Rolling down I-65 heading toward The Crescent City is often nerve-racking as a parent. Someone we spoke with only scheduled two days in New Orleans afraid there wasn’t much for the family. Oh, we got all the parents covered here. There are so many fun things to do in New Orleans! Known for a more adult atmosphere, New Orleans can also be a great place for a family trip. We took our young daughter with us to explore this southern city and here is a list of our favorite activities:
1. Studio Be- Artist Brandan “B-mike” Odums has become a legend of using the abandoned building to make a powerful message all over the city. From abandoned public housing buildings to other buildings left to rot after Katrina. He now has created a powerful experience in a warehouse that houses a fantastic art exhibition in the Bywater section of New Orleans! HIis exhibit includes pieces that speak to Hurricane Katrina, Black Lives Matter’s Modern-day movement, and the past Civil Rights Movement. It also touches on self-esteem and love. For a truly extraordinary experience, visit Studio Be. 2941 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70117. Great video below from GoNOLA
2. Trolley and graveyards- In New Orleans, trolleys are called streetcars. This is a charming, romantic, and convenient way to see the mansions that line the streets. If you have a little one who loves “Princess and the Frog” they are going to love riding down the tracks through the Garden District. Also, visiting graveyards is a must to get that full New Orleans tourist experience. Each graveyard has a story to tell and so many offer tours. New Orleans buries their dead in above-ground cemeteries and mausoleums. The tombs and monuments are fascinating and worth your time to visit. The one we visited was Lafayette Cemetery Number 1. It’s located across from the famous Commander’s Palace.
3. Prytania Theater– This historic, 1915 single-screen movie theater shows New Release, classic, kids’, and indie flicks. It is the oldest operating theater in New Orleans and caters to film buffs and families alike. It certainly has that old Hollywood feel. We were beyond excited to introduce Raiders of the Lost Arc to our young child…on the big screen! It is also charming that the theater is only a single screen theater. Perfect spot when the heat and humidity just get a little too much for you.
4. Mardi Gras World- You will be engulfed in a 300,000 square foot working warehouse when you enter Mardi Gras World. You’ll see old and new floats being made for Mardi Gras parades year-round. They also give you a slice of King Cake to complete the experience. We enjoyed our time here and were amazed by the artistry and effort it takes to make these parade floats.
5. Whitney Plantation- Experience a guided walking tour of this plantation museum that focuses on the experience of southern slaves. Through slave narratives, museum exhibits, memorial artwork, and restored buildings, the Whitney will give you an understanding of the enslaved people who lived and worked there. This tour will open your heart and your mind.
6. French Quartour Kids- Our daughter loved these tours. The Creole kids tour is a 1.5-hour tour for kids ages 7-12. The guide takes you back to the 1830s where you explore what life was like for kids back then. This family-friendly tour will keep your kids entertained while they learn. We learned new things too! We also experienced the Music Tour for Teens. What a great way to explore the musical roots and history of this city! This tour spends a great amount of time in Congo Square. These retired teachers made excellent tour guides and the kids (and the parents) were engaged the whole time.
7. Sports- Catch a Pelicans or a Saints game. Experience the excitement of professional sports and cheer on your favorite team! If it’s fall, you’re only an hour from LSU and Tiger Stadium. We’ve spent more time in New Orleans during the NBA season. It’s always a great chance to see the stars of the Western Conference when in town. We’re still dreaming of seeing the The Human Jukebox live in the Bayou Classic (Which Marching Bands in Louisiana are a sport):
8. Preservation Hall- Experience the living traditions of Jazz at Preservation Hall. The Hall, founded in 1961, hosts intimate, acoustic jazz concerts nightly. They feature some of New Orlean’s finest performers and there’s no better place to experience a live concert. We got lucky to see Wendell Brunious and Shannon Powell (drummer in the photo with our daughter). Mr. Powell is Harry Connick’s drummer in many of the big band albums and also performed with John Boutté on the Treme song for HBO’s series. There were three other fabulous musicians with equal resumes. Warning, this is a really old school venue with limited air. (Louis Ford Clarinet, Steve Pistorious piano, Freddie Lonzo trombone)
9. Congo Square- Visit this open space full of musical history. Historically, this was a place that enslaved Africans would set up a market, sing, dance and play music. Congo Square continues to be an important venue for music festivals, brass band parades, and drum circles.
10. Peaches Record Store– Peaches records opened in 1975 and is a favorite local music hub in the city. It is a family-run business and has helped launch the careers of many Nola musicians. But wait….there’s more! There is an authentic 1940’s Woolworth’s luncheonette counter that is fully intact…in the record store! It’s the owner’s dream to make it fully operational again. But for now, it’s worth going to see this piece of history hiding in a record store.