When I say that, what comes to mind?
For me, my mind used to go straight to Mardi Gras, and then to an immediate party atmosphere that’s not terribly appropriate for kids.
And while you can surely find that in New Orleans without looking too hard, it’s also an amazing place for families with kids! In fact, this trip is in Harry’s and my top three, and that’s saying something.
We stayed in a traditional shotgun house through airbnb. It had a lovely porch swing, and we would sit out there in the mornings with some tea while the kids climbed all over the steps and made things with chalk. This guy came by on a motorized la-z-boy not once, but TWICE. And we were like, “That’s it! We’ve done New Orleans. Best trip ever.” Sadly, by the time I ran in to grab my camera both times, he was long gone. That recliner moved surprisingly fast.
First day there, we went on the Spooky Tour with French Quartour Kids. I was expecting something great from the reviews, and sure enough – Jill delivered above and beyond! The girls LOVED this – Michelle for the magic and Mina (being a little older) for the comedy. Plus, we learned lots about the history and past characters of the French Quarter. There is entertainment LITERALLY around every corner here. We spent hours just walking around, listening to bands, watching magic tricks. Pocket full of small bills for tips, we were hooked! And the beignets. Oh man, beignets and cafe au lait EVERY DAY when we were here. I’m not even kidding. We had it every day.
We gave the girls a bit of money to spend at the market, and they chose souvenirs that basically define them perfectly. Mina: a sparkly, glittery, fancy feathered Mardi Gras mask, and Michelle: an alligator claw back-scratcher. These kids! Next day, it was time to get ready for the Women’s March. New Orleans did it right – complete with a jazz funeral (they had had a full jazz funeral for Lady Liberty the day before, complete with a second line and everything!) At this point, hundreds of us had gone by. We had a tired Michelle, so we walked up some hotel steps to watch the rest go by. We thought it was over, and started walking back, when another throng of hundreds turned the corner. And another. And another still! It was remarkable. While we were up on the hotel steps, marchers were cheering on my girls and yelling out “We’re doing this for you!” It was awe-inspiring. We read so many great books from the library while we were here – Zane and the Hurricane, Marvelous Cornelius, Freedom in Congo Square, and Ruby Bridges Goes to School. These gave the area some background and history. Next day, our first stop was in the 9th Ward, a contrast to the French Quarter – an area of New Orleans still healing from Hurricane Katrina. We went to William Frantz School, the school where Ruby Bridges was the first to end segregation in schools in the South. On our way to beignets this day, we had a fellow sidewalk-walker Earl from the Traveling Imagination Workshop. We talked a little politics, and a little uplifting, then carried on with our days. Because we had beignets every day, Balloon Man knew us by name by day three. My kids loved this dude. Next stop was Mardi Gras World where we got to see years of floats and awesomeness that are made for the yearly festival. This place was amazing! Pictures of this place from a family friend’s vacation are what first sparked the idea of this trip. So grateful for your recommendation, Katie! At the end of the parade, King and Queen Kong come by and everyone tries to throw their beads on them. This dude was ridiculous. Look! It’s Earl again! Making art and being awesome! Michelle and I have been working hard on our slow-motion double punch. Tried it out at this cafe. On our last night, we were really looking for someplace to dance! We found it in Mulate’s Cajun Restaurant, with a live band and a giant dance floor. By this point in our trip, we were partying late, so we closed this family-friendly place down. This trip was seriously so good, you guys. Educational, cultural, historical, just awesome. We love our family trips together, and this one is right up there with our favorites!