The common ideology of traveling to New Orleans typically revolves around regaling on Bourbon Street, barhopping throughout the French Quarter, and drinking too many hurricanes. But The Crescent City, as it is called, is actually a really fantastic place to enjoy with teenagers who are curious and wise enough to soak up the culture and history that the city offers. Sometimes it’s not so easy to travel with teens and do things that both they and the parents enjoy, but it’s quite easy in The Big Easy.
Because my parents lived in New Orleans when they met, and I had grandparents that lived two hours away, we found ourselves enjoying New Orleans quite a bit when I was growing up. When I think of NOLA, these are some words that come to mind: jazz, food, Creole culture, French American history, the French Quarter, beignets, muffuletta, buskers, the river, seafood.
It brings me so much joy to now celebrate the city of New Orleans with my own kids. Now I think of these words when I think of New Orleans: family, laughs, talent, Cajun, spice, appreciation!
You can read all about the Higgins Hotel and Conference Center in this recent article which does a great job explaining the highlights of the property. We really loved how bright, open and clean the patriotic hotel is, and definitely how it was geographically placed in a quiet area of town, but yet, we were able to walk everywhere we wanted to go. As a family of five, we were able to get two adjoining rooms, one of which was a corner king and the other with two double queens. The teens enjoyed going by themselves to the fitness room and being able to safely get around the property on their own.
Because we got there somewhat late on a Friday evening, it was extremely convenient to head up to the hotel’s top floor and enjoy dinner al fresco at Rosies on the Roof. With great fall weather, we enjoyed a dinner of crab beignets, alligator meatball po’boys, and shrimp & grits. On the rooftop overlooking the city, it was a great way to start our 3-day family weekend.
Right next-door is the famous National World War II Museum. As you can read more extensively in this recent article, this memorial museum encompasses seven pavilions and is frequented year-round by people from all over the world. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Mardi Gras Day, teenagers and parents alike will soak up larger than life history of all that happened in our world leading up to World War II and beyond. Because there is so much to see, it’s easy for teenagers to stroll through at their own pace, reading and watching whatever they choose and definitely spending the majority of a full day on the campus. Our teens especially enjoyed the large display of actual planes actually used in the war.
For a hearty brunch, just a 15-minute walk from the Higgins Hotel, head to the Ruby Slipper Café. Check them out online before you go and get on their waitlist because it is a popular destination due to their famous biscuits, which they serve over 2 million of per year! Enjoy fried green tomatoes, Bayou shrimp, or just go for their famous biscuits with housemade cane syrup butter. No matter the age, everyone will enjoy this local spot!
Head over to Vue Orleans, which is also within walking distance. Read all about it in this recent article. We absolutely loved the interactive displays on the bottom floor where we watched jazz musicians, learned about real personalities that shaped New Orleans, watched a cooking demonstration and a short film describing the importance of the river to the city. The observation deck up top was both windy and a great place to view the geography of the city.
Take an Uber over to JamNOLA. This indoor art display is the perfect place to get photos for the ‘gram. Walk through the homegrown art featuring the culture of the city. JAM stands for joy, art, music. I purchased a T-shirt in the gift shop that says “You are sunshine in human form”, which really encapsulates JamNOLA.
Walk back down Bourbon Street just for the experience. With teens, you can’t go into many of the bars, but you can observe locals & tourists in the daytime, which is the best time for this.
A great spot for dinner is Bourbon House, on the corner of Bourbon and Iberville. Their muffuletta flatbread and bowl of gumbo really hit the spot! Other stand out menu items at this hip joint are Fried Des Allemands Catfish and other Creole favorites like Pastalaya.
A trip to New Orleans is not complete without the famous beignets from Café Du Monde. As you will notice at the French Quarter location, there is a line at this historic café all hours of the day. Trip Tip: Head over to City Park, a short Uber away, and enjoy the Café Du Monde there, which is ensconced with big trees where you can sit outside, and if you’re lucky, a local musician will be providing live music. City Park is a beautiful spot, but made it even better with beignets.
Frenchmen Street is being called “the new Bourbon Street.” Lined with jazz clubs and restaurants, it’s a great spot to go for dinner and a show. Teenagers are only allowed to go into the restaurants, not the bars, so pick one like Bamboula‘s and hopefully you will be serenaded by some local Zydeco or jazz musicians (I recommend Sunday evenings to hear The Midnight Brawlers followed by Ed Wills Blues Explosion).
Before you head back to the airport, take a short walk from the hotel to Willa Jean, an adorable coffee café serving all the deliciousness you need before leaving the city. Focus on what they call their “biscuit situation” where you can choose from fried chicken and Tabasco honey, bacon egg and pimento cheese, or grandma‘s sausage gravy, among others. Of course, they have their own shrimp and grits or you can step out there for the hangover bowl (short rib with cheesy grits, potatoes and egg). Do not leave this Crescent City favorite without a serving of their banana puddin’ cup, a true New Orleans delicacy.
Your family, including your teenagers, will leave this notable U.S. city filled with great Cajun food, and appreciation for art and culture, and hopefully some wonderful music singing in their ears.
New Orleans is only about an 8-hour drive from Central Texas but you can also get an easy nonstop flight from most airports in Texas to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, which was recently renovated into a perfectly sized, bright and clean airport.
Cover Photo Marika Flatt
Marika Flatt, Outstanding Austin Communicator 2021, is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She began her travel writing career in 2002, and can be seen as a contributor on TV shows across Texas, such as KVUE, Daytime (FOX), San Antonio Living, Good Morning Texas, and KXAN! Marika spent five years as the voice of the “Weekend Trip Tip” on NPR’s Texas Standard pre-Covid. She adores Cajun carbs and sweet jazz!