It is an easy drive from Houston, so this is a great destination for us. The food is a huge draw and the beauty of the French Quarter is such a unique experience. We like to joke with our Cajun friends that Louisiana is a foreign country because the culture, food, and architecture are all so different. We LOVE it!
A Walk through the French Quarter
The first thing we all think of in the French Quarter is the unique architecture, great food, and the people! Of course, as are slowly coming out of quarantine, you will never see the French Quarter so empty. It doesn’t have the same appeal as the crowded streets, but of course this was a welcome surprise as we are still being quite careful and avoiding crowds of any size. We were prepared to leave if there were too many people, but as you can see – it is empty! From the live music around every turn to the terraces with smells from every kitchen, the French Quarter is a must-see destination.
National World War 2 Museum
For years, we have wanted to see this world renowned museum. Our older son, Clay, absolutely loves history and in particular he studies World War 2 passionately. This was something we wanted on our itinerary. It is the number one tourist attraction in NOLA! We have been to museums absolutely all over the world from Tokyo to Berlin and Mexico to London and beyond. This was easily the best museum we have ever experienced. Honestly, you need a whole day! We felt like this was a whirlwind tour, and we spent over three hours there. The famous 4D submarine experience was closed, so we did miss out on that one.
As far as safety, the museum is taking precautions very seriously. We were greeted at the door and given very specific instructions on wearing our masks and avoiding touching as much as possible. Several areas had capacity limits and six feet is enforced around every turn. There were break areas for taking off your mask if you needed a moment.
The museum is intensely interactive and inclusive. The stories were intensely varied, and we really appreciated experiencing the stories of so many different voices throughout the exhibits. The European and Asian theaters were our favorites. The richness of the experience is indescribable. This is a 21st century museum in every way, and we can’t recommend it enough!
Dinner on the Terrace at Mambo Seafood
Dinner on a terrace is basically mandatory in the French Quarter! Mambo Seafood was our pick for the night. We wanted a terrace both for the view and the safety of outdoor seating. The restaurant took safety very seriously, and we felt very safe. Of course, it was basically empty. The waiters were management and working with a small staff. We were sure to tip double everywhere we went! Please consider doing this during these difficult times.
They have a happy hour on oysters! Brian definitely jumped on that and ordered Oysters Rockefeller and raw. He says they are the best he can remember ever having! Clay and Candace shared BBQ shrimp and grits while Travis opted for the crab cake topped Cajun pasta. Every dish was phenomenal.
Beignets at Cafe du Monde
Cafe du Monde is synonymous with a tourist trip to New Orleans! The cafe has a tiny menu, but that is all you need – coffee and beignets! The kids devoured our amazing breakfast. The people watching is wonderful, and you can easily hear live jazz at all hours. It is right across from Jackson Square, so this makes a great start (or end) to any day. Note that the cafe is on reduced hours. During our trip, it was only open 8am-5pm. Be sure to double check before heading out.
People Watching in Jackson Square
Everything is pretty pedestrian friendly in downtown New Orleans, so you can easily walk from Cafe du Donde to Jackson Square and Bourbon Street down to most of the large hotels. You really don’t need your vehicle at all. Most of the terraces cover the sidewalks, so even in a little rain you will be ok.
We LOVE to go people watching. Of course, with the virus, the park was completely empty, so we just let the boys run a bit and burn off steam after the long drive. The park is lovely and a great break from the bustling city. While there were no people this time, it would be a perfect place to have a coffee and just relax pretty much any other time!
Lunch on Bourbon Street
We like to check Trip Advisor quickly to see if a restaurant has good reviews, so we did just that to try to select our lunch spot. With a quick 2 minute search, we saw that this place Old Cookery had excellent reviews, so we went in! They were a little more lax on safety precautions than the other places, but it was still quite empty so we stayed for the meal. It was STELLAR! Gator bites, seafood étouffée, red beans and rice, collared greens, redfish with crawfish tails and mushroom sauce… it was all incredible.
We loved our little trip to NOLA! We highly recommend checking it out. We felt that safety protocols were very good, and we easily observed six feet of space at all times. We ate outdoors and followed all guidelines. We will be back!