Thanks to the Southwest Companion Pass, my daughter and I have been able to explore new cities. Pre-parenthood, I grew to love traveling but because of the hassle and expense of finding flights, hotels, etc I mostly stuck to traveling abroad to feel like I was getting my money's worth. About a year and half ago I started to learn more about credit card points and maximizing our benefits. It's pretty easy for me to get bogged down in the details of planning trips with points, especially since it takes so long to accumulate enough for a trip. Finding flights and lodging domestically is a little easier for me to process right now with two of us traveling together.
Just don't fly out of LAX. Yes, the parking is cheap. Yes, the flights are usually cheaper. But for real, just don't do it again (I will do it again).
I decided on New Orleans for a couple reasons.
- Jenny loves donuts. Beignets are donuts. Jenny loves beignets.
- The Southwest Low Fare Calendar. I tried out several destinations and New Orleans came out the winner.
The New Orleans airport is pretty sparse so plan ahead. We planned on bringing some Cafe Du Monde beignets back for dad and planned on getting them at the airport for maximum freshness. Despite being one of the #1 things to do in New Orleans, there is no Cafe Du Monde in the airport. Like I said, plan ahead.
Where We Stayed
We found out that Airbnb is having issues in New Orleans so we opted to stay at Best Western French Quarter Landmark Hotel. Everyone who works here is a freaking gem: super friendly and really kind. Breakfast was totally adequate and if we needed anything they were there to help. It's located on the outer edge of the French Quarter (a few blocks walk from the action) and right on the streetcar line.
How We Got Around
We walked a lot. We also got a Jazzy Pass for the streetcar and bus system, which was totally worth it. For a couple instances in which we had to go a little farther, Lyft worked out just fine.
The French Quarter is not made for wheels (strollers, wheelchairs, etc). That being said, we managed and we did fine in our umbrella stroller.
Fantastic. We didn't run into any nasty attitudes, which is something to be thankful for in this day and age.
Where We Ate
Aglio, where we got a cheeseboard with amazing pickled veggies and spicy Cajun popcorn (too spicy for a 4-year-old). Morning Call Coffee Stand, with really good Jumbalaya and great beignets. Saint Lawrence, known for their fried chicken but don't try and fit a stroller through the narrow doors (wasn't a huge fan). Red Dog Diner, where we met with some friends from the Tiny Globetrotters Facebook Group. Of course, we went to Cafe Du Monde several times; the lines didn't start until the late morning which we managed to avoid.
What We Did
We didn't go on any swamp tours (the alligators aren't active in the winter) and we didn't go to any plantations. We took a walking tour of the Garden District that I found on Groupon where we were the only family with children (no one made a fuss). The details on Groupon weren't clear but when we showed up for the tour, I found out that I didn't need to buy a separate ticket for a child. I usually make a master plan using Google Maps for each of our trips. I don't try to push a specific itinerary or specific timing unless we absolutely must. Here's what I set out for New Orleans.
Overall, Jenny and I had the most fun at the Aquarium, Mardi Gras World, and just walking the French Quarter and the surrounding areas checking out the art studios and small shops. We didn't venture much into the shops on Canal Street since they're largely the same as any other outdoor mall in the US.