Because the DH and I aren’t known to bar hop, 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 Mother in Law.
We’ve been several times since, and one of these days, I’ll update this post. 🙂
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…in June (anyone know why?). The kids were on a mission to collect as many beads as they could. Later, 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…and interesting (that deserves its own post!). And because we stayed in the heart of the French Quarter, we had dinner in the local restaurants every night. I highly recommend!
Apart from having to cross Bourbon Street on a Saturday night where we saw way too many characters having fun, it was a wholesome family trip. The food is delicious, the people are warm and friendly, and history is alive and well. So you see, it is possible to have a fun time in New Orleans with kids.
Pro-tip: 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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