You've arrived in New Orleans, kids in tow on a Friday evening. Reserving a room at the beautiful, family friendly Loews hotel was the first great decision among the many you are about to make on your trip. Don't lose any sleep that first night, as below describes how to have the vacation's perfect first day.
Make sure to get up early, as the mornings in New Orleans are some of the cooler portions of days that tend to get pretty hot. You can start off by walking down Decatur Street and stopping in Cafe du Monde. The adults can enjoy the authentic Cafe au Lait, while the kids will take pleasure in munching down the delicious, sugar covered beignets. This will give them the energy (and potential hyperactivity) that will allow them to make it through the day sans naps. The French Market is right next door, where you can buy the kids some faux Mardi Gras masks while you secretly browse for touristy coasters for your co-workers/parents.
Audubon Aquarium Tunnel — Photo courtesy of Kiawah Confectionery
You then shift into fun's second gear, and head to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas which is only a short walk away. The kids will have a blast checking out the sea otter exhibit, and taking in a children's themed IMAX presentation on the big screen.
Walking is fun, but it's now time to embrace innovation and hop on the nation's oldest continually operating streetcar: the St. Charles Streetcar. This will give the kids some time to rest, and allow you to soak up the surrounding beautiful homes and trees that line St. Charles. If you are lucky, one of New Orleans' mid-day flash floods will occur while you're riding. The kids will love helping other passengers shut windows while getting wet in the process.
St. Charles Streetcar — Photo courtesy of vxla
Hop off the St. Charles @ Lowerline stop, where a savory barbecue lunch awaits you at Fan Hen Grocery. Order your fare to go, so you can enjoy it across the street at Audubon Park. Eating by the water allows for some further relaxation if you need it, while the kids can play in the grass or on the many exercise stations that are incorporated into the park's two-mile walking path.
Eventually, you will all get on the path and walk toward the opposite end of the park. Cross Magazine Street, and voila, you are at the Audubon Zoo. This is a great place to take the kids on a hot day. Not only will they have access to over 2,000 animals, but there is a water park especially designed for youngsters that they will surely enjoy. Don't worry about walking around wet the rest of the day, as towels are provided and the New Orleans climate acts as an instant drying mechanism.
The "Cool Zoo" experience — Photo courtesy of princedd
It's getting later in the day, and the crew is probably a little tired and ready to get off their feet. Head over to the Prytania Theater, New Orleans' oldest movie theater, to catch a flick. They are a single screen theater that shows both new releases and classics, with good rates for kids. If anyone is hungry, they can grab bagels, pastries and specialty popcorn from the theater's cafe.
Talk about an action-packed day! Grab the streetcar or taxi back to the hotel, and know that your kids will be supremely impressed by not only the great city of New Orleans, but by your supreme day-planning skills.