New Orleans is full of fun and exciting things to do and places to go (mostly centered around your foodie desires). If you have a weekend to spend in the Crescent City, forgo the car (those potholes are brutal — after all, it is a sinking city) and walk around this historical place so you don’t miss a thing.
Grab your comfy sneakers, pack a light umbrella (the afternoon downpours come out of nowhere), and let’s take a walk through New Orleans with our well-planned itinerary.
New Orleans Tour: Day One
You’ve arrived in the land of black and gold and are ready to walk yourself through a Cajun adventure. So what’s first? Visit City Park and enjoy the 1,300 acres of gorgeous green space. There’s definitely something for everyone within City Park: Tour the New Orleans Botanical Garden, check out the New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden, fish, boat or just relax by one of the many lagoons. And if you enjoy golfing, book a tee time at the course.
Most kids love the freedom and joy of playing outside, and City Park takes that pastime to a whole new level. Storyland features classic fairy tale characters as larger-than-life sculptures, where kids can say hi to Humpty Dumpty and slide down a dragon’s fiery breath. For those little thrill-seekers in your life, visit Carousel Gardens and take a ride on the carousel, Ferris wheel, roller coasters, bumper cars and more. Or let the kiddos run around on the playground and bring some bread to feed the ducks and geese.
But here’s the real reason we think you should spend a few hours at the park (assuming the weather is good) — it’s all about starting the day with a few beignets at City Park’s own Morning Call. Sure, you could hit up the other Morning Call location in Metairie or perhaps compare these sugary, square doughnuts to beignet heavyweight Café Du Monde, but isn’t it special to eat your breakfast (or lunch/dinner/snack … Morning Call is open 24 hours a day) overlooking one of the loveliest green spaces in the city? Just remember, Morning Call only accepts cash, so make sure you hit up the ATM or you’ll be crying over spilt powdered sugar.
Give your tootsies a break and continue your New Orleans tour by jumping on the Canal Streetcar (there’s a stop by the Museum of Art). The streetcars (there are three different lines) are not only an easy, cheap way to get around the city, but it’s also riding a piece of history where you can get close-up views of Canal Street, the local neighborhoods and, most importantly, the people who make this great city so … great!
Hungry? Jump off the streetcar on Canal Street and pretty much wherever you go, you’ll find a delicious meal. New Orleans is a food-lover’s paradise, so whether you get out in the Central Business District or continue through Mid-City, you’ll find something delish. We’re partial to downtown’s Palace Cafe for its upscale, Creole cuisine or diving into a bowl of turtle soup at Mandina’s Restaurant. That’s just two of the hundreds and hundreds of magnificent options to satisfy your cravings for New Orleans fare.
The final stop on the Canal Streetcar is Harrah’s Casino if you enjoy gambling; if not, cross the street and take a walk along the mighty Mississippi River or take the free ferry across the water to Algiers Point. At this stage, you can also walk a few blocks to the French Quarter, home of good food, great music, one-of-a-kind shopping, powerful hurricanes and lots of excellent parties. We’re not going to go into the specifics of all there is to do in the French Quarter because, let’s be honest, that’s an article on its own. We’ll end the day there — once you’ve started wandering the wild streets of the French Quarter, you’ll be done for the night.
New Orleans Tour: Day Two
We love the Garden District for walking, sightseeing and, of course, shopping! We suggest starting your day Uptown by grabbing an omelet and chocolate freeze at The Camellia Grill. Walk off your meal by heading down St. Charles Avenue to take a look at the gorgeous historical homes and mansions (or take the St. Charles Streetcar for a view of the oak-lined street without all that physical labor).
Eventually hang a right and walk about five blocks to Magazine Street, a six-mile long stretch of shops, restaurants and bars, antiques and art galleries and still more historic homes. Magazine might be tough for some to walk the entire length, but there are so many great finds along the way it’s worth the trek. Start by visiting Audubon Zoo or stroll through Audubon Park right across the street and fit in some exercise to balance out all that rich New Orleans food.
Keep walking down Magazine Street, and you’ll soon be treated to some of the best independent retailers in the city. For example, if all that walking has worn down your shoes, buy a new pair at Feet First, or grab some tongue-in-cheek New Orleans gear at Fleurty Girl (get the name?).
You can fill your belly with the scrumptious Middle Eastern delicacies of Shaya or traditional New Orleans cuisine at La Petite Grocery, both found on Magazine Street. If you have the time and the means (and have already made a reservation), walk a little farther and dine at historic Commander’s Palace. Once you spot the telltale turquoise-and-white striped exterior, you’ll start salivating at the feast that awaits you (gumbo and Gulf fish and bread pudding soufflé and … hold on, we had to wipe the drool off the keyboard). Important to note: Commander’s is world-renowned and thus, there is a strict dress code.
Finish your tour of the Garden District at The National World War II Museum for a dose of history. This museum is a “journey through the war that changed the world,” bridging generations of Americans through an examination and interpretation of all that happened not so long ago.
There are so many places to visit and walks to cover in New Orleans — the best way to find what YOU specifically are interested in is to talk to locals and find the experts. People in New Orleans love offering their advice about the best sno-balls (we’re partial to Hansen’s), the best po-boys (try Domilise’s), the best collectibles/antiques (we love James H. Cohen & Sons) and more. Trust the people who live here, and they will always steer you in the right direction. Just make sure to wear good walking shoes and look out for those potholes!
Laissez les bon temps roulez!