Did you know that visiting New Orleans with kids is totally doable and fun?!! Plano Mom Team Member, Mel spent some time over Spring Break with her family and couldn’t wait to share her experience with us.
New Orleans has been on my bucket list for ages and we finally had the chance to visit over Spring Break. I must add it was crazy busy over Spring Break and there was a lot of queuing for pretty much everything so if you can get away outside of school breaks, I would definitely recommend that!
Google Maps will tell you the drive time is 7 hours and 45 minutes and while it is an easy drive, it really was closer to 9 or 10 hours with a couple of quick stops. Lucky for me, my kids are great travelers but if yours aren’t, you may want to consider breaking up the trip. There is a Buc-ees on the way which is always a highlight of any road trip! And Natchitoches, Louisiana is a great little town to stop in.
New Orleans really is one of the most fascinating cities! It is so different from so many other places we’ve visited. There is so much to see and do.
On our first full day in New Orleans, we booked to do a swamp tour. We pre-booked this with Pearl River Eco Tours and it was one of the highlights of our trip! It turned out to be an unseasonably cold day which is not good for spotting all of those cold-blooded alligators & snakes but our tour guide was brilliant and so entertaining and informative. As it turns out when it’s too cold for the alligators, the mammals come out to play and we were lucky enough to see lots of raccoons and wild pigs! And they swam right up to the boat for marshmallows – who knew we would get to see swimming, marshmallow eating pigs on our swamp tour!! As it warmed up a little, we did get to see some smaller alligators. All in all, a great time and probably the kids’ favorite experience of NOLA.
In the afternoon we headed to the National WWII Museum. The Museum is housed across 4 buildings so it’s a good idea to know what you want to see and plan accordingly. It is so well done and really informative. There was a lot that was interactive, which the kids enjoyed. There is a 4D movie narrated by Tom Hanks called Beyond All Boundaries. Definitely worth a visit.
That evening we had dinner on a Paddle Steamer – The Creole Queen. We pre-purchased this but there were still tickets available at the dock and there were other paddle steamers also recommended to us including Steamboat Natchez. The ticket price included a buffet-style dinner and jazz music and a cruise down the Mississippi. It went for around 3 hours and was lots of fun. You could walk around the boat freely and look at the view as the sun went down.
The next morning, the first port of call was the much-anticipated beignets from Café Du Monde. Tell someone you’re going to New Orleans and the first thing they tell you that you must do is eat the beignets from here. There are other places serving them as well in the French Quarter but these are apparently the original and the best. They are similar to a donut/pastry and covered in powdered sugar. But don’t go hungry, we queued for nearly 90 minutes! But it was so worth it, they were absolutely delicious and very reasonably priced. We took them to the park across the street and enjoyed every bite!
We then had a wander around the French Quarter, lots of sightseeing, shopping and places to eat here. We ate lunch in a café in the French Market. The French Market contains lots of food and shopping options.
In the afternoon, we headed to St Louis Cemetery. There are beautiful old cemeteries all over the city but we chose this one in particular because it housed the tomb of Marie Laveau. My daughter’s teacher had told us all about this particular tomb and it turns out to be the second most visited tomb in the USA after Elvis Presley! You can only enter this particular cemetery with a tour guide but you can join a tour from the front entrance and they run very regularly so we only waited about 10 minutes and our tour guide was very informative.
The next day we headed back to The Presbytere in the French Quarter. My kids were quite interested to learn more about Hurricane Katrina and the Presbytere had two exhibits – Hurricane Katrina and a separate Mardi Gras exhibit. Admission price was very reasonable and we were able to go through both exhibits in just over an hour.
Right next door to the Presbytere in the French Quarter is the beautiful St Louis Cathedral. It is the oldest cathedral in the United States and is just amazing to see. From the outside, it is like a castle and the inside doesn’t disappoint with some stunning stained glass windows. As long as there isn’t a mass on, you are free to wander in and look around.
We had been warned that Bourbon Street in Spring Break can be a bit crazy and there were lots of interesting characters there, that’s for sure, so we headed to the quieter Frenchmans St for lunch and ended up eating at this great place called Bomboulas. It was a pub style feel but had a three-piece jazz band playing that was great. Lots of great places to eat on Frenchmans Street.
After lunch, we headed to City Park to see Storyland – lots of sculptures of favorite storybook characters that the kids can play on and climb all over. We also walked through the New Orleans Botanical Gardens which is right next door and let the kids run out all their energy through the park. There was a train ride and on weekends there is a small theme park and carousel here.
It was a busy three days but we all enjoyed exploring “The Big Easy”. There are so many more highly recommended things to do in New Orleans including The Zoo, The Aquarium, and the Insectarium. There is also Mardi Gras World and the Voodoo Museum and lots of walking tours of the city. If you haven’t been, you really must!
Not ready to make the long drive to New Orleans? Check out these fun day trip ideas.