When we moved to Mississippi, visiting New Orleans was at the top of our travel list. It has always sounded like a fascinating place and I am so glad we found the time. New Orleans, you are fantastic. The beautiful artchitecture. The interesting people watching. The music pulsing from doorways. The history alive on every corner.
If you are planning a trip to New Orleans with kids, here are the ABCs of a weekend in New Orleans. Accommodation tips, best places for a Bite to Eat, and Child Friendly things to do.
We stayed at the Intercontinental in downtown New Orleans and were very happy. The room was clean and spacious. We didn't stay in a suite, but there is a Grand King Suite available which has a small seating area with doors. The hotel has a a roof top pool, fitness center, and two restaurants. The food was good (although the number of restaurants within walking distance is amazing!)
The part I was most happy with was the location. The hotel is two blocks from Canal Street and the French Quarter. Most days we walked everywhere, but if you have kids with smaller legs the hotel is on a Streetcar route and within walking distance of the Streetcars and Buses on Canal Street that can take you almost anywhere in the city for a reasonable price. (A day pass was $3/person when we visited).
BITE TO EAT
The food was my favorite part of New Orleans. If I am being honest, we spent most of the trip either walking or eating. I figured the two balanced out. Wander around Jackson Square or down many of the streets in the French Quarter and you will find a wealth of cafes and restaurants. Personally I would avoid Bourbon Street with young children, especially later in the day, but we saw families everywhere we went.
One downside to New Orleans however is that the buildings are almost all older - ie. few changing spaces, not as wheelchair or stroller accessible, and sometimes lacking highchairs. Children were almost universally welcome, but not necessarily catered to in the way I think Americans are becoming accustomed. Do not let this prevent you from enjoying the amazing food, just be prepared to be a little flexible.
We didn't eat anywhere we didn't truly enjoy, but here are a few places I would especially recommend:
Cafe De Monde
This is an obvious choice. Anyone you talk to and anything you read will tell you that this is a must for a visit to New Orleans. A word of advice, go on a weekday to avoid the insane crowds. We went on a Monday mid-morning and waiting about 5 minutes. (Not dairy friendly for those of you with our family's food allergy issues) (website)
There are two locations and we visited both. This is a great casual breakfast or lunch spot that also serves delicious beignets. (website)
The Market Cafe
We went to this spot for breakfast before visiting the Farmers' Market. It was delicious and offered live music outside, AC inside, and a good variety of options (some Dairy Free ones included) This was a pleasant place for a meal and very family friendly. (website)
If you want a snack and a little bit of amusement, the Fudgery has delicious ice cream and fudge. As a bonus, the staff sings while they serve you. Unfortunately, also not dairy-allergy friendly. (500 Port of New Orleans Pl. Riverwalk Marketplace)
Ride a Streetcar
The streetcars are a practical way to get many places in downtown New Orleans, but are also just a lot of fun. We rode the St Charles line which went right in front of our hotel and the Canal Street Line. I was impressed by how clean the streetcars were, although not air conditioned. It is a fun way to travel and a unique experience for little kids - especially if they are as fascinated by trains as our kids.
This is a huge park. It is technically accessible by public transportation, but I recommend driving and parking in one of their lots. The park is extensive and filled with things to do for all ages including; mini-golf, paddle boating, art museum, playground, Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, and Storyland. The Storyland park came highly recommended to me and I can see why. It is a creative play space that brings to life many familiar tales. As a bonus, the park is fairly well shaded. Visit there just for kids page for more info.
French Market Farmers Market
There is a large farmers market every Wednesday afternoon and Saturday. The French Market pavilion is open daily, but I would aim to attend one of the farmers market times to get the most out of the experience.
Audubon Aquarium of Americas + Audubon Butterfly Garden & Insectarium
We didn't visit either, but I have heard wonderful things about both. If you are looking for something indoors and air conditioned, one of these is your best best. They were less than a mile from our hotel and along the streetcar route on Canal Street.
Other Southern Weekends:
Houston Texas with Kids (Texas)
Savannah with Kids : Stay. Eat. Do. (Georgia)
Atlanta with Kids : Stay. Eat. Do. (Georgia)
A Weekend in Nashville (Tennessee)
A Weekend in Biloxi (Mississippi)
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