New Orleans – Wow! We had rushed our Road Trip USA Deep South Tour to make it to this city and we were not sorry. It was worth every minute. Let us help you make the most of your time here too!
We loved this city. The French Quarter is amazing, but there are also many other areas to visit and fall in love with. It is a great place to see the many different influences that have made up what is now the USA thanks to the different colonial powers that have had a presence here. I often think that the USA is similar to Australia and is a new country in a similar way, but this really isn’t true. Nowhere has this been more obvious to me than in New Orleans. The French, Spanish and African American influences are particularly evident here.
Unfortunately, we only had a few days in this great place. Here are some things to do in New Orleans in a few days as well as all the practical information about our stay here, our accommodation, our thoughts and experiences.
This really is a picturesque amazing place to visit. I found it hard to believe I was still in the USA!
The quarter covers a bigger area than I expected and is full of narrow streets lined with gorgeous old buildings. I took so many photos, but it is not possible to capture how pretty and amazing this area is. What you see in the above picture is basically a version of what the streets in the whole quarter look like.
It also has a fabulous vibe. There are many buskers which really added to the ambiance. There was also a wide range of people selling things in Jackson Square, in the centre of the French Quarter, that I have not seen elsewhere. For example, you could walk up to a guy with an old fashioned typewriter who will write you a poem on any topic you want on the spot.
There are bigger attractions in this area, such as Jackson Square and museums, but the best part was really walking around soaking it all in. Give yourself at least a day to wonder round the French Quarter visiting things of interest. It also borders the Mississippi River so you can check out this landmark as well.
This is my new favourite part of the USA. It is completely my type of place, and we would love to come spend a much longer length of time staying here in future.
We also checked out the Louisiana State Museum at Presbytere. This is in a grand old building right on Jackson Square. The ground floor is devoted to Hurricane Katrina, the before, during and after. It was quite moving reading about this where it all happened. It brings back so many questions as to why things weren’t handled better, the tragedy of it all and what is being done now to ensure a better response to future disasters.
There are several other buildings which make up the Louisiana State Museum. I would have also visited these if I could have got away with it with kids. They handled this one ok, as it wasn’t too big and the exhibits were slightly interesting to them thanks to lots of screens, costumes and a brightly coloured float.
We only paid for the museum which was $6 per adult, kids free.
This area is the oldest African American neighbourhood in New Orleans and is next to the French Quarter.
We primarily visited here to go to the Backstreet Cultural Museum. This museum details the African American customs of the city and showcases Mardi Gras Indian suits. J was very interested in this, and since it isn’t open on Sundays and Mondays (the other days we had in New Orleans), we went here first. Unfortunately, they had shut early so we missed out. I recommend a call before coming here!
It wasn’t all for nothing though as there are other things to do in the Treme. It is a pleasant place to walk around as well. It is not nearly as beautiful or developed as the French Quarter but it does have charm, albeit with a little bit of edge as well.
It is also home to the big and beautiful Louis Armstrong Park which also encompasses Congo Square. Congo Square is an area which was once the only place slaves were allowed to play music. This was usually not allowed in other societies with slaveholders. Apparently this practice helped to preserve the musical heritage of these African Americans which laid the base for what was to become jazz in the future.
The park has quite a few statues, especially in regards to Louis Armstrong. It also has a large pond with some ducks which amused the children, and some rolling hills which S enjoyed rolly-pollying down. This park is worth a stop on your New Orleans tour, if only to relax for a bit after exploring the French Quarter.
This great children’s museum was probably S’s favourite thing to do in New Orleans. It is full of great kid attractions and S especially loved playing in the child size house. You can read more about it in Louisiana Children’s Museum and jazz at Preservation Hall.
One of the biggest city parks in the US, I expected this park to be spectacular. Spectacular it wasn’t – it was really just a park area with some buildings and attractions thrown in. There were a few roads and big car parks in here, so I guess that made it lose the park vibe for me. It is still definitely worth a visit if you are travelling with kids though.
The kids enjoyed the trolley ride here, and the big playground. J and I enjoyed the sculpture park. We would have tried storybook land attraction, but it doesn’t open until 11am and we were at the park early. It took a fair bit of walking to get around the park. We should have taken the stroller.
This is called the American District in our guidebook, the Garden District elsewhere.
We went here after reading that you can catch a street car past lots of grand old mansions so that’s what we did! It took awhile for the street car to get to the good bit so we started to think the guidebook lied, but we were soon seeing lots of glorious old Southern homes, so it was worth the effort.
This free passenger ferry takes you across the Mississippi to the suburb of Algiers. We enjoyed doing this back and forth to see more of the Mississippi and to get great views of New Orleans. The kids love being on boats so it was a win-win!
J went to a jazz performance at Preservation Hall for his birthday. He loved it! More information in Louisiana Children’s Museum and jazz at Preservation Hall.
We stayed in two different hotels in New Orleans. This is because we arrived on a Saturday and the accommodation was crazy pricey in the French Quarter on Saturdays. We spent our first night staying off the I-10 in the Baymont Inn and Suites about a 15 minute drive from the French Quarter. We spent the next two nights at the Hotel Provincial in the French Quarter which was just amazing.
We recommend using HotelsCombined to find accommodation. It is our favorite site for quickly comparing the prices of multiple hotel booking sites at once.
There is some great food to eat in this part of the world. It is not hard to find something to eat in New Orleans, but finding something on a budget in the French Quarter was close to mission impossible.
Two of our favourite food items here were po-boys and beignets. A beignet is basically deep fried pastry covered in a ton of icing sugar and we had these in place of cake for J’s birthday at Cafe du Monde which is reputed to be the best place to eat them.
Po-boys are big baguette like rolls full of meat, salads and sauces. They are very filling and delicious. We loved ours, particularly at Johnny’s Po-Boys which is meant to have some of the best.
It is easy to get around some of the main attractions in New Orleans. We did not use our car to explore this great city which was a nice change.
We used the street cars. They only have a few routes, but they will get you everywhere in our list above. They have the extra benefit of being fun and the kids loved them. They cost $1.25 for a single journey or $3 for an all day pass. Z was free, but kids 3 and over pay full price. There is more information on the NORTA website.
Our budget did not fare well in New Orleans. We gave ourselves extra money for J’s birthday so some of the accommodation costs for the French Quarter and eating out costs on his birthday were covered by this. If we had continued to stay in the motel outside of the quarter and not eaten out three times on J’s birthday, we could have kept to our budget of $136 a day easily.
The kids seemed to have a great time here especially at Louisiana Children’s Museum and the Louis Armstrong Park. I think they preferred this park to the City Park thanks to the rolling hills and not having to walk such long distances to get to things. Bigger is not always better!
We loved New Orleans! We had high expectations and they were met and exceeded.
The French Quarter is just gorgeous. It can feel quite touristy in parts, but not in a particularly bad way – nowhere was that crowded, and it was easy to get away from those parts and feel like you had the quarter to yourself. This area was bigger and more beautiful than I expected. We enjoyed everywhere else we went in New Orleans as well, but they were very much over shadowed by the French Quarter, although the Louis Armstrong Park rates highly with us too.
There is just something about New Orleans that sets it apart from other cities. I don’t know what it is exactly, but it is just different and has a great atmosphere. I think it is now my favourite US city, and I am sure we will be back one day.
You can also visit Baton Rouge and a drive thru daiquiri bar during your time in New Orleans.
Our stay in New Orleans was part of our Road Trip USA Deep South Tour – read our overall highlights, planning tips and our one big disappointment. You can read more about this section of our road trip in driving Miami to New Orleans.
Have you been to New Orleans? What would you add to this list?
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