The Best of New Orleans with Kids
For each of our kid's first birthdays we took them on a short roadtrip to New Orleans. We knew we didn't want to have a birthday party, so this was our way to make their birthday special.
When we took our daughter in April 2016, I was about 12 weeks pregnant and so sick. I spent the majority of our trip in our Airbnb puking while my husband took our daughter out on his own for a few hours. On that trip, the only thing that really stands out was our super cool Airbnb and the fact that we found High Hat Cafe; possibly our favorite restaurant in New Orleans.
For my son, it was completely different. The entire experience was better. Not only was I not having horrible morning sickness, we got there on a Thursday meaning we had an extra night and one more full day than we did with Charletta. That extra time gave the trip a much more relaxed feeling.
Day 1: Audubon Zoo, High Hat Cafe
We arrived on Thursday night and spent the night with Jimmy's cousins in Metairie, Louisiana. It was a great experience being outside the typical down town New Orleans. I went for a run that morning while the kids visited with family at the house. I was impressed with the gigantic drainage systems through out the neighborhood. It helped me better understand that New Orleans truly does sit below sea level in many parts. It's one of the only places I have ever walked up-hill to get to the river front.
Once we got everyone fed and dressed, we headed out for the Audubon Zoo. We partnered with the Audubon Institute for this visit and it far exceeded my expectations. See our full write up on our adventure at the Audubon Zoo HERE. It is highly recommended.
After the Zoo, we checked in to our amazing Airbnb. We let the kids get their jitters out and explore our new pad while we got ready. We already knew where we were eating: High Hat Cafe. We found this restaurant in April 2016 when we visited for Charletta's first birthday. It's so freaking delicious. When you go, be sure to try their Boudin and the Shrimp Creole. Truly the best I have ever had.
Day 2: Cafe Beignet, Jackson Square, St Louis Cathedral, French Quarter, Jean Laffite National Park, The Audubon Aquarium, Walk along the River, Wafare
This was our first full day of being real deal tourists. We headed straight for downtown. We found a paid public parking lot that ended up being very convenient. It's Public Parking 401 and is located on Decatur street. A fair warning: it's expensive. We paid $18 then went back and added time & another $22. So, $40 total for parking. You pay for the convenience for sure.
Once we got the strollers out, babies in and coats on, we walked to the edge of the parking lot and right into Cafe Beignet! I knew I wanted to skip Cafe Du Monde this time since we've been every other time we've visited New Orleans. However, if you have never experienced the madness at Cafe Du Monde, go there at least once on your visit. It's a New Orleans classic. We barely waited in line before we were given our huge plate of Beingets and coffee. When in New Orleans, be aware that they serve Chicory coffee unless you ask for it without. For those of us not accustom to Chicory, it can be a shock and you may not like it. I also HIGHLY recommend a stop in front of the Cafe Beignet shop on Royal Street -- it is very Instagram worthy! (photo below)
From Cafe Beignet, we walked easily down Decatur street to Jackson's Square. We arrived early in the day and there weren't many people around, so we had a couple photo shoots before we moved on to a tour of St. Louis Cathedral. The church suggests a donation for the visit and you can drop a couple bucks in the bin at the door. I had never been inside, so it was fantastic to finally get a glimpse. Be sure to look up!
From the Cathedral, we walked along different streets throughout the Quarter. We stopped three times; once to listen to some incredible street music, once to stop and play in bubbles, and once to pop into Boutique Du Vampyre. This shop is one of only 3 Vampire stores in the world. We didn't buy anything, but we were thoroughly entertained and impressed at the collection of Vampire supplies.
Once we felt content, we walked down to Canal Street and then toward the Mississippi River. Once we arrived at the waterfront, we realized we were standing at the entrance of the Audubon Aquarium! It is SO convenient to downtown and very easily walkable from the French Quarter. If you're further away from the Quarter, the Aquarium is accessible by the New Orleans Street Car! We have a full write up on our time at the Aquarium HERE. If you have children or a rainy day, definitely make this a stop on your New Orleans tour!
After Latham napped through the entire Aquarium, we went for a stroll along the river. If you're planning a riverboat cruise, this is where you'll want to be! We watched the riverboats and listened to some amazing live Jazz music from a festival happening downtown. We continued our walk back towards the car and decided to do one more walk down Decatur to get some cajun souvenirs. This was when we accidentally found the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park! There is a small museum, clean bathrooms and a fantastic quiet courtyard directly on Decatur street. We stopped here for a long time and let the kids run loose. It was such a nice way to end our time in the French Quarter. If you have a National Park Kids Passport (Get yours HERE), be sure to get it stamped!! They have stamps at the museum desk.
After a quick stop back at our apartment, we rallied the troops and headed back to Freret Street to have some dinner and drinks at Wayfare. It was spectacular. From delicious custom cocktails to mouthwatering dinner. We all enjoyed our own meal fit for a king. Suggestions: Try the Pork Belly Gnocci, Wafare Pomme Frites & Bacon Mac n Cheese!
We woke up the third day, packed up our Airbnb and headed straight for the St. Charles Street Car. We decided we would try to catch the street car at the start of the service where St. Charles Ave meets S Claiborne Ave and ride it towards Canal. You can see the full route of service HERE. We were easily able find parking along the street. We boarded one of the parked Street Cars. Since we boarded at the starting point, we had the entire cable car to ourselves for one stop. This will not happen if you board down by Canal Street due to the heavily trafficked French Quarter. We road the street car with only one thing on our mind: Breakfast. We weren't familiar with the timetables or stops, so we road the car until we saw the New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co and decided to hop off and eat! We thoroughly enjoyed a few New Orleans favorites; Cafe Au Lait, Beignets and mini Beignets for the kids. Once we were stuffed to brim, we caught the Street Car back to our car and wrapped up our trip to New Orleans.
We absolutely love this city. We visited before kids and after and each time we go we find something new and amazing. here is a list of our favorites over the years:
- High Hat Cafe (Dinner)
- GW Fins (Dinner)
- Wayfare (Dinner)
- Pat O'Brians (Drinks & Atmosphere)
- Cafe Beignet (Breakfast, Brunch or Snacks)
- Cafe Du Monde (Breakfast, Brunch or Snacks)
- The Ruby Slipper (Breakfast, Brunch or Lunch)
- Studio Style Airbnb with Free Parking + a pool (Recommend for Couples)
- 2 bedroom, 1 bath, huge kitchen + Free Parking (Recommend for Families)
Don't forget! You get $40 off your first Airbnb Stay by using our link! Click HERE!
Let us know what your favorite go-to restaurant, Airbnb or place to visit in New Orleans is!
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