Looking for a 48-hour getaway full of jazzy music, versatile cuisine, and endless amounts of flowing booze? Catch the next flight into Louis Armstrong Airport to check out our favorite city of the South, New Orleans (though that’s Nawlins, if you’re speaking like a local). While New Orleans is known for being a cocktail mecca, there are plenty of non-boozy activities to partake in during your two-day trip. So pack your bags, grab a po’ boy, and come thirsty — your 48-hour New Orleans party is waiting for you. Beads optional, of course.
Early Lunch (+ Cocktails)
Drop your bags and grab a quick coffee at your hotel to re-energize, then take it to the streets and see what the city’s all about. Start the day with an early lunch at Mr. B’s on Royal Street. For a traditional New Orleans Creole dish, definitely order the gumbo (and from what we hear, a Bloody Mary will run you a mere dollar at lunchtime!). For an afternoon rooftop experience, hit the Catahoula Hotel for Peruvian cuisine with a view. Pisco cocktails are a must.
Shopping on Magazine Street
For those who like to shop small and avoid New Orleans-themed trinkets and big-name stores, head to Magazine Street, New Orleans’ long-running stretch of boutique shops, bars, and cafés. For European-inspired products, look to Aux Belles Choses and Balzac Antiques; for vintage clothing, head to Funky Monkey. Je T’aime Nola and Lucy Rose are not to be missed for trendy clothing and accessories.
Drink Break on Magazine
We understand that you can really work up a sweat shopping, which is why we support incorporating drink breaks, of course. Hit Juan’s Flying Burrito for one of its renowned margaritas. Grab the trio of dips (guac, salsa, and queso) for a minimal $8. Hit Henry’s Bar for a quick and cheap beer, if that’s more your afternoon style.
Take a break from shopping and booze with a late-afternoon stroll through City Park. The greenery spans more than 1,300 acres and is home to some of the country’s oldest oak trees. Take a stroll along the Bayou Bridge and feel the breeze beneath the willow trees for an utterly relaxing experience. If you’re looking for a dose of afternoon culture, you don’t even have to leave the park’s boundaries — the New Orleans Museum of Art is right there!
Pearl Wine Co.
Head to Mid-City and visit Pearl Wine Co. for a true dose of Southern hospitality. With over 4,000 square feet of space, this half bar-half shop is a true gem. Sit at the bar and let one of the friendly mixologists craft up a drink to your liking, or grab a glass of vino from the selectively curated by-the-glass list. Don’t forget to stop in the shop on your way out and buy a bottle for later. If you’re lucky, you might even get to share your drink with the adorable shop dog.
Food, Food, Food
There’s a restaurant for every palate in New Orleans. Odd as it may sound, Shaya is one of our favorite restaurants for dinner, serving up authentic Israeli cuisine. Jacques-Imos is more classic Nawlins; the fried tomatoes and stuffed catfish are not to be missed. Plus, every entrée comes with two southern-style classic sides. Come hungry.
Out on Bourbon Street
Spend your first night out on Bourbon Street, frolicking among a plethora of bars and taking full advantage of that open-container policy (plastic cups required). Grab a hand grenade and a sugary sweet hurricane; they are quintessential to the neighborhood. We’d recommend not to miss the live music, though it’s impossible to miss out completely in this vibrant quarter.
Breakfast at Cafe du Monde
Wake up and get wired with a classic chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde, one of the country’s most popular coffee spots. Soak up last night’s booze with a helping of sugary beignets. Live music can be heard from musicians surrounding the quarter, a picture-perfect way to start the day.
Shop the French Quarter
After your beignet coma, make your way to the open-air French Market dating back to 1791. The market is bustling with snacks, spices, and jewelry; trinkets, souvenirs, and fresh produce are also available. For indoor shops in the Quarter, we love Arcadian Books & Art Prints and OMG Candles. For a sweet snack, Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop and Magnolia Candy Kitchen are exquisite. Pralines required.
Lunch at Big Killer Po’ Boys
Because what would a trip to New Orleans be without a po’ boy sandwich? Head to Big Killer Po’ Boys for some of the best in the city. Po’ boys are usually sloppy meat- or fish-filled sandwiches served on fluffy bread with a crunchy crust. We recommend the glazed pork belly or BBQ chicken confit options, served up with sides. And if they ask if you want the sandwich “dressed?” Always answer “yes:” Your sandwich will come fully equipped with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mayo. Yum.
Take a break from the booze and get your culture fix at the museum of your choice. The National WWII Museum is great for American history buffs, while the Historic Voodoo Museum is great for those interested in the legends and traditions of voodoo. The Backstreet Museum is home to New Orleans’ African-American community traditions, such as jazz funerals, Mardi Gras Indians, and more. Public dance performances and live music are also common.
Cocktails on Cocktails
Even if you had 548 hours in New Orleans, we don’t think you’d be able to hit all the amazing cocktail bars the city has to offer. However, there are some classics that just cannot be missed. Head to Arnaud’s and check out the French 75 bar for a spectacular sparkling beverage, then make your way to Napoleon House for a classic Pimm’s Cup. Old Absinthe House is a staple on Bourbon Street, though stick to whiskey neat or an inexpensive beer. For something a little different, check out the milk punch at Brennan’s. And for something a little fun and festive? Grab a frosé (yes, that’s frozen rosé!) at Willa Jean’s.
What’s for Dinner?
Again, with endless options, committing to a place for dinner can be a rigorous task, but that’s why we’re here. For fried chicken and mashed potatoes, Willie Mae’s is the place for you. For Caribbean-European-influenced classic New Orleans cuisine, head to Compere Lapin. For a pork-heavy menu and eccentric small plates, Cochon is your spot. Green Goddess is ideal for vegetarians, with delicious options for both meat-eating and non-meat-eating visitors. Plus, the alleyway seating is delightful.
Where to Stay:
For a luxury stay, look to the beautiful Hotel Monteleone, ideally situated in the French Quarter. For more affordable, boutique-like accommodations, check out Hotel Mazarin, also in the French Quarter (and equipped with an awesome cocktail bar, The 21st Amendment at La Louisiane.) And as always, to vacation like a local, find your perfect apartment on Airbnb.