I grew up enthralled with New Orleans—each summer, my grandmother would guide me around the Big Easy, teaching me the basics of jazz, Cajun cooking, and voodoo. Today, I visit with my family, introducing my son to the salty-sweet delights of crawfish and exposing him to the colorful cords of jazz.
With New Orleans you get a mix of French and Spanish culture, enviable restaurants, the architecture of the French Quarter, and the grandeur of the mansions in the Garden District. The city’s lively, upbeat ambiance isn’t just for party animals. My son adores the bustle of the French Quarter, especially when the marching bands roll through. Here’s the best way to spend a few days in the Paris of the South.
Nola is hot and humid, especially in summer.
If you only have time for one thing, make it a walk through the iconic French Quarter neighborhood.
Start on foot in the French Quarter, home to landmarks like French Market, Jackson Square, and Pirates Alley. The Quarter is lively, so pace yourself and shop, eat, and snap photos at your leisure. Have some beignets, a fried donut-style pastry, at the famous Cafe Du Monde. To see other neighborhoods, like the Garden District, take the streetcar.
Get out in the bayou and experience the flora and fauna of the swampy Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (named after a famous pirate). Weave through the dangling Cypress trees on the water via airboat, spotting turtles, birds, and even alligators.
Teens and adults will especially love wandering around the Garden District to admire the gorgeous, colorful mansions that run along the tree-lined streets. If younger kids get tired of walking, just hop on the streetcar and roll along St. Charles Avenue.
The city's Cajun and Creole heritage proves interesting for both children and adults. Covering everything from gastronomy to architecture, a Creole and Cajun family tour gets everyone involved and interested in learning about this unique history and culture.
Finish off your Nola experience with a boat ride along the emblematic Mississippi River in a historic paddle wheeler boat. Kids enjoy watching the colorful paddle spin and power the boat, while adults listen to commentary about the Battle of New Orleans.