Brilliant New Orleans Itinerary For Those Short On Time [2 Days In New Orleans]

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Short on time for your upcoming trip to New Orleans? Here’s a brilliant New Orleans Itinerary for 2 days in New Orleans.

I have to admit, when I first started planning my trip to this city in the United States, I knew very little. Honestly, I could think of bourbon street and Mardi gras and not much after that. But I’m happy to report that after just 2 days in this town, my mind is blown! Read below for all the details of this New Orleans itinerary-

After reading this article, check out my guide to Charleston, SC (another one of my favorite Southern Cities)!

Where to Stay in New Orleans

Picking the right hotel is step one to having a successful trip. I’ve cut out all the time that you would spend researching the perfect New Orleans accommodation and answer it right here!

Stay at the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery. Why? I’m glad you asked! Here’s my list of reasons why this hotel is the best hotel in New Orleans!

  • It’s located in the trendy Warehouse District (home to the famous National WWII Museum, innovative restaurants, and modern art galleries)
  • Only three blocks from the French Quarter! (took me 5 minutes to walk there)
  • Home to a rotating art gallery on the first floor
  • In-house restaurant called Compère Lapin that is perfect for lunch or dinner
  • Tout La, the perfect breakfast option, located in the lobby of the hotel, and serves local roasted coffee from French Truck, house-made pastries (yum!), and other breakfast essentials.
  • Boutique hotel vibes with loads of natural light and exposed brick walls

I could go on and on about how excellent my stay was at this hotel. But suffice it to say, this is the best hotel in New Orleans for your getaway!

Day 1 In New Orleans

Where to get breakfast in New Orleans-

There’s no shortage of restaurants in New Orleans so picking out your meals can be incredibly difficult! Instead of finding restaurants to visit, I recommend choosing which dishes that you want to try and plan out your trip in that fashion.

Perhaps, the most famous food is the beignet. These deep fried nuggets of sweetened dough are sprinkled with powdered sugar and best paired with a hot cup of hot chocolate or coffee. You can find beignets in a variety of locations, but, two widely favored cafes include Cafe Beignet and Cafe Du Monde.

Plantation Tour in New Orleans-

I believe knowing the history of the area that you travel to greatly helps you appreciate your time while visiting. That is why I think you need to add a plantation tour to your New Orleans Itinerary.

The Whitney Plantation and Oak Alley are two fan favorites that are worth the half day trip from New Orleans. Here’s a complete list to all the plantation tours in New Orleans.

If you don’t have transportation, there are tours companies that offer round-trip transportation from and back to your hotel.

oak alley plantation in new orleans

Where To Get Lunch in New Orleans-

The next thing on this New Orleans itinerary? Lunch! What is a po-boy? Po-boys are traditional sandwiches from Louisiana that are very much still alive in The Big Easy. These sandwiches are stuffed with roast beef, fried seafood, shrimp, crawfish, fish, oysters, or crab.

My tour guide told me that if you come to New Orleans and don’t get one of these sandwiches, you never really visited. So don’t miss out! Crabby Jack’s, Gene’s Po-boys, Johnny’s Po-boys, and Mahony’s Po-boys are a few outstanding options to choose from for lunch.

new Orleans itinerary

Explore The Garden District-

After you’ve had plenty of carbs for lunch, it’s time to walk them off! There are so many different neighborhoods in New Orleans to explore like the Business District, Marigny, Bywater, and Mid-City.

However, the best self-guided walking tour that I experienced was the garden district walking tour. This charming district is where you’ll find a variety of houses anywhere from grand, historic mansions to quaint single-story shotgun homes. Bonus- these gourgeous homes usually have southern-style gardens.

Pro tip- Don’t miss out seeing Commander’s Palace and Lafayette Cemetery. Also, if you’d like to do a little shopping, this is a great district to do so as boutiques and antique shops line these old streets (check out Magazine Street.)

Where To Get Dinner In New Orleans-

You can’t think of the south without thinking about the one-pot meal called Jambalaya! This dish has its roots in the Spanish, French, and West African influences so you know that it’s got to be great. It usually contains some sort of meat (usually sausage) plus seafood, vegetables, and rice.

Where can you find this filling meal? Mother’s, Gumbo Shop, Melba’s, and Coop’s Place are said to serve this dish up in their own unique fashions that are worth checking out.

new Orleans itinerary

Fun Things To Do At Night In New Orleans

The last thing for Day 1 of this New Orleans itinerary is catching a show. I cannot emphasize this next activity enough. Please go to the Jazz Playhouse! This is the best jazz club in the area that showcases incredible talent in their luxurious, yet intimate venue located in the lobby of the Royal Sonesta on Bourbon Street.

Shows usually start in the evenings (around 7-8:30ish) and last about an hour. They serve originally crafted cocktails and appetizers (get the meat platter!) that are available throughout the duration of the show.

This was a highlight of my New Orleans trip and I’ll always remember sitting there while sipping my beverage of choice and listening to the sweet sounds of Jazz (which may just be my new favorite genre).

Pro-Tip– Another place where you can find live jazz and live music is on Frenchman Street!

Day 2 in New Orleans

Breakfast in New Orleans

The next morning you should totally get breakfast at Tout La which happens to be in the lobby of The Old No. 77 Hotel. The house-made pastries, local roasted coffee and additional breakfast items come from the kitchen of Compère Lapin so you know that it’s got to be fantastic!

I loved starting out the day sipping my hot chocolate in the stylish, exposed-brick lobby and filling up on all their yummy pastries.

Swamp Tour in New Orleans

Looking for an adventurous day trip from New Orleans? Then the swamp tour with Cajun Encounters is for you!

new Orleans itinerary

You’ll get an up close and personal boat tour of the Honey Island Swap which is incredibly beautiful and filled with wildlife!

We were so excited to be able to see raccoons, wild boar, a turtle, and exotic birds during our tour. Unfortunately, the weather was really cold on the day that we visited that we didn’t see any alligators.

However, all the commentary from Captain Ron about the different types of flora and fauna more than made up for the lack of alligator sightings. So don’t let cooler weather deter you from this tour.

Lunch in New Orleans

The next item on this New Orleans itinerary is lunch! Monday used to be the traditional laundry day of the week. Because of this time consuming chore, a pot of red beans was left to cook all day to be enjoyed at dinner time.

Luckily for us, we don’t have to wait for a Monday to enjoy red beans and rice in New Orleans!

Some of the best restaurants to find this dish include Fury’s, Liuzza’s by the Track, Willie Mae’s Scotch House and Buffa’s.

new Orleans itinerary

Explore the French Quarter

The French Quarter has gained the reputation of being the Crown Jewel of New Orleans, and for good reason. This was my favorite district to explore due to the historic neighborhoods, modern boutiques, local antique stores, and down-right delicious restaurants.

Perhaps the most charming aspect of the French Quarter were all the street performers!

You could spend days exploring all the streets in the French Quarter. Not because it’s an extremely large district, but because you’ll find yourself stopping every 20 feet to admire something new!

A few popular streets include Bourbon Street, Royal Street, and Decature Street. You’ll also want to check out Jackson Square to appreciate the New Orleans History.

french quarter in new orleans

Dinner in New Orleans

Like our tour guide from the swamp mentioned, you can’t leave New Orleans without having a bowl of gumbo! This dish is made with veggies such as onions, celery, and green peppers. In addition, they throw in different types of meats like sausage, chicken, ham, crawfish, and shrimp.

There is plenty of variety and New Orleans offers it all. You can find good gumbo at Hambone, Arnaud’s, Gumbo Shop, Parkways Bakery & Tavern, Station 6, and Restaurant R’evolution.

food in new orleans

Ghost Tour in New Orleans

We’ve come to the last item of this New Orleans itinerary! If you thought of voodoo and ghosts while planning your New Orleans trip, you’re not alone. In fact, there are companies that specifically offer ghost tours and haunted cemetery tours that you don’t want to miss.

My top recommendation would be to book a night tour (either at 6pm or 8pm with French Quarter Phantoms on their French Quarters Phantoms Ghost + Vampire Tour.

You’ll learn about historically accurate stories of local hauntings and vampire lore. And of course they will share the real story of Madame LaLaurie and the LaLaurie Mansion.

Check out this article for additional ghost tours in the U.S.!

ghost tour in new orleans

How To Get Around New Orleans

Hop-on Hop off Bus

Don’t rent a car in New Orleans. There, I said it. Unless you are planning on spending more than a couple of days in New Orleans and want to drive to see nearby cities, don’t book that rental.

The streets are narrow and parking is difficult (and expensive). Instead, book a 1 or 3 day hop-on hop-off bus tour with City Sightseeing New Orleans!

hop on hop off bus
Photo Courtesy:

We enjoyed a hop-on hop-off bus tour while visiting Paris!

I love these types of tours because you can set your own schedule and explore at your own pace. The route hits all the major sites and popular streets with easy to find pick-up/drop-off points.

You can complete the whole circuit in 2 hours if you decide to just listen to the guide the entire time. Or you can spend the day jumping off at stops that you find most interesting and then coming back to that stop once you’re done exploring. The buses come around every 30 minutes.

Charles Streetcar

Another way that you can explore New Orleans is by using the New Orleans Street Car. Don’t make the mistake and call it a trolley. The locals will never forgive you.

The St. Charles Streetcar line is a historic streetcar line in New Orleans, Louisiana. It has been in operation since 1835 making it the oldest in the world.

Check out this map for the route and stop. This mode of transportation is effective but doesn’t cover as much ground at the City Sightseeing Bus does.

new orleans streetcar

A big thank you to the New Orleans Tourism Board, Old No. 77 Hotel, Jazz Playhouse, and City Sightseeing for hosting me on this trip! All opinions remain my own.

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