How to See New Orleans in a Weekend

New Orleans Featured Image

Oh New Orleans. How you have quickly grown to be one of my favorite cities in the world, and you are just a short 8-hour drive/1-1/2 hour flight from home. If you are interested in seeing New Orleans, but aren’t quite sure if you can do it in a weekend, let me sell you on it. Here is my “weekend itinerary” for a trip to the real city that never sleeps.

Street View in New Orleans

Day 1, Friday—I drove into New Orleans from Atlanta, which was about an 8-hour drive. I took this trip with one of my best friends, and this was our first trip together, so a road trip won us over. We left in the afternoon and arrived at our hotel around 8 PM. After dinner nearby, we headed back to the hotel. We needed our beauty rest if we were going to tackle this lively city in just 2 short days.

Bourbon Street during the day

Day 2, Saturday—We woke up early and headed straight into the city. This was going to be a long day so an early start was needed. As suggested by EVERYONE who EVER visited New Orleans, we had to go to Café Du Monde. However, we didn’t. GASP! We actually snuck in right across the street to Monty’s on the Square and had the BEST breakfast ever. And watched the line across the street not move an inch while we ate. We then headed towards the French Market (LOVE) and took in all the shopping and snow cones we could handle. This trip was on the 4th of July. If you aren’t familiar with Louisiana, it is hotter than the devils home during July. And this weekend was exceptionally warm. So snow cones were a necessity. We did a little wandering around near Jackson Square and took a trip to Faulkner House Books (Hello fellow bibliophiles!) Then we were off to our next location.

Sign for Faulkner House

Laura in Faulkner House Books

We then headed towards St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 for our cemetery tour. Oh was that a mistake. Don’t get me wrong, the cemetery was beautiful! And the tour was great. A little history—the graves are all above ground because the city is essentially underground, and when it rains or floods, you don’t want bodies floating down Rampart Street. The graves are incredible. We also got to see where Marie Laveau’s body is supposedly located (I did not leave a mark on her mausoleum for hopes of a wish granted–because the cemetery preservationists frown on that. But you can see how many people really believe in her “power” by the marks left). However, there is no shade in the cemetery and it was 110 degrees outside. My poor fair, Irish heritage skin was melting off my body. Thankfully I always carry sunscreen so I didn’t get burned terribly (did I mention how fair my skin is? I’m actually borderline allergic to the sun) but it was so hot I could’ve died right there (how convenient!) DO NOT DO a cemetery tour during the day when it’s Summer! JUST DON’T! Wait until it’s dark. But definitely do the tour. You will thank me. (Side note: you can’t visit the cemetery on your own for safety reasons, so you must visit with a tour group). We got so sweaty and gross that we then headed towards Lush off of Royal Street and used the store to somewhat clean ourselves up (SORRY LUSH, but you had mirrors and a place to wash my hands). We then just took in Jackson Square and Saint Louis Cathedral before eating dinner and heading back to the hotel.

St. Louis Cemetary

Jackson Square Art

Okay now listen—I don’t drink or party. But it’s New Orleans and I couldn’t leave without at least seeing what Bourbon Street is all about. And I’ll be honest, I loved it. And I’ll tell you, it was everything and nothing I imagined at the same time. Movies and stories don’t do it justice. That’s for sure! It is definitely one of a kind. I would also recommend Frenchmen Street for a more authentic New Orleans experience. Though we didn’t visit it this night. Bourbon Street is a place you either love or hate. And I personally love it. After a long night on Bourbon Street, we headed back to our hotel for some shut-eye.

Bourbon Street Sign

Bourbon Street at Night

Day 3, Sunday— We slept in a bit and grabbed an early lunch/late breakfast before taking a drive out to Destrehan Plantation off of the Mississippi River. I’m not going to lie, I LOVE plantations and historic homes of all sorts. This one was no different. I am in the works of writing up a blog post of all of my favorite plantations and historic homes I’ve visited, so stay tuned! After the plantation, we drove back to the hotel and got ready. We were headed out on a good ole’ fashion New Orleans ghost tour. Our tour guide was actually from Transylvania and had the best accent. Our tour was all about the history of ghost, murder, vampires, witches and voodoo in New Orleans. However, halfway through the tour we got separated from our group and couldn’t find them (that is typical us). Luckily we caught up with a tour guide from the same company who let us join her group. And although the tour was a little different, it was still awesome. And she was more than hospitable to these stupid tourists who can’t keep up with their tour. Whoops! After our tour, we headed to Pat O’Brien’s. I mean—a piano bar, free popcorn, and fire fountains. Yes, please! This to me, is a definite must see when in New Orleans. It is said to be the home of the “hurricane”, so if drinking is your thing– it is a must. After our stop there, we ventured down Bourbon one last time, and then headed back to our hotel for the night.

Destrehan Plantation Cabin

Tree in Distance

Destrehan Plantation

Fire Fountain at Pat O'Brien's

Day 4, Monday—Today we drove home. Tired, hot, worn out and sad to be leaving. But such is life when you travel. We got home around 9 PM and I headed straight to bed. I had to work the next morning and needed as much sleep as possible to recover.

For Rent Sign in New Orleans

As you can see, it’s totally doable to see New Orleans in a weekend (or long weekend). If you fly in, you would have even more time (I spent 2 full days driving). Of course you can’t see it all in a weekend, but some is better than nothing! And in my case, this was just my first trip to this city, not my last. New Orleans is one of a kind. The atmosphere is more than hospitable and everyone is genuinely laid back and easy going. Which makes it my kind of city. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it, but this city holds a place in my heart.

St. Louis Cathedral

So let me know in the comments—have you been to New Orleans? If so, what is your favorite part of the city? If not, would you ever visit? And make sure to follow me on social media to see when new blog posts are up! XOXO

9 Comments on “How to See New Orleans in a Weekend

  1. I haven’t been to New Orleans, but I’d love to go. You like to do the same things I do while traveling so the cemetery and plantation would be on my list too! Good to know not to go on the tour during the day in summer as I would be miserable. Looking forward to your post on your favorite plantation houses.

  2. we went to NOLA for a weekend as well. It’s definitely doable. We stayed right downtown in the thick of things. It’s such an eclectic city. I recommend taking the ghost tour. It’s the perfect place for it.

  3. I really want to go back to New Orleans, having only previously visited as a kid back in the 1980s! I want to visit everything from Cafe dy Monde to St. Louis Cemetery to Destrehan Plantation. Of COURSE I want to hit Bourbon Street as an adult so I can enjoy the bars and music and party atmosphere!

  4. The music is all I have associated with New Orleans till now, but this post is food for thought! So much to occupy oneself with. I suppose two days were short, but fully packed and that sounds good.

  5. New Orleans holds the promise of a great weekend for sure. I am sure there never was a dull moment. I am really fascinated by the Bourbon street and would love to stroll through it. The cemetery is another place that intrigues me and would undoubtedly draw me to it whenever I visit New Orleans.

  6. Hi great post! Frenchmen Street sounds cool, I’ve added to my maps. Defiantly want to check out the night scene if I get the chance to visit!

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