A Kid's Guide to New Orleans
New Orleans is famous for bar-lined Bourbon Street and the Mardi Gras celebrations along it. But is it a family getaway? Liz Vilardi and Nick Zappia, owners of Cambridge, Massachuetts restaurants Belly wine bar and The Blue Room, decided to find out with their five year old son, Lucian.
Here, Liz shares Lucian's Guide to New Orleans:
Lafayette Cemetery No.1 is beautiful old cemetery with above ground tombs, or "really tiny houses" to a five-year-old child. For Lucian, it was mysterious and fun.
Little boys love the idea of trains, any kind of trains. The St. Charles Street Car was no different. Lucian poked his head out the window and absolutely loved it. Plus, it took us to the Audubon Zoo, where we got to experience a carousel, alligators and a white tiger. Need I say more?
Usually music in New Orleans is either impromptu or very late at night. Preservation Hall is an exception, as tickets are sold on their website. We got VIP tickets which meant each of us got a seat rather than fighting to see while standing or having to keep Lucian on our shoulders. The first show is at 8:15.
Perhaps rote when it comes to New Orleans, Cafe du Monde is still totally awesome. The staff serves everyone so quickly that a little guy or gal doesn't even notice there's a wait. Hot cocoa, beignets and so much powdered sugar!
Parasol’s has po' boys, lots of fried food (which never fails a little person) and a secret door to order alcohol from the bar next door. Lucian thought that was so funny.
There’s king cake galore up and down Magazine Street, providing a major sugar rush for the little one.
At Commander’s Palace, Lucian enjoyed chicken fingers with fries, while Nick and I had gumbo, turtle soup, and chestnut-stuffed quail. We got a tour of the "palace" and the kitchen, where Lucian received a toque and not one, but two balloons! The restaurant was bustling and the staff was friendly, professional and sweet. Oh, and we left with our leftovers packaged in swan-shaped aluminum foil—a huge hit with Lucian.
Terrell House has two townhouses with small kitchenettes, perfect to keep some things in the fridge for kids. Terrell House also has tubs, great for five year olds’ bath time (Lucian prefers tubs to showers). Shannon, the chef, made Lucian Mickey Mouse pancakes and grits every day. When we left, she even packed us trail mix and apple muffins. Talk about family friendly and healthy!
As travelers and diners, we want to be comfortable and enjoy ourselves. New Orleans is confident enough to be that simple. Having a five-year-old with us in restaurants, po' boy joints and jazz venues was no issue—NOLA businesses just roll with it. —Liz Vilardi
Photos courtesy of Nick Zappia / Liz Vilardi