“Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.” -Roy M. Goodman
Preparing for a trip can be time consuming. I don’t know how many travel blogs, and city websites I went through to come up with a great itinerary. Honestly, it was tiring and a bit overwhelming. In the end I managed to find some great tourist things to do within our budget while in New Orleans. Check out what we did on our 3 day stay. By the way, I’m not affiliated with any of these businesses. The opinions are my own.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends. Before moving to Texas we would hike it a few hours to get to family. Now, everyone is a bit out of our reach to do a quick 3 day weekend. The past few years we decided to travel to new cities and enjoy the weekend as a family. This year we were able to have Thanksgiving early with my parents. See my mom’s pineapple pie recipe here. This made traveling on Thanksgiving easier since we technically already had it. There are plenty of touristy things you can do in New Orleans that are kid friendly. We also managed to find some great free things as well.
The famous Bourbon Street and the rest of the French Quarter is a must see. You will want to see the beautiful architecture. There is plenty of walking to do along with shopping, jazz musicians to sit and listen to, restaurants to eat at, etc. Because it gets dark early in the winter, we toured the French Quarter in 2 half days. We spent the mornings doing another item and came back to shop, but you could spend a full day here exploring.
Jackson Square & the St Louis Cathedral are the heart of the French Quarter. The Square is surrounded by beautiful landscaping. The area in front of the cathedral, along the iron fence that surrounds the square, has long been an artist’s hang out, and nearby are shops and restaurants, making it a popular spot for tourists. The Square is along the banks of the Mississippi River. Close by are the docks to take Natchez Steamboats.
You can’t go to the French Quarter and not have a famous beignet. There are plenty of places that sell this delicious treat, but only few are famous for it. Cafe Du Monde and Cafe Beignet are well known. We tried ours at Cafe Beignet. Let me just say that if you like funnel cake than you will love a beignet. We absolutely loved them. The line was long, but it moved fairly quickly. Make sure you take some cash with you. Some beignet places do not accept cards.
The Garden District
Can I just say breathtaking?! The Garden District is a prosperous residential area with mansions, mature trees, and lush gardens. You will love the architecture and landscaping. We did a self walking tour through the Garden District. I found a sample tour here. This site also has plenty ideas of places to go and things to do. When you go to the Garden District, you must stop and shop on Magazine Street. This street is lined with fun shops and places to eat. You have to stop and eat at District Donuts. It is by far some of the best food we’ve eaten. They have donuts, sliders, and brewery. I’ve been craving cheese fries ever since.
The cemeteries and entire funeral/burial process in New Orleans is so interesting that visiting a cemetery is a must-do. We did a self tour of the Lafayette Cemetery #1. It is in the Garden District and free admission. Other cemeteries have paid entry tours. For example the St Louis Cemetery is $20/person. It is the oldest active cemetery in New Orleans and home to Madame Lavreau’s tomb.
Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus
We took the Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus. You can get on and off at many of the destinations throughout the city. It provides easy access to different neighborhoods and good views from the top floor. This allowed us to take our time touring. I loved hearing some of the historical background and stories of New Orleans. Each bus has a tour guide. Each guide provides different information about the city. You will never hear the same story twice. If you want to stay on the bus for the entire loop, it will take roughly 2 hours. I honestly didn’t think this would take us all day to do, but it did. I highly suggest doing this one. It will save you a headache from trying to constantly find a parking spot or calling an Uber.
There are things to do outside of the city and downtown. We took a day to explore the other aspects of New Orleans. We enjoyed a swamp tour through Cajun Encounters. We had a 2 hours tour of the bayou at Honey Lake Swamp. Our tour guide was funny and provided some great information about the area. We were able to see gators, wild-boar, snakes, raccoons, and more. My kids loved this one.
New Orleans City Park covers more than 1,300 acres and contains numerous attractions. If your child is in desperate need of a place to run wild this is the place! There is a huge playground, fields to run in, and trails to walk. Did I mention it is free? They have lights hanging from the trees during the Holidays. You can walk the trails and see all the displays lit up.
Sculpture Garden & Museum
Right by City Park is the outdoor Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, with more than 60 sculptures, as well as walking paths, lagoons, and mature live oak trees. This part of the museum is free.
Left on Our Itinerary
There were a few items on our list that we didn’t have time for. If you are looking for live Jazz check out Preservation Hall on St Peter Street. They have 5 showtimes starting at 5p. It is a first come, first serve. So be sure to come early.
Natchez Steamboat is a great way to tour the Mississippi River. We didn’t get to do this one. I’ve read some great reviews. It is a great kid-friendly tourist item.
WWII Museum is an outstanding museum with engaging exhibits and documentary snippets that tell the history of WWII as it was fought in Europe and in the Pacific. This is on our list for next time.
Mardi Gras World is where you get to see first-hand all the floats made for Mardi Gras. If you take the Hop On Hop Off Bus you can get dropped off right in front of the entrance and receive a discounted entry.
New Orleans has such a fascinating historical background. It has a vibe you won’t find anywhere else. It was so fun to learn how the city began, the history of it, and to see the improvements for the future. It might not be your first thought of a kid-friendly vacation, but it is worth the trip to see their rich culture and try the food.
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