48 Hour Guide to New Orleans

In New Orleans its European streets meet Caribbean vibes with French, Spanish, Haitian and Cuban influence. Without a doubt this city knows how to celebrate! And you don’t have to visit during Mardi Gras to witness a parade – the city is always in motion. No two days in this treasured city would be complete without brass band street performances, mouthwatering deep fried seafood and po-boys, spooky cemeteries, and rich history. The culture and flavors in New Orleans are unmatched to any other American city. New Orleans is compact and easy to explore by foot with just a handful of neighborhoods and attractions worth traveling out of the city center for. This 48-hour guide will help you navigate this lively city nestled on the Mississippi River without missing the must-see attractions.

Day 1

We recommend starting your first morning in the heart of the city -- the French Quarter. This colorful district is home to Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the U.S., the famous Bourbon Street filled with lively restaurants and shops, diverse architecture, an open-air market for souvenir shopping. Preservation Hall, which hosts daily authentic jazz performances is also located in this famous neighborhood.

For a complete overview and the full story on how New Orleans got its charm and culture, try a Historic French Quarter Walking Tour.

Next on our must-do list is a visit to New Orleans’ spooky cemeteries, located just a few blocks north of the French Quarter - a 15 minute walk from Jackson Square. These cemeteries are a peek into the past two centuries. Learn about the burial customs and the infamous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. For a thorough historical discovery consider a walking tour of St. Louis # 1 Cemetery, which houses the infamous Vodoo Queen Marie Laveau, or St. Louis # 2 Cemetery, which is the younger of the two and less well known, is considered by many to be the most fascinating.

After all that walking you will have certainly worked up an appetite. For lunch, eat like a local and try one of New Orlean’s most iconic meals - the po-boy. At its core, this is a sandwich overflowing with roast beef, Louisiana hot sausage, or fried seafood on soft french bread. The options are endless, but for a quintessential po-boy joint try Johnny’s Po-boys, where these sloppy sandwiches are served on a paper plate and you’ll need a few extra napkins. From the cemeteries, Johnny’s is located a short 10 minute walk back down to the French Quarter at 511 St Louis St.

After that life-affirming meal, use the afternoon to visit one of the many museums in New Orleans filled with history, culture, and art that will provide you with a great appreciation for this dynamic and resilient city.

To discover the story of the French Creoles, visit the Degas House Museum with a Creole Impressionist Tour on the tree lined Esplanade Avenue. For more African-American art and culture, visit the George & Leah McKenna Museum of Art. Both of these museums are located a 35 minute walk room the city center or a 10 minute cab ride. If you want to stay in the French Quarter, we recommend the Cabildo, housed in an elegant Spanish colonial building in Jackson Square with endless historical treasures inside.

After soaking up the art and culture of NOLA, head back to the French Quarter and go for a spin at the Carousel Bar and Lounge at the historic Monteleone Hotel where you can sip on a well-made mint julep or sazerac. This place is kitchy, yet elegant and a New Orleans hot-spot not to miss.

Finish your day relaxing on an evening Paddlewheeler Jazz Cruise on the Mississippi River where you’ll go back in time aboard this romantic ship, take in the views on the promenade deck, and enjoy pure New Orleans jazz. The cruise leaves from a port conveniently located a few blocks south of the Carousel Bar and Lounge.

Day 2

A visit to New Orleans is not complete without immersing yourself in the Creole culture. On your second day, learn how to make classic favorites like gumbo, jambalaya, and crawfish etouffe on a Creole Cuisine Walking Tour, where you’ll witness, taste and explore the flavors of this influential culinary culture. If you’re looking for a different Creole culinary experience, try out Mr. B’s Bistro, located at 201 Royal St., for a French Quarter lunchtime favorite.

After you’ve fueled up, take advantage of the easy and accessible Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour bus and make a visit to the charming Garden District. Enjoy a guided stroll on a Garden District Walking Tour of this neighborhood dripping with elegance and streets lined with leafy green oak trees.

If you want to get out of the city and embrace the other wild side of Louisiana, consider instead a visit to a private wildlife refuge, where you’ll meet alligators and more. The Cajun Pride Swamp Tour is our favorite, and the tour provides transportation to and from the wildlife refuge site.

For your last night enjoy another live jazz performance at one of the endless options in the French Quarter. Or if you’re ready to escape the crowds of Bourbon Street, enjoy the music at Musical Legends Park - a relaxing outdoor courtyard. For a more upbeat experience, hit up the Spotted Cat Music Club and dance the night away.

For a final nightcap, stroll over to Jackson Square and visit the world famous 24/7 Cafe du Monde for beignets - yummy french-styled fried doughnuts are a favorite late-night snack.

That wraps up your ultimate two day guide to NOLA - a city filled with vibrant people, flavors, and culture -- enjoy!!