This post is sponsored by Delta Air Lines
Are you wondering if traveling to New Orleans with kids is a good idea? We just got back from a four-day trip there and I can attest that there are lots of fun things to do in New Orleans with kids! In this article I’ll break down our itinerary and let you know where we stayed, what we ate, and which were our favorite things for kids to do in New Orleans. The end of this school year has been a busy one, especially for Sean, who had some big state tests to take. So it was fantastic that Delta helped us get away from it all, relax, and reconnect as a family in New Orleans.
Here’s our vlog from the trip:
We flew out of LaGuardia Airport in New York, taking Delta Air Lines. One of the things we love about Delta is the incredible in-flight entertainment. It’s 100% free, and the girls love all the movies and TV shows they have available to them. If they want to use their tablets, they can connect to Wi-Fi, and they never have to worry about running out of charge since there’s in-seat power on most Delta flights.
Checking Into Windsor Court Hotel
On our first night in New Orleans we stayed at Windsor Court Hotel. It’s a traditional luxury hotel with decor inspired by English royalty (think statues of knights and portraits of kings and queens). The lobby has a dark and clubby feel, so when we entered our suite we were surprised to find that it was very bright. Not only were there large windows letting in plenty of sunlight, but the decor in the room was made of light, creamy shades with pretty pops of tiffany blue. The hotel underwent a $15 million renovation in 2018, and it shows. My favorite thing about this hotel is its quiet, tucked-away location, which is fantastic when you’re traveling to New Orleans with kids. We stayed in room 1815, one of the property’s Premium Suites. It has an ample living area that includes a pull-out sofa, a king-sized bed in a separate room, and a bathroom with a dedicated vanity area.
Lunch at Mother’s
We were pretty hungry by the time we checked into the hotel, so we ventured out to find some lunch. Serge had heard good things about Mother’s Restaurant, so we headed there. The restaurant was opened by the Landry family in 1938, and is a favorite hangout among U.S. Marines, since five of the seven Landry children joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
The girls weren’t as hungry as us, so they shared a kid’s meal of fried shrimp with french fries. I ordered the crawfish étoufféé and Serge had a quarter fried chicken with potato salad and red beans and rice. Unfortunately, all of us found our dishes to be quite underwhelming as the flavors were much more bland than we would have expected. It’s possible that we just didn’t order the dishes that the restaurant is most known for (apparently their ham is supposed to be terrific) but I suspect that this restaurant owes its reputation more to its prime location for tourists than its cuisine.
After lunch we spent some time just relaxing in our suite at Windsor Court Hotel. Once we were recharged, we headed to the outdoor pool. It was around 5 pm when we got to the pool, so most of the other guests had already left, and we had the pool almost all to ourselves! Serge and I enjoyed some cocktails poolside, then got in the water too for some family bonding time with the girls.
Trying Chargrilled Oysters for Dinner
We showered and changed, and walked over to the French Quarter to get some dinner. Our plan was to try some po’ boy sandwiches at the famous Johnny’s Po-Boys, but we didn’t realize they closed down after lunch. After wandering around for awhile, we decided to try a place called New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co. To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes. The place was suspiciously empty while nearby restaurants were packed with dinner crowds. I also realized that it was part of a local chain with 9 locations around Louisiana, which isn’t always an indication of high quality. But I was pleasantly surprised.
The girls ordered burgers and fries from the kid’s menu, while Serge and I shared charbroiled oysters and a shrimp po’ boy. I thought the sandwich was just okay, but the oysters were incredible. This method of preparing oysters—topping them with a mixture of melted butter, cheese, garlic and parsley before broiling or grilling them—was popularized by the restaurant Drago’s. Surprisingly, the charbroiled oysters at New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co. tasted much better than the ones we tried at other restaurants later on in the trip, including Drago’s! The oysters were perfectly cooked: not too dry, not too chewy. And the flavors of the toppings were fantastic. Be sure to the french bread they serve it with to sop up the rest of the sauce. Don’t let it go to waste!
Our First-Ever Beignets
Of course you can’t come to New Orleans with kids and not try beignets! After dinner we walked over to Cafe Du Monde. Funny enough, our server was an Italian-American guy originally from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn by way of Staten Island, though I’d never have guessed it from his Louisiana drawl. As he placed down the beignets, he quipped, “these are basically zeppole!” (Zeppole are Italian balls of deep-fried dough, usually also served with powdered sugar. In New York, just about every pizza spot sells them.) Of course the beignets are excellent, but if you go to Cafe Du Monde, you should try their hot chocolate too. It’s got a deep, rich flavor.
Breakfast at Jimmy J’s
If you’re looking for a good breakfast spot in the French Quarter, check out Jimmy J’s Cafe. We tried a variety of breakfast dishes, from bagel and lox to bananas foster toast to crawfish cake benedict, and everything was excellent. Get there early though, because by the time we left around 10:30 am, there was a long line out the door! If you’re coming to New Orleans with kids, this is a great place to grab a meal.
Mardi Gras World
There’s no substitute for experiencing Mardi Gras first-hand, of course, but if you’re not so lucky to be inNew Orleans with kids that week, but you still want them to get a feel for what it’s like, a great place to visit is Mardi Gras World. Also known as Kern Studios, this 300,000 square foot facility is where many of the floats and props for some of the biggest Mardi Gras parades are built. It’s always been a working warehouse, but in 1984, the Kern family decided to open the facility up to the public, so visitors to New Orleans can get a sense of the detail, artistry and engineering that go into making Mardi Gras happen.
Afternoon Tea at Le Salon
New Orleans is known as a party town, of course, but if you’d like to experience a more elegant and refined side of the city, I’d recommend trying the afternoon tea service at Le Salon at Windsor Court Hotel. The tea service starts with a light cocktail or sparkling drink. Serge and I had some sparkling wine, while the girls enjoyed Shirley Temples. Then, you choose from 26 loose-leaf variety brews, organized by genre: white, green, oolong, black, flavored black, rooibos and tisane. An assortment of tea sandwiches are presented first, followed by scones, and of course, a course of sweet treats. When we were there, a pianist was performing, but the afternoon tea often features a performance by the principal harpist of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.
One thing that makes the afternoon tea here special is that they offer a special, off-the-menu kid’s version of afternoon tea that has kid-friendly classics like PBJs and cupcakes. Our server also delighted the girls by serving pouring their Shirley Temples into teacups, so they could sip their “tea” like the grown-ups. This was such a fun experience for us, and it really allowed us to reconnect as a family.
Throughout the year, Le Salon has many fun themed tea services like Prohibition or Mad Hatter, where guests are encouraged to dress up. And I’ve heard from locals that their Holiday tea is a huge draw around Christmas time. So definitely add this to your list when you’re traveling to New Orleans with kids!
Photo: Meghan Autin
Checking Into The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans
For the rest of the trip, we stayed at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. This property is a peaceful, luxurious oasis in the middle of the hectic French Quarter. The Ritz-Carlton always does a fantastic job of making kids feel comfortable, and this property was no different. The girls loved the welcome kit they received upon check-in, and after they completed the included scavenger hunt, they were thrilled to receive a gift bag from the hotel, filled with Mardi Gras beads, masks, and lots of other fun New Orleans-themed goodies.
We stayed in room 810, one of the hotel’s Executive Suites. It had a comfortable living area with a pull-out sofa, a separate bedroom, a spacious white marble master bathroom, and as well as a powder room off the living area.
Just a note: The property is located right on Canal Street, which has enough spillover crowds from Bourbon Street to get a bit rough, particularly in the evenings. While the property itself is very family-friendly, I’d exercise some caution when stepping outside if you’re doing a trip to New Orleans with kids.
Johnny’s Po-Boys and Jackson Square
New Orleans is known for its po-boy sandwiches, and one of the most famous po-boy spots is Johnny’s Po-Boys. Founded in 1950, it’s believe to be the oldest po-boy restaurant in the world. One thing I learned on this trip is the origins of the name “po-boy,” which can be traced back to the big street car driver strike of 1929. The owners of a restaurant on St. Claude Avenue were sympathetic to the strikers, and to support them, they created an inexpensive sandwich made of spare bits of roast beef, along with gravy. Whenever a worker came to get a sandwich, people would cry “here comes another poor boy!” Eventually, people started referring to the sandwiches as “poor boys,” or “po-boys.”
For some reason, anytime I see a po-boy on a restaurant menu here in New York, it’s always a shrimp po-boy. It wasn’t until I went to New Orleans that I learned po-boys are made with all different types of meats. The shrimp po-boy at Johnny’s is very good, but if you ask a local, they’ll tell you to be sure to try a roast beef po-boy when you’re in town. The one at Johnny’s is excellent. The roast beef is nice and tender and the gravy adds a lot of flavor. Just know that it’s a messy sandwich to eat, so grab some extra napkins, especially for the kids.
After our meal, we took a stroll around the famous Jackson Square, named after Battle of New Orleans hero Andrew Jackson. This square faces the Mississippi River and is surrounded by historic buildings, including the St. Louis Cathedral, the Louisiana State Museums, and the Lower and Upper Pontalba Apartments, which are the oldest apartment buildings in the United States. It’s a lively area, with lots of street performers and local artists selling their work, so a fun thing to do in New Orleans with kids.
Alligator-Watching on Louisiana Swamp Tour
One of our favorite parts of coming to New Orleans with kids was taking a swamp tour with Louisiana Tour Company. We’d done a swamp airboat tour before in Orlando, so for this experience in New Orleans we opted for the swamp boat instead as it was a more comfortable ride, given the shade provided by its roof. Our tour guide shared some interesting facts about the swamps, showed us a lot of alligators living in their natural habitat, drawing them closer to the boat by tossing out marshmallows for them to eat. (Why marshmallows? Because they’re big and white and they float, so they’re easy for both us and the alligators to see.) But the highlight for the girls was when the tour guide brought out his pet baby alligator for us to hold. If there’s anything that will bond a family together, it’s getting to play with baby reptiles! The girls loved it!
Drago’s: Birthplace of the Charbroiled Oyster
Drago’s Seafood Restaurant is best-known for its charbroiled oysters. According to the restaurant’s website, it was second generation restaurant manager Tommy Cvitanovich who came up with the recipe in 1993. He experimented with a sauce of garlic, butter and herbs, brushing it onto a fresh batch of oysters, sprinkling on a blend of Parmesan and Romano cheese and cooking them in their shell on a hot grill. Since then, this way of preparing oysters has become almost standard across New Orleans.
For appetizers, we ordered both raw oysters and charbroiled oysters, as well as some fried gator bites. We all enjoyed the gator bites, but we were disappointed by the charbroiled oysters. They were overcooked to the point of being extremely dry and almost burnt, and many of the oysters hardly had any meat in them. As I mentioned above, we were surprised that the chain restaurant New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co. had much better charbroiled oysters than Drago’s–the restaurant who originated the recipe. We also didn’t enjoy the raw oysters. If you’re used to the crisp taste of east coast oysters, you’ll be shocked by the chewy, mealy mouthfeel of Louisiana oysters. They definitely taste much better cooked than raw. Our entrees were fine, but not remarkable. The girls ordered buttered pasta and a cheeseburger from the kid’s menu, Serge had the blackened catfish, and I had crawfish étoufféé.
Paddlewheeler Creole Queen
The next morning we took a historic cruise down the Mississippi River on the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen, a riverboat with an old-fashioned paddlewheel. The cruise begins at the Poydras Street dock in New Orleans and stops at Chalmette Battlefield, before returning to the original dock. Serge and I found the cruise to be very interesting as a local historian shared details of about 300 years of New Orleans history, from the city’s founding by the LeMoyne brothers, to the expansion of the city into the “French Quarters” of the Treme and Marigny, from the Louisiana Purchase, to the critical Battle of New Orleans. But to be honest, the girls were pretty bored. If you’re visiting New Orleans with kids and doing this cruise, I’d definitely recommend bringing some toys and games for them to pass the time with.
The part that the girls did like was the one-hour stop at Chalmette Battlefield, the site of the Battle of New Orleans that took place on January 8, 1815. There, National Park Rangers give a guided tour and talk that’s probably of most interest to the adults. The girls enjoyed running around on the beautiful grounds there.
A Delicious Lunch at Galliano
Hands-down, the best meal we had in New Orleans was at Galliano in the Warehouse District. This restaurant takes traditional Cajun dishes and gives them a contemporary twist. Our favorite dish was the duck wings appetizer. Coated in hot sauce and sugar cane glaze, these wings were so delicious that even Ella, the least adventurous eater of the family, couldn’t get enough of them! We ordered the chargrilled oysters here as well, but again, they weren’t as good as the ones at New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co. For entrees, the girls ordered popcorn shrimp from the kid’s menu, Serge ordered the southern fried chicken, and I had the crawfish pasta Monica. Everything was fantastic.
Louisiana Children’s Museum
One thing I definitely didn’t love about New Orleans was the weather. We were there in May, and it was already sweltering hot. (I can’t even imagine what it’s like in August!) If you want a respite from the heat and humidity, a great place to go to in New Orleans with kids is the Louisiana Children’s Museum. While it’s a lot smaller than kid’s museums we’ve visited in other cities (like the Experimentarium in Copenhagen or the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto) the exhibits were really engaging. We spent an entire afternoon here and the girls were so happy. They particularly loved the pretend grocery store, where they could “shop” for “groceries” and even get a receipt when they checked out! They also enjoyed the pretend coffee shop, where they could take orders from “customers,” then go back to the kitchen to “cook” and serve the dishes!
Our flight out of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport was at 6 a.m., so unfortunately we didn’t have time to check out the Delta Sky Club there. Our flight back to New York was a breeze though, and we got to try out some of Delta’s new snack options. The airline recently brought back fan favorite Squirrel Brand almonds, and much to the girls’ delight, they introduced Cheez-It crackers as another option, in addition to the airline’s beloved signature Biscoff cookies and gluten-free KIND Dark Chocolate Chunk Bars. Delta is continuously investing in the onboard customer experience, and that’s why they’ve committed to seasonal refreshes for its onboard menus–so that even the most frequent travelers have something new to look forward to each season!
Many thanks to Windsor Court Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans for hosting us.
About Carmen Sognonvi
Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel content creator at Top Flight Family, named a top 10 family travel Instagram account by Time Out New York and Brit + Co. Her insights on travel have been featured in The Washington Post, INSIDER, Huffington Post, Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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