The Ultimate New Orleans Weekend Itinerary

There are some places in the U.S. I feel like everyone needs to visit at least once, and New Orleans is one of them. Although many people think of Mardi Gras and drinking on Bourbon Street, the city is bursting with history and culture that has influenced the city’s architecture, food, and language to make it a one-of-a-kind destination. While you won’t be able to do everything in just a weekend, I packed this New Orleans weekend itinerary to help you explore many famous sites and foods. If you have extra time, check out the More To Do section.

Overview

French Quarter in New Orleans | New Orleans Weekend Itinerary
How To Get There

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is the main airport in New Orleans. If you’re staying near the French Quarter, an Uber/Lyft should take about 20-30 minutes.

When To Visit

New Orleans usually experiences hot summers and mild winters. Based on the weather, I would avoid June to August as it’s the wettest and hottest time of the year. June to November is also hurricane season, with August through October being the most active period. On the other hand, summer can be the most affordable time to go. Airfare and hotels tend to be cheaper versus in the spring. 

If you want to enjoy Mardi Gras festivities, they start early January and run through Ash Wednesday. Otherwise, November and December would be the best time to visit as temperatures are cooler and there are fewer crowds.  

Getting Around

Most of New Orleans’s attractions are in the French Quarter or Garden District, which are both very walkable. To get between the two neighborhoods and to places that are a little further, you can easily grab a car on Uber/Lyft or ride a streetcar. The St Charles Streetcar line is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world and will take you between Canal Street and the Garden District.

Where To Stay     

The JW Marriott New Orleans is my favorite place to stay. It’s right on Canal Street, so it’s a short walk to Bourbon, but it’s far enough that you won’t have to worry about noise.

If you want something homier, New Orleans also has many bed and breakfast options, like Chimes Bed and Breakfast. This Victorian B&B is in a residential neighborhood near the Garden District and only about four miles away from the French Quarter.  

New Orleans Weekend Itinerary

Brennan's restaurant in New Orleans | New Orleans Weekend Itinerary
Brennan’s

Day 1 – Friday

You’ve arrived! Grab an Uber/Lyft from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) to your hotel to check in and drop off your bags. 

Dinner at Oceana Grill || 739 Conti Street

Grab dinner at Oceana Grill. They’re known for their Creole and Louisiana cuisine, like gumbo and po’boys. Olde Nola Cookery (205 Bourbon Street) is another great spot to try traditional dishes. Both places (and many in the French Quarter) are first come, first serve, so there may be a line outside.

Dessert & Cocktails at Cafe Beignet || 311 Bourbon Street

Save some room for beignets and drinks at Cafe Beignet. They have multiple locations, but the one on Bourbon Street has a nice outdoor courtyard where you can enjoy live jazz music and grab a drink. The cafe on Royal Street (334 Royal Street) has the cutest storefront but also closes around 5 PM, so I would visit that one early in the day if you want pictures. 

Explore Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street in New Orleans | New Orleans Weekend Itinerary

A New Orleans weekend itinerary would not be complete without seeing the most famous street in the city, Bourbon Street. While it may not be for everyone, grabbing a drink on Bourbon should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.

It’s made up of thirteen blocks of bars, restaurants, and live music. Barhopping is encouraged here, especially since New Orleans is one of the few places in the country where you can have alcohol out in the streets. 

Day 2 – Saturday: French Quarter

The French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans and has become the cultural center of the city. It’s also the most recognized neighborhood in New Orleans so expect the streets to be crowded with tourists during the day and with partygoers at night. It tends to be quieter in the mornings if you want to explore without the chaos. 

Breakfast at Cafe Du Monde || 800 Decatur Street

Frozen coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde in French Quarter in New Orleans | New Orleans Weekend Itinerary

Kick off your first full day in NOLA with the iconic Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter. They serve coffee and beignets and have an outdoor seating area. If you’re looking for a heartier breakfast, check out Cafe Fleur De Lis (307 Chartres Street). Along with classic breakfast items, they also have ones with a New Orleans twist, like an oyster benedict and an omelet with etouffe.

French Market

The French Market covers six blocks of the French Quarter. It was initially a trading post for Native Americans and evolved over the years as French and Spanish colonists began to move in. Nowadays, you’ll find plenty of food stands, crafts, and shopping. It’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir.

Jackson Square & St Louis Cathedral

Jackson Square and St Louis Cathedral in French Quarter | New Orleans Weekend Itinerary

Located in the heart of the French Quarter is one of New Orleans’s most iconic landmarks, Jackson Square. The historic square was named after Andrew Jackson, who fought in the Battle of New Orleans. It’s a great place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of the city. During the day, you can find artists, musicians, and other entertainers performing in the square. 

Just next to Jackson Square is the St Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the U.S. The French constructed the first church on the site in 1718, but it has been rebuilt and renovated several times. If you want to see inside, they have daily mass, and the building is open for self-guided tours. 

Drinks at Carousel Bar & Lounge || 214 Royal Street

One of my favorite bars in New Orleans is the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone. The decor inside is beautiful, and it’s the city’s only revolving bar. Make sure to get there when it opens so you can grab one of the 25 seats at the carousel.

Lunch at Killer Po’Boys || 219 Dauphine Street

If you’ve never had a po’boy, it’s a traditional sandwich from Louisiana with meat or seafood on New Orleans French bread. Most places in New Orleans serve some form of a po’boy, usually with fried seafood, but Killer Po’Boys has a few more options, like glazed pork belly and chorizo.

New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum || 724 Dumaine Street

Voodoo has been a part of New Orleans’s culture since its early years and is still prevalent today. While exploring the French Quarter, you’ll see plenty of voodoo shops and places offering psychic readings, like Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo (628 Bourbon Street). However, if you want to learn more about the city’s Voodoo history and practices, I recommend the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

The Sazerac House || 101 Magazine Street

The Sazerac House in New Orleans

New Orleans’s official cocktail is the Sazerac, and there’s no better place to try it than The Sazerac House. The House Tour goes into the history of the Sazerac with three floors of exhibits and samples (and it’s free!).   

Dinner at Drago’s || 2 Poydras Street

Another must-eat food while you’re in NOLA is charbroiled oysters, and Drago’s does it the best. The oysters are covered with butter, cheese, garlic, and herbs before they’re set on the grill.

Day 3 – Sunday: Garden District

Jazz Brunch at Commander’s Palace || 1403 Washington Avenue

Commander's Palace in New Orleans

Commander’s Palace is a New Orleans landmark and has been around for over a hundred years. While you should definitely visit because the restaurant has won multiple James Beard Foundation Awards, it’s also super instagrammable with a bright blue exterior.

Another great brunch option is Brennan’s (417 Royal Street) in the French Quarter. The food is excellent, but make sure to order the Bananas Foster, invented at the restaurant in 1951!    

Garden District

The Garden District is the perfect place to escape the commotion of the French Quarter. The charming neighborhood is known for its historic mansions, dating back hundreds of years. Some of the most famous homes include Buckner Mansion, featured in American Horror Story: Coven, and the Carroll-Crawford House, notable for its Italian style and iron galleries. While you’re admiring the mansions, you’ll see many have plaques detailing the home’s history. You’re free to look, but keep in mind that many of these are privately owned homes.

Afterward, walk along Magazine Street, the Garden District’s main shopping and dining area. There are six miles of local boutiques, cafes, and galleries to explore. You’ll also find the Greetings from NOLA mural here (2014 Magazine Street). 

Greetings from NOLA sign in Garden District

Rooftop Drinks at Hot Tin || 2031 St Charles Avenue

At the top of the Pontchartrain Hotel is one of the best rooftop bars in New Orleans. Hot Tin provides beautiful views of Downtown New Orleans and the Mississippi River.

Cemetery Tour

New Orleans’s cemeteries are known for their above-ground tombs. When the French initially settled in the area, they were concerned about flooding as the city is surrounded by water. St Louis Cemetery No. 1 (425 Basin Street) is the oldest in the city and is the final resting place of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau. 

You’ll have to book a tour to see the tombs up close. To cut back on vandalism, officials only allow tour groups (and families visiting loved ones) to walk around the cemetery.   

Dinner at Napolean House || 500 Chartres Street

There’s no better way to end your trip than one last New Orleans meal. Napolean House has been operating since 1914 and is known for its muffulettas, a sandwich of cured meats, cheese, and an olive salad. Pair it with a refreshing Pimm’s Cup, another staple New Orleans cocktail. 

For something a little dressier, GW Fins has some of the finest seafood dishes in the city. The menu constantly changes as they use seasonal ingredients with each day’s freshest catch.

More To Do

While this itinerary should keep you busy over the weekend, there’s still more to do in New Orleans.

The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum || 514 Chartres Street

Did you know that America’s first licensed pharmacist was from New Orleans? He started his own pharmacy in 1823, which would later become The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. The exhibits go through the history of medicine, including voodoo potions and questionable medical practices. 

Ghost Tour

Unsurprisingly, New Orleans is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the U.S., so it’s the perfect place for a ghost tour. You can choose between pub crawls, cemetery tours, and many more. 

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar || 941 Bourbon Street

The building that has become Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar was built in the 1700s and is one of the oldest buildings in New Orleans. Today they’re known for their Frozen Voodoo Daiquiri.

Preservation Hall || 726 St Peter Street

Jazz music is a huge part of New Orleans’s history, and Preservation Hall is dedicated to preserving these traditions. The venue has daily shows featuring local musicians.  

Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World || 1380 Port of New Orleans Place

Mardi Gras is undoubtedly the most popular event in the city. Mardi Gras World gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into building the parade floats from the ground up.


New Orleans is one of the most unique places in the world. From its history to its food, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. While this New Orleans weekend itinerary will help you get an introduction to the city, you’ll certainly want to come back to see even more. 

Leave a Comment