Our family trip to the Big Easy before Christmas was a big hit! It had been years since I’d last visited, and the first visit for our teenage son (15).
We stayed in the Garden District at the Ponchartrain Hotel which I would recommend highly. The Garden District is a nice reprieve from the busy French quarter, yet easy to get to and from using the Charles St streetcar or Lyft. There are lovely areas within walking reach of the hotel and if you love to walk like we do, it’s almost limitless. The Silver Whistle Cafe serves fabulous breakfast, and the Bayou Bar pub is perfect for a beer or cocktail after returning from your evening adventure. There’s also the Hot Tin rooftop bar (indoor/outdoor) but the vibe was not our thing.
So what made this trip great? The variety of activities, the music, the vibe, creole cuisine, the history. And some time to reconnect as a family after a hectic Fall season.
Highlights of our trip:
Garden District self-guided walking tour. Beautiful homes, and my son got a kick from seeing Eli Manning’s family home and John Goodman’s home. Here’s a great interactive map you can use from your cell phone
French Quarter. The usual – Jackson Square, St Louis Cathedral, Beignets & Cafe au Lait, and a touch of Bourbon Street. A rowdy evening on Bourbon Street wasn’t on our agenda for this trip. I think many people choose to avoid visiting NOLA thinking that it’s all about Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street craziness. There is so much more to this city!
Bicycle tour – A hallmark of Zipster’s Travel is a guided cycling tour in every city we visit. It’s what we love to do. We booked the Creole & Crescent tour with FreeWheelin’ Bike Tours. It did not disappoint.
Frenchman Street– Frenchman street is the heart of the music scene. We heard live music at Snug Harbor and at the 3 Muses. We chose these venues because teenagers are allowed. Snug Harbor was a top highlight of our trip and we loved hearing jazz guitarist Dave Stryker. Be sure to make a reservation and then arrive early for great seats.
National World War 2 museum – You may get lucky like we did and have the perfect rainy day to slot this. But even if the sun shines brightly every day, be sure to go! Imagine a highly interactive, state of the art museum that people like Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg put muscle behind. This is a museum where you can spend an entire day, but if you’re like us, you can only handle half a day in ANY museum. I’d recommend starting your visit to the museum with the film Beyond All Boundaries.
Magazine Street – over the course of our 3 days we walked the entire length of Magazine street from Tulane, thru the French Quarter to Frenchman street. Funky, great restaurants, interesting shops, a real joy.
Lafayette Cemetary – These above ground tombs are very interesting to see. Imagine what would (and did) happen when graves are buried below ground and water levels rise? We saw a similar cemetery in Buenos Aires where the water tables are also very high.
Holiday decorations. Early evening was the perfect time of day to see the best hotel holiday decorations in the French Quarter. Our favorites were the Roosevelt Hotel, Ritz Carlton and Hotel Monteleone.
Tulane University and Audubon Park – We enjoyed walking through Tulane – it’s a beautiful campus! – and then thru Audubon Park. We arrived via the Charles St streetcar from the Garden District and walked back via Magazine Street.
And as with every trip, we depart with fond memories, a renewed sense of adventure and eager to share what we’ve learned with others.