I find that my weekend getaway itineraries often cater around one of my interests, whether it be history, culture or wining and dining. Lucky you, if you’re visiting New Orleans, you don’t have to choose – the city boasts a seemingly endless amount of things to do and see, yet is totally manageable for a perfect weekend getaway.
IMO, no matter what your travel style is, it’s easy to have the time-of-your-life weekend in NOLA by choosing some of the below experiences based on your interests.
How to see New Orleans in 48 Hours:
If you’re on a mission to explore the city…
- Tour the Garden District. Lovers of architecture, pop-culture and history will enjoy a tour around this neighborhood’s impressive mansions and historic cemetery.
- Take a spooky stroll. New Orleans is said to be the most haunted city in America. Brave souls should book an evening ghost tour. At the very least, be sure to take a stroll around the French Quarter after sunset when the streets are illuminated by gas lanterns.
- Cycle your way through the Big Easy. If you’ve visited NOLA before and you’re looking for a tour that’s off the typical-tourist beaten path, check out the Marigny & Bywater tour with Free Wheelin’ Bike Tours.
- Experience the most epic (jazz) brunch ever. It’s easy to see why Commander’s Palace is a New Orleans institution – everything was sheer perfection: from the restaurant’s classic décor and live jazz band, to the superb service we experienced (I mean, our waiter escorted me arm in arm to the restroom), to the delicious multi-course modern Haute Creole cuisine we indulged in, Commander’s Palace definitely lives up to its reputation. FWTG Tip: Make sure to make reservations in advance so you don’t miss this iconic NOLA experience. Looking to save some cash? Head to Commander’s for their weekday lunch special instead and enjoy 25-cent martinis. (For the record, I strongly believe that 25-cent martinis taste better than full-price martinis).
- Cater to your indecisive side. Auction House Market is perfect for those having trouble choosing a lunch spot (or those just wanting to try as many delicious things as they possibly can). The upscale multi-vendor food hall is home to ten different chef-driven concepts. Di and I were able to dine together while enjoying two completely different genres of food – I couldn’t resist trying a few empanadas from Empanola, while Di devoured her sushi from Aloha Lei. FWTG Tip: Try the beef bourguignon empanada – you’ll thank me later.
- Have a “pinkies up” fine-dining experience. Broussard’s is located in the heart of the French Quarter and opened in 1920. Spoiler alert: It’s a pretty safe bet that any restaurant that’s been around for almost 100 years is going to have solid food and service. Dinner at Broussard’s didn’t disappoint. We loved our meals (Bronzed Redfish and Filet Mignon Bordelaise) and the restaurant’s elegant ambiance. FWTG Tip: Broussard’s has fantastic specials such as their 3-course prix fixe menu for $19.20. The evening I was there they had one of my favorite bottles of champagne, Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial, on special for $75 – a deal I couldn’t resist since the bottle retails for almost the same amount in the grocery store.
- Enjoy the perfect mix of old and new. Coquette serves contemporary southern cuisine in a stunning restored building dating back to the 1880’s. I loved the restaurant’s innovative brunch menu and plan on heading back to try their dinner menu the next time I’m in town.
- Dine like a Local. If you’re visiting NOLA in August, you’re in luck! You can get a ton of bang for your buck by dining at one of the restaurants participating in Coolinary, a promotion that offers discounted rates for prix-fixe lunch, dinner and brunch menus all month long
- Treat yourself to a trendy meal that lives up to the hype. One of my Instagram followers recommended that I check out N7 in the Bywater neighborhood. I ran this recommendation past several of the locals I met during my visit and it became clear after my inquiries that N7 was both foodie and hipster approved. I had to see what all the buzz was about and hopped in an Uber. About 20 minutes later my driver drove down a dark urban street, stopped in the middle of the block and waited for me to get out. “Ummm… did we get here too late? I think it’s closed.” He didn’t say a word, but pointed to a gate that had small “N7” painted on it. I still wasn’t convinced and asked him to wait a couple minutes while I checked if the restaurant was still open. Lo and behold, when I pushed the gate open I saw a flourish of excitement within the restaurant’s garden and bar areas. I figured that a place as cool as N7 had to have great food. #logic… After all that build up, you’re probably ready for me to cut to the chase: Yes, the food was original and delicious. N7 serves modern French Japanese tapas-style plates, so I’m actually not exaggerating when I tell you that the menu was like nothing I’ve experienced before. Di and I split a handful of dishes and ended up ordering too much because there were so many unique things we *had* to try. FWTG tip: N7 may be a bit of well-kept secret from tourists since many visitors don’t venture out to the Bywater neighborhood, but I hear it’s no secret with in-the-know locals and can get quite busy. You may want to plan your meal outside peak dinner times to avoid the crowds and a potentially long wait. We opted for a late Saturday night dinner (around 10 pm) and we were seated immediately.
If you’re looking to chill-lax…
- Make time for R&R. Enjoy some relaxing down time at your beautiful New Orleans historic hotel. (I’d personally recommend the swank International House Hotel. You can read more about why I positively adored my stay at IHH here).
- Go for a stroll. One thing I never get sick of doing in New Orleans is sauntering around the historic French Quarter to admire the architecture. (Plus, the colorful buildings are totally Insta-Worthy)!
- Get in touch with your spiritual side. Get a psychic reading at HEX: Old World Witchery. I had my tarot card reading with Mimi Eubanks. My reading with Mimi was a far cry from the hokey $10 palm reading I got on the street during my first trip to New Orleans – she’s worth the $75. Now before you write me off as crazy, hear me out. I’m going to preface this by stating that I was very skeptical before my reading… 3 years of law school will turn even the most gullible person into a cynic and I went into attorney-on-the-DL-mode. I was very cautious not to give Mimi any verbal or facial cues and hadn’t even specified the general area of my life that I was hoping her reading would address. I have no idea what your tarot card experience will be like, but mine made my jaw hit the floor. Despite the fact that I basically said nothing and showed no reaction, Mimi very specifically hit on several super personal issues.
The most baffling part to this lover-of-logic was that Mimi had told me that she predicted a specific event taking place in the very near future. I couldn’t stop wondering why she would make such a bold prediction… one that could easily disprove her legitimacy before I even wrote this post.
Fast forward to less than a week after my return home… IT HAPPENED. EXACTLY AS SHE SAID IT WOULD. I rarely find myself speechless, but the only thing I could muster after it happened was W.T.F!!! (And yes, it was a bold, underlined “WTF” with multiple exclamation points). #RealTalk: I’m still not sure how to wrap my mind around my reading.
The lawyer in me (who now knows you think she belongs in an insane asylum) feels the need to tell you that the event Mimi predicted with was a pretty specific, fairly major life event which doesn’t typically happen often, wouldn’t apply to everyone and could be quantified by an objective result (i.e. “X will happen very soon,” not “in the near future you’ll feel XYZ”).
If you’re ready to party like its 1999…
- Stay out past your bedtime. In this post I talked about how fun New Orleans is and how you can easily find your scene, whatever that may be. There’s a lot more to NOLA than Bourbon Street. Once you’ve been out in the French Quarter, I’d recommend taking a short Uber ride to Frenchmen Street to experience the area’s live music (and lively nightlife).
- Make a splash during daylight. Head to Alto, the rooftop bar at the Ace Hotel for their weekend pool party. Sip poolside cocktails, mingle with pretty people and enjoy city views. FWTG Tip: There’s no cover charge Monday-Thursday to hang by Alto’s pool for a drink.
- Get your (drunk) history on. There’s nothing better than learning about the city you’re exploring with a drink in hand. If you agree, you’ll want to sign up for Doctor Gumbo’s Cocktail History Tour, STAT. I’ve indulged in plenty of expertly made craft cocktails during my visits to New Orleans, but I had no idea just how legit the city’s cocktail history is. Y’all, the word COCKTAIL was invented in NOLA! I loved this tour. It was ridiculously fun and super interesting, and our tour guide’s knowledge relating to all things New Orleans and cocktails blew me away. He was happy to field questions, which was a good thing, because our whole group tried to stump him and failed sometime around cocktail #3. (And no, our inability to do so wasn’t due to our cocktail consumption). FWTG Tip: I recommend eating a late lunch, since you’ll be offered 4 full-size cocktails during the tour.
FWTG’s New Orleans Weekend Itinerary:
Below is my exact itinerary from my most recent weekend getaway in New Orleans. I want to share it with you for a couple reasons: (1) I had a blast and would totally recommend it, and (2) I want to illustrate how much you can experience in NOLA in just 48 hours. On a related note, this itinerary won’t have you running around town like a crazy person. This was my third trip to New Orleans and this itinerary was planned with the intent of having a laid back, super fun escape from my weekday norm.
Afternoon: After arriving in New Orleans, we checked into the swanky and perfectly located International House Hotel, before heading to Auction House Market for a late lunch.
Evening: We hopped on the 5 pm Doctor Gumbo Cocktail History Tour, which finished with enough time to walk to our 8 pm reservation at Broussard’s. After dinner we stayed in the French Quarter for some late-night libations.
Morning: We began our day at 10:30 am with brunch at Coquette and then headed back to the French Quarter to explore more of it during daylight.
Afternoon: We walked over to Hex for my psychic reading at 2:15 pm and then continues to stroll and shop around the French Quarter.
Evening: We headed back to International House Hotel to freshen up and enjoy a couple of happy hour cocktails at the hotel’s lobby bar, Loa, before freshening up and heading to dinner at N7. After dinner we took a short Uber ride to Frenchmen Street to peruse the night market and experience the neighborhood’s live music scene.
Morning/Afternoon: We kicked started our Sunday with jazz brunch at Commander’s Palace before exploring the Garden District and shopping our way down Magazine Street.
Early Evening: We checked out Alto’s rooftop pool bar before we (begrudgingly) had to head off to the airport at 5:30 pm.
Check out New Orleans & Company’s website for all the info you need to plan your weekend trip to NOLA.
What would you do with 48 hours in New Orleans?
My trip was sponsored by New Orleans & Company, but my love for NOLA and all opinions) are my own.
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