Family Vacations to New Orleans, Louisiana

St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, New Orleans, Louisiana
St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, New Orleans,Louisiana (Mitchel Osborne/courtesy,

New Orleans Family Travel Tips

  • Tour the city from the vantage point of the grand old Mississippi River aboard the Natchez, a genuine steamboat.
  • Learn more about the area's cultural and religious history in the French Quarter.
  • Experience a Louisiana bog and its natural inhabitants up close at Westwego Swamp Boat Tours.

With the devastation left by 2005's Hurricane Katrina, one might expect New Orleans to have diminished as a tourist destination. But The Big Easy has proven itself more resilient than that. The city—at least its major tourist areas—has been cleaned up, rebuilt, and renovated, and stands ready to welcome new and returning visitors with its trademark charm and enthusiasm.

A Travel + Leisure/CNN poll released in 2007 on United States travel destinations ranked New Orleans first in eight categories, second only to New York City. Cheap food, flea markets, antique shopping, and nightlife were some of the categories where New Orleans scored big. The city was awarded high points for the friendliness of its people and it also had a place in the top 25 U.S. family destinations. For families, the city's historic, cultural, and natural offerings are all big draws. The French Quarter, Saint Louis Cathedral, The Historic French Market, Preservation Hall, and the famous Saint Louis Cemetery are just some of the historical monuments and destinations families enjoy. Visitors can take a ride in the Natchez, an authentic steamboat that cruises the Mississippi River the length of the city, or grab a ride in a horse- (or mule-) drawn carriage.

History buffs will enjoy the National D-day Museum, Chalmette Battlefield, National Cemetery (the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans), Confederate Memorial Museum, and the National World War II Museum. Art enthusiasts will want to visit the New Orleans Museum of Art, while young naturalists will appreciate visits to nearby wetlands and swamps, like Westwego Swamp Boat Tours.

Of course, New Orleans—known as the birthplace of jazz, and later, a hot spot for rhythm and blues as well as funk—is a favorite city of music lovers. Jazz enthusiasts in particular won't want to miss the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Foodies and those who simply love to eat will want to try New Orleans' signature dishes, including beignets (square fried pastries, like French doughnuts), Po'Boy sandwiches, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and pralines.

Crime is a concern in certain areas of the city, so keep on the alert—especially if you're traveling with kids. Pickpocketing and petty theft can be a problem, particularly in more raucous areas like Bourbon Street. Stick to the family-oriented festivals and attractions and keep your street smarts intact.

Published: 3 Feb 2009 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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