Updated: Dec 30, 2021
New Orleans (aka Crescent City), the birthplace of jazz, is a must-see city! With a mix of cultures and a long history, NOLA will have you strolling and dancing in the streets with a beignet in hand. Here is how to spend 48 hours in New Orleans, Louisiana:
Where to Stay
The Cambria, an eclectic hotel, is in a nice area of town with a lot of other hotels and restaurants around. It's surrounded by all kinds of activities, a lot of which are within walking distance! If you would rather eat in instead of venturing out to find food, the hotel has a bistro and bar or you can have food delivered from certain restaurants in the area! Also, the rooms were nice and the beds were super comfortable!
Where to Eat
What began as a coffee stand in the New Orleans French Market in 1862 has become a popular NOLA spot. Café du Monde serves beignets (delicious, French-style donuts served with lots of powdered sugar), coffee, café au lait (1/2 coffee, 1/2 hot milk), hot chocolate, and other drinks. There are Café du Mondes all over Louisiana, but the Decatur location is picturesque and in the perfect location! You can also buy some of their merch and buy beignet mix and coffee so you can bring a piece of NOLA back home with you!
Located across from the Cambria Hotel, St. James Cheese Company offers a variety of different food options, from salads and shared plates to cold and hot sandwiches. They also have some unique groceries! I highly recommend getting the cantal salad, brie and ham sandwich, or Hook's cheddar sandwich. All three are delicious!
Lucy's is also across the street from the Cambria Hotel! Lucy's isn't unique to New Orleans, but it sure does offer some delicious seafood! Think surfer inspired meals with Louisiana influence... Cabo Shrimp & Grits, seared tuna burger, blackened shrimp tacos, shrimp boys, etc. I had the blackened shrimp tacos and they were delicious (as someone who grew up near the coast, I am very picky about seafood tacos... these passed the test though)!
You can't leave NOLA without eating Creole food! Head to Café Pontalba, which is right next to Jackson Square, for étouffée, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and other Creole classics! You can also enjoy some people watching while you chow down on delicious food. Definitely eat some bread pudding while in New Orleans!
Southern Candymakers has loads of candy and chocolates, and they make pralines from scratch every day! Though American pralines derived from European pralines, they are a bit different. American pralines are made with cream and pecans instead of almonds. You must try these sugary, creamy sweets when in the south and Southern Candymakers is the perfect local place to get them!
What to Do
The National WWII Museum is amazing!! There are six different buildings, each housing exhibits with many artifacts, stories, photographs, and personal accounts from World War II. Exhibits cover everything from the war in America to Asia to Europe! We spent about 2 1/2 hours here and I feel that we saw mostly everything (we also had to take some breaks due to injured family members). WWII airplanes hang overhead in one building so visitors can see the planes from underneath or from eye level or above on the second or third floors.
You can't leave New Orleans without going to French Quarter (honestly ending up here is kind of inevitable)! French Quarter is home to restaurants, voodoo stores, museums, jazz clubs, stores, and bars. The area is full of beautiful architecture and color! If you're into the nightlife scene, head to Bourbon St. If you don't want to get caught up in crowds, try to steer clear of Bourbon and French Quarter in the evening/night.
I like walking around the area in the morning/mid-day when it's not as crowded (just don't walk down Bourbon St. early in the morning when they're cleaning the sidewalks). There are also carriages that roam the streets of French Quarter for visitors who would like a carriage tour through NOLA. We learned about the city and its history on a carriage tour, and the guide took us to a popular area among locals!
Named after King Louis IX of France, St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest continuously active Catholic cathedral in the United States, was built in the 1720s. The Frenchman who started construction on the building died before he was able to complete it. His wish was to be buried within the unfinished building and it is believed that his wish came true. There are also 11 people buried under the church! The church is beautiful and still holds mass to this day! While in the French Quarter, visit the historical church and stroll through Jackson Square (in front of the cathedral)!
This neighborhood, which was established in the 1840s, is full of beautiful, historic mansions! If you have a car, definitely venture down the streets of Garden District on your own. If you don't have a car, the St. Charles streetcar takes you to Garden District. The streetcar doesn't take you by all of the mansions, so you may want to hop off at some point (around 1st St.) to walk around. St. Charles Ave. and Magazine St. are home to restaurants and stores, so while admiring the gorgeous houses don't forget to shop local and try some
St. Louis Cemetery #3 is a Catholic cemetery that was established in the mid-19th century. Unlike some other cemeteries in the city, this one is well kept and safe to walk around during the day. You can see some old graves with some unique names.
Another cemetery to check out is Charity Hospital Cemetery. Charity Hospital buried a lot of impoverished patients here, some of whom died from yellow fever. The nearby Katrina Memorial was built to remember the lives lost due to the storm. The memorial was actually created in the shape of a hurricane.
Some tours take you to a few cemeteries and tell the history of them and even some ghost stories!
All of this is doable in 48 hours... I'd know this because this is everything my family did in 48 hours in NOLA. It wasn't too much to fit in, but it also didn't leave us bored. We had our car, but mainly used Uber to get around. The Ubers were reasonably priced and convenient. In terms of safety, just be conscious of your surroundings and don't go to dark, secluded places. New Orleans is a very fun city for couples, families, or friends. While you can definitely spend more than 48 hours in the city, that's the perfect amount of time to get a feel for the city!