New Orleans is one of our all-time favorite travel destinations, especially for a 3 day or long weekend visit. We fell in love with the Crescent City (or the Big Easy as it’s popularly known) on our first visit way back in 2013 and continued traveling there even when we lived far away in Illinois on a Chicago to New Orleans road trip and later when I lived in Wilmington, Delaware.
Now that we live in Houston, the city is quite near and we visit New Orleans at least twice to thrice every year. That has given us enough time to perfect our New Orleans itinerary of 3 Days.
We have attended Mardi Gras in New Orleans and have been there for Gay Pride.
Our favorite attractions have changed as we have grown from a traveling couple to a traveling family and yet we remain equally in love with NOLA. That’s why we created this New Orleans 3 Day Itinerary for families. We have visited the city thrice with our toddler and we’ve always found it extremely kid-friendly.
Our son loves a road trip to New Orleans and enjoys seeing the trams, ships, trains, musicians, and horse carriages. We also love eating out in New Orleans and feasting on Cajun cuisine. With New Orleans celebrating its tricentennial in 2018, there is no better time to go to the Big Easy – and so, we urge everyone to pack their bags and just go! We are pretty sure you would also enjoy our 3 Day New Orleans Itinerary.
New Orleans is colorful, bold, and beautiful. You will love it!
WHO IS THE 3 DAY NEW ORLEANS ITINERARY PERFECT FOR?
While we call this the New Orleans Itinerary for families and couples, you will also find it useful if you’re not that much into partying at the French Quarter (basically full of frat kids) but more into exploring the city’s unique culture and popular attractions.
New Orleans has charming architecture, unique attractions, and great outdoor spaces; we feel it should be on the wish list of all travelers. It is especially great for those interested in cultural travel, culinary experiences, and nature, and wildlife.
The city has many gardens, museums, and zoos which we include in our New Orleans itinerary making it especially suited for traveling kids and families.
New Orleans is always full of surprises, you never know what you will find
WHY NEW ORLEANS 3 DAY ITINERARY?
While we have made the Houston-New Orleans journey as a day trip (it involved some crazy night driving) and even spent a couple of hours in NOLA on our way to Florida, we really love devoting 3 days to seeing this city. 2 days gives us enough time to see the city’s must tourist attractions but we don’t have enough time to add in some outdoor adventures like hiking in the marshes or taking airboat swamp tours to view the crocodiles. In our opinion, 3 days is the perfect amount of time to take in the complete New Orleans experience at a leisurely pace.
NEW ORLEANS 3 DAY ITINERARY FOR FAMILIES PLANNING TIPS:
1. We assume that you arrive in New Orleans on the previous day and are ready to get out and explore on Day 1. If this is not the case, we recommend adjusting the itinerary as per your arrival time.
2. We assume that you are in New Orleans on non-Mardi Gras weekends. New Orleans, Mardi Gras is definitely a bucket list experience however it is really difficult to combine any sightseeing with the partying and parades. For that reason, we suggest keeping Mardi Gras completely separate from your NOLA sightseeing trip. If Mardi Gras is on your wishlist, you will enjoy our Guide to New Orleans Mardi Gras.
3. Our itinerary includes lots of walking since many attractions are spaced close by. If you have young kids we suggest carrying a stroller (especially for kids under 4 years of age). New Orleans is also a good city to put your hiking carrier or child carrier to excellent use.
4. If you have difficulty walking long distances you can still use this itinerary but may need to flag down a horse ride or cab or ride the tram. Luckily, New Orleans is full of a variety of easy transportation options and you won’t face any difficulty if you get tired.
New Orleans has beautiful architecture, lots of atmosphere, and great open spaces
OUR NEW ORLEANS 3 DAY ITINERARY FOR FAMILIES
Day 1: Spend The Morning Exploring Unique Architecture And Eclectic Shops Of The French Quarter. Visit The St Louis Cathedral And People Watch At Jackson Square. Stroll Along The Riverside At Woldenberg Park For Sunset. If You Dare, See The Sights Of The Infamous Bourbon Street At Night.
Understanding The French Quarter
Today, we are essentially checking out the French Quarter. Many people associate the French Quarter with loud music, drunk crowds, and a general boisterousness. However, the French Quarter does not stop and end at Bourbon Street; it comprises of streets extending as far as the Iberville Street (where the famed Acme Oyster House is located) and Esplanade Ave (where you will find the New Orleans Jazz Museum) and wraps itself around Jackson Square, Cafe du Monde, St. Louis Cathedral, and the riverwalk along Woldenberg Park. Also, the French Quarter at night and by day are two vastly different places; during the day it is the city’s most important cultural hub and prominent tourist attraction and attracts couples, families, and all sorts of interested travelers more than partygoers.
Breakfast At Croissant D’Or Patisserie
We suggest reaching the French Quarter as early as possible; we usually reach it by 7 am to 8 am. We love that time since the French Quarter is literally just waking up. There are very few tourists walking about and the tour guides on horses / mopeds / segways can’t be seen anywhere. We sit in our favorite cafe, have breakfast and watch the streets as they come to life. By the time we have finished and are getting out of the cafe, we can spot the first horse carriage tours coming along.
Croissant d’Or’s wonderful inner courtyard where we always prefer to sit
We discovered the Croissant d’Or Patisserie on our third trip to the city and have always visited it since then. It is a French bakery and has delicious pastries and sandwiches along with coffee. They are also famous for their King Cakes during the Mardi Gras season. Their glass display cases are always laden with pastries, desserts, quiches, croissants, and sandwiches. I especially love their spinach quiche, chocolate or almond croissants, and the smoked salmon sandwich. They always have lots of space to sit and we enjoy sitting in their lovely courtyard. We also enjoy sitting at the tables by the window and looking out on the street. The cafe is really a hidden gem in the French Quarter and we recommend everyone to start their day here.
Optional: If you want to have breakfast somewhere else, the French Quarter has plenty of reputed options. For a great list of restaurants, check here – we have been to most of these places and agree. Another good option that is not on the list is the Crepe Cart located inside the French Market.
Croissant d’Or Patisserie is located at 617 Ursulines Ave New Orleans, LA and opens at 6:30 am in the morning.
Parking Tip: We always park our car for the entire day at the parking lot located behind Cafe Du Monde / French Market. From there we explore the French Quarter on foot; it is always easy to return to the car if we need anything else.
Our table laden with goodies at Croissant d’Or
Explore The French Quarter
The French Quarter is brimming with quaint architecture, lots of history and a bevy of eclectic shops from famous art galleries to voodoo stores. We love exploring the French Quarter on foot and taking in the sights of wrought iron balconies, decorative hanging plants, and ferns, unique gas-lit lamps, and the horse-head hitching posts. The French Quarter also has a strong literary history. Many prominent writers have found inspiration in its charming streets including Mark Twain, John James Audubon, and Anne Rice. The French Quarter has also been a long favorite of artists, sculptors, and creative personalities.
Exploring the French Quarter early in the morning is a delight; the streets are empty and you have the lovely buildings to yourself
Probably the most famous thing about the French Quarter is its unique architecture. New Orleans oldest neighborhood displays a unique blend of Spanish, French, and Creole styles. Some of its defining features are the multi-story Creole townhouses, wrought-iron balconies with elaborate details, and open-air walled courtyards (like the one at Croissant D’Or). Visitors can observe all these salient features in a walking tour of the quarter. While you will easily find several DIY walking tour maps of the French Quarter, we prefer to just walk around the streets, absorbing the little details, and gradually make our way to the St. Louis Cathedral. We suggest going inside and exploring the eclectic shops and art galleries that you will find. Many of these shops also have lots of souvenirs: you can take back home the statue of a jazz musician or a magnet of the famous trams. The French Quarter also has many boutique stores selling pretty dresses and accessories.
The French Quarter is brimming with beautiful Creole, French, and Spanish architecture
Optional: If you want to explore the French Quarter in alternate ways, there are many tours of the French Quarter including guided walking tours, horse carriage tours, and others.
Drinking Tip: The New Orleans French Quarter has an open container drinking policy and most bars will be happy to serve you a glass of your favorite drink in a plastic cup. (New Orleans is probably the only city where you won’t be judged if you have a beer in one hand and pushing the stroller with the other – everyone else is doing pretty much the same!) We have often started drinking a Southern Tea mocktail around brunch and have ended up at Jackson Square with a Hand Grenade. And that reminds me, the Hand Grenade is one of New Orleans signature cocktails and can be found at the Tropical Isle. Be warned, the Hand Grenade is not to be taken lightly!
The Tropical Isle is the home of the Hand Grenade and located at 721 Bourbon St New Orleans, LA
Beautiful French Quarter balconies with ferns and intricate ironwork
Try Some Of The Famous Gulf Oysters At Acme Oyster House
If you like oysters, then you need to try some of the famous Gulf of Mexico ones in New Orleans. The city is famous for a variety of oyster dishes including raw oysters, chargrilled/charbroiled oysters, oysters stuffed in Po boys, and Oyster Rockefeller.
When it comes to the charbroiled ones, half the people swear by Drago’s while half swear by Acme Oyster House. We tried both and loved Acme Oyster House more – for its location, delicious taste, and also for their Oyster shooters. In case you wonder what that is, it’s vodka plus cocktail sauce plus raw oyster to be drowned as a shot! Zany! We somehow always end up at Acme’s for a late lunch after walking the French Quarter.
Acme Oyster House is located at 724 Iberville St, New Orleans, LA
I love the chargrilled oysters at Acme Oyster House and also the Cajun seafood boil with corn and potatoes at Poppy’s Grill. New Orleans is great for seafood lovers.
Optional: If you’re not that keen on oysters or Acme Oyster House then there a host of other popular restaurants in the French Quarter, each more popular than the other. Other places in the French Quarter where you will get great oysters, include Bourbon House, Royal House, and Antoine’s. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you will love our guide to Vegan Restaurants in the French Quarter. You can also check out our article on New Orleans must eat foods and where to eat them, if you wish to skip the oysters and try some of the city’s other specialties.
Admire The Stained Glass Windows And Painted Ceiling Of The St. Louis Cathedral
The historic St Louis Cathedral is the oldest Cathedral in North America. Located along the banks of the Mississippi and next to Jackson’s Square, the Cathedral has an interesting history. The original church building was destroyed by the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788 and the rebuilt church was the site of a bombing in 1909. The Pope visited the Cathedral in 1987 and the Cathedral was designated a minor Basilica.
New Orleans Cathedral with the Cabildo on the left, the Presbytere on the left and Jackson Square in the front
The towering spires of the Cathedral are NOLA’s most recognizable and iconic structures. The view of the Cathedral from Jackson Square has been the subject of many paintings. The architecture of the St Louis Cathedral is impressive with beautiful design and striking features. Visitors can view the Cathedral by themselves if no mass or wedding is taking place inside. We have seen many people standing on its steps wondering if the Cathedral is open. To know if the Cathedral is open, simply try opening the doors – if they are open, you can go in!
Inside you will find beautiful stained glass windows depicting the life of Saint Louis, the former King of France. The painted ceiling with floral motifs and biblical scenes is also an incredible work of art. The elaborate, ornamental altar with gilded columns is eye-catching and has a mural above which shows the King announcing his 7th Crusade. The flags of France and Spain waving from the balconies are reminders of New Orleans colonial heritage. We have seen the Cathedral decorated prior to a wedding and it is one of the city’s most popular venues.
St Louis Cathedral is located at 615 Pere Antoine Alley, New Orleans, LA
The beautiful painted ceiling of the historic St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans
Optional: There are lots of things to do surrounding the St. Louis Cathedral. The Cathedral is situated between two other historic New Orleans buildings, the Cabildo and the Presbytere. When facing the Cathedral, the Cabildo is on the left while the Presbytere is on the left. These two buildings are excellent examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the country and we recommend noticing the salient features like elliptical arches, multi-pane windows, and roof gables.
The Cabildo was originally the Spanish Colonial City Hall and now houses the New Orleans History Museum which has over three stories of exhibits narrating the state’s history. The Cabildo was where the historic Louisiana purchase was signed. The Presbytere was built to look exactly similar to the Cabildo and once housed the Louisiana Supreme Court. Today, the Presbytere contains exhibits devoted to Mardi Gras and Hurricane Katrina.
Attend Street Performances And People-Watch At Jackson Square
Historic Jackson Square in the French Quarter is one of New Orleans most famous attractions. The square contains a statue of Andrew Jackson, who was the 7th President of the US and led American forces to a victory against the British in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. The square is flanked by famous landmarks on all sides; the bright red colored apartment buildings located on the side of Jackson Square are the Pontalba Apartments, architecturally significant structures that are declared a National Historic Landmark. These apartment buildings are famously known as the ‘oldest apartment building in the US’.
Jackson Square is filled with artists, musicians, street performers, and buskers and is the best place to people watch in New Orleans
Jackson Square is our favorite place to sit down and unwind after a day of exploring the French Quarter on foot. This is the best place to people-watch in New Orleans. The open space in front of this public square is where artists, musicians, street performers, and buskers of all kinds have historically congregated to display their skills. Where other city squares have acrobats, balloon twisters, and clowns; New Orleans has painters sketching the French Quarter, jazz musicians, drummers, fortune-tellers, tarot card readers, palm readers and clairvoyants.
Henna artists, fortune tellers, and tarot card readers setting up their stalls in Jackson Square
I like going through the talented paintings and looking at various depictions of life in the French Quarter. There are unique mediums of work on display including rhinestone paintings, printed canvases and more. We love listening to the musicians and our son enjoys dancing to their music. It is fun to see tourists spontaneously break down into spirited dances in appreciation of the music and in rhythm to the cheering crowd. We have also been lucky to see weddings take place in the Jackson Square.
Eat Beignets And Drink Cafe Au Lait At Cafe Du Monde
Located diagonally outside Jackson Square, the green and white canopy of Cafe du Monde is a Crescent City institution that originated in 1862 and is open 24/7. Eating beignets and drinking Cafe Au Lait at Cafe du Monde is a New Orleans rite of passage. Visitors are often surprised to know that the beignets and coffee are the only items sold in the Cafe. Another thing to know is that Cafe du Monde accepts only cash.
Beignets are a type of French square donuts or sweet pastries that are fried and served topped with sugar. Each order contains 3 beignets and we usually share this between us. Cafe Au Lait is chicory blended coffee. This coffee has an interesting history. During the Civil War, New Orleans supply of most imports including coffee was cut off and the city started the tradition of adding roasted and ground root of the chicory plant to coffee to make the beans last longer. The tradition continues to this day and the subtle flavor of chicory is a delicious addition.
Cafe du Monde’s beignets with powdered sugar are one of New Orleans must eat foods
If you like your coffee cold, we strongly recommend the frozen Cafe Au Lait. Remember, frozen and not iced. I made the mistake of ordering the iced coffee once and it was blah. The frozen on the other hand is deliciously icy, has a great dose of caffeine, and just goes down smoothly. While the Cafe is surrounded by open spaces to tempt you to eat outside, we do not really recommend getting the beignets to-go since they are loaded with powdered sugar and can cause quite a messy eating experience.
Cafe du Monde is located at 800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA
Take A Photo With The Tricentennial Sign And See The Sunset On The Mississippi At Woldenberg Riverfront Park
Seeing the sunset on the Mississippi at Woldenberg Park is our favorite way to wrap a relaxed day in the French Quarter. But before you reach the Riverfront, we recommend taking a picture with the new Tricentennial sign placed to celebrate New Orleans 300th birthday in 2018. The sign is located in Washington Artillery Park located opposite Jackson Square. The park has a Civil War cannon that is a favorite with kids and has great views of Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral. This is also a great spot to watch parades, horse carriages and the general bustle of activity.
New Orleans celebrates its tricentennial in 2018 and this is a great time to visit the city
Next, we suggest walking up to Woldenberg Park. You can honestly spend hours here taking in the boats on the Mississippi, the tourists lined up to take a cruise of Steamboat Natchez, the trams running along the Riverfront Streetcar line, watching the slow-moving freight trains that close the railway crossing for half an hour, and the many sculptures that are lined up along the riverfront. The park has many benches to sit and admire views plus you will always find tourists squatting on the steps and the walking path. The park is great for biking, walking, or running; locals occasionally fish along the path too. The Riverwalk connects French Quarter to the Audubon Aquarium and the shopping malls at Canal Place.
Great views of the Mississippi River from the Riverfront Park
Optional: We often take the Canal Street – Algiers Point ferry from Woldenberg Park. You can check out the ferry schedule here. This free ferry drops visitors to the opposite bank of the river at the historic Algiers Neighborhood, which you can then explore on foot. Jazz music originated in this neighborhood and the area was home to many African American Jazz artists of the 19th century. The views of New Orleans from the ferry are great and our son is always excited about the ride. We just stay for half an hour before taking the return ferry but you can explore the neighborhood in a DIY walking tour like the one mentioned here.
Amazing views of New Orleans from the ferry
Other Things To Do In The French Quarter
If you don’t peek into the art galleries, voodoo and other eclectic shops in the French Quarter, you will be left with a lot of spare time on this day. The French Quarter and the surrounding area has many other attractions which you can cover, depending on your interests.
The Audubon Butterfly Garden or the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas located along the Riverfront Park, a little distance away from the French Quarter, is a great place to go with the kids. There are also big splash pads with fountains located in front of the Aquarium entrance. Our son enjoys running through the water jets and getting soaked in this play area on hot summer days.
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas located along the riverfront
New Orleans Voodoo Museum is located near the Bourbon Street and is a great place to learn about the unique practice. The Museum is filled with artifacts and exhibits that explore city’s Voodoo history including the life of priestess Marie Laveau. Royal Street in the French Quarter is a walking street with many art galleries and often has street musicians performing at the corners. The St. Louis Cathedral has a big statue of Jesus at the back which is illuminated at night. The New Orleans Jazz Museum is located inside the Old US Mint Building and has many memorabilia along with sheet music and instruments.
See The French Quarter At Night
French Quarter at night, especially on weekends, during holidays and special events, is a crazy party place. Most of the action is concentrated around Bourbon Street. There is loud music, dancing and alcohol flowing through the night and even the balconies of the French Quarter are full of party-goers. The fun goes well past midnight and Cafe du Monde is the preferred place to end the night for many. While the area is not family-friendly at night, it is definitely worth checking out at least once without the kids.
Bourbon Street parties and celebrations during Gay Pride month
Day 2: Ride The St. Charles Streetcar To The Lafayette Cemetery No 1 And View The Historic Mansions Of Garden District. Eat Po Boys For Lunch And End Your Day By Exploring Magazine Street.
We start this day by exploring the attractions of the New Orleans Garden District and its surroundings. This grand old neighborhood is both, elegant and majestic. Located about 3 miles away from the French Quarter, it can be easily reached by the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar which starts from Canal Street. If you are staying in the French Quarter, the Streetcar is the best way to reach the neighborhood.
The Streetcars Of New Orleans
The Streetcars of New Orleans are a historic tourist attraction. These street trolleys or trams once ran throughout the city and became famous due to Tennessee Williams play, ‘A streetcar named Desire’. The St. Charles Avenue Streetcar connects major attractions including the Garden District to the French Quarter and is mostly used by tourists. This historic line is the longest route in New Orleans; it also has the honor of being the oldest streetcar system in the world. The streetcars on this line are vintage with open windows, old style seats, and brass fittings and are on the National Register of Historic Places.
St. Charles Avenue Streetcar is vintage with original seats and open windows
The streetcar system is the cheapest and easiest way to get around New Orleans. Kids of all ages love riding the streetcars and even looking at them when they are on the streets. The most important thing to remember before riding the Streetcar is to carry exact change for the ticket ($1.25 per ride per person). 1 to 3 Day passes is also sold at select locations, which can be found here.
Understand New Orleans Cemeteries And Tour The Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
New Orleans cemeteries are a tourist attraction in themselves. The constant hurricanes and flooding which is prevalent in the city and its location on swamps and marshy land necessitated the practice of above-ground cemeteries. The geographical conditions never let underground tombs rest in peace and with the remains of the dead floating up in unsavory ways, the city began the practice of constructing elaborate and ornate mausoleum tombs.
New Orleans above ground cemeteries are an attraction in themselves
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in Garden District is free to visit and is a popular area attraction. Established in 1833, the cemetery is filled with mature, shade trees and has beautiful 19th-century tombstones. We saw many tombs for children of different ages – infants, toddlers and older kids – who died during the Yellow Fever Epidemic in New Orleans due to lack of immunizations. It was rather depressing to see these smallest of graves and the widespread loss of lives. Many of the tombs contained the remains of more than 20-30 family members. This cemetery has also been featured in films, TV series, and documentaries.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is located at 1498 Washington Avenue New Orleans LA
Optional: The St. Louis Cemetery No 1, located in the French Quarter less than a mile away from the St. Louis Cathedral, is the most popular cemetery in New Orleans due to the burial tomb of the Voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau. Other prominent New Orleans citizens are also buried here. However, this cemetery can be viewed by only guided tours to preserve the historic tombs and hence we do not include it in our itinerary. If interested, you can take the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 guided tour first and then take the St. Charles Streetcar to Garden District.
Visit The Garden District Book Shop
A must for all book lovers and literary travelers, the Garden District Book Shop is located in a historic building known as the Rink. The building was once home to New Orleans’s large skating rink built for the 1884 World Fair held in New Orleans. The Garden District Book Store holds many events and book signings including those for famous New Orleans author, Anne Rice.
Garden District bookstore is one of New Orleans best bookstores
The Garden District Book Store is one of the best independently owned bookstores I have been in, and believe me – I have been in a lot! During my latest visit, I saw many signed 1st editions and a lot of regional books including few great Cajun books for children like the ‘Three Little Cajun Pigs’ and ‘Cendrillon: A Cajun Cinderella’. I also loved the bright and airy location and interesting window displays.
The Garden District Bookstore is located at 2727 Prytania St, New Orleans, LA
Tour The Mansions Of Garden District
The Garden District is popular for its grand historic mansions and beautifully manicured lawns and gardens. The mansions are very well-preserved and many of them are still the homes of its first residents. The streets of Garden District are lined with shady trees including live oaks, crape myrtles, and magnolias. We enjoy walking the streets and taking a look at the impressive mansions. The mansions are built in various architectural styles including Gothic Revival, Italianate, Greek Revival, Creole, and Queen Anne. There are many ornate details to be found in these houses including cornstalk fences, exquisite metalwork, large columns, gas lights on front porches, etc.
The Garden District is full of grand old mansions
To end your Garden District exploration, arrive at the famous sky blue building of the Commander’s Palace Restaurant. This restaurant is one of the most famous in the country and has excellent food. They require a strict dress code and advance reservations, due to which we have never dined there. (Truth be told, we have not set foot in a formal, fine-dining restaurant since the birth of our son) Their weekday martini lunches and weekend jazz brunches are quite popular.
The Commander’s Palace is located at 1403 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, LA
The famous teal building of Commander’s Palace
Eat Po Boys At And Explore Magazine Street
Another reason we have never quite eaten at Commander’s Palace in Garden District is that we love eating out on the nearby Magazine Street. This street is filled with eateries, cafes, restaurants, bakeries, and bars. We love visiting Dat Dog for its hot dogs and the weekend art market. One of New Orleans famous restaurants, Shaya, known for its Israeli cuisine is also located on Magazine Street. However, our favorites are the Po boys at Mahony’s. I especially love their fried shrimp or oyster Po boy. We have also tried and loved the Po boys at Guy’s Po Boys. For the uninitiated, Po boy is a traditional New Orleans sandwich with lots of meat, a crusty French Bread and pretty much nothing else except a tomato slice or lettuce. It is delicious and must eat when in the city.
Mahony’s is located at 3454 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA while Guy’s Po Boys is located at 5259 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA
Posters inside Guys Po Boys
Magazine Street is full of fun and eclectic shops selling jewelry, clothing, antiques, shoes, vintage jackets, masks, stationery, tattoos, porcelain, sculptures, books, and more. This street also has an inspiring architecture with short single-story homes, colorful gingerbread houses, and brick facades. Almost every house on Magazine Street has some sort of Mardi Gras decoration throughout the year in the forms of beads, masks or flags.
La Boulangerie is a French Bakery with delicious pastries, bread, sandwiches, and icecreams.
After finishing your Po boy and exploring Magazine Street, we recommend going to either La Boulangerie or Sucre to satisfy your sugar cravings. La Boulangerie is a French Bakery with delicious bread and pastries. We also love their ice creams and sorbets. Sucre is the place to go if you are craving gelatos or macaroons and delicious sundaes. We have eaten at both the places many times and love them both.
La Boulangerie is located at 1518, 4600 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA while Sucre is located at 3025 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA
Optional: At the far end of Magazine Street, you will find the Audubon Park and Zoo. If you have lots of time left after finishing your cemetery and mansion tours, you can visit the park and zoo complex to spend the rest of your day. The Audubon Zoo has many exotic animals including giraffes, zebras, cougars, and tigers. It is also a perfect place to cool off in the summer with a separate ‘Cool Zoo’ – a large waterpark with plenty of splash pads and the long lazy river known as Gator Run. The Cool Zoo is especially popular with kids.
If you are not interested in the Zoo, Audubon Park is a great place to relax under the shady oak trees. Entrance to the park is free and there are many things to do inside the park including play areas, biking and walking trails, and a bird rookery.
Audubon Park and Zoo is located at 6500, Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA
Flowering trees and mansions in Garden District are worth a long stroll
Listen To The Jazz Music On Frenchmen Street
Your trip to New Orleans cannot be complete without listening to jazz music. While we have seen jazz musicians playing in the French Quarter, in front of Jackson Square, in the Woldenberg Park, and in restaurants; the surest way to attend a great jazz performance is visiting the Frenchmen Street. The Frenchmen Street is located a short walk away from the French Quarter and we recommend taking the streetcar back to Canal Street and walking up to Frenchmen Street. You can also hail a cab to take you there.
Once on Frenchmen Street, duck inside any of the live music clubs to listen to extraordinary performances. In this area, you will find the blues and soul music. Feet tapping funk songs will invite you to the dance floors. The ambiance of these clubs is legendary and here you will find rising stars of the New Orleans music scene. However, the music on Frenchmen Street is not limited to the night, many of these clubs also host jazz brunches and luncheons. To know which clubs are great for a visit, check here. It’s not even necessary to visit a club to listen to jazz; you will find street musicians and artists playing to an appreciative audience at every street corner.
Steamboat Natchez on the Mississippi
Optional: If you do not want to spend much time on Frenchmen Street in music clubs, you can also end this day by doing the Natchez Steamboat Dinner Jazz Cruise at sunset. Natchez Steam Boat is an authentic steamboat that also offers jazz sightseeing and jazz lunch and weekend brunch cruises down the Mississippi River. Listening to the music as you slowly cruise down the great Mississippi and admire New Orleans skyline is an incredibly romantic experience. The cruises are also kid-friendly with highly discounted prices for children under 6.
Day 3: Hike The Trails Of Barataria Preserve To See Louisiana’s Famous Gators Or See Them Up Close In An Airboat Swamp Tour.
While New Orleans is about jazz music, Cajun food, and incredible architecture and makes for an exciting urban escape, it is also about the swamps and marshes of Louisiana, it’s incredible wildlife and the not-so-ancient slavery and plantation culture. Today we will be experiencing the other side of life in New Orleans by venturing beyond the city limits.
Hike The Trails Of Barataria Preserve
Located just half an hour away (~20 miles) from the French Quarter, Barataria Preserve is a part of the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve. The Preserve extends over 23,000+ acres of the Mississippi Delta and has many boardwalk trails over the swamp. This is our favorite place to experience Louisiana’s wetlands and the native wildlife. The preserve also has canoe trails, dirt trails and grass trails suitable for a variety of fitness levels. Some of the animals found in the preserve include alligators, swamp rabbits, deer, armadillos, and more. Also, the entry to this preserve is free making it more affordable than the swamp tours.
We recommend starting your trip at the Barataria Preserve Visitor Center. The staff has always been helpful with maps and pointed us to trails where there have been gators and other wildlife sightings in the past. They will also suggest trails depending on how much time you have and your fitness level. The exhibits at the Visitor Center do a great job of explaining the process of formation of the Mississippi River delta and details how it has been shrinking due to climate change.
Hiking in Barataria preserve to see Louisiana’s wildlife
We also recommend the short boardwalk trail that starts from the Visitor Center. We have done this trail on various occasions and seen gators, otters, egrets, turtles, lizards, frogs, and lots of dragonflies. The trees in Barataria Preserve look beautiful with long trailing Spanish moss draped over them. All the trails in the preserve make a great nature walk for kids of all ages. If you are visiting in summer, you will absolutely need a bug spray as the mosquitoes love Louisiana’s marshes.
The Barataria Preserve Visitor Center is located at 6588 Barataria Boulevard, Marrero, LA
Turtles in the preserve
Take An Airboat Swamp Tour
Another cool way of exploring the marshes and wetlands is by taking an airboat swamp tour. This might be a better option for you if you are not interested in hiking or do not have a car to travel to Barataria Preserve. Many of the airboat tours have pickup and drop-off in the French Quarter and are very convenient for travelers staying in French Quarter hotels. Or you can do both, hike in Barataria Preserve and then do the close by Jean Lafitte Swamp and Airboat Tours. We often see many other swamp tours on our way to Barataria as well.
Airboat swamp tours are the best way to spot alligators
We recommend choosing an eco-friendly tour operator that preserves the wildlife habitats and marshes. The tours usually last a couple of hours long and are perfect for even restless young kids. Your tour guide should ideally be able to knowledgeably guide you through the marsh ecosystem and show you various native plants and explain more about animals that you come across. Also do not feel alligators, as it is dangerous and unethical. Also, holding a baby alligator is also a strict no-no as it is abusive towards the animals. Many tour operators also offer night-time swamp tours, these are very exciting and offer an opportunity to see the wetlands from a different point of view.
Tour The Antebellum Plantations
Louisiana has a rich antebellum plantation history. While most of the Southern states including Georgia and Virginia produced cotton, Louisiana plantation grew sugarcane and produced sugar which made the plantation owners wealthy. The antebellum mansions of the plantations feature unique architectural aspects, have elaborate landscaping, and touring them is a unique experience. We recommend everyone to visit at least one plantation to understand how life on plantations worked and learn about the often overlooked aspect of plantation life, slavery.
The most famous of Louisiana Plantations are located near New Orleans and make an excellent way to round off your New Orleans 3 day itinerary. They are majestic and have avenues of moss-draped live oak trees that transport visitors back in time to the pre Civil war era. Their interiors are left intact and well-preserved with antique furniture and display life in the old days. Many of the plantations feature stories of owners and slaves and provide an interesting history lesson. Most of them highlight contributions by both enslaved and free African Americans including the development of the Creole customs.
These plantations are situated along the river banks about an hour away from the New Orleans French Quarter. Each of these plantations offers guided tours to visitors daily at an affordable price. Most well-known amongst them is the Laura Plantation which was run for over 4 generations by Creole women. Oak Alley Plantation is the most photographed plantation in the country. It features 28 live oak trees prominently flanking the entrance of the imposing Greek Revival plantation home. Inside the Whitney plantation is a slave museum dedicated to the life of slaves. If you can tour only one plantation home, we suggest visiting the Oak Alley plantation.
NEW ORLEANS, THE CITY OF GOOD TIMES
And with that, we conclude our 3 day New Orleans itinerary. Whenever we have guests, we take them to New Orleans and show them around using this itinerary as a guide. And of course, they are never disappointed! New Orleans is a place where every day is simple but special and the good times simply roll in whether you are listening to jazz, walking past gas-lit lamps or eating beignets. There is no trip that can possibly check New Orleans off your bucket list – ask us, we have been there more than a dozen times and still, keep going back for more!
Experiencing New Orleans is incomplete without a trip at Mardi Gras. Hope you can make it sometime!