Planning a trip to the Big Easy with your family? This guide to traveling in New Orleans with kids is sure to give you some great tips for a successful vacation! Even if you don’t have kids, hopefully this will help you plan your trip!
As you read the title of this post, you might laugh — family friendly things to do in New Orleans? Is there such thing?
Well, there is! We recently went to New Orleans with Forrest’s parents, and I was pleasantly surprised at all the fun things they have to do there. Yes, there are plenty of things and places I would avoid like the plague with your family. But overall, there were some things the whole family could enjoy.
My first word of advice? Avoid Bourbon Street, unless you love the smell of urine/throw up/who knows what else, alcohol, and naked people. Bourbon Street is a historically famous street, but I don’t think I’d go there even if I didn’t have Jack with me. But that’s just me. It’s definitely not a place for children though.
Where to stay
Anywhere near the center of town is going to be expensive. While there are plenty of options outside of the city, it’s kind of nice to be able to be close enough to town to use the street car system. My mother-in-law booked us a couple of nights at a lovely boutique hotel called The Historic Street Car Inn. It only had about 25 rooms and was very cozy.
The rooms were very lovely, with comfortable beds, televisions, A/C, and a large bathroom. Although the hotel didn’t look like much from the outside, it was a very well maintained. The staff was incredibly friendly and were quick to make recommendations and answer questions. There was a complimentary breakfast, which was nice — there were a variety of pastries, breads, cereals, and hard boiled eggs. Nothing too fancy, but hey, it was free! I think one of the biggest perks was that this hotel was right outside a stop for the street cars, which were our main form of transportation while we were in New Orleans.
I think if you want to stay somewhere that’s not in the center of New Orleans but still close enough to actually be in the city, this hotel is a great choice. Priceline is also a great place to find deals on hotels in the area, especially since you can specify which area you’d like to stay.
Places to eat in Louisiana
New Orleans is famous for their amazing cuisine. I was looking through a magazine while we were there that was listing the “best of” in every food category, and it made me wish I could stay there for a few weeks, just trying all of the food. Everything I had was really delicious. We didn’t have a chance to try too many places, but here are a few that we were able to try!
The VooDoo BBQ was right next to our hotel, and after a long day of exploring New Orleans, it was the perfect place to eat dinner. Now, I know food usually tastes better when you are starving, but I’m pretty sure I would have loved this place. The food was so delicious, they had a huge menu, and the prices were very reasonable! I think they had a nice sampling of Louisiana/New Orleans Cuisine. The service left something to be desired, but the food definitely made up for it.
We found it ironic that we got table number 13 at the VooDoo BBQ AND my in-laws were staying in Room 13. Luckily, we didn’t have too bad of luck while we were here!
I apologize for the following pictures — lighting was terrible!
Anyways, back to the food. It took me awhile to decide, but I finally decided on the fully loaded baked potato with brisket. They had a bunch of different meats you could put on it, but I went with my gut and got the brisket. I LOVE brisket.
The brisket was perfectly cooked — moist and full of flavor. The potato was cooked well and all the additional toppings really were just the icing on the cake. I topped mine with one of their signature sauces (I think it was the sweet one), and it was fantastic! I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about this after I ate it, and I almost wanted to go have it for breakfast!
Forrest got a jerk chicken sandwich. I thought it was pretty good when I sampled it. When I asked him how he felt about it, he said it was, “flavorful and satisfying,” and that it filled him up! I guess no further description was needed.
For Jack, we just got him a hamburger — it was pretty big and had a lot of different toppings. Nothing too special though.
My favorite part of the meal, however, was the sweet potato souffle. Words cannot describe this heavenly side dish/dessert. I’m sure it was full of all sorts of sugar and cream, but I just ignored that tiny fact and really indulged on it. I even went so far to tweet the company and ask them for the recipe. Sadly, they told me it was a secret. I might try to recreate it someday. If you pass by a VooDoo BBQ, I highly recommend stopping in for this delicious treat.
My mother-in-law had mentioned that she read about a ice cream parlor called the Creole Creamery in USA Today recently. Since it was in New Orleans, we decided we better check it out. It was actually the last place we went before we headed off to the airport, but I am so glad we didn’t miss it!
First off, they have an incredible amount of flavors to choose from. Not only do they have tons of flavors but many of them are very unique.
Lavender honey? Creole Tomato? Crazy! It took me awhile to find something Jack could have but I was so happy when I saw the cucumber sorbet. It was actually pretty delicious, and it was void of any lactose (and probably had the least fructose of anything on the menu.) He loved it!
I got the Salty Smokey Chocolate Almond, and it was an awesome choice. It’s another thing I want to try and recreate at home. It had pieces of almonds in it, and the salty and sweetness of it was perfectly balanced. I only got a child’s scoop, but I wish I had gotten a slightly larger one. It disappeared way too quickly.
I don’t know what it is about this ice cream that makes it so good, but it really was some of the best I’ve ever had. It was creamy, the flavors were balanced, and it just tasted good. I don’t know what else to say to describe it beyond that. If you are in New Orleans, this is definitely a place you don’t want to miss. The prices are very reasonable, as well!
We also went to a little Japanese restaurant for lunch that was close to the Creole Creamery. It had decent food, but it wasn’t my favorite place ever. I’m not a fan of sushi, which was the main item on the menu. I don’t even remember what it was called.
One place I’m sad we missed was Cafe Du Monde. This is a place famous for their beignets, and from what I’ve heard, it’s pretty much amazing. So that’s a great family place to go.
These are the only places we went while we were in New Orleans, so I don’t have any other recommendations. However, if you are traveling with children, this is a great site that lists family restaurants in New Orleans.
Things to Do in New Orleans
Walk the river front
One thing we did a lot in New Orleans was walk! My favorite place we walked as the river front. It’s really pretty, and it felt slightly cooler (temperature wise) than other parts of New Orleans. There’s a lot of different things to see (different boats, monuments, etc.), and it’s just relaxing. There were tons of families walking around when we were there, so it definitely was a popular place to be!
Jack especially liked walking down some of the steps near the river and throwing rocks in!
The street cars aren’t necessarily something to do, as much as a great way to get around! I believe it was 1.25 per way, or 3.50 for a day pass, which, I think, is a great deal. The historical street cars travel all around New Orleans, and really eliminate the need to drive around. We saw a lot of parking places that were pretty expensive, and it just didn’t seem worth it to battle the traffic either.
If you plan to use the street cars, I would definitely figure out their routes. We didn’t always know which one to get on, which resulted in us running to catch them a few times (and almost getting on the wrong ones.)
Some of the street cars are air conditioned, but the ones that aren’t have the windows down, so it’s really not that bad. I think the street cars were Jack’s favorite part of our trip — he kept asking to go on the “party train.” I loved how much joy he got out of something so simple. I think he would have been content if we rode them the whole day!
New Orleans is a historical place, and it has some beautiful landscapes and architecture. I really enjoyed just walking around the city and looking at the city. You’ll inevitably see the beauty of the city as you do different activities but taking some time just to take it all in is worth it!
I really enjoy going on tours, especially when I’m somewhere I’m not familiar with. New Orleans offers many wonderful tours that I think children and adults can enjoy. We spent some time looking on Groupon for different tours to go on and finally decided on a Cemetery Walking Tour put on by French Quarter Phantoms. This company offers a bunch of different tours, and this one definitely did not disappoint.
I’m not usually a fan of cemeteries, but our tour guide, Tessy, did a great job of telling us some very interesting stories. She really made the history of the cemetery come alive. One thing I really enjoyed was that she wove in the history of New Orleans as we walked to the cemetery. There was so much about the city that I never knew (like 10% of the population died from Yellow Fever every year until the cause of it was found — they sometimes had over 200 funerals a day!) I will say, it was very hot and humid in the cemetery (hotter than it was outside), which made it a little less fun…but overall, it was great.
Nicholas Cage’s future resting place. It apparently cost over $250,000 to build this tomb!
There are tons of walking tours in New Orleans, which I think are fun — though, it was really hot. If walking tours aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other tours that aren’t walking tours. Here are a few tours (along with Groupons — getting them with Groupons will save you a bundle) that I think sounded fun and family friendly:
I know, this seems like a weird thing to say. And I’m not saying, watch people and make fun of them. Sometimes it’s just interesting to watch people around you and observe their culture. There’s definitely a lot of interesting characters in New Orleans (though some did make me a little nervous!) Just sit down on the river front, or on a bench, and enjoy yourself! We saw a man with an iguana, people who spray painted themselves to look like statues, just to name a few!
What To Bring
Good walking shoes – we walked a lot while we were in New Orleans, and by the looks of it, there were a lot of people in a similar boat. Half way through the day (especially during our walking tour) I wish I had forgone my cheap flats from Walmart and slipped on my nice tennis shoes instead! I also wish I had done this for Jack. I mistakenly put his flip-flops (which have a band around the back to make sure they stay on…but half the time, it ends up hurting his feet after a few hours), which resulted in someone carrying him the majority of the time. Which brings me to my next item . . .
A stroller or baby carrier (like a Moby or Ergo). I don’t know why it slipped our mind to bring a stroller with us on our trip. While Jack is quite resilient, let’s be real — he’s only two! He can’t walk for hours and hours in heat and humidity (I barely can!) While he’s a bit big for a baby carrier now, I wish we had brought along our Urbini umbrella stroller. On the bright side,
Fan or Spray Bottle
Bring your own water! Because otherwise, you will find yourself shelling out $3 for a bottle of water. And I’m not talking about some high quality, spring water — one of those bottles you can get for $1 or less on your own!
The street cars only took cash, and I believe we walked by a few different places that were similar — cash only. We hardly ever carry cash, and I imagine a lot of people are similar, so I think it’s worth mentioning. Plus, you never know when you’ll walk past an awesome street band that you want to leave some money for!