Despite its reputation for being a “party city”, you’d be surprised to know that planning a family-friendly trip to New Orleans is actually very simple. Today on the blog, I’m sharing my family’s picks for what to do in New Orleans with a teen.
With Mardi Gras right around the corner, I’ve been bombarded with pictures all over my Pinterest feed of all things related to New Orleans. It’s making me miss New Orleans so much. The food, the atmosphere, and the music…I love all of it!
After taking an anniversary trip with my husband Patrick to New Orleans a couple of summers ago, we both fell in love with “The Big Easy”. We also knew instantly that we needed to bring our son Zach back with us at some point. Besides a few adult beverages and a couple of trips to Harrah’s casino, everything else Patrick and I did while in New Orleans was completely teen-appropriate!
Lucky for us, Patrick’s job required him to attend training in New Orleans not too long after we came back from our anniversary trip. With the hotel room already paid for, it was obviously a no-brainer that Zach and I should hijack Patrick’s work trip and tag along with him for the three days. Oh come on, you know you’d do the same thing!
Unfortunately for Patrick, he spent most of his time in the Ritz Carlton conference room while Zach and I got to galavant around the city. Although we did dinner together every night, and had a few hours to explore together as a family on the last day, the majority of the time in New Orleans was more of a mother and son experience.
As much as I love our time together as a family, I will admit it was nice to have some one-on-one time with my boy. I just love that kid! He likes music, food and exploring new places so he was pretty much game for doing anything I suggested.
I have kind of groomed him to enjoy the things I like…Is that bad of me??
Before I begin, I want to mention that Zach and I did not get to do everything on this list. Some of the suggestions listed are things Patrick and I did on the anniversary trip we took. Despite that, we knew Zach would have also enjoyed doing time if the time and weather had permitted.
Patrick and I were in New Orleans during the summer, specifically in the month of July. Because we visited in December, some of the outdoor activities weren’t available. Or at least that’s what I told Zach…They were probably available but I didn’t want to be out in the cold too long. I’m a Floridian and a total wimp at any temperature under 70!
What To Do In New Orleans With A Teen
*I have provided links to the exact tours we took while in New Orleans. I highly recommend them all. I also recommend this Cocktail Tour if you plan on traveling to New Orleans sans kids. It was surprisingly informative!
If you know anything about New Orleans, you probably know it is well known for voodoo, witchcraft, ghosts and even vampires. This two-hour walking tour was a great way to hear some of the spooky history and ghost stories centering around this well-known city. The tour is about two hours long and is all done on foot. We felt the tour was actually more informative than scary. *I do want to note that this was not our first ghost tour. We have done a few in St. Augustine so that could be part of why we didn’t find the tour scary. You know your teenager best so you’ll ultimately need to make the call on this tour.
This was actually a really awesome tour that Patrick and I did together during our anniversary trip. No other couples had signed up for the tour so we literally had the tour guide completely to ourselves. You meet at the bike shop where you are fitted for a bike and helmet before heading on a 3 ½ hour bike tour around New Orleans. Although you aren’t riding the bike the entire time, you do ride for multiple miles altogether so everyone in your party should be in decent shape for this.
There were about 12 places of interest on the tour including a cemetery and Cafe Du Monde City Park where you get to stop and sample beignets! We absolutely loved this tour and I highly recommend it for you and your teenager while visiting New Orleans.
What teenager doesn’t want to ride on an airboat through the bayou and get up close and personal with some gators?! Holy cow, some of those gators were tremendous. I would recommend doing this one during a warmer time of the year because the wind is crazy when on the airboat. If the alligators weren’t enough, we also stopped a Destrehan Plantation and received a tour of the home and surrounding property. The entire tour was about 5 ½ hours start to finish and the best part was the company we used picked us up right at our hotel. That was super convenient for us because we didn’t rent a vehicle!
We have done food tours in many other cities and it has become one of our favorite activities to do while on vacation. Our family is all about the food and this tour did not disappoint. It is a walking tour through the French Quarter and lasts about 3 hours. Within those three hours, you get to sample food from 5 classic New Orleans restaurants. By the end of the tour not only were we stuffed, but we were overflowing with the history behind the food we got to sample. If at all possible, I suggest doing the food tour as one of your first activities. That way, if you find a restaurant you enjoy it, you can find time to make it back there before your trip is over.
Cafe Du Monde is the most well-known establishment in New Orleans to eat beignets. They’re absolutely delicious and covered completely in powdered sugar. We went multiple times throughout both our trips to New Orleans.
By accident, we stumbled upon Cafe Beignet on our last day in New Orleans. We stopped because we saw a trombone player playing live music in the courtyard of the cafe. Zach plays trombone so he was super excited! We decided to snag a couple of beignets and coffee and enjoy the music for a bit before heading to the airport. The biggest difference we noticed between the beignets was the fact that Cafe Beignet had the powdered sugar out for you to do yourself so you could control how much or little you put on. Personally, all three of us liked the beignets there better but I promise that I would never pass up a Cafe Du Monde beignet if you offered it to me. Check it out and see which one you and your teen like better.
Eat seafood in the form of gumbo, etouffee, po boy sandwiches and oysters
I know oysters are an acquired taste. I completely get it because I normally don’t like them. However, I promise you that you and your teen will go crazy for what is referred to as chargrilled oysters. The oysters are grilled while being drenched in a garlic and butter sauce that’s literally oozing out of them. They are usually served with bread to mop up the butter sauce…seriously drooling over here talking about this!! The best part is you can find restaurants all over the city that serve them during Happy Hour for dirt cheap. Grab yourself a cocktail and let your kiddo go crazy over the oysters!
Po boys, gumbo and etouffee are also stable dishes in New Orleans and we tried them all! When visiting a restaurant, your server will most likely tell you if the restaurant is known for a “good” version of any of these dishes. Take their word for this. We were never disappointed when we did!
Walk around the French Quarter and Jackson Square
There truly is so much to do and see by just walking around the French Quarter and Jackson Square. You’ll find shopping, eating, and live music almost everywhere you turn. You’ll see psychics, street performers, and artists galore as well. There’s even a flea market to peruse through. You can spend an entire day just sightseeing, people watching and appreciating the beautiful architecture found throughout the city. We ended up walking through the French Quarter and Jackson Square at least once a day while on our trip and never got bored of it.
The Court of Two Sisters is a legendary restaurant in New Orleans. They serve an all-you-can-eat buffet daily from 9 am – 3 pm with a live Jazz band playing during those times. If you’re able to, request a table outside in the courtyard. It’s absolutely gorgeous! For fun, try challenging your teen to try the turtle soup. Maybe you can sweeten the pot by offering them a beignet from the place of their choice for trying it. I might even try it for a beignet…
Just a few cautions:
Like most popular cities throughout the US, there is a high population of homeless people living throughout New Orleans. There were definitely more homeless people during the summer. I’m assuming it was because of the warmer weather. Just a heads up because it can be a little alarming at first!
There are people walking up some of the streets that will try to ask you to play a guessing game with them and then expect you to pay them when they’re done. For example, they’ll say something like “If I can guess your shoe size, will you pay me five dollars?” We just said no thank you and would walk away but it happened a couple of times throughout our stay so I felt I should mention it to you.
Finally, try to stay away from Bourbon Street during the evening if you don’t want to expose your teen to drinking, loud music, and a whole bunch of parties. You’ve been warned!
I briefly mentioned this at the beginning, but we stayed at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in the French Quarter. It was perfect walking distance to pretty much everything in the city but it wasn’t as elite as you would think the Ritz would be. I’d say it was more of a 4-star hotel but it was clean and easily accessible to everything in the city so I would definitely consider it as a place to stay on your vacation.
I truly hope this post on what to do in New Orleans with a teen has been helpful for you. Zach had a fabulous time and honestly asks us on a regular basis when we’re heading back for another trip. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below. I’d love to help you in any way I can!
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