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. Book your trip and prepare to experience all the magic that the season has to offer. 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 mild 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 plans to head out and 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 2023 season from November 23-December 30, Celebration in the Oaks is a beloved New Orleans tradition featuring thousands of shimmering lights in City Park. Hop in the car or walk through the displays and end with rides at Carousel Gardens Amusement Park.

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.

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. 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. For an interactive experience focused on the art, music, and culture of New Orleans, check out JAMNOLA. 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 casual restaurant, such as Queen Trini Lisa or Zee’s Pizzeria. There are great dining spots in every corner of the city. Check out our guide to off the beaten path restaurants here.

Catch a Holiday Concert or go To NOLA Christmasfest

End your day relaxing to the sounds of Christmas carols or live jazz. If you have children, make sure to stop by NOLA ChristmasFest, which runs December 21-30 at the Convention Center and features an ice-skating rink, amusement rides, pictures with Santa, and more. Happy holidays!

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