In a new series, Travel + Leisure explores the country's best cities, towns, and neighborhoods—one long weekend at a time.
If you're looking for a weekend getaway with plenty of affordable attractions and easy-going vibes, then consider a vacation in New Orleans. After all, the city's motto, "Laissez les bon temps rouler," translates to "let the good times roll." Here's how to make the most of a short trip:
The epicenter of New Orleans, the French Quarter, sits just 30 minutes from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. There are many top-notch hotels in the city's oldest neighborhood, though the historic Hotel Monteleone is particularly lovely. Drop off you bags and take a quick spin at the Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge to unwind after your plane ride.
Then take a walk down Bourbon Street for a little people watching and, if you care to partake, cheap drinks. Make a few pit stops along to way to try out some of New Orleans iconic libations like the famous Ramos Gin Fizz at the Old Absinthe House, The Hurricane at Pat O'Briens, or The Hand Grenade at Tropical Isle. After all that drinking and walking, fuel up with a great meal at Sylvain for standout dishes like Wagyu beef belly or shaved, pan fried pork shoulder with braised greens.
After your meal, check out Jackson Square to see St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytère, and Cabildo (the latter two are Louisiana State Museums). The square also hosts an open-air art market—perfect for souvenir shopping. End your day with a café au lait and beignets at Café Du Monde, which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Related: Things to do in New Orleans
Hop on the St. Charles Street Car line for an easy tour of St. Charles Avenue, where you'll see antebellum mansions in The Garden District and Audubon Park in Uptown. If you plan to hop on and off, make sure to get a day pass for just $3.
When you get to the Riverbend, stop by Camellia Grill, the landmark diner on Carrollton Street. There will very likely be a line, but the food and service are well worth the wait.
On your way back down to the Quarter, stop by the Columns Hotel and relax while sipping on a Sazarac. From there, you can easily walk to one of the oldest and most-frequented cemeteries in the city, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, on Prytania street. Spend the night in Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29, a tiki-style bar, sipping on a Mai Tai or Zombie.
Get away from all the madness of the French Quarter by walking to Frenchman Street for a more local experience. If you're a serious music lover, check out Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro as it has the best in live jazz in the city. For dinner, take a cab to Treme and dine at Dooky Chase, where you will find "Queen of Creole Cuisine," Leah Chase cooking up favorites like fried chicken, shrimp clemenceau, and stuffed shrimp. End the night back in the French Quarter at Arnaud's French 75 with its signature cocktail, The French 75, a lovely mixture of cognac, lemon, and champagne.
For more long-weekend itineraries in America's best vacation destinations, click here.