We love visiting New Orleans. Period.
Not only do Steve and I, (Kirsten), get to see a large part of our family, but New Orleans is truly a flexible vacation spot. You can make the trip to NOLA whatever you want it to be.
I know, I know… I must be lying, right? Bourbon street, Bourbon street, Bourbon street…. NO! Honestly, New Orleans is more than just flashing, beads, and obnoxious Bourbon street – it’s like, the holy grail of culturally preserved areas that still remain within the United States. Let’s think about this – the state still follows Civil Code, established by French emperor, Napoleon, in 1804 (see Napoleonic Code), is the birthplace of Jazz (look up Buddy Bolden, born 1877), and has upheld tradition by producing the most delicious “fried fritters”, famously known as beignets, since 1862 at Cafe du Monde.
Because there is so much to do in this fantastic city, you can create a one-of-a-kind trip. Our kind of trip included going out and seeing the sights, staying in and catching up on some quality time with the family, and everything in-between. Check out our 4 night stay in New Orleans below over Mardi Gras, Carnival Season, 2014.
We took off from DIA at 6:30 am on a plane headed to Houston, TX. Steve and I had found tickets for less than $50 each way, and picked up a rental car for less than $300. We had never driven from Houston to New Orleans before; be aware, driving in on the Friday before Mardi Gras is going to add about 3 hours to your already 6 hour trip. Here’s a tip if you do take this way – as soon as you can get on Airline Highway, or HWY 61, do it!
Aside from using the car for transportation, going between Algiers Point and downtown New Orleans we used the Canal Street Ferry. In order to keep the ferry up and running in good, operating order, this past year a fee has been imposed of $2 each way. Coupons can be purchased in advance of travel that allow admission onto the 15 minute ride across the Mississippi River. Check out the view of downtown at night:
We attended a few parades both downtown and in Metairie. All of the areas we gathered to watch were family-friendly. Downtown, we set up shop in front of the Palace Cafe. Here’s a small taste of the fun:
We find the parades just as fun as the kids do – stuffed animals, toys, and snacks are thrown in addition to beads. Our niece and nephew brought bubble guns to play with as well as played catch with a soft football in-between parades rolling. Mardi Gras parades are some serious fun, for grown-ups and kids alike.
Because we brought a newbie with us, we had a brief visit to Bourbon Street and explored the French Quarter; kidless, of course! We always make sure to keep our wallets safe, and not leave our drinks unattended. As long as you don’t act like a moron, you can have a really great time in the Quarter.
Here are a few great places to visit:
- Pirate’s Alley – an Absinthe house (bar), close to Jackson Square that captures the New Orleans charm. Their Pimm’s Cups and Bloody Mary’s are to die for, and the staff is fast, quirky, and enjoyable.
- The Original Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter – Grab a chocolate milk or coffee, and beignets at any time – they’re open 24 hours. Be aware, there will most likely be a line… but, it’s so worth it!
- New Orleans Musical Legends Park – This is a great place to stop, listen to some live music, and grab a delicious bite to eat.
- The Spice & Tea Exchange – if you love the food of New Orleans, you’ll need to stop by this shop on St. Louis to pick up spices to bring home. Their Cajun Spice and Gumbo File are phenomenal! Don’t pass this place up.
- The Dry Dock Cafe– a neighborhood bar and grill, this place serves amazing seafood. Our favorite is the seafood platter, or the catfish po’ boy, fully dressed. Situated right across from the ferry in Algiers Point, it’s the best place to stop and get a brew on the way to the ferry, or even on the way home from the parade.
New Orleans is a great place to vacation at any time of year; there are actually more festivals than days in the year, meaning there’s always something cool to experience. Also, there are tons of tours you can pay for that will guide you through the haunted areas of New Orleans, swamps, above-ground cemeteries, and more.
Our advice: Set out in the morning, grab some beignets, and just bum around the Quarter and Jackson Square – meet some interesting people, listen to live street music, and take a peak at the amazing artists set up in and around the Square. There’s so much to do that it’ll be hard to leave.
It’s a city that dangles fun before your eyes; a city at your fingertips! We can’t wait to go back in a few months and find fun, new and exciting places to go to share with you all!
For more on New Orleans, check out our sister-site, Nolaspeax and stay up to date on what’s good in New Orleans, LA.