Just hear the word “December” and many things pop into the minds of moms. If your busy life is anything like mine, December means shopping, wrapping, decorating, trips to the grocery and cooking, to name a few. December also brings a two-week vacation from school for the kids. It is a great opportunity to enjoy the company of your children but, without a few creative activities, it can also become domestic chaos fairly quickly.

For our family, the holidays also bring visiting cousins to New Orleans, so we take advantage of this time to show off and enjoy our city. We recently discovered a new way to see all of our favorite spots when the bright red Hop On/Hop Off buses made New Orleans home.

The buses are climate-controlled on the lower level and open-air with a canopy for shade on the top deck. So even if it’s a chilly day, they offer a comfortable ride. As an added bonus in December, the buses are decked with garland and bows to celebrate the season.

There are a total of 18 stops along the tour, and you can start your tour at any stop. Tickets can be purchased online (CitySightseeingNewOrleans.com) and printed on your computer at home, or purchased on-site from anyone of the tour stops. A single ticket allows you to get on and off the bus as many times as you like and is good for three days. Tickets for children 12 and under are just $10 while adult tickets are $39. A complete loop of all the stops takes approximately two hours if you don’t get off the bus. Our tour guide told us many people enjoy doing the complete overview on their first trip to New Orleans to familiarize themselves with the city’s layout.

We started our day with coffee and muffins on Magazine Street and then walked just a few steps to the tour-bus stop. Buses come by each stop every 30 minutes or less. After a short wait, we boarded the bus and rode to our next destination: Mardi Gras World. We hopped off the tour bus, visited the Mardi Gras museum and hopped right back on the next bus. We hopped off again at the stop on Convention Center Boulevard where we quickly walked to the new Riverwalk Outlet. Then we headed back to the tour bus stop and made our way to the Jackson Square stop where we hopped off again.

With great music playing in the background, we walked to the Moonwalk to take in the best views of the river. We then grabbed lunch at Café Maspero and walked down to the French Market for a bit more shopping. After admiring the recent renovations in the vendor section at the Market, we hopped back on tour bus.

We jumped off again at the Canal Street stop and enjoyed a quick walk down Fulton Street, enjoying the holiday decorations before getting back on the next bus. We decided to ride back to the Garden District stop where we had begun our day.

During the ride, we noted the additional places where we planned on hopping off the next day. Since the bus tour ticket also includes guided walking tours of the Garden District and the French Quarter, and a self-guided tour of St. Louis Cemetery, one ticket provides days of entertainment.

Although there were many highlights on our day trip, there were two real stars of the show. The first was the fabulous, entertaining and informative tour guides we found on each bus. The second was our dear city itself. New Orleans was decorated for the holidays and was ready for company. Now if I could only say the same thing for me!