Exploring New Orleans in One Day

Exploring New Orleans in One Day

Written on 07/29/2021
Guide to NOLA


One-Day Options

It is never possible to see everything in a city like New Orleans in one day. However, we've compiled a practical guide for getting the flavor of the city in one day. We're using the French Quarter & CBD (Central Business District) as the "home base" starting point, since the majority of our city's visitors stay there when in town for only a night or two. We've planned an entire day's itinerary for you, with several options for changing things up along the way. Option #1 is the most budget-friendly, Option #2 is a more upscale experience, and Option #3 is the most adventurous and midrange in overall cost. 

Your Perfect Day

We encourage you to read the itinerary options, but here's our quick take: For breakfast, ride the St Charles streetcar line  to The Camellia Grill. On your way back, stop at Washington Ave and take our free walking tour of the Garden District. Jump back on the streetcar to the Quarter for the 2:30pm Harbor Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez. Next, go for dinner at Palace Café on Canal Street. From there, walk (or ride the streetcar) down to the river at the base of Canal Street and catch the ferry across the river to Algiers Point for the best views of the city at sunset. Take the ferry back across to the Quarter and take the streetcar down to Cafe DuMonde for coffee and beignets (Toulouse Street stop is easiest). End the evening by taking a pedi-cab down to Frenchmen Street for drinks and the best jazz you'll ever hear! 



Morning & Breakfast

Option #1, Low to Midrange Price: We recommend an early start, you have a really fun day ahead of you! Your easiest option is to stay close for breakfast. There are some really great breakfast spots nearby, so you won't have to go far for fantastic food! We recommend Daisy Dukes (inexpensive and tasty) or Ruby Slipper (midrange price) as they both have multiple locations in the Quarter & CBD. If you're in the CBD/Convention Center area we also recommend Two Chicks Café (fresh juices & smoothies as well as breakfast, two locations), and in the Quarter you can't go wrong with French Toast (known for crepes & abelskivers). Of course there are so many great breakfast spots, you can always visit our Dining Section for a complete list and many more recommendations, automatically sorted by distance from you.  

Option #2, Brunch (upscale): Did you know that the entire concept of brunch originated in New Orleans? Brunch is meant to be enjoyed more slowly, and so you might miss out on some other things if you opt for this. Brennan's is where it originated, when Ella Brennan (Brennan's/Commander's Palace) was getting started and trying to compete with the dinner establishments of Arnaud'sAntoine's & Galatoire's. Given that, if you're in the Quarter Thursday - Sunday, it's worth stopping for a fantastic brunch in their romantic & elegant dining rooms. The Court of Two Sisters is another restaurant that has mastered the art of jazz brunch, and theirs is served daily from 9am-3pm. Of course, there are too many good brunches to mention in New Orleans, so we've listed them all in our Dining Section, automatically sorted by distance from you.

Option #3, Venture Out (recommended): Jump on the historic St Charles streetcar line (green streetcars, oldest continuously operating rail line in the world). You'll pay in cash on the streetcar, and you'll want to get a 24-hour day pass for $3/person. Once onboard, this gives you several options for breakfast.

3a) Your first breakfast option is to jump off at St Charles Ave and Melpomene Street and walk four blocks down to Surrey's Cafe & Juice Bar on Magazine Street. Their breakfast is one of the best in the city, and they have multiple options for those with dietary restrictions. If you love to shop, this is your best option, because from here you can walk down Magazine Street (left out the door at Surrey's) and browse the shops and boutiques down this street. If you get hungry, grab lunch at one of the fantastic restaurants before walking back up to St Charles Ave and catching the streetcar back to the Quarter. 

3b) If you're here on the weekend and don't mind splurging a bit, your second option is brunch, and there are a couple great options along this route. For an extra-romantic brunch, Jack Rose has been voted the most romantic restaurant in the city multiple times, and they serve a great brunch. For this one, you'd hop off the streetcar at the corner of Josephine Street & St Charles Ave. For a historic brunch visit the iconic Commander's Palace, where jazz brunch was born. You'll need to dress up a bit for this one, so be sure to check their dress code guidelines. For Commander's Palace get off at Washington Ave & St Charles Ave. Both of these restaurants are fine dining, so you'll want to make reservations.

3c) Your third option is the most wallet-friendly, and is also our favorite. Ride the St Charles streetcar until the line turns onto Carrollton Ave, where you'll jump off. Here you'll find the historic The Camellia Grill, an iconic diner that will transport you back in time - and fill your belly with amazing food which you get to watch their chefs prepare. This option also gives you the longest trip on the historic streetcar, allowing you to view the CBD, Arts/Warehouse District, Garden District, and Uptown before getting off in Riverbend. 



Afternoon & Lunch

Option #1: If you chose Option #1 or #2 for breakfast or brunch, you're already down in the French Quarter or CBD. From here, take the riverfront streetcar line (or a pedicab) down to the French Market, the end of the line, and walk around the breakwall. Stroll through the open air market and experience the bustle of America's oldest public market. Keep walking along Decatur, and stop to admire the golden Joan of Arc at Place de France. From there, keep strolling in the same direction until you reach Jackson Square, where you'll find a cornucopia of sights, sounds, culture, and art. If you want lunch, we recommend checking out our Dining Guide, which automatically lists restaurants by distance from wherever you're standing. You can also categorize them with a single click, making it even easier! If you're not hungry yet, we recommend one of the great museums nearby, such as The Cabildo, or strolling along Royal Street to look at the shops and art galleries. 

Option #2: If you chose Option #2 for brunch, your next step is to call for a free shuttle pick-up from Mardi Gras World! You'll learn how Mardi Gras floats are made, and watch the artists at work, as well as the history behind New Orleans Mardi Gras. We suggest you purchase your tickets online ahead of time, but you can buy tickets on site as well. When you're done, have the shuttle drop you off on the Canal Street stop #2. 

Option #3: If you chose Option #3 (b or c) for breakfast/brunch, jump back on the St Charles streetcar, and head to Washington Ave where you'll jump off and take our free walking tour of the Garden District. You can either take a leisurely time before heading back, or take a quick tour before heading back to Canal Street on the St Charles streetcar in time for the 2:30pm harbor jazz tour onboard the authentic paddlewheeler the Steamboat Natchez. We strongly suggest purchasing tickets several days or even weeks in advance, as the boat fills up fast. 



Dinner & Evening

Option #1: You're in the French Quarter enjoying the sights and sounds at this point. If you're hungry now, you have many great options. Find help choosing with our Dining Guide, which automatically sorts the restaurants by distance from where you are standing. Or, simply save your appetite and walk (or take a pedi-cab) down to the river on Canal Street for the Canal Street/Algiers Ferry. The ferry will take you across the river to Algiers Point for the best views of the city you'll find anywhere. While there, grab dinner at some great spots just loaded with local culture. Spots like Dry Dock Cafe or Appetite Repair Shop offer great sit-down or takeout, and after-dinner drinks at Crown & Anchor English Pub or Old Point Bar offer a taste of Europe or a local joint experience. 

From here, jump back aboard the ferry to head back to the Quarter. Take the streetcar (or a pedi-cab) down to the French Market (last stop) and walk over to Frenchmen Street to dance the night away to the best jazz, funk, soul, and blues you've ever heard!

Option #2: You've just been dropped off on Canal Street within a short distance of Palace Café, where we recommend you get dinner. Our secondary recommendations would be Creole House Restaurant & Oyster Bar or Coterie, both also nearby. You'll want reservations for Palace Café, so be sure to make those early in the day or the day before. Palace Café serves the famous New Orleans bread pudding and Bananas Foster, so be sure to save room for dessert! Of course there are so many good restaurants close by, you can always check our Recommended Dining list, and they'll be automatically sorted by distance from where you are standing. After dinner, walk down to the Canal Street/Algiers Ferry. The ferry will take you across the river to Algiers Point for the best views of the city you'll find anywhere. Jump back aboard the ferry to head back to the Quarter. Take the streetcar (or a pedi-cab) down to the French Market (last stop) and walk over to Frenchmen Street to dance the night away to the best jazz, funk, soul, and blues you've ever heard!

Option #3: If you took your time wandering through the Garden District, jump back on the streetcar and head back to Canal Street and then walk toward Jackson Square/Cafe Du Monde and follow the itinerary from there. If you took the steamboat, once you're off wander over to Jackson Square and Cafe Du Monde to see the heart of the city and taste our local delicacies, coffee & chickory and beignets. Walk back toward the river whenever you're done and take the streetcar over to Canal Street. Head to the Canal Street/Algiers Ferry, which will take you across the river to Algiers Point for the best views of the city you'll find anywhere. While there, grab dinner at some great spots just loaded with local culture. Spots like Dry Dock Cafe or Appetite Repair Shop offer great food, and after-dinner drinks at Crown & Anchor English Pub or Old Point Bar offer a taste of Europe or a local experience.

From here, jump back aboard the ferry to head back to the Quarter. Take the streetcar (or a pedi-cab) down to the French Market (last stop) and walk over to Frenchmen Street to dance the night away to the best jazz, funk, soul, and blues you've ever heard!