One Day in New Orleans

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If you only have one day in New Orleans to spend, make sure to explore the lively French Quarter, sample some authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine, and get the most out of your stay.

In this itinerary, we highlight activities and restaurants to get you through the city in one day!

24 Hours in New Orleans

The French Quarter has so much to offer that you won’t need to go anywhere else.

With this itinerary, you can enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of New Orleans in this historic neighborhood without wasting time on the road.

Additional time is built into the itinerary for traveling on foot.

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Beignets and Breakfast at Cafe du Monde

green and white striped awnings at Cafe du Monde with people sitting outside

Cafe Du Monde is a beloved spot for locals and tourists. They serve amazing Beignets made from scratch and it pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee.

Beignets are a traditional New Orleans specialty made from deep-fried choux pastry dough. The dough is cut into small squares and fried in oil until golden brown.

While still hot, the beignets are generously dusted with powdered sugar. This classic preparation yields light, airy pastries with a sweet crunch and soft interior.

Skip the diet. You have to try it at least once. There are several locations. I recommend visiting the one at 800 Decatur Street because it is closest to your next stop.

There are usually two lines to the window where you can place your order. You have to wait at the window for a pickup and then grab a seat.

If you are traveling with family, designate someone to hold a table for you because it gets very crowded on weekends.  

I also recommend standing in the line that is on the opposite side of the street because it tends to move faster.

Need more than pastries?  

  • Stanley of New Orleans, 547 St. Ann St.
  • French Toast, 1035 Decatur St.

9:30 AM – 12:00 PM: The French Market

woman sipping drink in open market

We easily spent more than 2 hours at the French Market. There are rows and rows of vendors who are selling everything from sunglasses to magnets, totes, books, and more.

There are also plenty of places to grab a bite of Southern food. We enjoyed tacos, red beans and rice, and po’boys.  My husband raved over the shrimp and grits.

As you can see from the photo, I enjoyed a cup of sangria at Alberto’s Cheese and Wine Bistro.

You can also find foods that are southern staples like fried alligator and fried pickles.

Love seafood, there’s a spot where they prepare a fresh catch of mussels right before your eyes. We also saw a selection of hand-carved African Art.

There is plenty more to see and it’s worth the time spent. The French Market is also a great option when looking for things to do in New Orleans on a rainy day.

Ready to move on?  

  • Shop the stores on Decatur St.
  • Take a walk to Woldenberg Park on the Waterfront.

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM: Jackson Square

jackson square with St. Louis Cathedral in background

Jackson Square is a large open park that is quite picturesque. It’s also a great place to take a family photo or an epic Instagram-able selfie.

While strolling there one day, I saw a woman getting photos in a bright yellow long flying dress and it looked phenomenal!

The surrounding perimeter of the park is dotted with local Artisans who are selling everything from paintings to crafts and watercolor images.

If you want to catch a horse and buggy ride it’s right at the entrance of the square on Decatur Street.

The ride is about one hour so there is plenty of time for you to enjoy this leisurely activity and stay on track with the itinerary.

The cost is $20 per person for a shared ride and about $100 for a private carriage ride that is 30 minutes long.

You can also see the St Louis Cathedral directly on the opposite side of Decatur Street. Adjacent to the park are local shops for more souvenir hunting.

Want to add more to this stop?  Here are some options.

  • Take a stroll down Royal Street for more shops.
  • Visit The Presbytere for exhibits of Hurricane Katrina at 751 Chartres St.

2:00 PM – 2:30 PM: St. Louis Cathedral 

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM: The Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes & Culture

mardi gras costume

We popped into this Museum on a hot day to cool off from the humidity. 

It is an interesting exhibit of the history of Mardi Gras, the selection of the Kings and Queens, the balls, and celebrations throughout the years.

I especially enjoyed the various Mardi Gras costumes. It is a visual candy store for the eyes.

Want to keep going?  

  • Stop at Voodoo Authentica Inc at 612 Dumaine St for the weird and wonderful potions.
  • See the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum at 724 Dumaine St.

4:30 PM – 5:30 PM: Ride the Streetcar 

woman standing in front of green streetcar

Next, head back over to the riverfront to catch the red Riverfront streetcar line.

It stops at the French Market, the Audubon Aquarium, and the Canal Place Mall (which is closest to Jackson Square).

The streetcar fare is only a $1.25 and you can ride it to Canal Street for relaxing views.

Want to keep going?  Read below for more streetcar rides.

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM: Cocktails at the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone

the carousel bar at Hotel Monteleone

The Carousel Bar is quite famous in New Orleans. It is sitting on a rotating floor and you go around in circles as if riding a carousel at a very slow pace.

The bar gets pretty crowded because it is so popular and it’s difficult to find a seat.

The bar is located in Hotel Monteleone which is conveniently located near Canal Street (where you can catch the streetcars) and within a 2-minute walk to Bourbon Street. I stayed here for a girl’s weekend during one of my trips and loved it (check out my review of Hotel Monteleone).

Why not treat yourself and stay at one of the top 5 star hotels in New Orleans for a night?

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM: Have dinner at a Creole or Cajun restaurant

sample creole and cajun dishes on display

No lie. Dining at the restaurants was one of the best food experiences that we had in New Orleans.

Everything was fresh and delivered hot.

In addition to the Farmer’s Market, we ate at Oceana Grill, Acme Oyster House, Killer Po’boys, and Verti Marte.

10:00 PM until Sunrise: Bourbon Street

neon sign on Bourbon Street

If you take a nap and then drink some Red Bull, you may be ready for the nightlife on Bourbon Street!

There is plenty of action on Bourbon Street from the mini-parades to snake handlers, flashing, and spontaneous drunk dancing.

What happens in NOLA, stays in NOLA.

Optional Streetcar Rides

We’ve created this section for you to see other parts of the city within a limited time, but you may need to swap out some activities above unless you want to move at Mach speed!

St. Charles Line to the Garden District

Just want to chill and see the residential areas of New Orleans, take the streetcar through the Garden District.

You’ll need about 2 hours from start to finish but it’s a nice way to see outside the beaten path of Bourbon Street.

Canal Street Line to the New Orleans Museum of Art

If you’re looking to spend a relaxing day at City Park or check out the New Orleans Museum of Art, just hop on one of the Canal Streetcars that has the “City Park/Museum” sign.

That line goes right to the museum entrance. The museum itself is awesome – it’s packed with famous works from artists like Degas, Monet, and Picasso.

But even if you don’t go inside, you can wander through the surrounding sculpture garden for free. It’s a beautiful spot to take a stroll and enjoy the art from the outdoors.

Summary Itinerary for One Day in New Orleans

woman with blue mirror sunglasses standing in front of grass wall with neon sign in new orleans

The French Quarter has so much to offer that you won’t need to go anywhere else. And, we’ve given you some options that will keep you on track for the next stop.

With this itinerary, you can enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of New Orleans in this historic neighborhood without wasting time on the road.

Additional time is built into the itinerary for traveling on foot.

  • 8:00 AM – Beignets and Breakfast at Cafe du Monde
  • 9:30 AM – Explore and shop the French Market and enjoy lunch
  • 12:30 PM – Visit Jackson Square, view art from local artisans, and light shopping
  • 2:00 PM – Visit St. Louis Cathedral
  • 2:30 PM – See the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes & Culture
  • 4:30 PM – Take a streetcar along the riverfront to Canal Street
  • 6:00 PM – Cocktails at the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone
  • 7:00 PM – Have dinner at a Creole or Cajun restaurant
  • 10:00 PM – Nightlife on Bourbon Street

If you’ve spent 1 day in New Orleans, I can’t wait to hear all about it! Drop me a few comments below.

Until then, safe travels.

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