Christmas in New Orleans: Three Day Itinerary

Icon Share


Advisor - Chloe Kletsa
Curated By

Chloe Kletsa

  • New Orleans

  • Arts & Culture

  • Food & Wine

  • Entertainment

  • Outdoors

  • Nightlife

A view of a castle under a cloudy blue sky in New Orleans, Louisiana
Curator’s statement

New Orleans is a special place to visit at Christmas for a number of reasons. The city's unique culture and traditions, combined with its mild climate, festive atmosphere and delicious food create a truly magical holiday experience. It is the perfect place to escape the winter cold without having to miss out on the Christmas spirit! Due to it being a diverse and multicultural city there are several events and activities happening all over town throughout the season. It's a big city yet feels small enough to navigate and can provide intimate experiences for travelers who wish to feel at home away from home!

The Fora Difference

Book with Chloe to access exclusive perks and experiences on your trip.

[object Object]
Killer perks

Free upgrades, spa credits and more—we got you

[object Object]
Personalized recs

Customized travel planning for your style

[object Object]
Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay

Unlock perks by contacting Chloe to book your trip.

Day 1: Explore, Discover, Immerse NOLA

Pink building in Nola

You have either arrived in NOLA late on the 22nd or will likely be at your hotel by noon on the 23rd. Once you are settled if you are a fan of Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire, I suggest you take a walking tour of the Garden District. Assuming you are based in or around the French Quarter you can hop on the streetcar for a fun, sightseeing ride on the way.

If you are interested in history & architecture I highly recommend Two Chicks for a fun, small group and highly informative tour. you can wander around on your own but I particularly enjoyed learning all about the design and building of several majestic historical homes and their famous and infamous residents.

For an early afternoon snack I suggest visiting Grace bakery or District Donuts. For a more complete lunch head to the highly rated Coquette or Atchafalaya. To satisfy your sweet cravings don’t miss Sucré.

After lunch head back to your hotel should you need to rest from a long flight. Otherwise enjoy exploring the lively French Quarter, which will be dressed at its finest for the festive season and make your way to Jackson Square where artists and performers put on shows daily and even more so during the holidays! The square is lined with beautiful Historic buildings so you can grab some Beignets (not to be missed) from nearby Cafe du Monde and sit and watch the world go by for a little while.

Dining options in the neighborhood are endless but I suggest the Gumbo shop for something casual and Muriel’s for a higher priced, atmospheric alternative (they also have a hidden bar!). After dinner you should opt for one of the Ghost, Vampires and Voodoo walking tours. It may sound and appear touristy but it truly is a fun way to learn about the gritty and haunting history (fact or fiction? You decide!) of Louisiana. You will never walk these streets again the same way!

Day 2: Plantations, Bonfires, Dining

Houmas House

Christinas Eve: Some Plantations, Tours and historical homes still operate today so I recommend making this your excursion day!

You can join a small group tour or If you have a car you can drive and experience a combined visit to the gorgeous (especially at Christmas) Oak Alley named after its beautifully preserved Ancient Oak lined driveway, the colourful Laura and the Whitney Plantations. The Whitney is not to be missed, it tells the story through the point of view of the enslaved and educates the public in a non biased and heartbreaking way as to the history of slavery in the US. At Oak Alley make sure to try the Buttermilk Pie, you are going to want the recipe!

This day trip can include a Swamp Tour either by kayak or by air boat. You can admire the unique landscapes but December is not the best season to watch alligators. The climate is mild for humans but for the alligators it's still too cold and they are mostly in hiding! There are several companies and times available to suit your schedule.

Your alternative plantation visit is a bit further away. Houmas House and Gardens is a Greek Revival Mansion and hosts a combo of traditional and Modern art. They go all out with holiday decor (both inside the house and in the gardens) which may include giant rubber duckies dressed with Santa hats! Festive creole lunch can be included in your visit.

Christmas Eve is special in New Orleans as it is bonfire night on the levee. Several bonfires are lit along the Mississippi River to guide Santa Claus on his way to New Orleans. This tradition dates back to the early 1800s, and it is a unique and beautiful way to celebrate the holiday season. You can observe them here.

If you opt for a more traditional experience, I suggest dining at one of the several restaurants which are open. Emeril’s can provide a festive Reveillon dinner or attend the a more casual experience at Willa Jean. I highly recommend making reservations in advance.

Day 3: Christmas - Exploration, Cruise, Lights

Nola written in Led Lights

On Christmas day most historic houses and tours will be unavailable so make sure you check these off the list within your first two days.

After breakfast take a leisurely stroll through the French Quarter as you head to the waterfront. The streets will be unusually quiet and will present a great opportunity to take photos of the beautifully decorated buildings.

For something different to a traditional family Christmas Lunch opt for a holiday themed cruise, with lunch optional, aboard Steam Boat Sanchez. You will sail along the Mississippi River for about 2 hours where you will enjoy endless views of New Orleans and the surrounding area, while listening to a live jazz band and caroling along the way. You will be making a difference this Christmas as every guest, regardless of age, must bring a toy for donation before they board (toys will be donated to Toys for Tots)

If you opt not to have lunch on board, dining options for the 25th include
Compère Lapin, the Rib Room and most upmarket hotel restaurants such as Jack Rose, The Chloe and the R’evolution. I suggest making advanced reservations.

If you already had lunch you can head to the Roosevelt (Waldorf Astoria) to admire the spectacular Christmas lights and decor where you can enjoy a hot chocolate and dessert at the bar. It doesn't get much more festive than this!

Head back to your hotel for a bit of rest before venturing out again in the late afternoon.

This time you will be heading to the enchanting City Park which hosts the annual fundraising event, Celebration in the Oaks. The park is lit up by over a million twinkling lights through the 2.25 mile Driving Tour and the Reimagined Walking Tour. Your pass will also include access to unlimited amusement park rides as well as to the elegant Botanical Garden.

Experiencing the event at twilight will give you the best of both worlds, watching the Christmas lights take centre stage as soon as the sun is gone. Book your tickets ahead of time to secure your desired time slot!

Once you’ve spent enough time in the park head back to the French Quarter and give the creole cuisine a go at Criollo, a refined brasserie inside the historic Monteleone hotel. Make sure to grab a drink at the classic, Carousel Bar named after is revolving bar!

Now thats a Christmas day you won’t forget!

Day 4: Wrap Up!

Your flight is most likely early in the morning in order to get to your next destination in preparation for New Years plans, or back to work for some! If so, enjoy a warm waffle and berries for breakfast at your hotel and head to the airport!

Need to Know

Looking for more New Orleans travel tips? Also check out Fora Advisor Pamela Murphy's guide: A Love Letter to New Orleans.

Advisor - Chloe Kletsa

Travel Advisor

Chloe Kletsa

Get in touch with Chloe

Did you like this guide? Reach out to customize and book your own experience. Or, just to chat about travel in general.

You can normally expect a response from Chloe within a business day or so. You’ll also be subscribed to our travel newsletter (you can unsubscribe at any time).

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to New Orleans.