So you’re headed to The Big Easy but only have 48 hours to spare? Don’t worry you can do a lot in New Orleans in just two days. I visited New Orleans with my girlfriend for the weekend and we were able to eat our hearts out, hear great music, learn about the history of New Orleans, and a have a little ghost and vampire fun. Heading to New Orleans with kids? Here are 10 Things to Do in New Orleans with Kids.
How I Got to New Orleans
I luckily scored a penny fare on Spirit Airlines by using Skyscanner to find flights for my trip. Download their free app here. Spirit will randomly have flights for one penny and you can book them online or at the airport and only pay the taxes for the flight. If you book at the airport you will save the $19.99 passenger usage fee that is applied each way, so just under $39.98 on a round trip flight per person. Since I was traveling for the weekend I could easily fit everything I needed in a bag that fits under the seat and flies for free. Here are tips on maximizing savings while flying Spirit Airlines.
When We Travelled
We visited New Orleans in mid-August and it is one of the slowest months for NOLA travel, mainly due to the hot weather. As Floridians the weather isn’t something we aren’t used to so we gladly enjoyed less crowds and lower prices on lodging. It ended up not even being that hot but there were some afternoon showers.
Where We Stayed
We rented this Airbnb that was about 10 minutes from the French Quarter. It was a duplex and the owner lived in the unit next door. New to Airbnb? Sign up here and save $40 on your first stay. If you’re nervous about renting an Airbnb, don’t be, here are 8 tips for a great Airbnb experience.
Day One: Café du Monde, Mardis Gras School of Cooking, & a Ghost/Vampire Tour
We arrived late the night before so we just hung out at our Airbnb and rested for our first day in New Orleans. Café du Monde is famous for it’s beignets but with fame comes extremely long lines. While it’s open 24 hours it starts getting really packed around 9AM so try to get there early. Don’t let the long to go line scare you, you can seat yourself at any open table and a server will come over to take your order!
After stuffing our faces with beignets from the original beignet spot in New Orleans we walked to Jackson Square, which is just across the street. Jackson Square houses the Jackson Square Cathedral and is a staple landmark in New Orleans.
Within and around the square you will see vendors selling artwork, musicians playing jazz, a number of physic and tarot card readers and many others doing odd acts for tips. You will also get a taste of the beautiful architecture the French Quarter has to offer.
After walking the square and surroundings areas it was time to head to our cooking class at The Mardis Gras School of Cooking. This class takes place in the owner’s home and it is a really nice setting. It scheduled to lasts 3.5 hours and also includes unlimited mimosas, bellini’s, and wine.
We chose to take the brunch class where we would be making shrimp and grits, crab cakes and eggs benedict and chicken and waffles. Not only did we learn the techniques of cooking these meals our instructor also taught us presentation skills as well. The class was phenomenal and they provide you with each recipe so you can recreate what you mastered in class at home.
Our class ran over time so we were unable to visit Studio Be as we had prepaid tickets for a show. If you have a longer stay or opt out of one of our other suggestions you should check them out.
After our cooking classed we headed back to the French Quarter to see a show at Preservation Hall. They have different jazz bands play a 45-minute set with nightly shows at 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9pm. The hall is small so I recommend making a reservation online or plan to arrive early to stand in line to ensure a seat. Tickets are $20 and it’s cash only. You cannot take any photos or video while the show is going on but we were able to take a photo with the brass band leader afterwards. The music was amazing and I highly recommend making a visit.
We may have just completed a 3 meal cooking class but New Orleans has some of the best food in the country so we were determined to eat as much as possible. This time we would be dining at an establishment off the beaten path. Unfortunately most local and family owned businesses can’t afford the retail space it costs to be on Bourbon Street but you can easily get an Uber or Lyft to take you to the. We chose Heard Dat Kitchen and there could not have possibly been a better choice.
I ordered the Bourbon Street Love and my friend ordered the pasta special they had for the day. We were not disappointed at all and the best part is the story behind this business. Chef Jeff is the owner and the restaurants employees are his children all who have years of experience in the service industry. Don’t worry about how the outside of the building of Heard Dat Kitchen looks, your taste buds will forever be thankful to you for blessing them with the delicious food served here.
It was time to walk off the 6,000 calories I’m sure we’d eaten for the day. We booked the Ghost and Vampire tour with French Quarter Phantom Tours, which starts at the Voodoo Lounge. The tour lasts 1.5-2hrs and while there are many stops you will end up walking about a mile so wear comfortable shoes. The tour was actually really informative and no, we didn’t see any ghosts but we did learn about some very weird, unexplainable, and unsolved mysteries in New Orleans. Do yourself a favor and request Malika as your tour guide, you won’t be disappointed.
Day Two: The Ruby Slipper, Café Beignet, Tour Treme, & Whitney Plantation
We wanted a signature New Orleans breakfast so we chose the highly recommended Ruby Slipper Café. I ordered the shrimp omelet with grits and their homemade biscuit and my friend ordered the Grilled Fish ‘St. Peter’. She loved her meal but I was very disappointed in mine as my grits were water, my biscuit tasted sour, and the wrong cheese was put in my omelet.
Since I didn’t really eat my food it ended up being the perfect opportunity to try a different beignet shop and this time we chose Café Beignet. I honestly can’t decide which one is better; they are neck in neck in my eyes. Café Beignet was a little more expensive but their beignets are also bigger and a little fluffier. They also take credit cards which was a big win for me!
It was time for our Tour Treme that we also booked through French Quarter Phantom Tours. Treme is the oldest African-American neighborhood in the United States occupied by free people of color. It’s the home of Congo Square and where many great jazz artists and brass bands were born. Treme is a side of New Orleans most visitors skip but it is very rich in history and it would be a shame to skip visiting it as it’s walking distance from Bourbon Street. The tour lasts two hours and you’ll walk about a mile and a half.
After walking off breakfast it was time for lunch. I couldn’t leave New Orleans without having a shrimp po boy and my friend getting some oysters so we headed to Café Fluer de Lis.
After eating it was time to head to Whitney Plantation. It’s an hour outside of the city and you will need a car or a tour service to take you, as while you may find a Lyft or Uber to bring you there but you most likely won’t be able to get one to pick you up. You can only go on a guided tour at Whitney Plantation and it’s highly recommended to make a reservation in advanced. Tours run on the hour starting at 9AM with the last tour at 3PM and they last 1.5 hours. Children 6 and under are free, children 6-10 are $10 and adults are $22.
The Whitney Plantation is the only Plantation tour in the New Orleans area that tells the stories of the slaves and from their perspective rather than from the slave owners. They do not sugar coat anything and while it can make for a tough and uncomfortable visit it is much needed.
After our tour it was time to head to the airport for our flights. We had an amazing 48 hours in New Orleans and hope you will too!
How We Got Around
We rented a car since our Airbnb had a driveway with free parking. We drove to Café Du Monde since we were arriving early in the morning and knew we would be able to find street parking ($2/hr) nearby. This also allowed us to drive to our cooking class but you can easily take the ferry there from Harrah’s. After our cooking class we parked the car at our Airbnb and took a Lyft to Preservation Hall as it’s near Bourbon Street and we knew parking would be difficult to find. On Sunday’s the city offers free metered parking so we were able to drive to the Tour Treme meeting spot and then easily drive to Whitney Plantation afterwards. You cannot take an Uber or Lyft to Whitney Plantation so if you are not renting a car you will have go with a tour company. We booked the last Whitey Plantation tour time which ends at 4:30pm and went straight to the airport from there for our 7:30pm flights.