The Perfect Itinerary for 3 Days in New Orleans

Garden District New Orleans

Looking for a perfect 3 days in New Orleans itinerary? We got you. New Orleans is a must-visit city while traveling or living in the US. There’s really no other place like it in the country or arguably in the world given its influences of Caribbean, French, Spanish, West African, and Native American cultures to name a few of the cultures that make New Orleans a special destination.

Together all of these influences have created their own regional identity by absorbing bits and pieces from all of these different cultures and influences making it completely unlike anywhere else.

Known for the great music, food, and friendly people there is enough to do in New Orleans that could fill a lifetime but if you’re visiting you’re going to want to hit all the highlights of the city and feel the overall vibe that will keep you wanting to come back for more.

We have put together the perfect itinerary for 3 days in New Orleans based on our hours of research, talks with locals, and experiences from our own personal travels.

Are 3 days enough for New Orleans?

Is 3 days enough time to visit New Orleans? Yes, but you could also spend more time here easily. Three days is a great amount to cover some of the best New Orleans attractions and have a comfortable trip without feeling like you didn’t have enough time.

How many days is enough for New Orleans?

How many days is enough for New Orleans? That depends on what you want to do. You will want to spend a minimum of 3 days in New Orleans and if you have the time, a 4-5 day trip would also be an ideal amount of time to spend in New Orleans.

When is the best time to visit New Orleans?

The best time to visit New Orleans is February through May when the weather is more comfortable and celebrations are in full swing, this also happens to be a very popular time to visit New Orleans. December and January are great months to visit New Orleans too as the weather is comfortable and there are fewer crowds.

When is hurricane season in New Orleans?

Hurricane season in New Orleans is typically early June through late November.

When is Mardi Gras in New Orleans?

Mardi Gras in New Orleans varies from year to year as it is connected to the Easter holiday and typically takes place in February or March 47 days before Easter. Mardi Gras celebrations last two weeks before Fat Tuesday.

How to Spend 3 Days in New Orleans Itinerary

Table of Contents
  1. Day 1 of 3 Days in New Orleans (Exploring the French Quarter)
  2. Day 2 of 3 Days in New Orleans (Discover the Garden District)
  3. Day 3 of 3 Days in New Orleans (Beignets, Cemeteries, & Marigny)
  4. Extra Time in New Orleans
  5. Travel Tips for New Orleans
  6. Where to Stay in New Orleans

Day 1 of 3 Days in New Orleans (Exploring the French Quarter)

Megan admiring the beautiful balconies in the French Quarter of New Orleans

Get to Know the French Quarter

Be sure to take as much time as possible during your 3 days in New Orleans exploring the historic district of the French Quarter. You’ll be enamored by the gorgeous buildings with covered porches and balconies overlooking the gas lamp-lit streets.

What many don’t know before coming to New Orleans is that there is so much more to the city and the French Quarter than Bourbon Street. As a matter of fact, this was our least favorite area to visit as this is where things tend to get a bit sloppier. Although, it’s definitely worth walking down Bourbon Street and getting that experience yourself.

Jackson Square at night in New Orleans

Head over to Jackson Square, the historic park and location of where the final version of the Louisiana Purchase was signed.

Walk to the Mississippi River front where you can check out the Natchez Steamboat, one of the historical steamboats of the Mississippi River. If you’re wanting to get on the water, you can join a two-hour Steamboat Natchez tour.

If you’re curious about voodoo be sure to check out one of the many Voodoo shops in the area, we recommend Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo which serves as a museum and store where you can learn, window shop, or even buy charms and voodoo dolls.

Lunch in the French Quarter

Johnnys Po Boy with breaded shrimp in New Orleans French Quarter
Johnny’s Shrimp Po-Boy

While starting off our first day on your New Orleans itinerary, you’ll see plenty of options for food walking through the French Quarter. You’ll work up an appetite with all the walking around you’re doing. You can get a delicious and famous po-boy at Johnny’s Po-Boys, a New Orleans institution since 1950, we recommend getting the shrimp!

Wander Down Royal Street

French Quarter New Orleans

Next up on your New Orleans itinerary, you’ll want to check out all the antique shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and hotels on Royal Street. Royal Street runs 13 blocks parallel to Bourbon Street, and after walking down Bourbon Street you’ll notice this is a completely different vibe.

Royal Street is where you’ll find shopping and some of the most beautiful architecture the city has to offer with pretty buildings adorned with wrought iron balconies.

Wander down to Governor Nicholls Street to see Lalaurie Mansion, once the home of actor Nicholas Cage, and one of the homes used for American Horror Story Coven. This home has a very gruesome past and is said to be very haunted. There are also other fancy homes like the New Orleans home of Angelina Jolie down this beautiful street.

Dinner in the French Quarter

While exploring and shopping through the French Quarter for a few hours you’ll quickly be ready for a tasty meal. We recommend checking out Kingfish on Chartres Street in the French Quarter.

They focus on Southern dishes that have a contemporary flair. Have a great drink menu from wine, beer, and cocktails to accompany their delicious southern dishes. We went and sampled a few items off of the appetizer menu and enjoyed the alligator wings and the crawfish gratin the most.

Enjoy a Live Jazz Performance

Preservation Hall jazz club in the French Quarter of New Orleans

After dinner, there’s no better way to spend your time on our New Orleans itinerary than to see a live jazz performance at one of the most historic jazz halls in the world.

Be sure to check out live jazz at Preservation Hall. This ended up being one of our favorite things to do in New Orleans and strongly suggest you don’t miss out on this during your 3 days in New Orleans.

Every night there are intimate, acoustic New Orleans jazz concerts held by some of the best musicians in the city. You’ll need to purchase your tickets from Preservation Hall in advance, if you want a seat make sure you nab one of their first-row tickets or General Admission tickets that includes a seated spot. Otherwise, the regular General Admission is standing room only. Regardless of the ticket type you purchase, it’s well worth it.

We loved this experience so much that we even found a Preservation Hall record at an antique shop and listen to it at home all the time to take us back to this sweet memory.

Late Night on Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street in New Orleans

Even if you already took a peek at Bourbon Street earlier in the day, it’s worth coming back at night too, even if you’re just enjoying a quick lap.

Bourbon Street is to New Orleans what Hollywood Boulevard is to Los Angeles, in our opinion of course. Bourbon Street is infamous for its party scene and especially popular during Mardi Gras celebrations.

Bourbon Street glows with neon signs, stumbling drunk people who perhaps had one too many hurricanes or some type of gimmicky drink. It can feel a bit slimy if you’re not prepared. BUT having said that it’s still something you have to see for yourself and should not be skipped even if you walk through it for only 5 minutes.

We recommend grabbing one of the best drinks in New Orleans to go and walking down taking in all the senses from the stench of the street to the sound of buskers and street performers. It’s not as pretty as the rest of the city but still worth checking out before calling it a night and resting up for the rest of your New Orleans itinerary!

One of our favorite places to grab a drink was Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar which is set in one of the oldest buildings in New Orleans and where apparently privateer, aka a pirate with papers, Jean Laffitte operated a business here in the 19th century.

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Day 2 of 3 Days in New Orleans (Discover the Garden District)

Buckner Mansion New Orleans
Buckner Mansion from AHS

Cafe Beignet

a delicious beignet in the streets of new orleans French Quarter

Start your morning of your day 2 of 3 days in New Orleans itinerary right with one of the two most famous spots to grab a beignet in the French Quarter at Cafe Beignet on Royal Street. (Don’t worry you’ll be going to Cafe du Monde during your New Orleans itinerary too, hang tight!)

Stand in line at Cafe Beignet and order your powdered sugary french donut goodness with a coffee. The local choice is always getting a cafe au lait, but we both prefer our coffee black so we regrettably didn’t try the local specialty – next time!

Each order comes with three beignets, we split ours but that was a foolish decision, get your own order, or two, or three.

Head over to the Garden District

Megan admiring the mansions of the Garden District in New Orleans

One of the most beautiful places in the city and an absolute must on your New Orleans itinerary should be spending time in the Garden District. Explore the streets lined with gorgeous Victorian homes and mansions through this beautiful pocket of the city.

If you’re like us you’ll want to win the lottery so you can afford one of these incredibly beautiful homes in this area. You can actually feel yourself breathing in the fresh air from all the trees lining the streets and homes in the area.

Be sure to check out Buckner Mansion and the Cornstalk Fence Mansion as you’re wandering your way through this dreamlike neighborhood. Y

ou’ll recognize Buckner Mansion if you’re a fan of the TV series, American Horror Story Coven, it’s the main home in the third season of the series.

Visit Lafayette Cemetery

Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans
Lafayette Cemetery

Cemeteries seem like a creepy place to add to a getaway, but New Orleans cemeteries are different and are historically and culturally significant to the destination.

There are dozens of historic cemeteries in New Orleans including Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District. The cemeteries here are special because they are a combination of cultural influences from the French, Spanish, and Caribbean heritages of the city and are unique to New Orleans.

They are predominately tombs that are above ground, and New Orleans’ high water table plays a role in this architectural feature. The tombs are typically family tombs and they have their own unique burial practices and customs that are fascinating to learn about.

Not only are they eerily beautiful the stone mausoleums and tombs are being reclaimed by nature with plants and even trees growing out of their cracks and big beautiful trees surrounding the lines of tombs.

You may also recognize this cemetery in particular if you have ever seen the 1999 thriller crime, Double Jeopardy, with Ashley Judd when she breaks herself free from being locked up in a tomb by her crazy husband.

If you want to do more than a self-guided walk, check out this 2 hour Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery tour if you’re looking for a guided and informative experience!

Lunch at Commander’s Palace

Commanders Palace restaurant in the Garden District in New Orleans

You can’t miss the grand turquoise Victorian restaurant Commander’s Palace when you’re strolling through the Garden District and it shouldn’t be skipped! We recommend making a reservation for lunch here for your day 2 on your New Orleans itinerary to enjoy a fine Creole dining experience in the heart of the Garden District.

The interior decor complete with chandeliers and an old New Orleans feel it’s no wonder why it’s been named one of the best Southern Dining experiences.

Commanders Palace New Orleans famous 25 cent martini
$.25 martini

Be sure to make a reservation in advance by calling or using their website for your unforgettable dining experience. During lunch service Mondays through Fridays you can enjoy the famous $.25 martinis with your meal! That’s right, $.25 and they are GREAT!

Something to know before visiting, Commanders Palace has a dress code. Men are expected to wear button-down shirt, pants, and closed-toe shoes. Women are suggested to wear a dress or business attire. Y

ou actually won’t be allowed to dine in without following the dress code, so be sure to pack properly if you want to check it out!

If you forget to make a reservation or forgot your dress clothes you can opt to go to the delicious, low-key restaurant Parasol’s for one of their signature Po-Boy sandwiches.

Parasols bar and restaurant in the Garden District in New Orleans

We got the firecracker shrimp Po-Boy and we are still dreaming about those heavenly bites. Don’t judge this place on its appearance, it serves up incredible food!

See why Parasol’s makes it on our guide to the best food in New Orleans plus more great recommendations.

Walk Down & Explore Magazine Street

a delicious donut from District Donuts in New Orleans Garden District
Ginger Mint Julep Donut from District Donuts

Next up on our New Orleans itinerary, stroll down the lower Garden District and wander along Magazine Street for great shops and more food (hope you saved room for snacking around!).

Since you might be full from your lunch, we recommend having a sweet treat and coffee from District Donuts Sliders Brew. Trust us, you’re going to want to leave room to try at least one donut here or get a box to go.

They have different daily specials, we split the Ginger Mint Julep donut and almost cried it was so delicious.

They also serve cold and hot brewed coffees on tap! Seriously, don’t miss this place, check out their daily Instagram posts to see why everyone is drooling over these donuts.

And don’t forget to check out the cool shops along this street as you make your way to St. Charles Avenue, this is where you will walk past the famous Buckner Mansion!

Ride a Historic Streetcar

ride a historic Street Car in New Orleans from the Garden District

There are not many places left where you can ride a historic streetcar to get around, specifically in the United States, which is exactly why you must experience riding a Street Car in New Orleans. 

You will need exact change, which is only $1.25 per person/one way OR you can buy an all-day pass for $3. Not a bad deal at all.

We recommend getting on at St. Charles Street to take you back to the French Quarter on Canal Street. The streetcars have no set schedule but usually, arrive every 5-15 minutes.

If the car is full the driver will not stop, don’t sweat it though there is usually a less empty one just a few minutes behind it!

Dinner at Coop’s Place

After doing some great exploring around the Garden District on your New Orleans itinerary, freshen up and we recommend getting dinner at Coop’s Place, a local favorite serving up scrumptious Cajun grub. We highly recommend the fried chicken and jambalaya. I also tried the fried oysters which were amazing.

Everything was actually mouthwatering but the jambalaya was out of this world served up with rabbit and sausage. You must try it, it’s no wonder the Travel Channel considers Coop’s Place to be one of the best spots in town for food.

Live Jazz on Frenchmen Street

Frenchmen Street live jazz music in a club in New Orleans

End the evening of your day 2 of 3 days in New Orleans on Frenchmen Street, one of the best spots to hang out in the city and listen to live music. Almost every local we talked to told us to head over to Frenchmen for tons of options for live jazz music every night.

We were even told by a local that Frenchmen was what Bourbon Street used to be like before it became what it is today, a drunken party street!

Enjoy some drinks while listening to some incredible performers. We highly recommend the popular club The Spotted Cat and d.b.a for the scene.

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Day 3 of 3 Days in New Orleans (Beignets, Cemeteries, & Marigny)

New Orleans Ghost Tour

Breakfast Beignets at Cafe Du Monde

Cafe Du Monde beignet in New Orleans
Beignet at Cafe Du Monde

Finally, one of the most famous stops in the city and where to start your day 3 in New Orleans if you already haven’t come several times, we’d totally understand if you come every day of your 3 days in New Orleans they’re that good and they’re famous for a reason.

Head on over to the most famous beignet spot in town at Cafe Du Monde, you won’t be sorry!

We loved that you got to sit down outside under the covered porch area and listen to the live street musicians as you enjoyed your beignets and coffee.

Again, be sure to get your own order, there are 3 beignets per order and they are heaven. Locals prefer to drink coffee chicroy with their beignets.

Join a Cemetery and Voodoo Tour

St Louis Cemetery No 1 in New Orleans tomb
Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau’s Tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No.1

We highly recommend taking a cemetery tour through Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1. This is the oldest and most famous cemetery in New Orleans and has the tombs of famous people like Marie Laveau, the notorious voodoo queen, Homer Plessy’s tomb, from the famed Plessy vs. Ferguson civil rights case, and even Nicholas Cage’s strange pyramid tomb for when he dies.

This 2-hour cemetery tour through St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 was great. You’ll learn about the interesting history of the tombs, why people write three X’s on Marie Laveau’s tomb and the background of the Catholic and Voodoo ties to New Orleans.

Lunch at St. Roch Market

St. Roch Market in New Orleans
St. Roch Market

After your cemetery tour hop in a cab or Uber and head over in about a 5-minute drive to St. Roch Market for lunch.

If you were intrigued by all the voodoo history you learned you can also make a pit stop on the way at the Voodoo Spiritual Temple, home of Voodoo Priestess Miriam, one of the last authentic voodoo practitioners in New Orleans.

We were told that most of the voodoo shops you see in the French Quarter are for tourists and kitschy. However, if you do want more of an authentic experience and learn more you can give Priestess Miriam a visit.

If learning about Voodoo isn’t your thing, continue onward to St. Roch Market for an array of tasty food stalls to choose from. This famed food hall features different vendors offering up different types of cuisine from Cajun, Haitian, to even Mexican food.

What’s great is that the food here is amazing and we found it to be more affordable than anything you’ll find in the French Quarter. Go with a friend and sample around the food hall.

Don’t forget to check out the cocktail bar in here and try one of their Sazeracs. We were lucky enough to show up during happy hour and were able to grab one of the best cocktails we had during our time in the city for only $5.

Head over to Marginy

Shotgun Home in Marigny in New Orleans

After lunch on your New Orleans itinerary take a stroll and explore the next few blocks of colorful homes in Marigny. This is where you’ll discover the beautiful and colorful shotgun-style homes and of course more places to eat incredible food, get drinks and listen to live jazz music.

We recommend making your way to Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits for live music and a great ambiance. Grab some wine and build your own cheese plate if you’re feeling snackish and enjoy their regular live music performances at all hours of the day. They typically have mid-day music, afternoon performances, and evening performances.

Dinner in the French Quarter

It’s the last night of your 3 days in New Orleans and it’s time for you to pick your last meal. If you want a Po Boy, we recommend checking out Killer Po-Boys.

If you want a fancy dining experience where you dress up and have another Commander’s Palace like experience head on over to Galatoire’s on Bourbon Street. Just keep in mind they also have a dress code.

if you want some great gumbo head on over to the Gumbo Shop, or if you want some of the best oysters in town to check out Acme Oyster House for their famed seafood.

We had a hard time choosing our last meal because all of the food we ate was so good.

After Dinner Fun & Jazz at Bourbon “O” Bar

Bourbon O Bar famous Ramos Gin Fizz on Bourbon Street in New Orleans
The famous Ramos Gin Fizz

Head on over for at least one cocktail at the best cocktail bar in the historic quarter. Connected to the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, the Bourbon “O” Bar is known for its quality drinks and live jazz music 7 nights a week.

This is also the only place in town you’ll find the original Ramos Gin Fizz just as Carl Ramos intended it to be made. They have a specialized shaker that will shake your gin fizz for minutes just like the original “shaker boys” Ramos used in the late 1880s in his New Orleans Bar.

The results are incredible and it will be the best Gin Fizz you’ll ever have.

They also have tons of other amazing cocktails including Pim’s Cup, French 75, and their mixologist’s seasonal specials. Having a drink here is an experience.

Take A Ghost Tour

Megan on a ghost tour in New Orleans

For more late night fun and a fun end your New Orleans itinerary, try a Haunted Tour in New Orleans. You can learn the spooky ghost stories from one of the most haunted cities in the United States. With a crazy history of the yellow fever epidemic wiping out a lot of the local population, you can expect many ghost stories among all the other crazy hauntings of the city.

We recommend doing a night ghost tour, but before you book please ask how many people are on the tour. Our only complaint with our tour would have been there were too many people and it was hard to hear our guide sometimes. Book your Haunted Tour in New Orleans here.

This is the day we found out our hotel, Bourbon Orleans was haunted! It was best to figure that out on our last night because I slept with one eye open that night!

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More than 3 Days in New Orleans?

Honey Island Swamp Tour in New Orleans
Honey Island Swamp

If you have any extra time during your 3 days in New Orleans or are planning a longer New Orleans itinerary we highly recommend checking out any of the following New Orleans attractions. Or maybe you want to customize your itinerary! Either way, here are some additional recommendations!

Honey Island Swamp Tour

Spend an afternoon in the swamps of Louisiana where a guide will navigate you through narrow slews and experience a real Cajun village right on the water.

Along the way, you will see tons of incredible wildlife including tons of alligators, birds, and even wild pigs! This ended up being one of our favorite things we did during New Orleans itinerary. We really couldn’t believe how many alligators we saw!

This tour of the swamp and bayou is just under 4 hours and includes an experienced guide you will teach you about the different species you encounter along the way!

WWII Museum

We are really sad we missed the WWII museum during our 3 days in New Orleans, it’s the country’s largest WWII museum and has rave reviews thanks to its many interactive exhibits and even a 4D movie. 

We skipped because we had such an action-packed schedule we couldn’t commit the few hours we would want to spend inside. We already decided we would be back to New Orleans, so we will definitely make it a priority next time, however, if you have time be sure to check it out.

City Park and NOMA

Many of our readers would suggest us to check out City Park while we were posting photos of ourselves in New Orleans on social media. After seeing photos of this place it’s no wonder why this place is a photographer’s dream and has the most beautiful trees everywhere.

Located in the center of City Park is NOMA, New Orleans Museum of Art which the building itself is beautiful holding a permanent fine art collection of over 40,000 pieces. We will be checking this out on our next trip as well!

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Travel Tips for New Orleans

live jazz performance for a wedding down French Quarter New Orleans

Here are a few travel tips to help you plan for your trip and perfect 3 days in New Orleans itinerary from when its the best time to travel here, transportation tips, and what to bring to New Orleans.

The Best Time to Visit New Orleans

The months of February to May are when it’s considered the most comfortable and best season to visit New Orleans. New Orleans gets very humid and hot, so these are considered the best months for comfortable and cooler weather for New Orleans.

Mardi Gras is celebrated in February and is by far the busiest and most popular time to visit the city. If you wish to come during Mardi Gras you’ll want to be sure to plan your New Orleans itinerary and trip well in advance and secure accommodation. 

December and January are considered a great quiet time to visit New Orleans and a less competitive time to secure hotels.

The least desirable time to visit New Orleans in from June through November because of hurricane season. July through September are the worst months for weather. While it’s not impossible to visit during this season, we recommend keeping an eye on the weather and taking all precautions.

Transportation in New Orleans

Getting around the city during your New Orleans itinerary is pretty straight forward. Depending on where you’re staying, you can easily walk to many of the best New Orleans attractions mentioned on our 3 days in New Orleans itinerary. 

Other modes of transportation include using local taxis or rideshare apps like Uber & Lyft.

Also, you can enjoy the unique streetcars in the city as mentioned above. This is a great way to get to and from the Garden District and the French Quarter. 

Streetcar fares are $1.25 per person and must be paid in exact change when you board the car. Be sure to come prepared. You can also get Jazzy Passes for multiple-day transportation passes during your 3 day itinerary for New Orleans. 

What to Bring to New Orleans

You’ll want to dress accordingly to the weather in New Orleans during your visit. Check the weather before your visit and come prepared. We recommend wearing breathable fabrics on the hot, humid days. Here are a few things we recommend bringing with you on your New Orleans itinerary.

  • Rain Poncho: During our trip it rained a few times and we ended up having to buy rain ponchos so the weather wouldn’t spoil our time. We recommend bringing one with you so you don’t have to worry about finding one on your visit. Shop on Amazon here.
  • Umbrella: Same as above, we recommend coming prepared with a small, compact umbrella you can easily throw in your bag. We love this compact travel umbrella on Amazon.
  • Liquid IV Hydration Packets: New Orleans is undoubtedly known for its nightlife scene. If you plan on doing some partying its important to stay hydrated, not only will it help you recover from a hangover quicker but you’ll overall feel alot better. We love these Liquid IV hydration packets that you can easily throw in your bottle of water.
  • Bug Spray: If you plan on doing any swamp activities or are prone to attract mosquitos you’ll want to come prepared with bug spray in this hot, humid, swamp-like environment.  Shop this nice travel friendly bug spray on Amazon.

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Where to Stay in New Orleans

Bourbon Orleans Hotel Lobby

There are plenty of great options for where to stay during your New Orleans itinerary. We recommend checking out our comprehensive guide of where to stay in New Orleans by neighborhood with plenty of awesome hotel options to choose from. 

We stayed at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel which was the perfect base for our 3 days in New Orleans. Not only is this a historic property (that may or may not be haunted) it has a beautiful courtyard with a pool if you want to relax a little on your trip. They also are on a corner of Bourbon Street, but you wouldn’t be able to tell as it wasn’t noisy or loud. This is a great base and walkable to most suggestions on this guide.

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We believe this is the perfect itinerary for anyone spending 3 days in New Orleans or even more. Even if you have less time you can pick and choose what you think is best from our suggestions, or check out our best things to do in New Orleans for a first-time visitor, everything was seriously wonderful and no matter how much time you spend here you will fall in love.

And as the locals say, “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” (Let the good times roll!)

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3 days in New Orleans itinerary