Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the Good Times Roll! Ah, New Orleans…the city known for Mardi Gras, amazing food and drink, beautiful architecture and generalized debauchery. This is the city where Dave and I met, graduated from college, got married and had our first baby and it will forever hold a special place in our hearts. I’ve had several people ask me if New Orleans is a good vacation destination with kids and I always answer with a resounding YES! Of course your visit to New Orleans will probably be different with kids in tow than if you went with adults only, but it will still be a unique and wonderful city to explore.
Our last visit to New Orleans was over winter break a few years ago. We’re lucky that my sister has since moved to the New Orleans suburb of Mandeville so we all crashed at her awesome house during our visit. We spent our first day in town hanging out by her pool and getting ready for New Years Eve the next day. New Years Eve in New Orleans is just a tad different than New Years Eve in Cincinnati. First of all, Michelle’s Mandeville neighbors all set up their parties outside in their front yards complete with music, lantern torches, food, drinks and fireworks. When the clock struck midnight all chaos broke loose with fireworks taking off in every direction. I’m not talking about a few fireworks. Actual pallets of fireworks were delivered to her street and the firework show lasted for hours as the party rocked on. What a way to welcome in the New Year!
New Orleans With Kids: The Sugar Bowl
The next morning we woke up and enjoyed the beautiful warm weather swimming in Michelle’s pool and basically resting up for the Sugar Bowl in the Super Dome that night. I got my nursing degree from University of Cincinnati and Michelle is a Florida Gators Fan so we rooted for opposite teams. Not that the score was even close. 🙁
New Orleans With Kids: Cafe Du Monde
We spent the next morning driving across the 24 mile long bridge, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, into the city. Our first stop was the French Quarter for beignets at Cafe Du Monde. The weather had turned cold overnight and we huddled together as we ate. Beignets are fried dough topped with powdered sugar. Just try to eat one without making a powdered sugar mess of yourself! They are absolutely delicious served with Cafe Au Lait (New Orleans coffee with chicory) and we all scarfed down a few. Yum!
New Orleans With Kids: New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
A large part of what makes New Orleans so special is music so our next stop was just a short walk to the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. We spent an hour or so exploring the exhibits, learning about the history of Jazz in New Orleans, and the kids all earned Junior Ranger badges. After this we walked around the French Market for a little while and then took a short walk to the Mississippi River.
The French Quarter
The French Quarter district may be a giant party at night but during the day it is a bustling family friendly place with much to see. We spent a couple of hours walking around touring the shops, seeing Jackson Square and the Saint Louis Cathedral and watching the street performers. Many of the street performers here put on a great show and huge crowds gather around to watch their antics. There is such a happy energy in downtown New Orleans and the kids loved it.
Uptown on the Streetcar
Eventually we headed over to the streetcar stop to take the ride uptown. Riding the streetcar is an event itself and a steal at only $1.25 a person for a one way ride. We all enjoyed the ride and loved looking at the gorgeous mansions of St. Charles Avenue before getting off at the Tulane University stop. Dave and I both graduated from Tulane and I loved showing the kids around the beautiful campus. We stopped for coffee at the campus PJ’s and we shared a coffee granita. I must have had a million of these to get through tests and papers while in school! It was really cold by this point so we skipped a walk around Audubon Park, but you should not! It is one of the prettiest parks in the world and I really miss being able to run through it each day. With huge Oak trees covered in spanish moss it will surely be a favorite of yours too. We also ate lunch at La Madeleine’s where Dave and I used to eat all of the time. It’s a french bakery and their food is really good. Now it has locations throughout the city to enjoy. I wish they would open one in Cincinnati!
New Orleans With Kids: Mass at St. Louis Cathedral
After a long day, we headed back to Michelle’s and spent the evening with each other since we were leaving the next morning. I hate that the cousins live so far away from each other! In the morning we dropped Dave off at the airport since he had to get back for work but the kids and I were going to drive home to Cincinnati stopping at sites along the way. Dave had a 5 AM flight so after dropping him off, we headed back to the French Quarter for one more round of beignets and cafe au lait before attending early morning mass at Saint Louis Cathedral. We are not Catholic, but we still enjoyed the service and New Orleans at dawn was a wonderful experience- much different than the bustling daytime crowd and the raucous night time party.