Great Family Trips: New Orleans

The family vacation, like the concept of family itself, has evolved. Kids are traveling with grandma or a single parent or an indulgent uncle (or all three). However you define your kin, this Southern itinerary is all relative.

> Why Go:

Bourbon Street may be restricted to 21 years and older, but an indulgent uncle (or aunt) seeking to spoil nieces and nephews in New Orleans can find plenty of lively attractions for young people.

“The city’s very friendly,” says 12-year-old Brynn, who can walk to the famed St. Charles Avenue streetcar from her Carrollton neighborhood home. “There are parks everywhere.” And you need only one packed day to get the good times rolling.

> The Plan:

Breakfast begins with beignets—the uniquely New Orleans, deep-fried pastry topped with powdered sugar—at Café du Monde in the French Quarter’s heart.

After breakfast troop across Jackson Square, past Andrew Jackson’s statue and the fortune-tellers, and up to the Louisiana State Museum’s second floor in the historic Presbytere to discover both bejeweled costumes and the stories behind the city’s Mardi Gras festivities at the permanent exhibit “It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana.”

Next stop: an hour-long tour of the French Quarter conducted by French Quartour Kids, designed for children up to age 13 by former elementary school teacher and historian Jill Dresser. Hear about pirates, ghosts, and how kids lived in the 1830s. Then visit the New Orleans Insectarium and its bug buffet, serving up mealworm salsa and chocolate chirp cookies made with crickets.  

Those not enamored of six-legged entrées may instead tuck into the fare at District, with a menu of homemade sliders and “extra fancy” doughnuts in exotic flavors like Vietnamese coffee and miso bacon praline. No need to quit munching at the newly opened Southern Food and Beverage Museum, where you can snack while touring the exhibit halls.

Work off the meal with a four-hour kayak tour along the Bayou St. John waterway and spot some of the southern Louisiana wildlife—turtles, egrets, pelicans, and maybe an alligator. If you can’t find a representative of A. mississippiensis in the wild, the Audubon Zoo features them, as well as the new get-wet attraction, “Lazy River Gator Run,” where visitors can float in inner tubes past the exhibits.

> Don’t Miss:  

John Besh’s Pizza Domenica on Magazine Street features gourmet pizzas and garlic-bread knots with a dipping sauce of melted aged provolone.

End your day with a traditional New Orleans snowball at Hansen’s. The fluffy mound of shaved ice (never crushed) is flavored with homemade syrups. Locals adore the cool treats. And so did the James Beard Foundation, which named Hansen’s one of “America’s Classic” restaurants in 2014.

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