When you first hear the words “New Orleans”, I think the first thought that most people have is that it is a great place to visit if you want to party all night. I know that this was one of my first thoughts. However, when we visited, I was totally unprepared for how stunning the city was. I was blown away by the huge list of exciting things to do for kids and teenagers, the incredible food scene, and the welcoming vibe of the city for people of all ages. My family of six (12, 13, 15 and 19 years old) spent four days exploring New Orleans attractions, eating at superb restaurants, and endlessly wandering the French Quarter. We absolutely loved our New Orleans itinerary and our time there. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a trip to New Orleans for any family, especially a family with teens.
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Day One Of New Orleans Itinerary
Travel from Louis Armstrong International Airport to the French Quarter
Our flight arrived in the late afternoon. We rented a car from the airport and drove 25 minutes to the French Quarter, the oldest neighbourhood in New Orleans, where our hotel was located. It was an easy drive mostly along a highway.
Once in the French Quarter, we found ourselves in narrow one way roads filled with cars and people. It was still light outside and not quite dinner, but the streets were already beginning to get busy. I would not have wanted to try to reach our hotel once it was dark and the streets were really crowded as it was every night that we were there. In addition, several roads become pedestrian only in the evening. This included the infamous Bourbon Street which we had to cross to reach our hotel.
Accommodation In The French Quarter
We stayed at the Omni Royal Orleans in the heart of the French Quarter. It was a beautiful hotel in a fantastic location. We were a mere block or two from Bourbon Street and all the action, but we never heard a sound in either of our hotel rooms.
The lobby of the Omni Royal Orleans was decorated in old world decor with luxurious wall paper, dark wood wall panelling and rich upholstery on heavy wooded furniture. All day and most nights, the hotel was surrounded by buskers (street entertainers) so we found ourselves in the middle of several music, magic or comedy shows as soon as we stepped out of the front door of our hotel. I loved our location.
For accommodation at the Omni Royal Orleans or elsewhere in New Orleans, I would recommend booking through booking.com using the amazing interactive map below to find reasonably priced hotels.
Day One Of Our New Orleans Itinerary
Evening – New Orleans restaurant in the French Quarter
That night, we walked from the Omni Royal Orleans around the French Quarter looking for a place to have dinner. We quickly learned that the French Quarter was packed with countless restaurants suitable for all budgets. Thankfully, we stumbled upon Galatroise, a high end french restaurant that has been in business for over 110 years. We had a decadent meal that was rich in creamy sauces – not a place to go if you are on a diet! The service was both fun and exceptional.
Explore the French Quarter at Night – Things to do in New Orleans
By the time we finished dinner, the French Quarter was busy and crowded. We soaked up the festive atmosphere which, after five nights, we learnt was the same every night of the week. Bourbon Street was by far the loudest and rowdiest street of all. Alcohol was freely served and it was legal to drink almost everywhere. In addition, teenagers as young as 18 years old could legally drink provided they were with a spouse or guardian over the age of 21 years old. Needless to say, my 19 year old was very happy.
Was the French Quarter appropriate at night for kids or teenagers?
On an interesting note, my three younger teenagers (12, 13 and 15 years old) were not entirely comfortable walking in the French Quarter in the evening. During the day, they very much enjoyed the area which was busy with tourists with lots to see and do. However, in the evening, the atmosphere completely changed and the streets filled with drunk people looking to have a good time.
After wandering Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, we headed back to the hotel. We decided to go to the Rib Room hotel bar on the main floor. This was an excellent decision. There was a pianist and singer who were fantastic. Outside, the streets around the hotel were filled with pedestrians, buskers, and musicians. We had a terrific sight line to the action from our seats. It was fantastic people watching and ended up being the better way for my family to enjoy the night.
Day Two Of Our New Orleans Itinerary
Morning – Walking tour of the French Quarter and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
Things to do in New Orleans
We started our day on a walking tour of the French Quarter. This was a very interesting two hour tour offered by New Orleans Legendary Walking Tours.
The first hour was focused on the French Quarter, its history and architecture. You can see the french heritage of New Orleans through its military-style grid design, the central green space at Jackson Square, and the multitude of french street names. However, you can also see a lot of Spanish architecture. The Spanish rebuilt many buildings in the French Quarter after a devastating fire in the late 1700s. It was fun walking though the streets of the French Quarter, spotting different examples of this architecture, and hearing the crazy stories about the people who used to live there.
The second hour was spent in St. Louis’ Cemetery No. 1, located just outside the French Quarter. In this New Orleans attraction, we learned all about the after-life, ghosts and burial rituals, all important to New Orleans’ culture. The tour guide really grabbed my kids’ attentions during this time. He told them that New Orleans was the most haunted city in the USA and described scandals, murders, and betrayals.
The tour cost $27 USD for adults and $16 USD for children under 12 years old. You can not tour St. Louis’ Cemetery No. 1 without an accredited tour guide.
Lunch – New Orleans Restaurant in the French Quarter
For lunch, we went to the Oceania Grill around the corner from the Omni Royal Orleans. Throughout our stay, there were lineups everyday to eat at this restaurant. However, we did not enjoy our meal. The menu offered primarily fried food and the quality was disappointing.
Afternoon – Visit the National WWII Museum
Things To Do In New Orleans
The National WWII Museum is an exceptional interactive museum that quite frankly, was a highlight in our trip. I am not a WWII history buff at all. I would not go to Europe and trek all the great allied invasions or anything like that. However, I do like to remind myself about the importance of WWII. In addition, I think that it is important that my kids are exposed to that information as well. However, I was completely blown away by this museum.
Details of the National WWII Museum – things to do in New Orleans
The National WWII Museum educates the visitor about America’s role in WWII. This is important to note especially if you are from another another country as it does not highlight what other allied nations did. Its focus is primarily on America’s role.
Everything was interactive with countless experiences and they were all outstanding. For example, it separated America’s role in the German campaign from the Japanese campaign. Accordingly, we started down a path that took us through WWII only focusing on America’s role in Germany, and then, we started again and went down a separate path that was only about America’s role in Japan. This was amazing. Normally, museums discuss WWII as a whole which is often confusing. However, this was an exceptional way to learn how each step in each part of the world led to the next.
Other experiences included a pavilion with several WWII aircraft hanging from the ceiling and a full scale submarine that you could also tour (Final Mission: USS Tang Submarine Experience). In addition, there was a 4D movie narrated by Tom Hanks entitled “Beyond All Boundaries” explaining the US experience in Europe and Asia. It was truly excellent.
Recommendations and Tips for the National WWII Museum
It was extraordinarily busy in the National WWII Museum. It was a school and public holiday and it was absolutely packed. In addition, tickets to the submarine tour were already completely sold out by the time we arrived and we had to wait an hour longer than we wanted in order to see the 4D movie. Accordingly, I would recommend the following:
- avoid, if possible, this New Orleans attraction on a school or public holiday, or on a weekend;
- if you can’t, arrive early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds;
- pre-purchase tickets to the submarine and movie. These tickets are date and time stamped and in some cases, like the the tour of the submarine, there are only a limited number of tickets each day.
General admission to the National WWII Museum costs $28.50 USD for adults, with lower ticket prices for other age categories. The submarine tour and 4D movie each cost another $7.00 per person for each experience.
Evening – New Orleans restaurant in the French Quarter
We went to dinner at the Pelican Club. This was a contemporary Creole restaurant a couple blocks from our hotel. The food was delicious.
Day 3 Of Our New Orleans Itinerary
Morning – New Orleans Restaurant outside French Quarter
For brunch, we drove 10 minutes from the French Quarter to Elizabeth’s Restaurant.
This restaurant was awesome. The neighbourhood and the restaurant had a funky feel. Everything on the menu was made from scratch. There was a few breakfast favourites on the menu, but for the most part, each entree took traditional breakfast food and gave it a little twist. For example, there was praline bacon, fried catfish and eggs, and my favourite “Redneck Eggs” (fried green tomatoes topped with poached eggs and hollandaise).
Afternoon – Swamp tour
Things to do in New Orleans
This afternoon, we drove just under an hour outside New Orleans for a swamp tour offered by Pearl River Eco-tours.
This was a highly enjoyable afternoon spent on a bayou boat exploring the Honey Island Swamp and White Kitchen Nature Preserve. We loved being out on the swamp in the middle of nature. We saw many birds, and even some feral hogs. Our captain was an older man who grew up on that land. He gave us great insight into life on the bayou.
Recommendations and Tips for the Swamp Tour
Tickets for the swamp tour cost $25 USD for adults and $12 USD for children under 12 years old. They did offer transportation from New Orleans but that costs significantly more.
We took the tour in late December. The weather was warm and sunny on shore. However, it became very cold on the boat once the tour started. You go quite fast and it is very windy. I would recommend dressing warmly for this tour.
In addition, one of the reasons people take this tour is to see alligators. However, if it is too cool out, you will not see them as they hibernate. Accordingly, through October – March, you may not see any alligators. I would still recommend the tour. We really enjoyed the boat trip and exploring the swamp, but just be aware that all the alligators may be sleeping out of sight!
Evening – A New Orleans Restaurant just outside the French Quarter
We walked to an Italian restaurant called Marcello’s Wine Market Cafe a few minutes just outside the French Quarter. The food and service were excellent. However, what made this restaurant really memorable was that we could chose our own bottle of wine from racks of wine scattered throughout the restaurant. The prices were a little more than purchasing a bottle at a wine store but were far less expensive than a normal restaurant. My husband was like a kid in a candy store. He disappeared a couple times to scout out the wine and discuss options with our waiter.
Day 4 Of Our New Orleans Itinerary
Morning – New Orleans restaurant just outside the French Quarter.
For breakfast, we again left the French Quarter and drove a short distance. We ate at a restaurant called Horns. It was fun visiting another neighbourhood breakfast spot filled with locals. We had to wait for a table as there was a bit of a line up when we arrived. Unfortunately, the food was just ok.
Afternoon – Visited Oak Alley Plantation
Things to do in New Orleans
We drove around 1 1/2 hours to Oak Alley Plantation to visit this unbelievable original sugar plantation. .
We had a guided tour of the “Big House” which is still completely preserved with all of its furniture and decorations from over 200 years ago. Afterwards, we explored the enormous grounds and the slave quarters nearby which, to this day, remain in their original state. They were a sobering sight to see.
This was both a beautiful day in the countryside and a very interesting window into the past.
Cost of the Oak Alley Plantation
It cost $25 USD for adults and between $7 – $10 USD for children depending on their age. This price is a flat rate for access to everything at the Plantation, including a guided tour of the “Big House”.
Afternoon treat in the French Quarter
On our return, we went to Cafe Beignet for a treat – eat beignets. Beignets are a traditional New Orleans food that is a cross between a french pastry and a doughnut. Let me just saw that I was in paradise! They were served warm, a little soft and gooey and were absolutely delicious! One serving is actually two enormous beignets so I would recommend sharing or simply giving up on dinner if you have them in the late afternoon!
Evening in the French Quarter
Tonight was New Years Eve. Dinner was unremarkable (so unremarkable I can’t remember the name of the restaurant). We ended up about 30 minutes away in a suburb of New Orleans. It was one of my husband’s few “oops” moments in choosing restaurants on our travels (his job)!
Afterwards, we went back to the French Quarter for New Year’s Eve. The French Quarter was overflowing with revellers. We went to the streets around Jax Brewery and watched a 25 foot fleur-de-lis drop on its roof at midnight. Then, the fireworks began. The streets were packed with people. It was a wild experience to be apart of.
We absolutely loved our New Orleans itinerary. Everyone in my family, teens and adults alike, thoroughly enjoyed staying in and exploring the French Quarter. We delighted in how easy it was to find amazing restaurants and to stumble upon incredibly talented entertainers performing all over the neighbourhood. It was a real pleasure to find so many interesting and astonishing things to do in and around New Orleans. We were thrilled with our time at the National WWII Museum, the swamp tour, and the Oak Alley Plantation experience. Without question, I would it all again!
For other amazing itineraries with teens, please take a look at some of my other articles:
- 10 Ultimate New York City Attractions With Teens;
- An Action-Packed 2 Day New York City Itinerary With Teens
- London Attractions With Teens: Scavenger Hunt Anyone?
- Dublin Attractions With Teens: The Best And The Worst
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This article was originally written in February 2017. It was updated on Feb. 5, 2020.