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3-Day New Orleans Holiday Itinerary

New Orleans transforms into a winter wonderland during the month of December. You can see it in the lights of our hotel lobbies, and the decorations that line downtown. Seasonal attractions return, and restaurants put forth their most decadent menus of the year. Make your reservations, mask up and prepare to experience all the magic that the season has to offer, plus a little lagniappe. Here’s our three-day New Orleans Holiday Itinerary.

Brunch at Copper Vine

Brunch at Copper Vine, Justen Williams

Day One

Start with brunch

Kick off your first day in NOLA with brunch at one of our many restaurants. Having a hard time deciding where to dine? Outdoor dining has become quite popular in New Orleans and is a lovely choice for a December day. Check out our outdoor dining guide here and use the filter to sort by cuisine and neighborhood. Make a reservation ahead of your visit.

Shop ‘til you drop

Looking for that perfect, “only in New Orleans” gift? Look no further – holiday shopping is everywhere in New Orleans, from the six-mile-long Magazine Street to Bayou Road to the French Market. Make a plan to mask up and head out to show our retailers some love this holiday season. You’re bound to find that special present when browsing these local shops.

Indulge in a bowl of gumbo

The options for dinner are endless in New Orleans. As far as traditional New Orleans foods go, gumbo is our dish of choice for the cooler months. Full of Creole spices and rich flavor, gumbo is a staple at most classic NOLA restaurants. A bowl of this stuff will warm you right up and keep you full for a fun-filled evening in New Orleans. Check out our top spots for gumbo here.

Celebration in the Oaks

Celebration in the Oaks, Justen Williams

See the lights at Celebration in the Oaks

Back for the 2020 season from November 26-January 3, Celebration in the Oaks is a beloved New Orleans tradition featuring thousands of shimmering lights in City Park. Hop in the car and drive through this year’s displays, which includes a 15-foot tall waving Santa, the Who Dat tree and a salute to medical personnel. Book your timed entry tickets online before your visit.

Cap off the night at Café du Monde

Also located within City Park, Café du Monde is the perfect stop after you’ve driven through the Oaks. Enjoy pillowy-soft beignets covered with mounds of powdered sugar and a hot cup of cocoa to wash it all down. Visions of beignets will be dancing in your head as you doze off to sleep.

Day Two

Start the day with Holiday Tea

Begin the morning with holiday tea at the Windsor Court Hotel. This beloved tradition is fun for all ages, with rounds of sandwiches, holiday-themed scones and desserts delivered to your table. Seating begins at 10 a.m. and an advanced reservation is required.

The Roosevelt Hotel

The Roosevelt Hotel, Devonte Williford

Take a look at hotel lobby lights displays

Next, plan to stop by the neighboring hotels to get a peek at the different lobby decorations. After enjoying the decorations at the Windsor Court, stroll on over to the Ritz-Carlton and the Roosevelt just a quick jaunt away. The weather is exceptionally gorgeous in December, and downtown New Orleans is one of the best parts of the city for spotting seasonal decorations.

Make reservations for a Réveillon Dinner

A New Orleans Creole dining experience that dates back to the mid-1800s, Réveillon was a feast traditionally held after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Today, the tradition has been reimagined by various restaurants across the city. Imagine: crispy oysters, tender duck, pan seared flounder, peppermint bark cheesecake and seasonal cocktails – and that’s just scratching the surface. Decadent multi-course menus are offered all month long come December – just make sure to book your reservation in advance.

Day Three

Visit an attraction or museum

New Orleans is full of world-class attractions, from the expansive National World War II Museum to the multi-level Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Make a plan to bake those visits into your itinerary, but don’t hesitate to go off the beaten path in search of more fun things to do while in New Orleans. For thought-provoking art, check out Studio BE in the Bywater. To learn about the Mardi Gras Indians, second lines and other New Orleans traditions, visit the Backstreet Cultural Museum. For an interactive musical experience, visit the Music Box Village. Check out more New Orleans attractions here.

Gumbo at Dooky Chase

Gumbo at Dooky Chase, Justen Williams

Enjoy a casual lunch

After a busy morning exploring the city, settle in for a leisurely late lunch. Try a new restaurant, such as Union Ramen or Alma Cafe. There are great dining spots in every corner of the city, just remember to make a reservation ahead of your visit. Use our search tool here to see what’s open.

Walk the Supernova on the Greenway

Experience a new lights exhibit this holiday season on Lafitte Greenway, the 2.6-mile long linear park and trail running through the heart of New Orleans. This free, safe and socially distanced outdoor experience will take place from December 9-20 in partnership with LUNA Fete. From Wednesday to Sunday, 5-9 p.m., head to 3200 Lafitte Ave. to see the lights and celebrate the Greenway’s 5th birthday.

Catch a movie at the Broadside Theater

End a long day of exploring the city with a movie and dinner at the Broadside, New Orleans’ newest outdoor cinema experience. The 100-seat open air venue also hosts music, magic and more, so be sure to check the calendar to see what’s playing.

Holiday Home Tours

Holiday Home Tours, Rebecca Todd

Virtual Events

Keep the holiday magic going by tuning into one of our virtual holiday events. Concerts held at St. Louis Cathedral and St. Augustine Church will be available for online viewing this December. Another tradition, holiday home tours, will live on in a virtual format through the Preservation Resource Center. Take a look inside six private New Orleans homes all decked out for the holiday season. Learn more about these virtual events.