We just returned from five glorious days in New Orleans! I have always wanted to visit the city and finally decided to go for it by combining the girls’ spring break and J and my anniversary trip.
J and I are too old to participate in the raucous activities that one usually associates with NOLA, and we obviously can’t do it with two tweens in tow. But we still had a great time in the city because it has such a rich history and culture — and the locals are so friendly and welcoming. This isn’t to say that we didn’t have any adult fun. I always had a bloody mary or a mimosa with brunch and a cocktail or two with dinner every night, and they make those drinks very strong in New Orleans!
On our second night, we took a Haunted History Tour — a two-hour walking tour featuring the city’s ghosts, true crime, vampires, voodoo, and other frightful history. Although it was a lot of walking (and a couple of people in our group dropped out midway because they were too tired), our girls had a blast and Aerin even cited this tour as her favorite part of the trip. Who knew Jackson Square, now a picturesque park, had such a gruesome history?
On our third day, we took a trip ~35 miles northeast of the city to the swamps for Cajun Encounters, a two-hour swamp tour on a flat-bottomed boat. I was worried the swamps would be muggy, filled with bugs and just basically disgusting but this turned out to be my favorite part of the trip. Our boat captain was hilarious and did such a great job explaining the ecosystem of the swamp, and purposely steering our boat to where the animals would be. The weather was breezy and there were very little bugs. We saw tons of animals, especially snakes and alligators.
And I can’t talk about NOLA without mentioning the food. It turns out I love cajun food! I just couldn’t get enough of jambalaya, gumbo, étouffée, crawfish, shrimp, po’boys, red beans and rice, etc. One thing I couldn’t bring myself to try, though, was alligator. J, Claire, and Aerin tried and loved fried alligator and ordered it with every dinner. But I kept picturing the baby alligators I saw during the swamp tour and I just couldn’t do it. We also had oysters on the halfshell as an appetizer every dinner because oysters are so common and fresh there. Oh, and beignets. Mmm beignets.
Before booking the vacation, I was a bit nervous that New Orleans would not be kid-friendly. But our daughters (who are turning 12 and 13 this year) are mature for their age and had a great time on the trip. They have a morbid side to them so they even wanted to visit the Museum of Death! And while some of the images and videos were certainly pretty graphic (and we had to keep asking to make sure they were okay), they still found it interesting.
Our hotel was at the heart of the French Quarter, right on Bourbon Street. The city closes down a section of Bourbon Street in the evenings and it’s like there’s a party every night. So while there is a lot of drinking going on (as well as the prevalent smell of weed), there are also a lot of street performers, mini parades, and music playing everywhere. Our girls didn’t mind the drunk revelers one bit as everyone was careful to stay respectful of the children in the crowds. (Yes, there were babies in strollers too.)
I’m so happy we got to experience New Orleans as a family and I know my girls enjoyed themselves as well. We were all sad to leave and J and I definitely want to return in the future.