New Orleans or NOLA or The Big Easy — this city may have different names but it has its own unique character! It is very different from other big cities in the United States. Though it is world-renowned for its French Quarter, Mardi Gras and Jazz capital of the world, New Orleans has all the power to drive insane its first time visitor. From its buzzing round-the-clock nightlife to its delicious cajun food to its rich history, NOLA is a melting pot of French, African and American cultures.
I visited New Orleans during Memorial day weekend and had an astounding experience. Based on my trip, here is a list of some amazing things to do in NOLA in 72 hours to make the most out of your trip and enjoy fullest!
Try beignets at Café Du Monde
No trip to New Orleans would be complete without visiting Café Du Monde, the oldest and most iconic cafe. Start your NOLA adventure after delighting your taste buds with incredibly delicious, mouth-watering and piping hot beignets sprinkled with white sugar along with Café au laits. Though the waiting line is always long but totally worth it. The Café Du Monde only accepts cash. The best time to visit is early morning or late night as it is open for 24 hours.
Stroll around Jackson Square
Just adjacent to Café Du Monde is a Jackson Square, a National Historic Landmark in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It is a timeless attraction facing the Mississippi River and surrounded by historic buildings including the St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere and Cabildo (Louisiana State Museums) as well as Pontalba Apartments, the oldest apartment buildings in the United States. You can see the local artists displaying their arts as well as street performers. If you love art, you’ll be amazed by the work of the local NOLA artists.
Visit inside St. Louis Cathedral
St. Louis Cathedral is one of the most iconic architectures and the most famous landmarks in New Orleans. It is the oldest cathedral in the United States. It has Renaissance and Spanish Colonial architecture. The interiors of this church are just splendid! Spend some time in peace and admire the amazing architecture and paintings!
Visit French Market
French Market — the five blocks market from Café du Monde near Jackson Square to the flea market at the end of Esplanade Avenue, is the oldest open-market in New Orleans where you can see handmade crafts, local produce, specialty art with dining, music and other local NOLA’s traditions. There’s always festivity in the air. This is a great place to meet locals.
Admire the architecture of the French Quarter
If you’re an architectural lover, French Quarter of New Orleans would be a real treat for your eyes! From the blend of its French, Spanish to the Creole and American style architectures, you’ll witness an idiosyncratic world. Walking in the oldest and world-famous French Quarter is an experience in itself! You’ll find many cool spots to click the most beautiful Instagramable pictures.
Happiness is when your outfit matches with the door!😎 While strolling around the French Quarter, I came across so many amazing doors but how could I resisted this blue door! 😍 . . . —————————————————————- Dress details: This dress is from @tommyhilfiger and bag is from @michaelkors —————————————————————- . . . . #instadoors #bluedoor #neworleans #visitneworleans #nola #louisiana #styletraveler #travelgram #sheisnotlost #sheexplores #nawlins #igersnola #darlingescapes #itsyournola #borntotravel #colorhunter #ihavethingswithcolors #travelogue #bourbonstreet #frenchquarter #doorsofinstagram #architecturelover #girlmeetsworld #streetstyle #nomadiclife #exploretheworld #wiw #whatiamwearing #ootd #traveldeeper
Based on my experience, check out 10 amazing must-see buildings in French Quarter that you can’t afford to miss because of its splendid architecture!
Stroll around the Mississippi Riverfront
If you want to soak in yourself with some cool breeze in the hot and humid weather of the New Orleans, a mile-long stretch of the Mississippi Riverfront, just adjacent to the French Quarter, would be a great idea. From its riverboat tours to public art, family activities to linear park and walkways, it is a cool place to hang out or just soak the view! The Mississippi Riverfront is also the home of the NOLA’s most popular family attractions, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and the Entergy Imax Theater. However, as an adult, I skipped both the attractions!
Party at the Bourbon Street
Who is ready for an early weekend?😎 . Can't believe how time flies! I was at NOLA's Bourbon street last Thursday and had so much fun! 😍 . . Bourbon street is the heart❤ and soul of the French Quarter where party never stops! . Tag a friend with whom you want to party this weekend! . . . . . . . . #bourbonstreet #frenchquarter #visitneworleans #nola #itsyournola #party #sheisnotlost #sheexplores #travelgram #passionpassport #travelnoire #styletraveler #whatiamwearing #radgirlslife #darlingescapes #wildernessbabes #ladiesgoneglobal #globelletravels #girlslovetravel #jetsettingchicks #travellushes #alwaysneworleans #lousiana #traveldeeper #femaletraveler #anaojha #happythursday #wiw #borntotravel
Bourbon street is the most famous party street in the heart of the French Quarter known for its 24*7 live entertainments and never-ending nightlife! It has a Fat Tuesday on every day of the week. So go for all your wildest dreams. Put on some beads, take a “go-cup” (Yes! It is legal to drink on the streets in New Orleans) and stroll around. Whether you want to be sexy and wild or sophisticated and classy, Bourbon street has something for everyone. Keep in mind to take plenty of the cash as most of the bars accept only the cash.
If you’re fond of Starbucks, do visit Starbucks at Canal Street as it is very different from the regular ones. They have tried to keep the old-world charm and its interiors are perfectly blending with the Nola vibes!
Get beignets takeaway at Café Du Monde
Start your morning with beignets from Café Du Monde and coffee! If there is no waiting time, sit inside the cafe or grab and go to save the time for other attractions.
Visit the National World War II Museum
The National World War II Museum tells the story of the of the American Experience in the war that changed the world. If you love history, you can spend an entire day in this museum. This museum has some great vintage military aircrafts, weapons, tanks, artifacts and exhibits from the WW II. Go for ‘Beyond All Boundaries’ show which costs an extra $5 apart from the ticket but it is totally worth it. I spent almost 4 hours in this museum but couldn’t finish it!
Visit Confederate Memorial Hall Museum
Confederate Memorial Hall Museum, also known as “Memorial Hall” is a must visit for any history buff. This museum has various artifacts and exhibits related to American Civil War and the Confederate States of America. It is the oldest museum in Louisiana and the second largest Confederate collection in the United States. The architectural style of this museum is Romanesque Revival. It is a great spot to click some amazing pictures.
Visit Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
Ok! Please don’t judge this museum by this gross picture! Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is the largest free-standing American museum dedicated to insects. It is a fun place to visit with family but as an adult, I too got to know some of the interesting facts about the insects world. This museum has many attractions and exhibits but my favorite was Butterfly Garden in which you can interact with more than hundred butterflies.
Enjoy some live Jazz and street performances, explore some art galleries & antique stores and dine at French Quarter
End your evening while strolling around the French Quarter which is a home of 100+ bars and restaurants, some of which are centuries old. Explore some local art galleries as well as quirky antique stores. If you’re fond of vintage pieces of jewelry, you’ll be amazed to find something unique for your taste.
If you want to try some amazing Creole dinner, The Court of Two Sisters, one of the upscale courtyard themed garden restaurants with live Jazz music would be a great idea. If you’re looking for seafood on the Bourbon Street, Bourbon House has some great options.
If you want more sophisticated and classy dining experience when you’re not paying, then must visit at Galatoire’s, one of the century-old French Quarter’s bucket list.
You can check the list of some amazing restaurants here.
Visit Mardi Gras World
If you’re visiting New Orleans for the first time, a visit to Mardi Gras World is a must! This is a place where you can feel the spirit of Mardi Gras throughout the year. From the 50 plus colorful floats to the theme-based hand-crafted props, you’ll be amazed to see all behind-the-scenes of the Big Easy’s favorite festival in the massive 300,000 square foot warehouse of the Mardi Gras World.
To read all behind-the-scenes thrill of Mardi Gras World, you can read my earlier post here.
Visit Destrehan Plantation
If you want to explore something away from the French Quarter’s regular attractions, head to Destrehan Plantation, a historic site located 25 miles from downtown New Orleans. You can learn about Louisiana legacy. Guided tours are available. You can also see various exhibits and a collection of live oak trees over two hundred years old.
Stroll in the downtown
Apart from the French Quarter, also stroll in the other areas of the downtown. Few of the famous attractions are Harrah’s Casino and shopping at Canal Place. The historic Lafayette Square located in the heart of the downtown is also home to a fall blues music festival as well as free live concerts throughout the year.
If you want to do some shopping during your NOLA trip, visit Outlet collection Riverwalk featuring more than 75 retailers and restaurants located in front of the majestic Mississippi River. Even if you don’t want to shop, just stroll around this area for some NOLA vibes!
Spend your last night in NOLA partying hardest at Bourbon Street or go for New Orleans Ghosts tour or anything that you want to enjoy the most before departing this beautiful old-world charmed city!
Tips for visiting New Orleans
- If you’re planning to visit during the time when celebrations are in full swing, February to May is the best time.
- If you want to beat the crowd and not interested in Mardi Gras mania, plan to visit in December or January.
- Weather is hot and wet during Summers with the average daytime high is 90.7 degrees. The Winters brings average daily high temperatures of 64 degrees. Spring is generally warm with average daily high temperatures of 78.5 degrees and in the Fall, the average daytime high is 79.7 degrees. (Source: here). So plan accordingly.
- Most of the bars and restaurants at French Quarter accepts only cash. So don’t forget to keep plenty of it.
- If you want to use restrooms at bars in the Bourbon Street, you need to buy a drink or something as they are strict about it. You can even try your luck at hotels in the French Quarter. If they want you to buy a drink then get a soda or coffee. However, during Mardi Gras, most hotels only allow guests with room keys or wristbands through the lobby doors.
- The public restrooms are available at Canal Place shopping mall and Jackson Brewery and French Market in the French Quarter.
- Many businesses during the Mardi Gras time sell parade packages, which include amenities like balcony seating, food, drink and most importantly – a bathroom.
- The great way to commute in NOLA’s downtown is through streetcars! There are three different lines: St. Charles, Canal Street, and the Riverfront, each of which originates downtown but takes you different parts of the city.
- There are several city sightseeing bus tours also available but I explored French Quarter and other parts of downtown by walking as well as streetcars. I also used Uber to commute from my hotel which was near the airport to downtown.
- Wear comfortable shoes if you plan to explore the French Quarter by walking.
- If you’re traveling off-the Mardi Gras season, you’ll find cheaper hotels near the airport as compared to the downtown.
- During the time of Mardi Gras, hotel’s prices in downtown are at its peaks. So book in a year advance for the best deals.
I absolutely enjoyed my 3 days in New Orleans and have to admit that even three days are not enough to explore everything that NOLA has to offer! Before leaving The Big Easy, I promised myself to return soon. I wish to visit New Orleans during the time of Mardi Gras and witness larger than a life carnival with my own eyes someday in my life!
Have you been to New Orleans? Did you visit during the Mardi Gras time? Do share your experiences in the comments below?
Till then, Happy Wandering!
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