Because the DH and I are not the kind of couple who hang out at bars, we always get “the look” when we announce we’re taking a vacation in New Orleans. We argue that New Orleans is a cultural hot spot with lots of fun activities for little kids. We went with my Mom in 2013 and just last week, we visited with my MIL.
We sailed on the Steamboat Natchez, did a swamp tour with the Louisiana Tour Co, visited Jean Lafitte National Park, and toured the French Quarter and Garden District. We made a point to eat at the local joints (we had the best crawfish boil from a vendor in the French Market) and experience as much of the local life as we could. The DH and I even piggybacked on a Ghost Tour one night, but quickly lost interest as it wasn’t nearly as interesting or scary as we imagined. It didn’t help that the guide seemed drunk.
This go round, we purchased Audubon Experience Package tickets which included the Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy IMAX Theatre and Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. Such fun! The exhibits were very interesting and the facilities were well maintained. (BTW I’ve visited many zoos in different countries, and the Audubon Zoo is my absolute favorite!)
At the Insectarium the DH and I were the only two brave enough to eat Southwest Waxworms, Crispy Cajun Crickets and Chocolate Chip Cookies with Roasted Crickets. (The first was my favorite.)
The butterfly room had an Asian theme, with a very large and very beautiful koi pond. The butterflies were allowed to fly freely, but visitors were prohibited from touching them or interfering with them in any way.
During the swamp tour, the guide fed alligators marshmallows, which they fought over like it was a piece of meat.
While one was distracted, the guide successfully balanced a marshmallow on his head.
On the way back to the French Quarter, we caught a mardi-gras parade. Who knows why they had one in June. But since the roads were blocked, we left our car like everyone else and chased beads. Stinky said this was his favorite part of the trip. Go figure!
We happened upon Lafayette Cemetery where we encountered an eccentric guide who was very helpful. We did not get to sail on the riverboat as the lunch cruise was sold out, but we did do the same swamp tour. And because we stayed in the heart of the French Quarter, we had dinner in the local restaurants every night.
Apart from having to cross Bourbon Street on a Saturday night where we saw way too many characters, it was a fun, wholesome family trip. The food is delicious, the people are warm and friendly, and the history is alive and well. So you see, it is possible to have a fun time in New Orleans with kids.
Sidebar: If you don’t have the time or budget for the entire Audubon Experience, I would highly recommend the Zoo. It was the largest attraction and had so many unusual features like a man made swamp, aquatic creatures on display, and a water park (for an additional fee), you get a bit of everything in one stop.
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