I recently took a trip to the South with wife Carol, and daughters Claire and Shelby, ages 11 & 13. Here are a few highlights from our experience.
Drury Inn & Suites New Orleans – We stayed three nights at the Drury Inn & Suites, a great value for families located a short walk from New Orleans’ famous French Quarter. The room size was sufficient, and the beds comfortable. Amenities include a full breakfast, evening snacks and three free alcoholic drinks in the evening, all included in the price for the room. The lobby area was spacious, also with free drinks and snacks available, and the rooftop pool offers a nice view of the city. The hotel is located conveniently near RTA streetcar lines which offer inexpensive public transportation, and a short walk to the Mississippi River Riverwalk and Hurrah’s casino gambling. If you love your pet, they welcome dogs.
New Orleans City Park – The 1300-acre park is green and lush, and offers a variety of activities for families, including Storyland amusement park, botanical gardens and miniature golf. We took the RTA Streetcar trolley Canal Street Line there and spent much of our time at Storyland, a theme park with rides for kids. The park featured images of storybook characters, but my children were most interested in the rides, such as the ferris wheel, carousel, roller coasters, slide and bumper cars. The biggest hit was the train ride around the whole. Next door is the Botanical Gardens, and across the street miniature golf. The park is located a bit outside of the city in a residential area, and makes for a great way to spend a day.
New Orleans Museum of Art – Nearby Storyland is the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), which has some neat art not only inside but at the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden alongside the museum. NOMA’s three floors have a wide selection of art from many different cultures as well as some big name artists; I recall our favorite works were the Italian Renaissance and Impressionist paintings. We also toured rooms featuring Japanese, African and contemporary art pieces. When you visit, make sure to dine at the fabulous Café Noma. We enjoyed delicious bistro food, including paninis and sandwiches, soups and salads, flatbreads, cheeses & charcuterie plates, desserts (huge cookies!) and items for kids. The café has magnificent view of the City Park, so have a leisurely lunch and enjoy the view.
Hermann-Grima Historic House – This is a 6,000-square-foot property in the French Quarter that was once the home of two prominent New Orleans families and their slaves. Built in 1831, it gives you a glimpse at the lives of the wealthy of the era. Tour its bedrooms, dining rooms, sitting rooms, slave quarters, kitchen and courtyard. Your guide can answer all your questions. If you have the time, tour its sister home, Gallier House, about a 10-minute walk away.
Ruby Slipper Café – Ruby Slipper is a New Orleans favorite and the place to go for breakfast/brunch and lunch. It has the feel of a neighborhood café, and there are multiple locations in New Orleans and about a dozen in the Gulf Coast states. I had one of their benedicts, Eggs Blackstone, which features applewood-smoked bacon & grilled tomato on a buttermilk biscuit—they’re known for their excellent biscuits—with two poached eggs and hollandaise. They also have some wonderful French Toast and pancake breakfasts, a variety of specialties, and, if you like an early drink, cocktails such as Mimosas. Portions are large. We went to the 200 Magazine location, at which there is typically a wait, so make a reservation on Yelp before you come over.
Napoleon House – Located in the French Quarter, this historic building was once built to house Napoleon Bonaparte in exile (although he never made it to the U.S.). Today, it is a popular eatery featuring a delicious menu of sandwiches, Po-Boys, appetizers and salads. We had the Italian Muffuletta, their specialty, which has multiple meats and cheeses and is served warm. We also tried the fried shrimp Po-Boy—although the grilled alligator sausage option looked interesting! Two of their tasty dessert options include Cannolis and bread pudding. The restaurant had great New Orleans décor, with indoor and outdoor seating options.
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant – Our first night in we walked over to New Orleans’ Gordon Biersch Brewery, located conveniently near the French Quarter and across the street from the Riverwalk and the Mississippi River. It’s known for its home-brewed beers, but also has some fine burgers (including a Kobe beef option), chicken, tacos, salmon, flatbreads, salads and a variety of starters. It’s also competitively priced, and has good service.