There is no doubt that a day in New Orleans can provide you with the best experiences that the city has to offer.
New Orleans, also known as the Big Easy, is a city brimming with vivacious culture, mouthwatering cuisine, and extensive history. Even though it’s ideal to immerse yourself in the city for a few days, sometimes you only have one day available. The good news is that you can still enjoy New Orleans even if you only have a short amount of time there. This guide will demonstrate how to get the most out of a day spent in New Orleans as a tourist provided to you as a local 🙂 including sampling local delicacies, taking in the vibrant music scene, and taking in the history and charm of the city.
A day in New Orleans can be filled with so much activity! As a mother of three children and a local wedding photographer who has lived in New Orleans all of her life, here is how I would spend a day in New Orleans – the most unique city in the USA:
Begin early in the morning
Cafe du Monde in City Park
Grab some beignets at Cafe du Monde in City Park. Then visit City Park; the largest park in New Orleans and one of the biggest in the USA. It is simply stunning and breathtaking, as it houses the world’s largest collection of live oak trees, some of which are 700 years old! With its lush surroundings and peaceful lagoons, City Park offers a break from the bustle of the city. An atmosphere of peace and quiet is created for rest and reflection by the old oak trees and winding paths.
Given its natural beauty and serenity, City Park is a popular venue for weddings. Because of its enchanting setting and romantic views, couples frequently visit the park for ceremonies. Whether a couple prefers a small, intimate ceremony under the oak trees, a garden wedding at the Botanical Garden, or a larger celebration in the middle of the park, their options are as varied as they are. City Park is a well-liked location for the start of love stories because of its romantic allure, which includes its charming bridges and the peaceful lagoon.
The Streetcar Line
Walk a short distance to the streetcar line and take this historic mode of transportation to the canal’s end (don’t forget to take as many selfies as you can on the streetcar – it’s so unique to New Orleans) – New Orleans’ streetcar system, the oldest continuously operating street railway system in the world, dates back to the early nineteenth century, when horse-drawn streetcars first appeared, with the St. Charles Avenue line opening in 1835. The city gradually converted to cable line, extending and modernizing the network.
The enchanting oak tree canopy of the St. Charles Avenue line became a symbol of the city. The streetcar system was vital to New Orleans’ transportation and culture, surviving challenges such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Today, these historic streetcars serve as both a practical mode of transportation and a cultural icon, providing residents and visitors with a charming and nostalgic way to learn about the city’s distinct character and history.
After getting off the streetcar, ride it to Canal Street’s terminus; the Vue New Orleans is nearby with stunning panoramic views of the Mississippi River, the French Quarter, and the city’s iconic skyline. Vue New Orleans is a must-see for visitors and locals alike, offering a slice of the city’s charm from a lofty, unforgettable vantage point. The Vue tells the entire history of New Orleans in an entertaining and interactive manner! It’s where I take family and friends who visit New Orleans for the first time, it’s a must see!
The Algiers Ferry
After the Vue, I would hop on the Algiers ferry (just $2 per person each way and great views) to check out the bars in Algiers – the old point bar and the dry dock cafe. Dry dock has great food too.
Algiers, a historic neighborhood on New Orleans’ West Bank of the Mississippi River, has a number of charming bars where you can sample the local fare. The Old Point Bar in Algiers Point is a local and visitor favorite, known for its live music and laid-back atmosphere. Crown & Anchor English Pub, which serves a variety of British and local beers, adds a touch of British culture to the neighborhood. Whether you want to enjoy a cold beer, listen to live music, or simply relax, Algiers’ bars provide a genuine and welcoming experience, providing a glimpse into the neighborhood’s unique culture and character.
While on that side of the Mississippi River (locals call this the westbank side of the river – but it’s not actually west of the city, LOL – you can read all about it here. While on the “westbank”, walk up to the levee and take in the amazing city skyline views. In my opinion, it’s the best view of New Orleans, I take my kids to this side of the river every year for New Years Eve to view the fireworks launching from the middle of the Ms River.
After you’ve finished in Algiers, take the same ferry back to the French Quarter and stop in Dragos for Oysters and Alligator bites! “Warning! When in New Orleans, browsing the Dragos website is a guaranteed way to start drooling a lot because of their delicious seafood and Cajun flavors that encapsulate the spirit of the city’s food culture. In addition to being flavorful and diverse, New Orleans is renowned for its top-notch cuisine, which draws from a melting pot of cultures and culinary traditions. From the delicious Creole and Cajun cuisine to the charming beignets and café au lait, the city’s cuisine is a celebration of life itself. It comes as no surprise that the Crescent City’s outstanding culinary heritage contributes significantly to the enhancement of weddings.
Food in New Orleans
Weddings in this vibrant city are frequently adorned with the city’s signature dishes. Whether it’s a hearty gumbo, a flavorful jambalaya, bananas foster or sweet pralines, these signature dishes add a special, long-lasting appeal to the occasion. Couples and their guests leave the celebrations with memories as delicious as the food itself, thanks to the sensory experience provided by the city’s cuisine, which elevates the festivities. The world-famous food is not only a part of the festivities in New Orleans, but it also plays an important role in creating the ideal wedding day experience.
New Orleans truly has the best food in the country. Many world-renowned chefs agree. Great chefs receive their education in either Paris or New Orleans.
After Dragos, find a streetcar to take you down uptown New Orleans on St. Charles Avenue. Take in the sights of the antebellum homes while riding the streetcar; no two are alike. For rooftop views, I particularly enjoy stopping at the Columns Hotel and the Pontchartrain Hotel on St. Charles Avenue. If you feel like it, stroll over to the Magazine Street store one parallel block away for amazing boutique shopping and yup, you guessed it… more amazing food choices!
My final stop of the day would have to be dinner at Mandinas (also on the streetcar line!) for the best seafood and Nola dishes. Completely genuine and locally sourced! An iconic restaurant that has been serving up mouthwatering Creole and Italian food for generations is Mandina’s Restaurant, which is tucked away in the center of New Orleans. Mandina’s, which has been around since 1932, has a timeless charm that takes diners to a different era with ease. Mandina’s provides a taste of real New Orleans flavors and is well-known for its traditional fare like po’ boys, steaks and seafood platters.
The restaurant is a well-loved institution that is appreciated by both locals and tourists due to its warm service and comfortable, family-friendly atmosphere. A trip to Mandina’s is more than just a meal—it’s an exploration of the essence of New Orleans’ culinary legacy, where tradition and flavor combine to provide a singular dining experience.
One last thing, if you are thinking of eloping or doing a vow renewal in New Orleans, I would be honored to assist! See our elopement packages here. Have a blast visiting my city, my home, where my heart and family live ?