New Orleans is a vibrant and exciting city with a rich culture and history. There is so much to see and do, especially as Mardi Gras quickly approaches this February. You could easily spend weeks exploring the city and experience only some of it. So, it can be overwhelming to try and fit it all into just a few days. However, with careful planning, you can get a taste of the best of what the city offers in just two days. Here’s how.
Day 1: Voodoo and Vibrant Music
On the first day of your trip, take an early morning flight and check in to the Henry Howard Hotel. The historic property in the Lower Garden District was built in 1867 as a townhouse by famed-architect Henry Howard. It’s since been turned into an 18-room boutique hotel with many quirky original details. Bonus: it’s right around the corner from the bustling Magazine Street.
Speaking of Magazine Street, that will be your next stop. After settling in, head to Lilette for lunch, where you’ll be treated to delicious French-inspired cuisine. This year, Chef John Harris is celebrating the restaurant’s 20th year after being included in Food and Wine magazine’s list of America’s Best New Chefs in 2002 and named a James Beard finalist for the Best Chef South award four times.
Next up, experience the mystical side of New Orleans with a VooDoo Cocktail Experience at Loa Bar. The master mixologist Abigail will whip you up a mystical cocktail with smoke and lick the glass. Then, sticking with the theme, take a VooDoo Walking Tour to learn about the city’s rich history and connection to VooDoo. You’ll stroll through a cemetery and stop at the Voodoo Spiritual Temple founded by Priestess Miriam.
In the evening, enjoy dinner at Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits. This New Orleans establishment started as a small wine shop in the Bywater neighborhood, but over time it became known as an eclectic watering hole. After Hurricane Katrina, Bacchanal became integral to the city’s recovery, hosting guest chefs from around the area on Bacchanal Sundays, NOLA’s original pop-up event.
After dinner, make your way to Preservation Hall for a live jazz concert. Located in the heart of the French Quarter on St. Peter Street, this intimate venue presents acoustic jazz concerts featuring ensembles from a collective of over 50 local musicians. You’ll have the opportunity to witness New Orleans jazz’s incredible talent and living tradition before heading back to your hotel for the night.
Day 2: Sculptures and Sazeracs
On the morning of day 2, start with brunch at Brennan’s, a famous New Orleans restaurant. In 1946, Owen Brennan, the owner of the Old Absinthe House, opened Owen Brennan’s Vieux Carre Restaurant on Bourbon Street and consequently created a world-famous dish that’s still on the menu: Bananas Foster.
Once you’re fueled up, it’s time to drink up. Take a short walk to The Sazerac House, where you can learn about the city’s famous Sazerac cocktail, before making your way over to Magazine Street for lunch and miles of some of the best shopping in the city.
In the afternoon, visit City Park, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Sculpture Garden. The museum has an incredible permanent collection of more than 40,000 objects, while the twelve-acre garden has over 90 sculptures and 200-year-old oaks.
Before dinner, grab a pre-dinner drink at the Columns Hotel, a beautiful property with a charming porch and a lively atmosphere. Then, head to San Lorenzo at Hotel Saint Vincent for dinner, where you can try some delicious Italian fare.
Day 3: History and Head Home
On your final morning, enjoy breakfast at Chemin à la Mer at the new Four Seasons Hotel before taking a trip to Vue Orleans, a new attraction. Here you can enjoy the city skyline from a 360 degree observation deck on the 34th floor. Then, check out of the Henry Howard Hotel and start your journey home, taking with you memories of a wonderful (but quick) trip to New Orleans.