Couples + Family

Traveling With Kids in NOLA? Here’s What You Need to Know

Enjoying a Snowball from Hansen/s Sno-Bliz (Photo: Joshua Brasted)

Crescent City, here you come! Your itinerary may be planned out, but traveling with children can be a challenge if you don’t know the pitfalls. Make sure your visit is smooth sailing with these helpful New Orleans travel tips.

Beat the Heat

The heat of summer lasts a long time in New Orleans. If you happen to be visiting during the hot months, there are several family attractions that make for a perfect day away from the sweltering heat. Cool Zoo at Audubon Zoo is a splash park for kids with shade and cooling misters for adults, while another kid-approved way to beat the heat is a local confection known as a snowball. It’s like a snow cone, only better. The ice is super fine, and the syrups come in a dizzying array of flavors. It’s a very affordable way to treat the whole family. There are several stands in and around the city, but the two biggest names in the biz are: Plum Street Snowballs and Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, home of the first ice shaving machine. Hansen’s is a New Orleans treasure that has received the American Classics Award by the James Beard Foundation.

Navigate Like Magellan

New Orleans is an old city, so its streets can be confusing. Keep your smart phone handy or invest in a map.

Wear your most comfortable shoes because New Orleans is a walkable city. Your feet will be happiest in durable sandals in the summer heat.

Streetcars are a great way to get around, but they only accept exact change. The fare is $1.25 per ride. You can buy a day pass for just $3.00 per person. If you’re traveling with a stroller, be sure it’s folds up quickly and easily for hassle-free boarding. P.S. Streetcars have the right of way in New Orleans, so whether you’re walking or driving, be on the lookout for approaching streetcars.

If you’re driving, beware of potholes. Streets have improved markedly since the city’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina, but many still resemble the Moon’s surface.

What to Do in Case of Emergency

Hopefully all goes well and you’ll never need this particular resource, but if your little one needs medical attention, Children’s Hospital is a world class hospital. It’s designed with kids in mind, so its walls and halls are colorful. There are toys, fish tanks, and even a Rube Goldberg sculpture for hours of entertainment. Of course its staff is made up of pediatric experts.

How to Survive Mardi Gras

Parades are a lot of fun, but their crowds, chaos and noise level can quickly turn a child’s dream vacation into a nightmare with no escape. A few items in your survival kit will ensure that a fun time is had by all.

  • Invest in ear plugs or noise cancelling ear phones. That way, when the parade pauses and you end up on the receiving end of a high school band’s blaring horn section, peace will reign supreme.
  • Hand wipes and hand sanitizer are key. When your kid dives for a hot pink strand of sparkling pearls that land smack in the gutter, you’ll be glad you’re packing this filth-fighting ammunition.
  • Unless you don’t mind stuffing your children full of the cotton candy that’s offered by the vendors strolling down the street, you’ll need plenty of snacks and water.
  • Lightweight folding chairs (available at most any area drug store) are great for anyone who appreciates not sitting on a curb adjacent to a gutter full of party gravy.
  • If you can, find a solid step ladder. This will allow your kids to see above the crowd without relying on your physical strength and stamina. Your shoulders will thank you.
  • Kids fare particularly well at parades as cuteness is a big factor in racking up parade loot, so bring an empty tote bag to hold your treasure.
  • Lastly, don’t leave your items unattended. There is a lot of camaraderie at Carnival, but don’t forget that you’re still in the city.