We all have those friends. Those friends who take the same annual trip each year and you are left wondering why or more importantly, when can you go with them? One of my dear friends has an obsession with New Orleans. She goes every year. And comes home just raving about her trip. So we asked her why she loved it so……
If New Orleans was a person, she would be the coolest person you know. She would be smart, mindful of history and heritage, musically inclined, a master gardener, great chef, charming, and just a bit mischievous. She would throw the best parties. She would make strangers feel like friends. Everyday would have the opportunity to be something special – a parade, dancing in the street, chatting up a new friend. She would not lament her past, but embrace it and move forward, as only she can.
New Orleans and I have been good friends for several years now (about twenty.) A trip to visit her always raises my spirits. Each trip is different but the joie de vivre is infectious and can create lasting memories, even if you do the same things and go to the same places.
Like a good host, when New Orleans throws a party, she makes sure there is something for everyone. There are museums, history, and culture. She has wonderful restaurants and bars. Wrought iron balconies, beautiful old homes, and magnolia trees abound. She also has a never ending supply of live music – jazz (swing, big band, zydeco, and ragtime) as well as R&B, ‘80’s, etc.
The best part? New Orleans can be a romantic getaway, a trip with friends, or a family vacation. I have done all three. Listed below are some of my favorites. You can combine these restaurants and activities to create a memorable trip as a couple, group, or family. I love the architecture in both the French Quarter and the Garden District, so that is where we spend most of our time.
New Orleans Restaurants
Regardless of the type of trip, there are several restaurants we love. For brunch, try Mother’s in the Central Business District or in the French Quarter, you can’t beat the atmosphere at Cafe Amelie . That said, the Sunday Jazz brunch at Mr. B’s Bistro will always be my favorite. Acme Oyster House , Felix’s , and Bourbon House are great for either a casual meal or a quick snack. Grilled oysters make an awesome mid-afternoon snack. Johnny’s PoBoys are some of the best in the city for lunch and Cafe du Monde is good any time of the day for coffee and beignets. My children would live on beignets if allowed. For dinner, try Tableau in Jackson Square, Irene’s Cuisine in the French Quarter, or Delmonico’s in the Garden District.
New Orleans Fun
When you are not eating, there is plenty to do and see. Bars on Bourbon and Frenchmen Street will have live music, usually from mid afternoon until the wee hours. In addition to standard bands, there are street performers (or buskers) all over the French Quarter who are quite good. Everywhere you turn, there is live music. Spontaneous dancing and singing are known to happen. (A small warning: Bourbon Street is a very adult-oriented street. I would caution against taking children for a stroll.)
A trip to Jackson Square provides unlimited entertainment. St. Louis Cathedral anchors one side of the square facing the Mississippi Riveri. Horse drawn carriages can be rented here for tours of the Quarter – this is a great way to see the Quarter without tons of walking if you have grandparents or small children with you. Artists line all four sides of Jackson Square with art of all types and media. There are also fortune tellers, musicians, and magicians in the Square. It is quite a sight to see.
The National WWII Museum is a must visit. This museum is world class. Housed in several buildings, this museum has interactive exhibits (The Road to Berlin as well as The Road to Tokyo) detailing the war that will engage everyone. There are also several vehicles and planes on site in various buildings. As an added bonus, on most days, WWII vets are on location to talk about their experiences. I can’t recommend this museum highly enough. Other places worth noting are Confederate Memorial Hall, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, and The Presbytere (Louisiana State Museum) which houses an exhibit on Hurricane Katrina.
So, choose what sounds interesting and le bon temps roule! New Orleans is a city to be explored and relished. Live big. There are no wrong choices.
Jennifer Shockley-Daniels is a mom of 2 children and a few furry ones too. She is an avid reader, traveler, and you will learn more history from her than any book you read. She’s also a really cool chick I am lucky enough to call my friend. Thanks Jen for this awesome article. When are we going to New Orleans?
Here are some other helpful New Orleans articles you may enjoy:
6 Things to See at Oak Alley Plantation – Near New Orleans
7 Things to Do in New Orleans with Kids
French Quartour Kids Tour
Sheraton New Orleans