New Orleans is known for it’s rich history, diversity, musical heritage, party vibe, architecture, food…and the list goes on and on! That means there is a lot of ground to cover for first time visitors. It’s a tall order to try to see it all, especially if you are only in town for three days or less. Even if you can’t see everything, it’s definitely possible to be strategic in what you choose to do so that you get a great introduction to the town. It is totally possible to experience New Orleans in 3 days!
After a recent sojourn of our own to NOLA, we got a solid grasp on where to stay, what to see and what to eat and drink! We arrived Friday evening and hit the road to head home early Monday morning. So, we had just a shade under 3 days to experience as much of the city as we could! So if we can do it, so can you! Below are our recommendations for the best way to experience New Orleans in 3 days!
Location – Stay Close to the Action
To get the most out of your weekend, the best option is to stay in the French Quarter. There are a ton of hotel and Airbnb options in this area whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple or a larger group. We had the opportunity to stay at the trendy Hotel Le Marais. It was right in the middle of all the action on Conti street right around the corner from the famous Bourbon street, and either walking distance or a short Uber ride to all the stops we wanted to make throughout the weekend. As 30-somethings who need their sleep, a big bonus for us was that despite the close proximity to all the hustle and bustle of the quarter, the interior of the hotel, including the rooms, was quiet. The Hotel Le Marais included good sized rooms with comfortable beds and nice bathrooms, a relaxing courtyard with pool and comfy seats, a full bar open until 1am and coffee and breakfast available each morning (included in room price). Check out our full review of the Hotel Le Marais for more details.
A big benefit of staying in the Quarter meant you could just step out the door and having a tasty coffee or drink in your hand in under 10 minutes. A couple of my favorite spots just a few feet from our doorstep included Erin Rose bar, Addiction coffee, and Beckham’s Bookshop. Erin Rose bar has a fun, dive bar kind of atmosphere and features food from Killer PoBoys. We sample the roasted sweet potato poboy and the whiskey grilled cheese. Both were, well, killer! Addiction coffee offers the traditional cafe au lait experience in addition to spicier options like one their signature drink signature drinks, Miss Tracy’s Addiction, sure to wake you up with a dash a cayenne.
Activities – Guided Tours
A bike tour is one of the best ways to cover a lot of territory (9 miles of it!!) and get a solid grip on the basics of New Orleans. On Saturday afternoon, BuzzNola Bike Tours & Rentals offers a great guided tour. Our guide was funny and knowledgeable. So, we got to learn a little, get some exercise The tour took us along the Mississippi River, through the Marigny and the Seventh Ward, up to City Park, back down into the Bayou St. John and Treme-Lafitte neighborhoods and then back through the French Quarter. Along the way we spotted lots of famous landmarks like Jackson Square, the French Market, the cemeteries, and Louis Armstrong Park.
We also stopped for a mid-ride break and sample beignets and frozen cafe au laits from Morning Call. The 24 hour cafe was packed and bustling, probably because the weather was gorgeous and it was a perfect Saturday afternoon, but the service was quick and friendly. If you can’t make it to the iconic Cafe DuMonde, Morning Call is a delicious option for the quintessential beignets and au lait.
Another option for seeing the city and sampling flavors is to take a guided brewery tour. We spent our Sunday afternoon with the NOLA Brew Bus, and visited three different craft breweries: Second Line Brewing, Urban South Brewery, and The Courtyard Brewery. The tour includes a brew bus to transport you and your group between breweries and 2 tokens equaling half a pour at each stop. Second Line Brewing offered a tour of their facility while we sipped on our beers and had a big outdoor space. Urban South had a food truck on site, TVs tuned to sports and games to play. The Courtyard had a fun atmosphere, although pretty compact in space, with funky chairs and accents like hot pink chandeliers. The selection of beers overall was really fantastic and delicious. The best from the bunch, though, had to be the refreshing and light Grapefruit IPA from Urban South. The Brew Bus was a fun and safe option, especially for a group!
Hot Spots – New Orleans Classic Nightlife
While you defintely need to experience Bourbon Street, you need to make sure you save a good chunk of time to experience the “other” street that New Orleans is most know for! We really enjoyed exploring Frenchman Street as it offered a more relax atmosphere, but with all the same Nola vibes that you love. The intensity level was much more management and it offered a variety of types of bars/restaurants/things to do. We fell in love with the Frenchman Street Art Fair, which is set up most nights and run into the early morning hours – so you can shop in between drinks!
If you want to experience a quintessential New Orleans dive, then you should squeeze yourself into The Spotted Cat. Try and get there early though, since later in the evening it really gets packed! Finally, for some great grub we recommend Dat Dog! While there are other locations besides Frenchman Street, this location was perfect for some pre or post-drink grub!
Do you have any other must-see items to experience New Orleans in 3 Days list? Let us know below in the comment section.