At least once a month someone asks me, via text or email or Facebook, what the must-do activities are for kids visiting New Orleans, and although I completely appreciate being thought of as someone who might have answers to that kind of question, the truth is that I am more or less a homebody who would be much better-suited to answer: “What true crime series should I binge-watch on Netflix?” or “What is your favorite pasta recipe?” or “How do you keep meringue topping from shrinking?” (Answers: “The Keepers,” spaghetti aglio e olio, and gelatin.)
But as someone who has kids and is passionate about New Orleans, I have some go-to answers ready:
- Poor boys and cheese fries at R&O’s, followed by a walk on the levee
- The sculpture garden in City Park, followed by beignets at Morning Call
- Sno-balls (preferably chocolate cream with condensed milk at Sal’s, fresh strawberry at Lou Lou’s, sour watermelon at Pandora’s, or anything at Hansen’s provided you’re willing to wait in line)
- Riding the streetcar
- Brunch at Russell’s, followed by a drive out to the Point
- Depending on age, the Children’s Museum or the World War II Museum
- Audubon Zoo, Aquarium of the Americas, and/or the Insectarium
- And obviously, if it’s the right time of year, a parade or two
New Orleans is often not thought of as a family-friendly destination, and although that certainly can be true, there are plenty of things to do that don’t involve Bourbon Street or drive-thru daiquiris. (Most of them do involve food, but hey, you’re on vacation, right?)
I don’t get enough chances to play tourist in my own city with my kids – our weekends are full of birthday parties, sleepovers, dance classes, and homework – but I’ve done all of the above activities in the past year, typically with friends in from out of town, and I’ve found them all to be enjoyable, inexpensive, and sometimes even educational.
I do wonder, though, as I tell the 10th person in a row to do the sculpture garden-beignet combo, if I’m missing something simply by being too set in my ways.
Please tell me in the comments if there are any kid-friendly activities or destinations to which I should be steering our NOLA visitors.