New Orleans is a fascinating city! Most people think Mardi Gras when they think New Orleans, but the destination can be a great family friendly vacation too. History, great food and annual festivals can make New Orleans a perfect destination this summer.
New Orleans is 300 This Year – Be Sure to See the NOLA 300 Statues
The NOLA 300 statues, located at City Park’s Big Lake, Woldenberg Park’s Audubon Plaza, and at the top of the steps of Washington Artillery Park. You can visit the statues during the day or catch them at night when they are draped in lighting. Use the hashtag #OneTimeInNOLA when you take a selfie with one of these statues!
The summer is a great time to try out some of the legendary restaurants of New Orleans. August in New Orleans marks COOLinary Month, when participating restaurants (and there are usually 100+) create custom, prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner all month long. You can eat at a historic, elegant French Quarter restaurants like Antoine’s, Garden District culinary landmarks like Commander’s Palace or a trendy, contemporary restaurant like Top Chef Nina Compton’s Compere Lapin for a steal. Coolinary is not to be missed if you enjoy fancy food without fancy prices.
Oyster Fest takes place this year on June 2nd and June 3rd and highlights unique dishes and flavors from local restaurants. Festival goers can listen to live music, watch cooking demonstrations, admire arts and crafts, and enter contests like the annual oyster shucking contest and oyster eating contest! You can try your oysters cooked, raw, fried, char-grilled, in a po-boy, in a salad. You will definitely find a delicious way to enjoy oysters at this annual celebration. The full schedule, including food, drink, and music lineups, can be found at www.nolaoysterfest.org.
July in New Orleans is when things really get going for festivals. ESSENCE Fest is considered one of the largest celebrations of African-American music & culture in the country and happens every 4th of July weekend. This year, Janet Jackson & Mary J. Blige will be there. Other July highlights include Running of the Bulls (New Orleans style, featuring Roller Derby Girls), Tales of the Cocktail, and Bastille Day.
In August. New Orleans hosts end-of-summer events such as Whitney White Linen Night, an evening of Arts District exploring. Pack your red dress (and sneakers) for the Red Dress Run, a fundraising race in downtown New Orleans. or attend Dirty Linen Night or Downtown Music and Arts Fest. You can end the with Southern Decadence over Labor Day Weekend.
We all know it gets hot in New Orleans in the summer so you can beat the heat in some of the city’s air-conditioned institutions. New Orleans is home to the #2 Museum in the World (TripAdvisor), the National WWII Museum, and you don’t have to be a history buff to dive into the museum’s totally engaging and interactive exhibits. Art lovers have plenty to see in the New Orleans Museum of Art to The Ogden Museum of Southern Art to the galleries along Julia Street. Anyone who wants a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of how Mardi Gras happens, should head to Mardi Gras World.
It’s super easy to make a New Orleans vacation family friendly. Spend a day at Audubon Zoo, the Audubon Aquarium and Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, or the Louisiana Children’s Museum. The Children’s Museum is putting on a Children’s World Fair in honor of the Tricentennial – a unique find for any visitor coming to the city during 2018. You can also explore the city’s parks – City Park is home to Storyland, gondola rides, City Putt mini golf, Morning Call beignets.
Take a Ride on Steamboat Natchez
This is definitely one of the most “New Orleans” thing you can do. Cruise along the Mississippi on the beautiful Steamboat Natchez and enter into a different era of New Orleans. Enjoy one of three meals while onboard: the Dinner Jazz Cruise, the Harbor Jazz Cruise, or the Sunday Jazz Brunch Cruise. Live music, museum-style rooms, and gorgeous views of the city are all a part of the experience.
Take a walking ghost tour through the haunted streets to hear the moving stories, and see where some still linger on a NOLA Ghost Tour. You’ll uncover the hauntings of the ghosts of scorned lovers, tortured slaves, and mobsters who wander the streets of the French Quarter. You will get to visit prominent haunts like the La Laurie mansion, the home of a famous blood-thirsty murderess, along with lesser known terrifying stories of voodoo and pirates only available with NOLA Ghosts Tours.
History and Heritage Tours
From the earliest Native American tribes, to the intrepid French settlers, to the Spanish adventurers, to the coming of the Americans, New Orleans is a city steeped in history, much of which is still visible in its old landmarks. The Cabildo, on Jackson Square, where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803; the Pontalba buildings, the oldest apartment houses in the U.S.; Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, where the notorious 19th century buccaneer, Jean Lafitte, hung out and carried on his illicit (and illegal) activities; and many more historic sites. They’re all part of the heritage that makes New Orleans unique among American cities. A wide variety of options exist for those who want to tour the city’s historic landmarks or grandiose plantations within a reasonable distance from the city.