What to Do with a Free Afternoon in New Orleans

What to Do with a Free Afternoon in New Orleans

Only have a free afternoon to spend in New Orleans? Check out this quick guide to NOLA and experience this city’s magic in just three stops.

New Orleans, Louisiana, or simply “NOLA,” as it’s fondly called, has a reputation for being one of the most unique cities in the world. If you find that you only have a free afternoon to spend in the Big Easy, but you’d still like to have an adventure, have no fear. Check out this guide to three local favorites and you’ll get a perfect taste of what this magical, laidback city is all about. Put on a pair of comfortable shoes and prepare yourself for an afternoon of music, food, and history – NOLA style.

A local jazz band performs in the French Quarter neighborhood of New Orleans on a cloudy afternoon.

1. Take a walking tour of the French Quarter.

Since time is of the essence, our suggestions focus on the can’t-miss French Quarter area of New Orleans. This area is often called the Crown Jewel of NOLA because it is one of the area’s most historic neighborhoods. To see the most that you can in the least amount of time, we recommend seeing if you can catch a guided walking tour. These usually last two hours and the guides ensure that you see the highlights of the area – and some are free. Check out Free Tours by Foot for a curated experience of the history of the French Quarter.

A close-up image of a warm plate of Jambalaya with sausage and seafood on a plate during lunchtime.

2. Stop by Déjà Vu Bar and Grill for a delicious meal.

With most places open 24/7 in New Orleans, this is the perfect place to get a great meal no matter what time of day it is. We recommend stopping by the locals’ approved Déjà vu Bar and Grill. This restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day long -– NOLA style. So, whether you fancy biscuits and gravy, seafood po-boys or Jambalaya, you’ll definitely find something to your liking here. In true New Orleans fashion, the building was constructed in the 1850s, so you’ll continue to brush up on your New Orleans history here, as well. Déjà Vu’s motto is, “Where there’s always something goin’ on!” so you’re sure to be entertained, no matter what time you stop by.

Colorful paintings by local New Orleans artists are on display in Jackson Square as tourists explore the area on a bright afternoon.

3. Browse local art and watch street performers in Jackson Square.

After treating yourself to an unforgettable New Orleans meal, take the rest of your time for entertainment in Jackson Square. If you’re interested in more history, this area is close to many more historic buildings, including the St. Louis Cathedral, two Louisiana state museums, and the oldest apartment buildings in the U.S. If New Orleans art piques your interest, local artists sell their original works in Jackson Square 24/7, so you may just find a painting or sculpture to take home with you. Along with artists selling their work, you’ll most definitely come across some NOLA street performers – dancers, magicians, poets, jazz musicians, and more.

Even with a short amount of time, you can still experience the magic of New Orleans through its history, food, and art. We hope this afternoon guide helps you experience a little taste of the Big Easy. If you’re planning more quick trips, check out our afternoon guides to Detroit and San Jose.