Updated: Apr 11, 2022
New Orleans is a Louisiana city on the Mississippi River, near the Gulf of Mexico. Nicknamed the “Big Easy,” it’s known for its round-the-clock nightlife, vibrant live-music scene and spicy, singular cuisine reflecting its history as a melting pot of French, African and American cultures. Two days in New Orleans let’s you see some of the best the city has to offer.
New Orleans is such a unique city with tons of charm, it reminds me of Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA in many ways! I absolutely loved spending two days in New Orleans and was surprised by how much there really is to do. Already hoping to go back!
When I found out my friend was headed to New Orleans for a weekend (and that flights were $130), I knew I had to join! New Orleans is a city I’ve been wanting to visit for a while and two days in New Orleans (especially in winter) is perfect. The weather is great, it wasn’t too crowded and there is a ton of budget-friendly things to do. So here is how to spend a weekend in New Orleans.
$100 for AirBnB (per person)
$150 tours, food, and activities
Find more on trip costs for New Orleans.
I was lucky enough to find this awesome apartment just two blocks off Bourbon Street. It made getting everywhere we wanted really easy. The apartment had a lot of charm and I loved the large old windows. The downside was you definitely don’t want to sleep on the couch in the living room without ear plugs! The street car was very loud at night, but not a problem from the bedroom.
The street car was close by to where we were and we were able to take a bus to and from the airport for just $2 each way. Public transit in New Orleans is safe, easy, and cheap! You can buy a day pass for the bus and train system for just $3 using the RTA App or right on their website.
Arrive and explore Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street is one spot in New Orleans you’ve got to see to believe. I honestly was shocked walking down the street at how much was going on and how drunk people actually were. The flashing lights, open drinking (you can walk around and drink in the streets in the city), and live music made it such a unique experience. This is not a spot I suggest going at night alone to if you can avoid it but I loved seeing all the different types of people enjoying their night. We stopped for a few drinks at different spots – check out Mohogany Jazz Hall for some absinthe and great live music while out.
Coffee and Jackson Square $5
Wake up early enough to get a good start to the day and grab some delicious breakfast downtown and get ready for a cemetery tour! Stop for a coffee at SpitFire Coffee and walk along Royal Street to see this iconic building walk through the famous Jackson Square where you can see the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral, listen to live music that happens all throughout the day, see local artists at work, and visit the famous Faulkner House Books (which was his house).
We chose to do a Voodoo and cemetery tour to learn more about the history of Voodoo in New Orleans. The tour was just $14 a person and included lots of interesting facts as well as a visit to the famous Madame Louvauix tomb (the famous Voodoo Queen of New Orleans). There are huge advantages to taking a tour instead of going yourself.
Graves are not marked and there is little explanation to the interesting tombs without a tour. Plus, some cemeteries can only be visited with a guide/group. It’s necessary to take a tour in my opinion to get a full experience.
After the tour ended in Louis Armstrong Park (home to some important NOLA history), we walked down a street and found these wonderful and colorful buildings. We kept walking and took the famous Charles Street Streetcar to the Garden District.
Walk the Garden District free
We used a free self guided tour we found on Free Walking tours and honestly didn’t finish seeing all the houses because we got hungry! But we were able to find the most important places and honestly just walking around is enough! There are so many beautiful houses and you’ve got to stop and smell the roses (literally) as you walk this neighborhood.
Some highlights include: Commander’s Palace (you can reserve a spot for brunch here too!), Anne Rice’s house, and Lafayette Cemetery.
Shop on Magazine Street
There are tons of adorable boutiques and art galleries along Magazine Street. There were flea markets and fancy art galleries, as well as cool vintage shops like the Funky Monkey where we both ended up buying something!
The highlight of Magazine Street was eating at Dat Dog. Dat Dog has incredible hot dogs of all different kinds. I chose to get the alligator dog which was really delicious! They have tons of options and I highly recommend eating here.
Relax with a Beignet
There are two main shops where people grab beignets – Cafe Du Monde and Cafe Beignet. Both have delicious beignets and are worth a visit! I personally like Cafe Beignet for winter since it was all inside and had live music, however, Cafe du Monde is also a famous spot and right near Jackson Square. Beignets are a great way to start and end the day.
Late Night Music on Frenchman Street
In my opinion, Frenchman Street is way more fun than Bourbon Street. Why? Because it attracts a totally different crowd and has some really awesome live music. The vibe was so different and people really seemed to be enjoying themselves beyond just being extremely drunk on alcohol (that’s not my scene). There is a diverse crowd of all different ages that come out on Frenchman Street unlike Bourbon which is full of drunk tourists. Frenchman Street was way more fun.
We started at the Spotted Cat which is famous for it’s live jazz. It has a $10 cover but it is worth it I promise! Right next to the Spotted Cat was an artists market open until midnight with tons of local jewelry, art, and products called the Palace Market. We then walked down the street stopping in all the different spots to listen to music. Every spot had great music and people were dancing, having a great time.
We ate breakfast at our Airbnb and took it easy this morning after a long day on Saturday. Our Airbnb was a great spot to relax and make coffee in the morning. After getting ready, we headed out for day two exploring.
City Park is a huge park that is actually twice as large as Central Park and was surprisingly beautiful. The park has tons of the famous Oak trees and are covered in moss. There are multiple lakes to bike around as well. We rented a fun surrey and biked around for a few hours exploring different parts of the park.
Once we finished biking around for a few hours, we went to the free sculpture garden right in the park that is part of the New Orleans Art Museum. If you have more time the art museum itself has some really great pieces worth seeing. We just ran out of time. Get up earlier than we did! The sculpture garden was great to walk around and see all the lovely pieces, even in winter.
We headed back toward our Airbnb and walked along the Mississippi River past Mardi Gras World and the Aquarium (also fun to check out if you have time!). We took in the large river which you’ve got to see while there and walked back to get more beignets before I had to head to the airport.
Two days in New Orleans is just what you need if you want a city with a completely different feel, amazing food, and fun everywhere you go. You could definitely spend 3 days in New Orleans or more but it sure does make a great weekend trip! Can’t recommend this awesome city enough.