2 Days in New Orleans—The Perfect Weekend Itinerary

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Going to spend 2 days in New Orleans and looking for the perfect itinerary ideas?

It’s easy to fill up a weekend itinerary of fun things to do in New Orleans. This culturally diverse and historically rich city offers a lot of very different and unique options for travelers.

New Orleans is known for its spirits—and not just its world-renowned cocktails! From history and culture to ghosts, vampires, and voodoos, to the food—oh, the food! New Orleans may just offer a little something for absolutely everyone!

There’s a lot to do in New Orleans, and the hard truth is that two days isn’t nearly enough to see this city. But, in 2 days in New Orleans, you can get a great taste for all this unique city has to offer.

I have visited New Orleans three times now and have enjoyed it every single time.

In this post, I’ll share some of the highlights of this spirited city and why you should visit. Then, I’ll offer up a great itinerary to spend a perfect 2 days in New Orleans with some alternatives.

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2 Days in New Orleans Itinerary

You’ll never run out of things to do in New Orleans. But if you have limited time, you’ll need to stay focused on the top spots in the city. Here is what I’d recommend for a New Orleans 2-day itinerary.

Day 1

  • Breakfast at Croissant d’Or
  • French Quarter walking tour
  • Visit the French Market
  • Check out the Pharmacy Museum (or another weird museum!)
  • Dinner at the Court of Two Sisters or Muriel’s
  • Dessert at Cafe du Monde
  • Music and fun at Frenchmen’s Street

Day 2

  • Breakfast at French Trunk or PJs
  • Explore the Garden District
  • Wander around Audubon Park
  • Lunch at Commander’s Palace or Shaya
  • WWII Museum
  • Dinner at GW Fins or Galatoire’s
  • Drinks at the Carousel Bar
  • Music at Preservation Hall, Jazz Playhouse, or May Bailey’s

Extra options if you have more time!

About New Orleans + What You Should Expect

New Orleans is such a fun and contradictory town. On one hand, you have restaurants and establishments that require men to wear a jacket. On the other, you have a plethora of focus on the supernatural, including ghosts, vampires, and voodoo.

It’s quirky, it’s fun, and it’s amazing! You’ll find a wide array of things to do here, and there’s something for everyone!

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Day 1 of Your 2 Days in New Orleans Itinerary

I hope you’re ready, as seeing New Orleans in just two days means packing a lot in! But don’t worry, as I’m adding a section of worthy extras if you have more time. You can also swap out these places if you’d like (though I don’t recommend it!)

Once you decide what you’re doing, check out the New Orleans City Pass! It includes a lot of the top New Orleans attractions, so see if what you want is included.


First, start off with a filling breakfast at Croissant d’Or Patisserie. It’s a great little shop with amazing pastries and coffee drinks. They also have incredible crepes, breakfast sandwiches like Croque Madame, and more. You can’t get a bad thing here, and everything is amazing!

If you woke up early and have more time before your walking tour, head to Stanley or Toast. If you look for the lines, you’ll find these hot spots easily!

French Quarter Walking Tour

A great way to start to explore any city is with a walking tour. You not only learn the history and interesting tidbits, but you get a great orientation and inside scoop on where to go.

So, if you go on a tour and something strikes your fancy, go for it! This tour will be there for your next visit (and there will be one!)

There are a lot of different kinds of walking tours in New Orleans. I was shocked when I started researching, as there are truly so many! First, consider your interests. If you enjoy history and culture, a French Quarter walking tour is great for you!

I took the French Quarter history tour and loved it! This company came highly recommended, and they also offer other tours if you have different interests, including this New Orleans Cocktail tour.

Or, if you’re obsessed with learning about local food and drink, this is an amazing place to take a food tour or a cocktail and food tour! If you’d like to know more about haunted New Orleans—you know, the ghosts, vampires, and voodoo practitioners, there are tours every night for that as well!

In that case, just swap out the evening activity or commit to a very late night! Both are great options.

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St. Louis Cathedral

Visit the French Market

You’ll likely end up fairly close to the French Market at the end of your walking tour. If you didn’t do a food tour, it’s a great spot to get a bite to eat for lunch. If you’re not all that hungry after a huge breakfast, you can grab something small!

You’ll likely walk right past Cafe du Monde, an institution in these parts. If you haven’t ever had a beignet, a pillowy puff of fried dough with powdered sugar liberally sprinkled over it, I highly recommend it. And it goes down well with a cup of their chicory coffee.

Try to resist the urge to stop now, though, it could make a lovely lunch. I’ll never tell!

If you go during the daytime, sneak around the back. There’s a window where you can see the bakers making the beignets.

The French Market is actually a historic market dating back hundreds of years to when American and French traders and local Native Americans sold their wares. Now, you’ll find some great food stands and small shops selling local items and souvenirs.

Check Out the Small (Weird) Museums

New Orleans has a number of smaller and rather unique museums that you won’t find elsewhere. My favorite is the Pharmacy Museum and it’s part of this City Pass.

This museum is a treasure trove of medical majesty and mystery. On one hand, you’ll notice how archaic and outdated some of the treatments and tools are. On the other, it’s surprising how little has changed in some aspects.

If this isn’t your cuppa tea, you’ve got options! If you’re interested in learning more about local voodoo, there’s a Voodoo Museum that may be right up your alley.

Or, there’s a Museum of Death which, strange as it is, is perfectly suited for this city.

The Pharmacy Museum is located at 514 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130. It’s open from 10 to 5, Tuesday through Saturday, and it costs $10.

The Voodoo Museum is located at 724 Dumaine St, New Orleans, LA 70116. It’s open from 10 to 6 daily and costs $10.

The Museum of Death is located at 227 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112. It’s open from 10 to 6, Thursday through Monday, and it costs $15.

pharmacy museum, old bottles on shelf, traditional medicine
Pharmacy Museum

Dinner at the Court of Two Sisters

If you’re lucky enough to be traveling when the weather is nice, the Court of Two Sisters has an incredible patio covered by tree branches and greenery. There are lovely small white lights that light up the space and make it feel quite cozy.

Some other great options are Muriel’s (especially if you’re interested in haunted places!), Royal House, or Tableau (which has the same owner as the New Orleans institution, Brennan’s. They were the founder of the bananas foster dish).

If you want something more casual, local, and well, divey, check out Coop’s Place or MRB. Both are loved by locals and serve up great food at a reasonable price. And MRB has great oysters and live music!

And for something a little different, check out the Cuban-inspired Cane and Table or Benichen for African Creole.

Court of Two Sisters

Dessert at Cafe du Monde

If you didn’t grab a beignet earlier in the day (or even if you did!), head to Cafe du Monde for dessert. It’s hard to resist a beignet (or two!) Make sure to try the chicory coffee and one that’s fully leaded to perk you up after your big meal for the night’s festivities.

You pay cash only at the table here, so be prepared!

Depending on the time you go, there may be a long line. Don’t worry, as it does move fairly quickly. People do tend to linger here, but there are a lot of tables inside and outside.

cafe du monde workers taking a break
Cafe Du Monde

Party it Up at Frenchmen’s Street

You might have thought Bourbon Street was the place to go for music and drinks. That’s certainly one place to go, but those in the know step past and head to Frenchmen’s Street.

Here you’ll find the local stuff—incredible local music like jazz, blues, and zydeco. There are a bunch of bars lining this strip of the street so see what music strikes your fancy and go on in. It’s a really great time!

If you’re interested, there’s a night market on Frenchmen’s Street as well. Here you can find some local art and handiworks, as well as tourist souvenirs and the like.

Day 2 of Your 2 Days in New Orleans

On day two, we’re going to head to the Garden District. This was the American area during the time of French Control. You’ll find large and beautiful antebellum mansions with large gardens. It’s very different from the French Quarter and worth exploring.

Take the street car to get to the Garden District for a fun ride. Just make sure you leave plenty of time, as there are many stops, and it’s pretty slow. If you’re in a rush, grab a cab or Uber out but take it back to the French Quarter.

Explore the Garden District

You can do it on your own, and there are self-guided walking tours you can do. Or, join a walking tour to learn more about this vibrant area of the city. It’s always nice to learn a bit about the history and the area when you visit.

It’s fun to just wander the streets in this area and think of years past. There are many antebellum mansions dating back centuries. And you’ll find homes currently belonging to some notable celebrities, including Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Junior, John Goodman, and more.

The Ann Rice House is a popular one on the tours. Of course, she was a notable author known for her book, Interview with a Vampire, which later became a movie. She had quite a few books about vampires and a large fan club.

If you have time, grab a coffee at French Truck (from the owner of Toast!) or PJs. Or, if you have time for a hearty breakfast with some really interesting dishes, try Molly’s Rise and Shine. There’s often a long line and a bit of a wait for food, but it’s quite good and has some really interesting options.

We took this Garden District tour with Two Chicks and enjoyed it. It did focus a lot on the famous people living in the Garden District, so it’s not of interest to you, you may want to check out a different tour. New Orleans Secrets also offers one that I have seen great reviews for.

Audubon Park

If you’re craving a bit of green space away from houses after walking around the French Quarter and the Garden District, you’ll find Audubon Park quite refreshing! There’s a large pond, lovely walking trails, and lots of quiet.

Wander through some gorgeous live oak trees and check out the Tree of Life if you’re inclined. There is a nice playground if you’re traveling with kids.

Audubon Park is here on a map.

live oaks at audobon park, child on bike, mom walking next to child on bike
Live oaks at Audubon Park

Lunch at Commander’s Palace or Shaya

Now you have a big decision to make: where to eat lunch. Commander’s Palace is one of the top places to go in New Orleans for traditional local fare. It’s an institution and a place you really should try at least once.

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Commander’s Palace

Well, I tend to be a rule breaker, so I decided to try something a bit different: Shaya. It’s a Jewish restaurant with a New Orleans flare, and simply incredible. In fact, I’d go on record to say it was probably my favorite place that we ate at while in New Orleans. Yes, it was that good. I may have licked the plate.

Shaya offers the traditional fare you’d expect: hummus, shawarma, tabbouleh, and the like. But the flavors and spices are distinctly New Orleans, and it’s magical.

They have a bread oven and make pillowy pitas from scratch. Pair that with their olive oil with za’atar and other spices, and it’s a great start. We got a bunch of small dishes to share, including hummus with fried chicken (I know it sounds crazy, but it was incredible!) Lamb kofta skewers, heirloom tomatoes, halloumi, and a chicken schnitzel sandwich.

We had plenty to bring back leftovers, and everything was amazing. And their drinks are too! It’s a cute place and a little off the beaten path but well worth the walk. Yum.

If you have a little more time and want to spend some here, grab a drink at Hot Tin. It’s a rooftop bar on the Pontchartrain Hotel and has great views and good drinks.


WWII Museum

People told me this is a must-see when you visit New Orleans, so I planned to go. But I’ll be honest—I’m not greatly interested in wars and the like. I love history, so from that perspective, I had some interest. But I really wasn’t sure this would pique my interest much.

Boy, was I wrong. And shockingly, the WWII Museum is now in my top five museums in the world! Yes, I enjoyed it that much.

Get discounted tickets to the WWII Museum here!

This museum is incredibly well done and impeccably curated. It’s very interactive and has a lot going on from the start all the way through. There are exhibits, videos, short highlights about everyday people, items you can touch, and more. It’s completely immersive.

You start this visit by picking up a dog tag and boarding a train. From the moment you step in, you’re in another time and another world. One where you can learn as much as you want about this time in history. You can learn about the person whose dog tag you picked up and more.

The New Orleans World War II Museum is located at 945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130. It’s open daily from 9 to 5 ad regularly costs $31+. (There are multiple ticket options to choose from).

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WWII Museum

Dinner & Music

For dinner, you could head back to Commander’s Palace if you didn’t go for lunch and check out Hot Tin for an after-dinner drink. You certainly can’t go wrong with either!

Or, you could try GW Fins for seafood or Galatoire’s. There are so many incredible restaurants in the French Quarter that you almost can’t go wrong with any! We certainly didn’t have a bad meal.

If you want a fun place for drinks before or after dinner, check out the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone. There is a legit carousel inside the hotel bar! And yes, it does rotate, so it’s not just the booze!

In case you’re still hungry, you could try Cafe Beignet to see how it compares to Cafe du Monde. Though you’ll likely still prefer the original, you never know! (Cafe du Monde, all the way!!)

As you might expect, there are a lot of great options for live Music in New Orleans. Some of the institutions worth checking out are Preservation Hall, Jazz Playhouse, and May Baily’s.

May Baily’s was the city’s first licensed brothel, built in 1821. It’s also rumored to be haunted, so grab one of their Pimm’s Cups and see what you find.

carousel bar, people drinking, lights on carousel
Carousel Bar

Is 2 Days in New Orleans Enough Time?

In a word: nope! You really need 4-5 days in New Orleans to truly immerse in this town. There is a lot to see and do. But if you have two days, you can make the most of it and see enough to start planning your return trip!

If you can add on some time, definitely take some day trips. It’s especially popular to go on a swamp tour and to visit a plantation while in town. There are lots of tours available for both, or you can rent a car and do both in a day as we did. It’s a good option when you’re short on time.

We spent five days in New Orleans, and that felt like a good amount of time. We didn’t feel rushed and got to see the things we most wanted to. Here are some additional ideas if you have some extra time:

There’s a lot to pack into a 2-day trip to New Orleans, so if you can add even a day or two, it makes a big difference!

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Louis Armstrong statue

Where to Stay in New Orleans

Budget—The Quisby: For a budget stay in the lower Garden District, this is an excellent choice. They have dorm rooms as well as private rooms. The dorms have their own lockers and reading lights. Breakfast is included with a large buffet or made-to-order items.

Mid-range—Balcony Guest House Bed and Breakfast: This is a guest house with beautifully decorated rooms. They also have a few suite options with kitchenettes and whirlpool tubs. They have a nice lounge onsite where they serve breakfast every morning. There’s also an Indian/Asian restaurant and bar on site.

Luxury—Hotel Monteleone: For a stay right in the heart of the historic French Quarter, check out Hotel Monteleone. The rooms are stunning. The suites have whirlpool tubs and wet bars with their own ice makers. They have an amazing on-site restaurant with live music every night. Make sure to also take a dip in the heated outdoor rooftop pool.

When to Visit New Orleans

For the best weather, visit New Orleans from February through May. The weather is not too cold or too hot during this time. There are also many festivals, including Mardi Gras.

If you want lower hotel prices or don’t want to be around for the business of the crowds, you can visit in December or January. You can also come in the summer months if you don’t mind hotter weather.

How to Get to New Orleans

The best way to get to New Orleans is to fly into Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY). It’s only 11 miles from the downtown area, which makes it very convenient to get around.

There is a shuttle from the airport that goes downtown and to many of the most popular hotels. Or, catch a cab to the French Quarter for a flat $36.

back of the st louis cathedral, courtyard, gardens, new orleans 2 day itinerary
Back of St. Louis Cathedral

How to Get Around New Orleans

New Orleans is a city best explored on foot. There are so many interesting things to see, so you’re best off hitting the pavement with a pair of very comfy shoes.

If you’re heading from the French Quarter to the Garden District (and back!), the streetcars are an excellent option. They’re fun to ride and can take some of the work off of your feet. It can take 30-40 minutes to walk between the two, so it’s a great option.

Otherwise, taxis are plentiful, and Uber is easy to catch as well.

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Touchdown Jesus

Ready to Spend 2 Days in New Orleans?

There’s no place in the country, or in the world, like New Orleans. It has such an interesting mix of people and cultures with a flair for the supernatural that there’s something for just about everyone here.

Enjoy the incredible cuisine, cocktail culture, and lots of live music. It’s truly the place to be!

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