Visiting New Orleans

Archived Q&A and Reviews

July 2002

We're planning a trip to New Orleans with our 14 month old. Does anyone have recommendations on places to stay or things to do? For instance, are babies welcomed at Galatores or Commanders Palace? Any info or recommendations will be welcome. tadashi

I've lived in New Orleans for a few years and we're taking our 2 1/2 year old for the first time next month. We're actually renting a house Uptown (not in the French Quarter). It was a little hard to find something - we're meeting friends so we needed four bedrooms. There are many smaller places available in the French Quarter. Someone gave me a New Orleans guidebook for kids that looks terrific. I don't have it in front of me, but if you e-mail me directly I'll send you the title. I wouldn't take my child to Commander's or Galatoire's. She's great in restaurants, but these places are pretty formal and I'm ultra sensitive about disturbing other patrons. They are also expensive and I'd hate to have to duck out quickly. You might consider brunch at these places instead of dinner. The zoo and Audobon Park are very nice. You can take a steamboat from downtown to the zoo and then cable car back. I'm sure we'll go to the Aquarium too. I'd be happy to give you more recommendations if you want to e-mail me directly. Jane

Commander's or Galatoire's with kids.... No. Not unless I could guarantee they would be quiet. Very formal, very expensive. NOLA'er

May 2000

We are going to New Orleans in the fall for a wedding. I hear so much about adult activies there. Are there any good places to go, things to do for preschoolers or toddlers? Thanks.

There are a number of things to do with children in New Orleans. We were there last June with our then 19 month old son. The two main things that stood out for us were the Louisiana Children's Museum (on Julia St.) and the Aquarium. The Children's Museum seemed a bit expensive, but may now be participating in the reciprocal children's museum program. It has a great toddler area upstairs, however, that has a fair amount of space and lots of different things to do. The rest of the museum is aimed at older kids and we didn't explore it particularly. I took my son there several times while we were there. The Aquarium is small,but was actually just about the perfect size for a toddler. He was interested in what we saw, but didn't get overwhelmed (like he has sometimes at the Monterey Bay Aquarium). There are also a large number of swamp tours available. I don't know how well a toddler would do with one of those trips, though.

The Audubon Zoological Gardens outside the Garden District are really great. It's a zoo, but there is a lot of lush greenery so it doesn't seem so much like one. We particuarly enjoyed the swamp area, mostly because it was so southern. We got there by street car from the hotel district adjacent the French Quarter, and the ride alone was interesting.

My husband and I have been to New Orleans about 8 times in the last 13 years (including our honeymoon!). Obviously, we love the place. We always go in the summer (the humidity reminds me of my childhood in Alabama), since it's less crowded then. We didn't take my daughter (who is 8 now) until she was 6, but she loved it too. We always stay at a place in the French Quarter called The Provincial. It is on Chartres Street, just down from Jackson Square and a stone's throw from Cafe du Monde (which is a must for any small one who likes sugar -- they serve beignets (French fried dough puffs covered in powdered sugar) and chicory coffee (not my favorite, but worth a try if you've never had it)). The hotel has a pool, which is a great relief after a hot day wandering around the quarter.

As for things to do with kids, I second the recommendation for the aquarium, but my first stop would be the Audubon Zoo which is in the Garden District. You can take a street car (an adventure in itself) there, or you can take a river boat from the River walk area where the aquarium is (also fun, but a very short ride and expensive). There's a wonderful old cemetery close by too which is worth walking through. Preservation Hall is on Bourbon Street, (a very raunchy area), but it does have great New Orleans style jazz, which I think a child of any age would enjoy, and there is no alcohol sold there (although you can bring it in from some where else). My six year old loved it. We did take a swamp tour, and that was quite an experience, but you have to drive at least 1/2 hour or so to get to the bayous where they offer them.

The Big Easy is everything you've heard it is - beautiful, raunchy, flamboyant, quaint, relaxed, dangerous, colorful. I think you either like it or you don't. Hope you will find it as magical as we do.