Favorite Hometown Spots: NEW ORLEANS

Hi there! I’m Beth, and I blog about holy, healthy, and happy living at bethcelestin.com. My roots go down deep into the heart of South Louisiana where elderly folks along the bayou still communicate in Cajun French, and crawfish boils bring families together every Sunday between the months of March and June. Two thousand miles away, my husband grew up speaking Creole French and enjoying seafood of all sorts on the small Island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. He knows the joys of wearing shorts year-round, and he’ll travel miles off the beaten path to grab a fresh link of boudin.

Both having grown up in cultures dominated by strong French influences, it’s no wonder we’re both drawn to the city of New Orleans (“N’awlins” if you’re a local). We proudly called it home for three years after we were married, and despite living an hour southwest of The Big Easy now, it’s not uncommon for us to travel to New Orleans 2-3 times a month to enjoy some of our favorite family-friendly spots with our two boys (Silas, 4; Liam, 2).

Many people assume that New Orleans is not a family-friendly city, but truth be told, there’s much more to New Orleans than Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras. Read on to discover a side of New Orleans that even the youngest family members will enjoy.

{1} CafeDu Monde                       
The original Café Du Monde, located in the New Orleans French Quarter is the perfect spot for a snack with the kiddos. The tables and chairs are set up outside where families can enjoy street entertainers while sipping café aulait (half coffee, half milk) and savoring fluffy beignets (a square of fried dough loaded with powdered sugar... yes, everything in Louisiana is better fried!). Our boys get a kick out of the inevitable powdered sugar mustaches that stick around long after after biting into one of these sweet treats. 

Kevin and I have had our fair share of New Orleans po’boys, but this is possibly the best po’boy shop in all of New Orleans. In case you’re unfamiliar with what a po’boy is, let me explain. New Orleans' po’boys are submarine sandwiches (almost always on French bread) topped with meat or seafood (usually fried), lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise. My absolute favorite po’boy from Guy’s is the grilled shrimp po’boy, but there are many other options to choose from! You can’t leave New Orleans without trying one. And if the place is crowded, I would suggest grabbing your po'boys and toting them to a nearby park for a picnic. Bring plenty of napkins!

Speaking of parks…

Another of our absolute favorite things about New Orleans is the variety of fun parks in the area. Our kids love to run around playing and exploring, and the parks in New Orleans never get old. New Orleans’ City Park is wonderful because there is something for everyone in the family. Actually, more like 2-3 things for everyone in the family! You could literally dedicate an entire day to exploring the 1,300 acres of fun. One of the most unique places in the park is a delightful little playground called Storyland where 26 children's fairy tales come to life. Children can climb on and explore things like Captain Hook's pirate ship, Cinderella's pumpkin coach, or Pinnochio's whale.

Located in a nearby suburb of New Orleans, Lafreniere Park is quite a hidden jewel. The park is built around a gorgeous lake with lots of fun trails and several bridges to explore. There is also a cute little playground and even a spray park to enjoy during the summer months. But perhaps the most distinct and entertaining thing about this park is the bird sanctuary located there. There are birds of all sorts EVERYWHERE. At no cost, you can walk along the beautiful trails and feed ducks, geese, chickens, roosters, swans, seagulls, etc. You are also likely to see turtles, squirrels, nutria rats, and maybe even a bunny or two. Do NOT go without a couple of loaves of bread. My kids are probably to blame for several of the overweight winged creatures living there! 

If you’re in the mood for a little walk after devouring one too many beignets or po'boys, I should mention that within walking distance of the original Café Du Monde is the New Orleans Riverfront where you can watch ships move along the Mississippi River. I don’t think boys ever get tired of boat-watching. There are also benches along the way for sitting and taking in the New Orleans skyline, and if you’re there at the right times (11:00am & 2:00pm) you may even hear Calliope Music coming from the Steamboat Natchez.  

My children are not at an age yet where they can truly appreciate the National World War II Museum, but I find it fascinating. If you have older children who are studying American history, you NEED to visit this museum. Your little guys will be happy to follow along because the exhibits are so eye-catching. Make this one of the things you’re willing to spend a little extra cash on because the experience is worth every penny of the admission.

I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of bugs, but the Audubon Insectarium is pretty awesome! It’s the largest museum in North America devoted to insects! You can’t come to New Orleans without stopping by to pet some creepy crawlies, sample some edible critters, and explore the beautiful butterfly garden.  My boys kids love it!

One of our favorite New Orleans-style snacks is Roman Chewing Candy from the Roman Candy Company. The tasty taffy is sold out of a mule-drown cart. It’s sort of like an ice cream truck, but with taffy instead! Thanks to social media, you can stalk the cart on Facebook or Twitter and go on a little family adventure to find it. There is also a permanent location at theAudubon Zoo. We always grab a few sticks to munch on while we’re visiting the animals. It’s one of New Orleans’ sweetest traditions! Watch this video of how it's made

It was hard to narrow this list down, but I think I've gone on long enough. New Orleans truly is a unique place with lots of heritage and plenty of fun for the whole family. Hope this convinces you to take a little trip down south sometime! Don't forget your swamp boots!

1 comment:

Jess Connell said...

I am LOVING these "Favorite Hometown Spots" posts. Thanks so much for sharing, Beth! Hopefully our family can make it down that way sometime, especially now that I have all these great ideas!