New Orleans, the Big Easy, a city filled with music and soul. Even if you only have a short time in New Orleans, you can still get a great vibe of the city. Here are 10 of the best things to do if you have a New Orleans layover and some tips to help you make it happen! 

Things to Know if You Have a New Orleans Layover 

Street sign in New Orleans

How Much Time Do I Need?

This depends on you. How long do you want to walk around New Orleans? If you only need 1 hour in the city, I would say make sure your layover is 4 hours. Each additional hour layover will give you another hour in the city. 

Before you Arrive

Houses in the French Quarter

If you know you will be exploring the city on your New Orleans layover, make sure 99% of your luggage is checked to your final destination. There are places to store luggage, but this will add time and hassle to your excursion. Bring a purse or backpack for your day trip. Everything else you can check.

If you didn’t check a bag, take a look at Luggage Hero  and Verto to help you find storage for your bag while you’re exploring the city.  

Grab an Uber or Lyft

Horse and carriage in New Orleans

When you land, grab an uber or lyft. Ask the driver to drop you off as close to the French Quarter as they can get. The ride should be about 30 minutes and should cost around $30. 

If necessary, drop off your bag in storage before you head to the French Quarter. 

When you head back to the airport, leave at least 2-2.5 hours before your flight departs to ensure you won’t miss your flight! 

10 Things to do on a New Orleans Layover 

Map thanks to Wanderlog, a vacation planner app on iOS and Android

1. Wander the French Quarter and Admire the Architecture

The French Quarter features fantastic street performers, art, shops, restaurants, bars, poets for hire, and to top it all off- it is beautiful. Streamers, plants, and masks in brilliant purple-green-and yellow dangle from balconies. Don’t be afraid to get lost in all of the wonderful streets.

House in the French Quarter

There is a glorious mix of French and Spanish influence present in a lot of the architecture of the French Quarter. You’ll see many stores and houses with smaller buildings attached to them-old slave quarters. The houses have interesting intricate details, and are often laced with ironwork, and flickering gas lamps.

As you’re wandering the streets keep your ears and eyes open for parades or sidewalk bands. The music in New Orleans is second to none. Make sure you have some cash on you to tip these awesome musicians. 

2. Watch a Performance at Jackson Square and Admire St. Louis Cathedral 

Jackson Square is right in the heart of the French quarter. Just across the street from the world-famous Cafe du Monde. Street performers gather huge crowds and put on some outstanding shows-from dancing to admirable acrobats. Hang around this area long enough and you’re sure to see some amazing stuff!

Jackson Square

Jackson Square also gives you a great view of the famous St. Louis Cathedral. Grab a photo and then turn around and take a walk along the Mississippi River in the Moonwalk Riverfront Park

3. Grab Some Cool Artwork or Get Your Palm Read in Jackson Square

The artwork in Jackson Square is so unique. Take a loop around the square to find your favorite pieces. And take a second to talk to the artists, all of them are inspiring, nice, and love to talk about their work.

Jackson Square artwork

If art is not your thing, get your fortune told or your palm read around the square. This is a city of mystics, no better place to take a glimpse into your future! 

4. Visit Shops of the Colonnade-French Market

For the best local wares and cheap clothing, jewelry, and knick-knacks, not to mention some top-notch culinary bites, check out the French Market

French Market in New Orleans

While walking the market you can eat everything, including gator, spicy shrimp and cheese grits, and an icy topped with custard. Heaven. Calories don’t count on a New Orleans layover, right?

5. Eat Beignets at Cafe du Monde

These donuts topped with a generous helping of powdered sugar are a must if you visit New Orleans. The best place to get them is Cafe du Monde-I’ve tried them from a few other places in the city, and Cafe du Monde is by far my favorite. 

Beignets at Cafe du Monde

They are open 24 hours-so no matter if you want to head over for an early breakfast, or after you’ve been partying on Bourbon Street, you can have this sugary treat.

6. Go to a Voodoo Shop

The city’s Haitian/Creole population has kept Voodoo alive and well in New Orleans. Many stores offer candles and dolls, sage and blessings that cater to a plethora of different desires. 

Voodoo Shop in New Orleans

Try Marie Laveau’s House or Reverend Zombie’s House of Voodoo.  

7. Check Out Bourbon Street-then go to Frenchman Street

Band in New Orleans

Bourbon street is great if you want to party and get wasted. Walk down Bourbon street to see the debauchery, or take part in it (if you’re brave enough before your flight!)

If Bourbon Street isn’t your scene, if you want some great music and a chiller vibe on your New Orleans layover, head to Frenchmen Street. My favorite places on Frenchmen street are the Spotted Cat and Cafe Negril. 

8. Drink 

The Sazerac originated in New Orleans. Grab one at the Sazerac House or Sazerac Bar. If you’re looking to get crazy on your New Orleans layover, head to Pat O’Brien’s and order a Hurricane. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

If you need a pick-me-up, my favorite drink in NOLA is a frozen Irish coffee. Molly’s at the Market makes a really good Irish Coffee. 

Parade in New Orleans


Make sure you try at least one of the following while you’re wandering around New Orleans: gumbo, crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, or a PO-boy. 

Coop’s Place is an all-around Cajun and Creole Haven. Killer Poboys is known for their awesome sandwiches. Brennen’s has the best Cajun food in the city, even if it is a bit pricey.  

10. Go to a Museum

There are several great museums in New Orleans. A few that capture the flavor of New Orleans are the Pharmacy Museum, Museum of Death, and the Backstreet Cultural Museum. If none of those appeal to you, check out this website to see a list of all of the museums in the city. 

Buildings in the French Quarter

Final Thoughts of your New Orleans Layover

As I said earlier, when you head back to the airport, leave at least 2-2.5 hours before your flight departs to ensure you won’t miss your flight! I hope you have an amazing time exploring New Orleans during your layover!

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