🍃 Here were my favorite Mansions in the Garden District:
1. 1315 1st Street : Owned by Carroll Crawford, built-in 1869. Known for hosting lavish parties back in the day... Just close your eyes and picture a "Great Gatsby" moment... Limousines are pulling up and reveling the "IT" crowd wearing lots of beaded sequin dresses and even bigger precious stone jewelry. Men in bow ties and hats. Women with delicate feathered adornments in their hair or perhaps it was way before the 1920s that these parties were being held and the "I crowd arrived in carriages. Women wearing corsets and big dresses; no matter the era, this was the place to be at and be seen at!
2. 1432 Magazine Street -- Something to keep in mind while walking this area is to wear comfortable shoes. Some of the sidewalk is broken/uneven, making a fall or ankle twist just around the corner, so be careful while walking and always looking down. You can also download an app on your phone that will give you a self-guided tour outline. Guided tours are also available.
3.1410 Jackson " Bunkers Mansion " built-in 1856 and used as a front set in the American Horror Story season 4 "Coven."
4. 1331 1st street was built in 1860.
5. That Pink and Brick Mansion--
Out of all the mansions in this area, this one is probably the edgiest one except for a couple other colorful ones we found. You won't find this mansion as part of the tour; for this one, you'll have to steer away from the crowd and take the less traveled road. Hint: It's easy to find if you look at the side streets from all the other ones we're visiting; that's how we found this beauty!
6. As you stroll around, make sure to pay attention to all the beautiful handmade old iron fences, gates, and architecture that dominate this area. You'll find elegant styles; corn, flowers, Pumpkins, etc. This one was one of my favorites...kinda looks like Bojack, don't you think?
7. 2523 Prytania Street --Nicholas Cage's Former Mansion-- eccentric much?
Oh, the drama...we definitely felt the energy! As soon as we got to this mansion, the sky turned grey, and severe showers followed. This is very common in New Orleans. It's always a good idea to carry a small umbrella with you, no matter how sunny and promising the sky looks when you leave your hotel. Nicholas Cage Owned this mansion before losing it to foreclose in 2009. He also owned another very controversial ( for its dark past ) Mansion in the French Quarter. If you decide to take the haunted houses tour, that other Mansion
will be covered there. It belonged to Madame Delphine LaLaurie in the 1800s -- a New Orleans socialite and serial killer who tortured and murdered slaves in her household.
8. 2707 Coliseum -- Hollywood movie fans: can you guess what movie's opening scene takes place on these steps? Hint: it's a film about aging in reverse...
9. 1540 Harmony --The most colorful mansion in the Garden District!
10. 2701 Saint Charles -- Some of these mansions are for sale! Who wants to buy one? ( Look at how fast the sky is changing, I took these photos not even a minute apart from one another, right before the storm hit! ).
After, have lunch inside an old mansion turned restaurant and drink .25 CENT martinis!
Commander's Palace is a staple to the garden district. This mansion turned restaurant is probably the most colorful mansion in this area. In fact, when Ella
(founder / Owner) painted it aqua blue, all the neighbors were freaking out. Still, she wanted everyone to know she was in town, and her old spot had relocated with a new name but the same inventive cuisine... This was back in 1974, so you can imagine. There's an excellent documentary on Netflix " Ella Brennan, commanding the table" that if you're a foodie or planning a visit to Nola and this restaurant, I recommend you watch. As a traveler, I love knowing where I am, and the history of the place I'm in. Ella has major #girlpower; this woman straight out of high school dedicated her life to her family-owned restaurant in the French Quarter, and created a name for herself... What a legacy!
The basic's and what you need to know:
🍸 Reservations are required
🍸 There's a dress code
🍸 .25 CENT martinis are offered only during lunch 11:30-1:30 pm
🍸 there's a limit of 3 martinis per person " cause that's enough," and I'm quoting the menu 😂, and it is, they're so strong, colorful, and yummy!
TRY-- Their Turtle Soup takes 3 days to make, and it's delicious!
TRY-- Their bread pudding. Order ahead of time as this is freshly baked and takes about 25min to cook...
Lafayette Cemetery Number 1
Did you know that once you purchase cemetery space, that's the only property the government can't take away from you if you go bankrupt? Yeap, that's right! Totally rethinking the order in which I buy assets now 😂 If you have extra time, I recommend strolling around one of Nola's many cemeteries. What makes these so unique is that they're built above ground, not a common practice in the USA. Due to this, they've served as many movie sets for horror films... Can you name any? 👻
PS: This one is located right across Commander's Palace, so you can head here after lunch!
From here, we're taking the streetcar back to the French Quarter. Visit any favorite spots one last time, buy some souvenirs to take home, and enjoy the rest of the evening without a plan! Get lost, find new places, meet the locals, hang out, and have fun!
Day 4 --Half Day
Let's start our last day in NOLA with a classic creole comfort breakfast! For a genuinely southern diner experience, we recommend visiting Mother's, said to be Beyonce's & JZ's favorite spot in New Orleans!
Before you go have that famous Nola Hurricane drink in one of America's 10 oldest bars. Seriously, this place was established in the early 1770s and has no electricity! Everything is lit by candles at night. Definitely felt a little haunted... I recommend visiting during night time. Check out their calendar online. On some nights, they have a live piano in a candlelight setting. I wouldn't call it a romantic setting. With it's eerie feel, this spot teleports you to a time where pirates would gather to drink and share ghost stories 😜 definitely deserves checking out... And whatever you do, DON'T STIR that drink!
Our third spot for spotting colorful, lush, and beautiful houses is all throughout the French Quarter; they're everywhere! Take a look at some of the ones we found simply strolling around!
One last bar before we leave the French Quarter... this spot has fantastic cocktails!
On your way to the airport, stop at Willie Mae's for some lunch. Their specialty? Fried Chicken! Crispy, juicy, and made to order. If they ask you whether you want white or dark meat, we recommend white meat. We bought a plate of each and preferred it over dark.
This concludes our Itinerary guide for first- timers in New Orleans! Nola is definitely a place we want to keep going back to! There are so many restaurants we have yet to try, drinks to have and music to listen, and dance to! Thanks for reading; I hope this guide helps you on your journey exploring New Orleans. Please leave a comment below and let me know about your trip! Would love to know how your Nola experience was....' till next time!