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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.