New Orleans has a reputation as being an adults-only destination, but the city offers a lot more than just beads and Bourbon Street. With plenty of family-friendly restaurants, tours and museums, the Big Easy is the perfect destination for a long weekend away from Chicago.
If you stay downtown, most of the city is walkable or just a trolley ride away. We camped out at the Dauphine Orleans, which has a great, central location for walking to most destinations. It is a few blocks away from Bourbon Street but if you plan your visit distant from Mardi Gras, the noise shouldn't be a problem. They also have a nice courtyard with a pool for cooling off.
We were blown away by the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, where you can touch a stingray, walk through a jungle and see a rare white gator. This is definitely an aquarium catered to kids and families can spend hours can be spent there.
Right down the street you'll find the Audubon Insectarium. Even if you're hesitant about creepy crawlies, the Japanese butterfly garden makes it worth a visit.
The French Market is a great place to spend an afternoon with kids. They'll love the live music and virgin daiquiris, and there are always food demonstrations happening between shops.
For a bit of history, visit the National World War II Museum, where you'll see rare artifacts and see the big picture of life on the battlefront and the home front.
I've never had a bad meal in New Orleans. Here are some of the most family-friendly restaurants that will have you raving for days about your meal:
Cafe Du Monde is a must for breakfast or an afternoon snack. They're famous for their outdoor cafe serving little beignet donuts and cafe au lait. The kids will love that they get to eat a pile of sugar, and that it's okay to make a mess!
After eating at Palace Cafe for lunch, we all swore we could never eat again because no meal could ever measure up. It also has a great location right down the street from the Aquarium and Insectarium.
Brennan's Restaurant is world famous for their Bananas Foster, which is made right at the table for you. Brennan's is a little on the nicer (and pricier) side, but we saw plenty of families while we were there. There's even a beautiful garden courtyard for the kids to play in while you're waiting for your food. This is definitely worth the splurge.
For more ideas, visit neworleansonline.com for a full family itinerary.
View New Orleans for Families in a larger map
Alaina is the digital content editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Chicago.
See more of Alaina's stories here.