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Planning Your Trip

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Walking tours, late nights with live music or a food festival can require pre-planning when it comes to packing. Here are some suggestions for your upcoming New Orleans getaway.

A stone bridge overlooked by trees
A stone bridge overlooked by trees
What to Pack

Take along a linen or straw hat with a wide brim to keep the sun off of your face and neck. Baseball caps are shunned at some of the city’s fancier bars, so it’s best to bring a more stylish option that’s still versatile and practical.  

Exploring the City
  • While New Orleans is known for its lavish Mardi Gras parades, there is more to do than simply waltz down Bourbon Street. Garden tours and plantation day trips should also be on your to-do list, so here is what to pack to enjoy all of this Southern jewel.


  • New Orleans is hot, hot, hot — that goes for the nightlife and the weather. Bring lightweight, comfortable clothing that can keep you cool. Think short-sleeve button downs and breezy dresses that won’t let the humidity put a damper on your trip.

  • Women should bring a sturdy pair of heels or wedges to navigate the French Quarter’s narrow streets at night when the crowds can surge and you might just be compelled to dance as a brass band passes by.

  • Comfortable flats are a good shoe option for visiting the Garden District, taking a tour of a local plantation or just perusing the sculptures at NOMA.   
Cultural Considerations
  • Dress codes that were once stringent at high-end New Orleans establishments have become relaxed in recent years, but many restaurants still advise male diners to wear a jacket and ask that all guests avoid shorts and baseball caps. 


  • A lightweight linen sports coat adheres to the suggested dress of famous institutions like Commander’s Palace and Galatoire’s but still keeps you cool.

  • Men should bring closed-toe leather shoes; many top-tier restaurants and bars will not allow men to wear sandals or flip-flops inside. Sneakers might be allowed, but the manager might not be happy about it.

  • While jeans have become the norm for evenings out, consider dressing up for an upscale dinner. Stylish patrons are often rewarded with prime tables.    
Weekend Getaway
  • From jazz clubs to beignet cafés, there is a lot to see and do in New Orleans. From historic districts to famed nightlife, the Big Easy is best enjoyed when you pack these essentials.


  • Bring a travel umbrella and keep it in a tote bag or backpack throughout your visit. New Orleans sits on the banks of the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast, so rain showers can sweep in at a moment’s notice.
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  • New Orleans weather is usually hot, so pack comfortable walking sandals that will keep your feet cool as you tour the city’s streets and gardens. (Pack a more stylish pair of shoes for nights out at the city’s fine-dining options.)

  • If you’re in town for Jazz Fest or another outdoor music festival, bring a small blanket to keep you comfortable and clean when sitting on the grass or ground.
A duck wades in a pond surrounded by trees and shrubs
A duck wades in a pond surrounded by trees and shrubs
What To Reserve

Missing out on an essential or desired experience can impact your entire New Orleans getaway. From romantic dinners to spa treatments, these are some must-reserve activities.

Get your first taste of the French Quarter at the Davenport Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, which features live music throughout the week and is named in honor of local jazz headliner Jeremy Davenport. Then get your fill of Creole cuisine at Arnaud’s, a restaurant that has been serving seafood gumbo for more than 100 years. And while you don’t need to reserve in advance, don’t skip a stop at Café du Monde, the legendary coffeehouse that is known for its scrumptious beignets.  

Schedule in some rest and relaxation to counteract the riveting nightlife by reserving a spa treatment with a little local flavor. The Voodoo Ritual treatment at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans spa captures the city’s magical and mystical heritage with a locally crafted herb poultice made of absinthe, cypress and moss. It will cast a spell of relaxation that will last all the way through your full-body massage.  

While the French Quarter might hold the city’s best nightlife, the city’s Garden District has its charm with antebellum mansions and pristine gardens. Explore it on your own by hopping on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar that drops you right in the heart of it. Head outside the city limits to tour Oak Alley Plantation, the most photographed plantation in Louisiana, which boasts 25 acres of natural beauty and a 300-year-old alley of gorgeous oak trees.

The bayous and swamps surrounding New Orleans are breathtaking areas steeped in history and a little voodoo magic, and there are multiple ways to explore them. Go paddle boarding or kayaking on Bayou St. John, a picturesque body of water right inside the city. Take an airboat tour of the cypress swamps outside the city to see alligators, herons and exotic plants — airboats can go farther into the swamps than boats so you get a truly unique experience.

Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Itineraries

There is plenty to entice you in the Crescent City, from live music and local artwork to beautiful buildings and tranquil parks. Hotel experts have put together itineraries for the perfect friends’ weekend or a cultural getaway.

Morning

Historic Market Breakfast. Dating back to 1875, the St. Roch Market was recently reopened after being shuttered for a decade. Pick up a pastry and café au lait or a fresh pressed juice and find a seat inside the light-filled, lofty space.

 

Midday

French Quarter History. Stroll through Jackson Square and take in the statue commemorating the nation’s seventh president and the grand St. Louis Cathedral beyond. Walk toward The Presbytère, where you’ll find two permanent exhibits in the historic building: “Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana” and “Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond.” Afterward, head to The Cabildo. Dating back to the late 18th century, the stately building is the site of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase and is now home to a museum of New Orleans history. 

 

Afternoon

Modern Muffaletta. Part butcher shop, part sandwich shop and wine bar, Cochon Butcher uses house-made meats, terrines, pickles and jams for their outstanding sandwiches and small plates. Order one of their signature muffalettas or try a duck pastrami slider paired with a signature craft cocktail.

Southren Art. Start at the top of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and take in views from the museum’s fourth-floor deck. Make your way down to take in the impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs and more work celebrating the South. 

 

Evening

Dine in the French Quarter. Return to The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans for an elegant dinner in a stunning dining room. Farm-to-table fare combines with authentic New Orleans cuisine at M Bistro, where chefs take an indigenous approach to the preparation of meats, seafood and produce from regional farmers.

Quintessentual Cocktail. End your night at Arnaud's French 75 Bar for one of their namesake cocktails in a lively, iconic space.

Morning

Garden District Stroll. Amble through the charming Garden District, taking in the stately antebellum mansions populating oak-lined streets. In the heart of the district is Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, where you’ll find tombs and mausoleums dating back to the 19th century standing among the leafy grounds.
 

Midday

A Little Lunch. At La Petite Grocery — the name a nod to the building’s history as a late 1800s grocery store — James Beard Award-winning chef Justin Devillier delivers delectable fare in a warm, romantic space. Don’t miss the turtle Bolognese or the blue crab beignets, made from scratch. 

 

Afternoon

Urban Oasis. The sprawling Audubon Park features a golf course, lagoon, jogging path and zoo, but recover from lunch with a leisurely walk, making sure to stop by the massive oak known as the Tree of Life toward the southern end of the park, and the Butterfly Riverview park, for a picturesque view of the Mississippi River. 

Artistic Education. Stop by Tulane University’s Newcomb Art Museum for a look at the collection of eponymous pottery — a distinct brand of ceramics that emerged from the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College women’s college that is now part of Tulane — as well as luminescent Tiffany Windows.

 

Evening

Dinner on Magazine Street. Make a reservation at the beloved bistro Coquette for a taste of contemporary Southern fare. Sip a spritz at the handsome, chandelier-lit wooden bar before sitting down to inventive updates on classics or the highly recommended blind-tasting menu. Desserts like coconut cake and chocolate pudding with caramel, popcorn and sea salt are practically obligatory.

Night Music. There’s nothing fancy about Preservation Hall, but the nightly live jazz shows are an essential part of New Orleans culture and should not be missed. Get tickets for one of the later shows, starting at 8, 9 or 10 p.m., and revel in one of Louisiana’s most beloved art forms. 

Morning

Rise and Dine. You can come to New Orleans and skip the beignets, but it’s not recommended. Head directly to Morning Call, open 24 hours, for a plate of powdered sugar-showered fried dough and chicory coffee. There are fewer crowds here than at Café du Monde, and a view of City Park, too.

 

Midday

City Park. After breakfast, head out to explore City Park. The 1,300-acre grounds include the lush New Orleans Botanical Garden and the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. Part of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the garden features over 60 works ranging from a bronze Renoir to the iconic Robert Indiana “Love” piece, all situated among the landscape of Spanish-moss covered oaks and placid lagoons. 

 

Afternoon

Noma. On the southeast tip of City Park, find the exquisite New Orleans Museum of Art, with over 40,000 works. Wander around some of the 46 galleries, taking in the notable collections of European, African and Japanese art. 

A Taste of Louisiana. A little over a mile south of the museum, find the Parkway Bakery & Tavern. Since 1911, the legendary shop has been selling some of the city’s best po’ boys. Decide between fried Gulf oysters or shrimp on crusty French bread, and take a seat on the patio. 

 

Evening

Dinner at Galatoire's. This legendary institution has been a quintessential part of the French Quarter for over a century. Feast on classic French-Creole cuisine (ask your seasoned server for recommendations). Jackets are required after 5 p.m. 

Davenport Lounge. Finish off the evening on The Ritz-Carlton’s third floor, where you’ll find the elegant lounge named for the headliner Jeremy Davenport. Sip delightful cocktails while listening to lively jazz. 

Morning

Beignets and Café Au Lait. No matter what time you rise, head to Café du Monde. The 24-hour New Orleans institution will have piping hot plates of sugar-dusted (or doused) beignets and chicory coffee waiting. 

Neighborhood Walk. Dust off the powdered sugar and set out to take in the French Quarter. Head to the riverfront Woldenberg Park for a scenic view of steamboats and public art. Double back to Jackson Square, where you can see the bronze statue of Andrew Jackson and the steeple-topped St. Louis Cathedral. 

 

Midday

Sandwich Stop. There are many places that serve a muffaletta in New Orleans, but to try the original, go to Central Grocery. The sandwich counter at this tiny Italian market serves up sliced meats and olive salad on giant discs of sesame-peppered bread. 

 

Afternoon

Backyard Wine Tasting. Amble down the Mississippi waterfront trail of Crescent Park for a quiet view of the city skyline and end up at Bacchanal Wine. This little gem off the beaten path showcases wines from small producers. Share a bottle while listening to live music in the charming, unpretentious backyard.

 

Evening

Garden District Dinner. Take a pre-dinner walk through the leafy, tree-lined Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 to see marble and brick tombs that date back to the 19th century. Make a reservation at the elegant Commander’s Palace for classic Creole cuisine in equally historic environs. 

Listen to Jazz Into the Night. End your day with another New Orleans tradition. There are plenty of places in town to hear a lively jazz set, but try The Ritz-Carlton’s Davenport Lounge, Jazz Playhouse or Preservation Hall, or better yet, hit all three. 

Morning

Home and Garden. Venture beyond the French Quarter with an outing to Longue Vue House and Gardens. Situated in the city’s Lakewood neighborhood, the historic, neoclassical mansion and renowned 8-acre gardens make for a peaceful morning.  

 

Midday

Award-Winning Lunch. For a taste of something a little different, dine at Chef Alon Shaya’s eponymous restaurant on Magazine Street. Order wood-fired pitas, hummus with an array of savory toppings, and other modern Israeli dishes to share. 

 

Afternoon

Boutique Treasures. Spend a leisurely afternoon popping into the boutiques and antique shops also populating Magazine Street. Hazelnut is a popular pick for gifts and home goods, including an exclusive New Orleans-themed toile featuring St. Louis Cathedral and other city landmarks. 

 

Evening

Nola at Night. Some prefer the Big Easy at its rollicking, rowdy best, but a walk along the city’s bustling streets can be a little less hectic in the early evening. Stop into The Roost Bar at Brennan’s for a pre-dinner classic cocktail like a vesper or aviation. 

Brother Rabbit. Award-winning chef Nina Compton injects both Italian and Caribbean flavors into classic Creole cuisine at Compère Lapin, from conch croquettes to curried goat with sweet potato gnocchi. 

Morning

Relaxing Brunch. Housed in a quaint old carriage house, Sylvain serves an indulgent brunch with classic biscuits and eggs, as well as more inventive dishes like gulf shrimp and cornmeal dumplings and a chicharron scramble with sweet potato chips and chimichurri. Order the “Champagne and Fries” for the table, with hand-cut French fries and a bottle of bubbles. 

 

Midday

Scenic Streetcar. Hop on the St. Charles Line streetcar — the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the country — and marvel at the antique touches like mahogany seats and brass trimmings as well as the beautiful mansions and monuments along the route.  

 

Afternoon

French Quarter Antiques. Return to the French Quarter for a stroll down Royal Street, stopping to treasure hunt at antique shops like the century-old M.S. Rau. 

Spa Break. Spend the rest of the afternoon at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, New Orleans, choosing among signature, New Orleans-centric therapies like the VooDoo Ritual, featuring a full body massage and an element that includes a locally crafted herbal poultice.     

 

Evening

Havana Night. The rum-based cocktails at Cane & Table, the relaxed, tropical-infused restaurant off Jackson Square may arrive in carved-out pineapples or coupe glasses, but make no mistake: Each one is meticulously, thoughtfully crafted. Share a selection of tasty small plates — order at least two of the crispy ribs — and toast to a memorable weekend with friends.