A little over a week ago we took a trip to New Orleans and it was amazing! My husband was taking a course there for work and we decided to join him and make it a mini family vacation. We had never been to NOLA before and we absolutely fell in love with this city.
We stayed at the Hyatt Regency downtown which was a great location. We were within walking distance to restaurants, a grocery store and some attractions. We were pretty tired after our flight in so we checked in, got settled in our room and then had dinner at Vitascope Hall, one of the many restaurants in the hotel.
The next day after having breakfast at the hotel we headed into the city to explore. It was about a half hour walk to the French Quarter where we had lunch at Johnny's Po-Boys. The Po-Boys were delicious! We had the meatball and the alligator sausage. Johnny's is cash only so make sure you have some with you before you go because their ATM isn't always working.
After lunch we headed over to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. We purchased the aquarium and zoo passes since we knew we would do both. Also, just as a heads up they do not participate in the reciprocal programs so if you are a member at another AZA zoo you won't get a discount, but they do offer discounts if you plan on visiting more than one Audubon attraction.
We saw all kinds of fish, penguins, a white alligator and we even go to pet some sting rays.
After the aquarium we walked around a bit to get a feel for the city. The aquarium is right on the Mississippi River and we got a great view of the Steamboat Natchez.
Both kids fell asleep on the walk back to the hotel so we took the long way back and walked down Canal street. I love all the architecture in New Orleans. The palm trees and street cars reminded me a lot of San Francisco too.
For dinner that night we only had to walk about a block away from our hotel to The Company Burger. You guys, the burgers were amazing! Both my kids love burgers so it was a hug hit. I got a regular burger and Steve got the lamb burger, which was heavenly. We shared an order of sweet potato fries and had fun trying all the different mayos from their mayo bar.
Day two was our zoo day! We rented a car while we were there, which worked out well since the zoo is in the Garden District and a bit farther way from down town. In retrospect I think we could have managed without a car and just used Uber and the street cars so maybe on our next visit we will.
We had a blast as a family exploring the Audubon Zoo. There were so many animals including local favorites like alligators and raccoons! We ate lunch at one of the restaurants in the zoo and were able to get local fare like jambalaya and red beans and rice, so good. We even got to try roman candy which is NOLA's version of salt water taffy, minus the salt water. It was good, but super sticky.
On the way back from the zoo we had to stop at Hansen's Sno-Bliz. This was on Steve's must do list. If you don't know NOLA is known for their snowballs. It's like a snowcone, but way better. The ice is so smooth and they have so many different flavors and toppings to choose from. We tried a bit of everything. We were super lucky too because it was the last day they were open for the season! The line was super long and it took about an hour to get our snowballs but it was so worth it.
That night we again walked about a block from the hotel to a cute little pizza place called Blaze. They do personal pizzas made to order and the kids loved it! I'm telling you having places nearby to eat is the best when you travel with kids, especially family friendly places.
Day three was our first day without Steve. He was working all day so I was on my own with the kids. I honestly was a bit nervous about it. Usually I'm all about exploring a new city, but when you have small children with you it all of a sudden becomes scarier. Luckily I found this great website that had family friendly itinerary available by neighborhood. I was able to pick and choose things I thought the kids would like and also get to see more of New Orleans.
We spent all day exploring the French Quarter and it was an amazing day. The only downside was we lost one of Emmett's shoes on the walk from the parking lot to the French Market so he was shoe-less all day! oops!
Emerson loved walking around the market looking at all the beads, masks and alligator heads for sale. It's a bit touristy, but still fun. There are also a ton of little shops all along Decatur Street that have the typical touristy items like t-shirts and ornaments. I did find a super cute shop that was totally my style called Funrock'n & Pop-City, so of course I had to buy a NOLA t-shirt.
After a bit of window shopping we stopped at Cafe Du Monde for some beignets and a Cafe Au Lait.
We had to wait in line a bit, but it was worth it. The beignets were amazing and my frozen cafe au lait was perfection. Pretty sure Emmett's favorite was all the powdered sugar. If you stop here while in NOLA you will need cash, they don't take cards. They are also open 24/7 which is a huge plus!
Right across from Cafe Du Monde is Jackson Square and the St.Louis Cathedral. We headed into the green space to run around and play. It was my favorite part of the day. There were artists set up all along the outside of the square and a band playing in front of the cathedral. The sun was shining and everyone was happy. Eventually we got a bit hungry and walked through the french quarter over to a funky little restaurant called Dat Dog.
We headed back to the hotel to rest and the kids slept so late that we ended up just ordering room service for dinner. I love that I don't have to cook on vacation!
Day four we stayed close to our hotel and walked over to the Louisiana Children's Museum. It was Halloween and they were having a special event with some cute crafts and the kids were able to wear their costumes!
We are members of another children's museum through the ASTC so we got free admission! I always try to take advantage of our memberships reciprical programs when we travel.
We all had a blast and we didn't even make it to all the exhibits. The museum will be moving to a new location in City Park in the next year or two so if we go back we will have to check that out. After we finished up at the museum we headed back to Blaze pizza as per Emerson's request for lunch. Then it was back to the hotel to get ready for trick or treating.
We asked the hotel staff where we should go and everyone said that St.Charles Avenue in the Garden District was the place to be for trick or treating. It was amazing!
On the corner of St. Charles Ave and State Street is a huge mansion that decorates the whole yard with skeletons. We started there and then walked up and down State Street for trick or treating. Both kids had so much fun. Emerson was a bit shy at first, but after a few houses she would actually say "trick or treat." I was so proud because I know that she was super nervous. Emmett on the other hand was not shy at all. He would walk right up and take the candy out of the person's hand. If you are ever in NOLA for Halloween this is definitely the street to go to.
After about two hours of trick or treating we headed back to the hotel and walked to a small vietnamese restaurant called Magasin Kitchen.
The food was delicious and the wait staff was amazing. They were so friendly and even gave the kids some candy. This is a must do for us now.
Day five was our last full day so we headed over to City Park to explore a bit.
There is so much to do at City Park. We walked through the sculpture garden.
Had some snacks at Morning Call.
Played around on the playground, fed some birds and even found a dinosuar!
We headed back to the hotel after the park to meet up with Steve since he was done early that day. Emerson wanted to go back to the French Market because she was hoping to get a colorful wood tiger she had seen earlier in the week. So we headed over there and showed Steve all the cool places we went in the French Quarter. We had dinner at Gumbo Ya-Ya and then called it a night.
The next day we had to pack up and head home. It was such a great trip, no one wanted to leave. So, if you are thinking of where to take your next family vacation I would recommend New Orleans. There is so much to see and do and it is such a friendly place. I felt very safe and comfortable all throughout the city. We will definitely be back!