New Orleans With Kids

Happy Valentine’s Day (if that’s your thing).  If its not, well I hear ya and this post is totally not Valentine’s related.

Bethany posted about a trip to New Orleans once before. Its a fabulously unique destination, so I thought I’d add a few pointers here for making a kid-friendly visit.  New Orleans is a quick trip from where we live, so Mississippians tend to head down there with some regularity.  Although, I personally only go about once every three years or so.  There is something for everyone, depending on what kind of experience you want to have – history, architecture, gambling, 24/7 bars, jazz clubs, a dazzling variety of unbelievable restaurants.  And, if you are under 5 years old, there’s actually a fair variety for the preschool set as well.  Here is what we did, and what we wished we could’ve done, with our 3 year old.

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1.  Book a hotel with a heated pool.

The train station dropped us off right down town.  Indoor pools are not very common down there, since its a generally warm climate, relatively speaking.  I had to do a good bit of scouring the internet to find at least a heated outdoor pool.  In Ransom’s mind, hotel = pool, end of story.  I used this website to determine pool information, and good ole Orbitz to find the best price.  Over night temperatures were in the low 60s and we adults fairly well froze in the pool.  It was heated but not to hot tub level.  Next time I think we’ll just go later in the year.

We stayed at the Bienville House, and I do recommend it.  Continental breakfast included, and the people are all very nice.

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2. Ride the streetcar.

Ransom LOVED the streetcar.  We only got to ride it once unfortunately, from the train station to the hotel. There was some major disappointment about not getting to ride it back to the train station.  We tried but it was apparently running at least 35 minutes late, and we had a actual scheduled train to catch.  So we took a cab.  Moral – use the streetcar for leisure travel, not necessarily when you actually have to be somewhere at a certain time.  If we’d had more time, I think Ransom would have loved to just ride the trolley out to the end of the line, get off, and then ride it back again.

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3. The Aquarium

This was our big planned excursion, and it was a hit with Ransom for sure.  We only had two hours and we assumed that we wouldn’t have time to see everything.  However, its actually not very big.  Two hours is plenty of time to see everything, and since we were going preschooler speed (which is pretty fast in places like museums and zoos), we could’ve easily been out in an hour.  We even made a return to the play boat section, of course.  The down side is, the ticket prices are steep – $60 for the three of us.  I kinda feel like something so expensive shouldn’t be viewable in two hours, know what I mean?  But it did make an impression on Ransom.  We’ve had lots of discussion about sharks and jelly fish ever since.

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4. The Cafe du Monde

This place is a New Orleans classic, and its great for kids.  You sit outdoors and all they serve are beignets which are essentially powdered donuts.  (Really really good ones.)  Doesn’t get much better, does it?  My advice – skip the coffee.  Its disgusting!  Who would drink that?  Okay try it once just so you can learn for yourself how disgusting the mysterious ‘chicory’ ingredient is.  Gag.  Order chocolate milk instead.  Also, the wait line for the restaurant was a little bit long, so we went to the ‘To Go’ window.  There’s a nice park right next door.

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That is basically all we packed into our 17 hours in New Orleans.  Our train was a whopping 5 hours late arriving in NOLA, so that kind of took a bite out of an already quick trip.  We did find two kid-friendly restaurants –  Daisy Duke’s Restaurant.  They serve breakfast 24/7 and some typical New Orleans fare (gumbo, po boys).  All was good but not life changing.  But hey, this was at 9 pm on Saturday night, right by our hotel, and not a bar.  So basically perfect for us.  And then we also ate at Arby’s.  ha.

Next time, we’ll plan a three-day weekend so that we have a little more flexibility.  A few more kid friendly options that are on my list for next time:

Swamp tour

These are probably overpriced and super touristy, but if there’s an airboat and/or an alligator involved, I know it would be a hit with our kiddo.  I saw these being offered from several ‘tourist information’ stands, as well as in the hotel lobby, visitors center, etc.

The Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

I’ve heard its good.  Kids love bugs. Its newer than the aquarium so it probably doesn’t have that “We built this in the 80s’ feel going on.

The City Park

We didn’t get to go here because their winter hours are kind of slim, but I’ve heard its awesome.  There is a small amusement park section, a storybook garden, a train garden, and a lot of huge live oak trees.  I bet you could get some fantastic instagrams of your kiddos riding the antique carousel, etc.  Seriously Ransom loves all rides, from the mall food court up, so I know he’d love this.  Definitely on our list for the next trip.  (And you can take the streetcar to get there.)

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About Mary-Hall

loyal southerner, exceedingly frugal, compulsive DIYer
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