48 hours in New Orleans

“You can live in any city in the world, but New Orleans is the only city that lives in you.” Anyone who has visited the Big Easy will echo this sentiment from famous New Orleans author Chris Rose. Whether this is your first visit or your fiftieth, each trip brings a different experience. In just 2 days in New Orleans, you will discover what makes the Crescent City such a vibrant cultural melting pot. You might even start planning your return trip before you leave. 

Day 1

7:00 AM - Coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde

Early wake-up call, yes, but with just 48 hours in New Orleans, you are going to make the most of your time here. Make your way to Café du Monde, established in 1862 and a New Orleans tradition. As soon as you take your first bite of a beignet, you will understand what makes this your first stop of the day. Beat the crowds with an early visit and remember to bring cash - no credit cards allowed. Splurge on an extra order and get a café au lait to wash it down. Get your napkins ready, as these French donuts are bathed in powdered sugar.

08:00 AM - Frolic through the French Quarter

Cross the street from Café du Monde into Jackson Square and begin your exploration of the French Quarter. You can feel the history of this neighborhood, which is the oldest in New Orleans. Take a guided walking tour and hear more about the 18th-century homes, cobblestone streets, and early inhabitants. Get up close with iconic landmarks like St. Louis Cathedral and French Market. Most importantly, hear the hard-hitting facts about each type of gumbo offered throughout the city. For those who prefer less time on their feet, take a carriage ride through the neighborhood with your own tour guide. By the time you are finished, you will feel like you have been a local for your entire life.

10:00 AM - See the iconic Jackson Square

Just a few steps from Jackson Square is the powerful Mississippi River, and you are going to sail it like it’s 1885. Bonus points for whoever notices why we chose that year. Now hop aboard the Steamboat Natchez for an authentic steamboat cruise along the Mighty Mississippi. This is the only authentic steamboat in New Orleans, and you can visit the engine room to witness the maintenance process on this powerful vessel.

1:00 PM - Treat yourself to a po' boy

Make the short walk up Canal Street to Mother’s Restaurant, serving up classic southern dishes since 1938. We recommend one of everything, but if you really must choose, nothing says New Orleans like a Po'Boy. Try the original, the Famous Ferdi Special, with ham, roast beef, and debris with au jus gravy. What is debris? Ask your server and get ready to ask for extra. Pair your Po'Boy with a side of seafood gumbo, and you’ve got yourself a true New Orleans lunch.

3:00 PM - Jazz up your afternoon

With a belly full of authentic New Orleans cuisine, it’s time to fill your heart with authentic New Orleans jazz. Grab a drink at Pat O’Brien’s and take in some tunes at the piano bar before waiting in line outside of Preservation Hall. Listen to the hum of master jazz musicians as you lean against the wall and prepare to immerse yourself in this New Orleans tradition. File into the intimate, rustic stage and find your seat on a bench. Imagine what it would feel like to gather in such a place before the complications of technology and social media. Now put those phones away, because that’s exactly how you will listen to the show. No phones, no technology, just respecting the genre in the birthplace of Jazz. 

6:00 PM - Galavant through the Garden District

Pair your quintessential New Orleans musical experience with an iconic culinary experience at Commander’s Palace. This legendary restaurant is nestled in the heart of the Garden District, surrounded by trees and historic streets since 1893. World-famous chefs like Tory McPhail, Ella Brennan, and Jamie Shannon have left their mark here. That quality of cooking is what earned this NOLA classic a total of seven James Beard awards. After tasting their Haute Creole cuisine, you will agree with the judges. 

8:00 PM - Go bananas for bananas foster

We hope you saved room for dessert. Did you know New Orleans is the home of bananas foster? You can enjoy this sweet treat in its birthplace at Brennan’s Restaurant. As the story goes, the owner challenged his chef to create a dish featuring the banana as a promotional campaign. Bananas played a critical role in the New Orleans industry, as the port was a major shipping stop from Central and South America. The inspired chef created the iconic flambéed dish, and the rest is history. You certainly won’t be the only one in the restaurant who stopped by just to enjoy this famous dessert.

Day 2

07:00 AM - Head to Audubon Park

Get moving to start your final day in town and lace up your running or walking shoes. Take the streetcar down the middle of city streets to Audubon Park, across from Tulane University and Loyola University New Orleans. This serene park is an escape from the crowds of Bourbon Street and vibrant live music. At 100 years old, this park seems to age like wine, becoming more beautiful with each coming decade. Enjoy two miles of pathway through a tunnel of towering oak trees, circling a lagoon filled with birds and amphibious creatures.

09:00 AM - Grab coffee on Canal Street

The streetcar conveniently runs straight down the middle of Canal Street, where you can find a delicious breakfast at Ruby Slipper Café. This restaurant specializes in brunch, so you are in good hands. We recommend The Trifecta, featuring Eggs Cochon, Chicken St. Charles, and Bayou Shrimp Benedicts. Grab an extra cup of coffee, because you still have a big day ahead of you.

11:00 AM - Explore the National World War II Museum

Regardless of whether you’re an avid history buff or haven’t opened a book since your last day of high school, the National World War II Museum deserves a spot on your weekend itinerary in New Orleans. The city was chosen for its contributions to wartime production, producing Higgins Boats that were famously used in the D-Day invasion at Normandy. These landing crafts were used in every major amphibious landing of US troops throughout the war. Stephen Ambrose, the respected WWII historian and founder of the museum, served as a professor at the nearby University of New Orleans. But history is boring, right? You won’t be saying that after immersing yourself in the 4D “Beyond All Boundaries” film, narrated by Tom Hanks. 

2:00 PM - Take a lesson in Cajun cooking

With only a few hours left in New Orleans, have you picked up a souvenir to remember your trip? No need, as you are going to bring home the greatest gift of all: knowledge. Find your way to the New Orleans School of Cooking and take a cooking lesson on classic New Orleans dishes. Learn about Louisiana cooking with experienced Cajun and Creole chefs. Make iconic plates such as gumbo, jambalaya, and pralines. Inspired to make some at home? Pick up ingredients in the general store and share a taste of New Orleans with your friend and family at home. 

05:00 PM - Make your way to the Superdome

Though it won’t be the same without Drew Brees, cap off your visit with a New Orleans Saints game at the Superdome. Cheer along with one of the most passionate fan bases in the NFL. If you want to fit in, just scream at the refs about a missed pass interference call from 2019. If you aren’t in town during football season, head over to Smoothie King Center for a New Orleans Pelicans game. After the final buzzer sounds, return home with both your stomach and heart full of New Orleans love. 

Still wondering what makes 1885 the perfect year for sailing in a steamboat? That’s the year Mark Twain published Huckleberry Finn, with one of the most famous portrayals of a steamboat in literary history.

We’d love to hear your New Orleans tips in the comments below. Hint: make sure you’re logged into Facebook to share your knowledge with us.

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