New Orleans, where American, French, African, and Spanish culture come together to make a city like nowhere else. The architecture, the food, and the atmosphere of New Orleans is inherently unique. After four visits to New Orleans in two years I have finally gathered together what you need to do to experience as much of the city as you can in one weekend visit.
Take a food tour
Why: Taking a food tour in New Orleans is important because food takes such a significant role in the history and Culture of New Orleans. On a food tour you will get to sample all the key foods the city is known for without having to commit to one for an entire meal and you will learn about the origins of where the food is from. You will discover the difference between Cajun and Creole food, hear stories of how different dishes like the Po’ Boy and Muffaletta were invented, and learn how tourism is affecting the way New Orleans food is served today and whether or not it can still be considered authentic.
Budget tip: Search groupon before purchasing your food tour and see what they have, you could save a lot of money. (I did!)
Visit the Garden District
Why: The Garden District is a peaceful area of town with beautiful homes and architecture. Also, there is a shopping area on Magazine street where you can find quirky thrift stores, coffee shops, and antique stores. It’s great to get away from the French Quarter and take a walk in this area to admire the homes and gigantic mansions.
Budget tip: Take the St. Charles streetcar from Canal Street to get there, it costs $1.25 a ride or $3.00 for an all day pass!
Have lunch at Commander’s Palace
Why: Have a true southern, fine dining experience at Commander’s Palace. The service here was like nothing I have experienced before, and the food was incredible. After visiting New Orleans three times, I finally ate at Commander’s Palace on the fourth and will every time I visit from now on. New Orleans is famous for its cuisine for a reason and Commander’s Palace should not be missed! P.S.-Don’t forget to make a reservation and dress business casual, no shorts!
Budget tip: Visit during lunch service. There are two course lunch options for $20 and three courses for around $30, plus 25 cent martinis, you get a ton of food and likely won’t want a big dinner that day so when you break it down it’s really not a bad deal!
Experiment with different breakfast cafes
Why: Cafe Du Monde should be visited by everyone at least once, but you can have Beignets all over the place in New Orleans, and there are arguments to say that Cafe Beignet gives Cafe Du Monde a run for their money, just ask Alton Brown of the Food Network! Skip some time waiting in lines and find out for yourself who truly has the best beignets in town!
Frenchmen Street for the best music
Why: All the great jazz and blues music happens on Frenchmen Street rather than Bourbon Street. There are more sound regulations in the French Quarter now and Frenchmen Street is just outside the quarter so there is more freedom for all the live music performers. It is walking distance from the quarter, but late at night I would take an uber or taxi. The Spotted Cat was great jazz music and Apple Barrel has great blues music. I love seeing live blues so Apple Barrel was my personal favorite, a small cozy bar, lots of people packed in because the music is so good! Also, don’t forget to check out the Frenchmen Art market every night! Local artists and jewelry makers set up with a ton of cool stuff for sale, shirts, art, photos, jewelry, it’s awesome!
Stay: India House Hostel
Why: It’s the most lively hostel in New Orleans where you get the true hostel experience, meeting people and making friends from all over the world. Around $20 a night with a $6 dinner provided for guests. If you drive they offer free parking and while it’s not directly close to the quarter it really isn’t far! This is your best option for budget accommodation in New Orleans and has gone under renovations since I was there so it’s become even nicer since my visit, and they have a pool!
- When searching Groupon read the reviews of the company hosting the tour before purchasing your deal. I read reviews of a tour company that never showed up to host the tour and never returned calls to refund people’s money, yikes!
Make sure to have exact change before you ride the streetcar, cash only and no change.
Commander’s Palace and the Lafayette Cemetery are both located in the Garden District so you can hit three things at once. You’ll be stuffed after your meal so I recommend exploring first and eating last.
A lot of bars in Frenchmen Street are cash only so be sure to stop at an ATM before you arrive.
If you don’t feel like staying in a hostel visit New Orleans in the summer when it’s less popular to visit and hotel costs are low, you can get good prices on rooms in the quarter and when you split it with friends it’s close to the same price as being in the hostel.
GO BIG OR GO HOME! New Orleans is all about having a wonderful time so relax and have fun!
Got any more tips for a weekend in New Orleans? Comment and let me know, and you can follow me on instagram and check out the rest of the photos from my trip!