Which One of You Naughty Children Been Messing With The Shadow Man?
Let me make one thing clear: I am not a travel blogger. I couldn’t begin to tell you about the swanky places you should visit— at this point I am happy as a clam to find a La Quinta or a cute children’s museum along the way (oh lawdy how far I’ve come). With that being said, we have the incredible opportunity to explore new cities and towns from coast to coast, and I feel like it’s only right that I chat about such spots from time to time, especially from a ‘we love to travel buuuut where we go, the kids go’ perspective. Let’s get started, shall we?
When most people think of New Orleans, visions of Mardi Gras dance in their heads. Between the beads, bands, and booze—they have some of the least restrictive liquor laws in the country— it can seem like a 21+ destination, but rest assured this city has plenty to do for the old and young!
We cruised down to Nola on our first leg of our trip after a dip in to Florida; one of Tyler’s closest friends has lived there for several years and we couldn’t resist stopping in to congratulate him on his recent engagement and to show our kids where Princess Tiana is from. As per the norm with our travels, the weather wasn’t anything to write home about, though to be fair it was mid December and a cold front had blown in to all of the southeastern US. We visited a few summers ago and found the temps to be hot but not at all unbearable. I also consider ‘room temperature’ to be like 80* so take my review for what it’s worth.
No trip to New Orleans would be complete without sampling their unique cuisine. You could easily spend an extended weekend on a food tour and never eat the same dish twice. Promise me if you ever visit you won’t eat at a single fast food place. Not even a Smoothie King. (Sorry, SmoothieKing) Burgers and fries are for random stops in Iowa, not cities and towns with culture-rich meals. Gumbo, jambalaya, étouffée, king cakes, beignets, muffulettas…. is your mouth watering yet? Our kids aren’t super adventurous when it comes to trying things that don't look like chicken strips, but they LOVED everything we made them sample. Be sure to grab an order of beignets (Cafe Beignet is our personal fav), and sample the gumbo. The Old Coffee Pot gets our seal of approval—not too spicy, kid approved, very reasonably priced, and so.freaking.goooooood.
Spend the afternoon wandering around The French Quarter—dozens of artists set up shop, flashing their talents around for all to see. Paintings, sculptures, wall hangings, caricatures… if you’re looking to bring home some new decor New Orleans has you covered. There are tarot card readers and magicians dotted throughout as well, along with a bunch of crazy characters for you to pose with (for a fee of course…Bad Santa doesn’t work for free). My favorite part is the music. Brass bands and jazz fill the air- most ensembles look as though they’re a random group of friends, meeting up to hang out and they all just happen to have their instruments with them. They serenade the crowds that gather around with the most spectacular sounds, and you honestly wonder if they’re not a super famous group that’s trying to disguise themselves as common street artists. They make dancing irresistible and also make you feel guilty for giving up that instrument in 5th grade. If you walk out of New Orleans unimpressed, check your pulse because homie, you’re dead.
Although we didn’t take the kids on our most recent trip, I would highly recommend an airboat swap tour. Just outside of the city you’ll have your pick of at least 6-7 different places. We were taken out on the swamp—which I will say was surprisingly un-buggy— where a delightful cajun man taught us about the flora and fauna of the bayou, and of course there were no shortage of alligators. The tour lasted about an hour, and it was well worth the (reasonable) cost. I am not easily impressed but I had a ball, and I imagine it would be just as fun for kids too. Honestly, just listening to their thick accents is entertainment enough so even if reptiles aren't your thing, go anyway and I will personally guarantee you’ll come back with at least 3 inside jokes you can have until the end of time. ALÓN!!!!!
If you’re in to driving around cute neighborhoods, the Art District did not disappoint. I made Tyler pull over more than zero times so I could snap pictures of all the colorful doors throughout the neighborhood. I told him I was going to start an art exhibit that I would be titled New Doorleans. This was over a month ago and it still makes me laugh out loud when I think of it #soclever. To one up me, as we were driving around I was rattling off all of the door colors I’d still like to see, Tyler told me his mission would be affectionately called ‘Finding Doory’ and that, too, makes me fall over like a fainting goat. It started to rain so we dipped in to the Louisiana Children’s Museum to let the kids burn off some energy. We are members of the EAA Passport Program so we have complimentary access to hundreds of science centers and museums across the US, which is how we spend most dreary days when the weather just isn’t on our side. For information on the EAA Passport Program or to become a member, click here (not a sponsored link, but it’s a great program and organization, so you should probably just join).
I’m sure whether you flew or drove, you wouldn’t mind unwinding with a drink (or 5. Do your thang!) New Orleans is an open carry city, which means you can wander around drink in hand, and no one will bat an eye. Of course if you’re with your kids you may want to take it easy, but there’s no reason you can’t dip in and sample a few of the city’s famous libations. If you’re feeling classy, try a Sazerac. It’s labeled as America’s first cocktail and was said to be invented in New Orleans. We sipped a round at the revolving Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone when we visited in the summer. If you’re feeling touristy go for a Hurricane or a Hand Grenade. Fun fact: there are only 5 bars licensed to serve the official Hand Grenade drink. If you see another establishment anywhere in the US claiming to sell an ‘official Hand Grenade’ you may be able to earn $250 in cold hard cash for turning their lying asses in.
Delicious food, strong drinks, incredible culture, and a fabulous people watching, New Orleans is definitely a destination for everyone, from bachelorette parties to baby mamas and everyone in between. Have you ever visited The Big Easy?