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An Action Packed New Orleans Itinerary With Teens

Blending the excitement of New Orleans, with its interesting history, thrilling things to do, and delicious food!

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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.

 

New Orleans things to do
Our family during our stay in New Orleans.

 

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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.

 

french quarter
A typical narrow one way street in the French Quarter. It was early morning and quiet, but at night, it would be filled with people looking for delicious food and exciting night life.

 

french quarter
The streets in the French Quarter become busy quickly with parked cars and narrow one way roads most everywhere.

 

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.

 



Booking.com

 

 

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.

 

French Quarter
The start of night life in the French Quarter (Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash-min)

 

New Orleans itinerary
Buskers and street performers were all over the French Quarter (Photo by Nathan Bingle on Unsplash-min)

 

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.

 

French Quarter
The French Quarter in New Orleans (Photo by Arun Kuchibhotla on Unsplash-min)

 

things to do in New Orleans
Jackson Square in the French Quarter (Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash-min)

 

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.

 

New Orleans itinerary
Some of the beautiful architecture that we saw on our walking tour ( Photo by Rosie Kerr on Unsplash-min)

 

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.

 

things to do in New Orleans
French Quarter

 

New Orleans attractions
St. Louise Cemetery No. 1

 

New Orleans attractions
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

 

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

After lunch, we went to the National WWII Museum. We decided to walk from the French Quarter to the Museum which was an easy 25 minute walk.

 

 

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.

 

things to do in New Orleans
WWII airplane hanging from ceiling of National WWII Museum

 

National WWII Museum in New Orleans
Those that served.

 

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.

 

things to do in New Orleans
Outside the National WWII Museum 1 (Photo by Jeremy Lishner on Unsplash-min)

 

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).

 

New Orleans itinerary
Brunch at Elizabeths

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.

 

things to do in New Orleans
Honey Island Swamp

 

New Orleans attractions
A cool rusted draw bridge on the swamp.

 

New Orleans itinerary
One of the many beautiful birds that we saw on our swamp tour.

 

 

things to do in New Orleans
One of the feral hogs that we saw on our swamp tour. They can be very vicious.

 

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.

 

things to do in New Orleans
The view from the upper porch of the “Big House”.

 

New Orleans attractions
The front entrance to the Big House”.

 

New Orleans itinerary
Part of the grounds next to the “Big House”.

 

things to do in New Orleans
Slave Quarters near to the “Big House”.

 

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.

 

Conclusion

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:

 

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We spent 5 days exploring New Orleans with our four teens. We explored the French Quarter, visited the National WWII Museum, and went on a swamp tour. We ate at some exceptional restaurants. Here is our itinerary. #NewOrleans #NOLA #Louisiana #Frenchquarter #travel #familytravel | Bourbon Street, beignet, Elizabeths, Galatroise, itinerary, Oak Alley Plantation, Oceania Grill, Omni, Pearl River, Pelican Club, St. Louise Cemetery

This article was originally written in February 2017. It was updated on Feb. 5, 2020.

20 Comments

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  • New Orleans is one of my favorite cities to visit! I visit the city almost yearly and find myself always trying something new and different. Great work on your article. It was well thought out and had valuable content. Whenever you are in Austin Texas, be sure to check out my blogs for things to do. https://nautisideboatrentals.com/blogs/

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  • Looks like you saw soooo much in just a few days! I love the detail and the maps as I’m a detail oriented and visual person so this will be really helpful for me in the future!

  • New Orleans has always been a great trip for me. I love the people playing jazz in the streets on bourbon street. I visited the museums with the Mardi Gras floats and that was fun to see. Next time I will check out Oak Valley Plantation

    • I’d like to see those Mardi Gras Floats! I bet they were out of this world. New Orleans offers the full package for any visitor.

  • I LOVED my stay in New Orleans, however, one thing I didn’t get to see was a plantation – something I would definitely go back for

  • I’ve never been to New Orleans but your itinerary is making me want to book a trip ASAP! The plantation looks so picturesque.

  • It sounds like you had an action packed and exciting family trip!! I definitely need to convince my family to do more trips like this once my brothers grown up

  • So nice to see all of you! Such a big family!
    I have really a very little knowledge of New Orleans. It sounds a great place for any kind of traveler. <3

  • Wow, growing up near New Orleans I always thought it was just a party city but I’ve never done some of these things. Thanks for some much detail.

    • I know, right! It has such a reputation for partying, which did look quite fun I have to say. But, there really is so much more that makes this a very unique destination for any age or interest.

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