New Orleans is one of those beautiful places in the United States that can appeal to pretty much every travel taste: foodies, architecture and history lovers, partiers, shoppers, music lovers and even families. Sometimes, though, it’s a destination that can get overlooked by parents, too concerned about the city’s party reputation. Yes, Bourbon Street is a wild party day and night, and Mardi Gras sometimes has eye candy for mature audiences only. But at its core, New Orleans is a city full of passion, wonderful culture and excitement that even the kids can appreciate!
Eat Your Way Through the Quarter
New Orleans is a magical place for food lovers. But it’s also a fun place for even picky eaters, including most kids I know, and it all starts with the fluffy sugary goodness known as beignets. Few can resist the deep-fried hot goodness that is a donut covered in powdered sugar. An order of beignets goes great with a big glass of milk, or chicory coffee for the adults. The famous stop is Cafe Du Monde in the French Market, but there are other solid selections around the French Quarter including Cafe Beignet on Royal Street. Some family-friendly dining options also include jazz brunch at the Court of Two Sisters and fun restaurants like Acme Oyster House where even the most restless kids will have a good time.
Walk the French Quarter
The historic and at times frenetic French Quarter is an exciting playground for children of all ages. Toddlers and young children will love the street performers in Jackson Square. Teens are sure to enjoy the constant live music and quirky shops that fill the neighborhood. Yes, the party atmosphere is alive and well on Bourbon Street, but other streets are family-friendly too from the restaurants and shops of Decatur to the classy antiques and art galleries on Royal. In between are random bookstores, souvenir shops and boutiques that will keep everyone in the family happy.
Browse the French Market
The historic French Market is located on the southeast corner of the French Quarter close to the Mississippi River. Things get started early with the food stalls filled with colorful fruit, veggies and fresh seafood. You can eat your way through the market, or just head straight to the flea market atmosphere of the eastern side where there is plenty of kitsch as well as quality finds. Children love the beads, but there are also used books, clothing, hats, unique toys and much more.
Tour the National WWII Museum
New Orleans was once home to the manufacturer of the Higgins boats, which were responsible for landing the thousands of men and equipment on the beaches of Normandy, as well as the many other landings of World War II. The National WWII Museum tells the story of those landings, as well as the battles fought throughout the islands in the Pacific Theater. The best part for children is the massive building that houses several planes, tanks and other vehicles; a fun way to learn about history. Finish your experience with an impressive 4-D movie produced by Tom Hanks – a can’t-miss spectacle.
Get to the River
New Orleans is arguably the city it is today thanks to its location along the Mississippi River not far from where it meets the Gulf of Mexico, serving as one of the nation’s most important ports. Walking along the Moon Walk next to the river is a lot of fun for the whole family, especially on a mild spring day. There are benches to sit and enjoy the river passing by and even enjoy a picnic lunch. But if you want to get on the river, consider a cruise on one of the river steamboats for the ultimate New Orleans experience.