New Orleans is a world-class city known for its distinctive culture, music, and fun festivals like Mardi Gras. The French Quarter is bustling; the Creole cuisine is top-notch; and the sights, sounds, and atmosphere make this Louisiana city a top tourist destination for everyone from history buffs to night owls who love to party.
But what if you only have 48 hours in The Big Easy? Believe it or not, by following a travel itinerary, even the most adventurous of travelers can find everything they’re looking for to have a fun-filled and action-packed two days in this Southern gem.
New Orleans: Getting Around This Sensational City
The layout of New Orleans neighborhoods is relatively compact, making it a great place to explore on foot. However, New Orleans also has a great public transportation system in the form of both streetcars and buses. Visitors can purchase a Jazzy Pass, which offers unlimited rides on both, and purchasing options for multiple-day stays. Taxis are also readily available, especially for those wanting to explore at night; and Uber and Lyft operate within the city, too.
Where To Stay In New Orleans
Because it’s so easy to travel throughout the city, any neighborhood is ideal for setting up a home base for exploring New Orleans. From the French Quarter to downtown and everything in between, there are plenty of great accommodations to choose from.
- Want to be in the heart of the action? Ace Hotel New Orleans is downtown fabulousness that is just minutes from the French Quarter. Rooms $192 and up/night
- Uptown and the Garden District have some of the loveliest neighborhoods in the city. Grab a room at Alder Hotel Uptown and explore this area filled with Southern charm. Rooms $119 and up/night
- Known as ‘the unofficial entrance to the French Quarter,’ Bluegreen Vacations Club La Pension is a boutique hotel that is centrally located in this historic neighborhood. Rooms $185 and up/night
Day 1: Meet The Big Easy
The best way for travelers to introduce themselves to New Orleans is by visiting the historic French Quarter. The perfect blend of historic New Orleans charm and contemporary, modern boutiques, restaurants, and jazzy, fun vibes, the FQ is the best way to experience some of the city’s most iconic attractions.
- New Orleans has some of the South’s most stunning and historic art and architecture. Head to Jackson Square and check out St. Louis Cathedral—and yes, it may look familiar, as this historic spot has made an appearance in hundred of movies and TV shows—so have your camera ready! Also nearby are the Cabildo, an important historic building and museum, and The Presbytére, home to an amazing collection of Mardi Gras memorabilia and history
- Have lunch at Muriel’s in Jackson Square, home to classic Creole fare and old-world Southern ambiance
- The Royal Street Complex is a perfect spot to explore how New Orleans has explored its rich history and heritage. Consisting of seven restored historical buildings, the area is part of The Historic New Orleans Collection that has three campuses in the French Quarter. Admission is free
- Riverfront New Orleans at its finest, Woldenberg Park is a great place to sit, relax, and soak up the beauty of the Mississippi River. A great place to visit after a day spent exploring or visiting the shops at Canal Place
- Dine at Galatoire’s, a Bourbon St. Bistro and NOLA institution since 1905; then head out for a night of music at Maison Bourbon Jazz Club and hang out on one of Bourbon Street’s best balconies
Day Two: A Tour, A Trip, And A Tasting
A walking tour is one of the best ways to experience some of New Orleans’ best scenic and historic spots, especially if you only have 48 hours in the city. After spending the day in the historic French Quarter, it’s time to get a taste of the ‘Old South’ through a tour of the Garden District. Including famous sites like Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and Elms Mansion, the three-hour tour from Take Walks New Orleans is a great way to spend the morning exploring classic Southern scenery. Tours $45/person. After the tour head out and grab some lunch at the eclectic Riverbend spot Jacques-Imo’s Cafe, home to five-star food and a fantastic NOLA atmosphere. The afternoon is your oyster on your final day in The Big Easy, so head out and explore any of these amazing attractions.
- New Orleans is famously home to many historic cemeteries. While there are plenty of tours available, visitors can head out and explore them on their own. Be sure to check out St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 and Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, two of the city’s most famous burial spots
- Spend a couple of hours exploring the New Orleans Museum of Art, which includes a diverse collection of over 40,000 objects, including those of local and historical significance
- New Orleans is home to several craft breweries—fun, bustling, welcoming places that are great for having a pint (or two) after a long day exploring. the Garden District has several to choose from, including The Courtyard Brewery and Port Orleans Brewing Co.
- Head back to the French Quarter for dinner at Brennan’s, a NOLA icon both classic and colorful. Afterward, head out to One-Eyed Jacks, a live music venue and burlesque club known for its late-night, cool-kid vibes
One of the most iconic spots in the South, New Orleans is a city overflowing with distinctive charm and robust history that is ever-present throughout its eclectic, bustling streets filled with things to see and do. Even if you only have 48 hours in NOLA, there’s still time to get a taste of its unique history, culture, arts and architecture, and exciting nightlife that make it a world-class city full of Southern vibes and atmosphere all its own.