The Perfect Weekend in New Orleans 3 Day Itinerary

The Perfect Weekend in New Orleans 3 Day Itinerary 

Have you been dreaming of a magical weekend in New Orleans? Whether you are planning a trip for Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest or a romantic escape, this guide is your ticket to crafting the ultimate three-day adventure in the Big Easy.

With 3 days in New Orleans, you can experience the beauty and wild energy of this eclectic city. New Orleans is ready to host the perfect party for you to enjoy while immersing yourself in its glorious history. 

This New Orleans 3 day itinerary is a must-add to your USA Bucket List. It’s one of those trips you will always remember!

Planning your trip to New Orleans last minute? Here are the tours and hotels we recommend.

Weekend in New Orleans 3 Day Itinerary

About this New Orleans 3 Day Itinerary

We have family outside of New Orleans in Lafayette and Baton Rouge. On each trip, we spend a few days in New Orleans to indulge in the latest amazing food and exciting festivities.

While the list of things to do in New Orleans is extensive and the must-try restaurants too numerous to count, we created this guide with a first-time visitor in mind, focusing on NOLA’s must-do activities.

You will find a day-by-day schedule, but it’s no problem to mix it up to meet your needs. We highly recommend making time for a day trip to a plantation and an airboat ride through the bayou.

Get ready to have a fantastic time exploring this epic city!

Best Time to Visit New Orleans

  • Mardi Gras – New Orleans is one of the best places to travel in February (or early March) for Mardi Gras. With highs in the upper 60s (20°C) and lows in the upper 40s (10°C), it’s perfect for parades and strolling around.
  • Springtime – During March, April, and May the weather is typically great (with a few rainy days), making this one of the best US spring break destinations. Days are in the mid-70s (26°C) and lower 60s (17°C) at night, perfect Jazz Fest weather.
  • Fall – October and November are also beautiful in New Orleans. October highs are in the lower 80s (28°C) and lows in the mid-60s (18°C). In November, the highs are in the low 70s (22°C) and lows in the 50s (12°C). 
  • Hurricane Season: From June through November, a hurricane is a possibility so make sure to get trip insurance.

3 Days in New Orleans Itinerary

New Orleans Itinerary Day 1

The first thing to do in New Orleans is visit the French Quarter. The French Quarter is the heart and soul of New Orleans, and its gorgeous architecture and immense history could keep you busy for days. 

Eat Beignets at Cafe Du Monde 

Start your tour of New Orleans by enjoying coffee and beignets (french donuts) at Cafe Du Monde.

This is one of the most iconic and touristy things to do in NOLA, and it’s totally worth it. Cafe Du Monde’s fresh and warm beignets are like a little slice of heaven in your mouth.

If you have a tour planned, give yourself extra time. There is always a line at Cafe Du Monde, and you don’t want to miss your tour. You can also buy the Cafe Du Monde Beignet Mix to make at home.

French Quarter Walking Tour New Orleans 3 Day Itinerary

Walking Tour of the French Quarter

One of the best ways to get to know the Big Easy is a walking tour through the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter.

The architecture here is so unique with intricate ironwork balconies, colorful Creole cottages, and grand antebellum mansions. If you visit during Mardi Gras, the balconies are filled with people throwing beads.

You can see the sights on your own or take an organized tour to see the highlights and learn the unique history. There are many free and paid options, so even if you’re on a budget, this activity is very affordable. 

On the French Quarter Historical Sights and Stories Walking Tour you will explore the French Market with souvenirs and local crafts, the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, walk along the Mississippi River, and Royal Street, known for its antique shops, art galleries, and boutiques.

One of the best reasons to go to NOLA is the food! On the New Orleans Food Walking Tour of the French Quarter, you’ll learn about the history of New Orleans cuisine and try plenty of tasty dishes.

Weekend in New Orleans Natchez Steamboat

Steamboat Natchez Jazz Cruise

After enjoying your walking tour of the French Quarter, head back to Jackson Square. Along the river bank, you will find the Natchez Steamboat.

The Steamboat Natchez Jazz Cruise allows you to get out on the water, relax, and enjoy some wonderful Jazz music. Additionally, if you finish your walking tour early, you have the option to have lunch on the cruise as well.

The Steamboat Natchez Evening Jazz Cruise is even more popular to see the sunset and city lights. Enjoy happy hour on the top deck and add the creole dinner or eat in town after you dock.

New Orleans in 3 Days dinner Antonie's

Dinner at Antonine’s or Coop’s Place

So far, it’s been a pretty busy day, so dinner is probably on your radar. Of course, you have numerous choices for fantastic food in New Orleans, but my favorites are Antoine’s and Coop’s Place. 

Antoine’s has been creating culinary delights since 1840. This is where the world-famous Oysters Rockefeller was invented.

America’s oldest family-run restaurant features outstanding Creole cuisine that is a delight, and my personal favorite is Shrimp Creole. Antoine’s is a New Orleans bucket list venue with something everyone can enjoy.

Coop’s Place is perfect if you prefer a laid-back atmosphere, fabulous food, and budget-friendly prices. Coop’s Place specializes in old-fashioned Cajun and Creole dishes like Etoufee, jambalaya, and Cajun fried chicken, and no fancy attire is required. Coop’s is also open late if you need a snack after dancing to jazz music on Frenchman Street. 

Take a Spooky Ghost Tour

One of the fun facts about New Orleans is that it has an active VooDoo culture and plenty of haunted things.

New Orleans is no stranger to death, considering its past is filled with ghost stories, VooDoo, vampires, magic, and pirates. 

Of course, if you’re visiting New Orleans, often considered the most haunted city in America, you must take a Ghost Tour. No New Orleans itinerary is complete without a haunted tour.

There are multiple types of tours, such as walking tours, carriage tours, and ghostly pub crawls. While these tours are spooky, they are also quite educational and entertaining!  

Here are the haunted tours we recommend:

New Orleans Itinerary Day 2

Since there are so many choices for a New Orleans 3 day itinerary, for day 2, I am including a few options that you can choose from or mix and match depending on how much you can handle.

Breakfast at Mother’s

First, I recommend starting your day with breakfast at Mother’s Restaurant. Mother’s is a New Orleans staple and has been serving up fantastic comfort food since 1938. 

3 Days in New Orleans Oak Valley Plantation

Take a Day Trip to a Historic Plantation

If you’re a history buff, a tour of one of the historic plantations near New Orleans might be what you’re looking for. Three notable ones are less than an hour from New Orleans. 

  1. The Laura Plantation is not only a Louisiana Creole Heritage site but also one of the few women-run plantations in Louisiana. Tour the numerous buildings and gardens on the property.
  2. Witney Plantation shares a unique perspective because it is the only plantation museum in Louisiana whose focus is on the history of slavery and the people who were slaves. 
  3. Oak Alley Plantation is a National Historic Landmark and a gorgeous property. The drive to the plantation lined by sprawling oak trees draped in Spanish moss is one of the most recognizable New Orleans photo spots.

There’s a very popular excursion that combines a Swamp Boat Ride and Oak Alley Plantation Tour. Slowly cruise through the bayous where you’ll see cypress trees draped in moss and wildlife, including alligators.

If you want to take the action up a notch, an Airboat Swamp Tour is a smaller, faster boat and more fun. It’s a 2-hour thrill ride that takes you through beautiful swamps looking for gators.

New Orleans Itinerary 3 Days Mardi Gras World

Explore Mardis Gras World

If Plantations and swamps are not your thing, and the history of New Orleans Mardi Gras sounds more exciting, then Mardi Gras World is the place for you. 

Mardi Gras World takes you behind the scenes with the artists and architects who create the magnificent floats that enchant millions yearly during the Mardi Gras celebrations.

Additionally, you will learn about the history and tradition of Mardi Gras and why it is celebrated. As an added bonus, there are many opportunities to photograph artistic creations and take a million selfies!

Dinner at Galatoire’s 

After a full day of exploring, enjoy a marvelous French Creole dinner at Galatoire’s Restaurant. Galatoire’s features a nice variety of options that will satisfy most appetites.

Also, it’s located on Bourbon Street, making jumping into the nightlife easy after a delicious dinner.

Bourbon Street at Night

Party on Bourbon Street or Frenchman Street

If you have three days in New Orleans, you must include Bourbon Street. The most famous street in NOLA is an experience. Most visitors are looking forward to the party at night, and it is absolutely a hoot! 

But Bourbon Street also has a few cool places to see, including iconic hotels, Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, and Marie Laveau’s House of VooDoo. 

I personally love the Jazz bars on Bourbon Street, and there is no shortage of them. That said, if your idea of a late night in NOLA is more about the music than the chaos of Bourbon Street, then you will enjoy the Frenchman Street party more. 

One of the best hidden gems in New Orleans is Frenchman Street. Frenchman Street is known for its exciting assortment of live music venues. Whether you love jazz, blues, or reggae music, you will adore Frenchman Street.

New Orleans Itinerary Day 3

Victorian Home in the Garden District

Garden District in the Morning

On the last day of this New Orleans 3 day itinerary, a stroll in the Garden District is the best way to start. This itinerary has been busy thus far, so this will be a more relaxed day. 

While in the Garden District, take the opportunity to ride the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar. It covers all the bases. It’s historic, iconic, and a perfect photo op.

If you like to shop, there are numerous places to explore along Magazine Street. This is a terrific opportunity to find unique gifts and shop locally. 

A great way to see all the highlights and Victorian architecture of the Garden District is to take a New Orleans Garden District Walking Tour that includes Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, renowned for its striking above-ground tombs and its role as a backdrop in numerous films and novels.

Shrimp Po'Boy New Orleans Louisiana

Grab Lunch or Brunch

You have to get a Po’ boy in New Orleans. This traditional sandwich on French bread is filled with fried seafood (such as shrimp, oysters, or catfish), roast beef, or other meats, with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise or another sauce.

It’s a beloved culinary icon of the city, and Parasol’s is one of the most loved spots. Their most popular menu item is the Roast Beef po’ boy featured on the Food Network.

If you’re feeling fancy, you should enjoy a meal at another New Orleans institution, Commander’s Palace. It’s a must-visit for their infamous turtle soup and bread pudding soufflé.

National WWII Museum Weekend in New Orleans

National WWII Museum and the Warehouse District

You can take the St Charles Streetcar back to the Central Business District, where you will find the National WWII Museum.

The museum is impressive and a moving yet extremely educational study of World War II. For history lovers, it is a must-see museum.

If you love beautifully revived architecture, you must take time to explore the Warehouse District of New Orleans after visiting the museum. Many of the industrial-era buildings have become gorgeous hotels, office buildings, and art museums. 

This area is also another great location for photo enthusiasts.

Dinner at Galliano Restaurant

Finish off your third day with dinner at Galliano’s. It’s a great spot for casual dining and excellent Cajun-style food. I highly recommend the Swamp pasta; it’s to die for. Their menu also offers non-seafood options and vegetarian entrees. 

Where to Stay For a Weekend in New Orleans

The most popular areas to stay in New Orleans are the French Quarter and the Central Business/Warehouse District because they are close to almost everything you will want to see, and transportation is easily accessible.

Here are our hotel recommendations at every price point. There are also great options for a romantic getaway in the Big Easy.

    • Maison de la Luz (9.5) – An exquisite boutique hotel close to the French Quarter and city attractions.
    • Virgin Hotels New Orleans (9) – Cozy contemporary rooms and a rooftop oasis in an unbeatable Downtown setting.
    • Hotel Monteleone (9.1) – This historic hotel is famous for its revolving bar, elegant rooms, and rooftop pool.
    • One11 Hotel (8.9) – Loft-style urban chic accommodation within walking distance of the French Quarter.
    • Hotel Peter and Paul (9.1) – A one-of-a-kind, stylish, and tranquil sanctuary that embodies the charm of New Orleans.
    • Roami at The Brandywine (8.5) – Trendy apartment hotel with spacious accommodations and a beautiful rooftop pool.

Things to Consider When Visiting New Orleans

When planning your New Orleans 3 day itinerary, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your trip is unforgettable (in a good way!):

  • Weather: New Orleans can be warm and humid, especially in the summer. Pack light, breathable clothing, and remember your sunscreen and hat to protect against the sun.
  • Festivals: New Orleans is famous for its festivals, like Mardi Gras and the Jazz & Heritage Festival. Check the city’s event calendar before your trip to join in the festivities—or to avoid the crowds if you prefer a quieter visit.
  • Savor the Flavor: New Orleans has fantastic food, with dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and delightful beignets. Don’t be afraid to go outside tourist areas for authentic New Orleans cuisine.
  • Street Smarts: Like any major city, New Orleans has areas that are best explored during the day or with a group. Stay aware of your surroundings, especially at night, and consider using ride-sharing services for safer transportation.

Central Business District Streetcar New Orleans Itinerary

Best Ways to Get Around New Orleans in 3 Days

New Orleans offers many options for getting around the city. You can rent a car or use Uber or Lyft, and streetcars are available in the Central Business/Warehouse District and Garden District.

Travel Tip: If you are flying into New Orleans and staying downtown or in the French Quarter, I highly recommend taking Uber or Lyft to your hotel and then walking or using rideshares to get around. If you rent a car, you will have to pay to park everywhere else in the area, including your hotel.

Is 3 Days in New Orleans Enough?

Honestly, no. To enjoy a full experience, you need at least four to five days. That being said, enjoying New Orleans in 3 days is very doable. 

Guided tours are the best way to cover more ground quickly and see more locations. But if you prefer walking, you can still see a lot because many of the main attractions are relatively close to each other.

Final Thoughts on a 3 Day Weekend in New Orleans 

No matter what you decide to do in New Orleans, you won’t be disappointed. With a long and vibrant history, this fabulous city will quickly capture your heart. 

Whether you are a foodie, music lover, photographer, history lover, or intrigued by the weird, there are countless places to discover and enjoy.

A special thanks to Lisa Soots, who contributed a large part of the content to this post and her terrific photos. Check out her travel blog Follow Soots for lots of exciting destinations.

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3 days in New Orleans Itinerary

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