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Laura Scott: How I Spent Thanksgiving in New Orleans

*Editor’s Note: GoNOLA teamed up with Laura Laquer to bring you a look inside her recent visit to New Orleans during the holidays.

This year we weren’t able to make the trip all the way back home to Massachusetts for the holidays, and my parents who usually visit weren’t able to come down either. Needless to say I was really down, as it’s been a hard year in my family with multiple deaths and illnesses. So when the idea of traveling to New Orleans for the holidays was brought up, I thought about it long and hard. Nathan and I have been to New Orleans once before (just last year) and I loved it. The streets in the French Quarter were alive with so many weddings and second lines, adorable shops and delicious restaurants. The streets became even more festive at night. I loved dancing down the streets with a drink in one hand and Nathan’s hand in the other.

I don’t think anyone would even attempt to question whether or not New Orleans is a great place to visit for adults. But what about kids? I honestly wasn’t so sure, but after getting some information from locals, , we decided we’d go for it. 

And let me tell you I’m so glad we took that chance.

It was incredible and the girls have continued talking about the trip, and asking when we’ll go back. So If you’ve ever thought about traveling to New Orleans with family (and especially during the holidays), I’m sharing some of our highlights and tips below.

Our Stay

We stayed at the Windsor Court Hotel, and it was perfectly situated at the central business district and only a few minutes walk to the French Quarter. It was such a gorgeous oasis, Their lobby was a true winter wonderland with the most beautiful tree and lights, and they even had little teddy bears for the girls upon our arrival.

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First things first – we had to go explore the French Quarter! We walked from our hotel and took in the incredible romantic, historic, just drool-worthy architecture, horse-drawn carriages, and shops. The girls were obsessed with all of the masks at each store we went by and it was so much fun trying them on. I especially loved watching their little bodies move to the beat of all of the live music in the streets – the streets really do feel alive! Of course a trip to the French Quarter isn’t complete without a stop at Cafe Du Monde – their beignets are really out of this world! As a tip – this place is cash only (and crazy cheap) so make sure to bring some cash for a few rounds of beignets and cafe au lait. (Baby wipes make for a quick cleanup of all the powdered sugar!)

Since we arrived on Thanksgiving Day we reserved dinner at Commander’s Palace, and it did not disappoint. Our meal was delicious, and I loved that they even had a thanksgiving meal especially for the kids on the menu. There was also a little mocktail for them that came complete with a rubber ducky on top – adorable!

Zoo Lights at the Audubon Zoo
I think this was hands-down my favorite experience of the trip. There’s already something special about being in a park “after-hours” but add in spectacular holiday lights, Christmas music, charming hot cocoa stands, the Santa Clause himself, and big open spaces for the kids to play (including a snowflake light dance floor, arts + crafts stop, and a playground), and you’ve got one incredible night. I found myself just smiling so hard this entire night. If you’re in New Orleans for the holidays with kids, (or without kids) go. I’ll remember it forever.

Garden District, Magazine Street

From the aquarium we took an uber down to Magazine Street – this street has miles of adorable small shops and restaurants, and was the perfect place for lunch and afternoon exploring, especially since it was small business Saturday! A few notable places to eat on this street include District Donuts and Dat Dog. We walked around exploring for hours, had lunch at The Vintage and people watched, and made our way all the way down to the Pinkberry where Santa was making a special stop.

Once it got dark we headed over to City Park where there was so much to do. First we fueled up at Morning Call inside the park, which is another spot with beignets and tons of yummy drinks. Next we headed to Storyland, an adorable fairy tale-themed playground that the girls loved. (Note that Storyland is only open until 6 p.m.) Then, we headed into Carousel Gardens (open at night only during Celebration in the Oaks) and enjoyed some of the rides. The carousel was my favorite! Finally, we made our way to Celebration in the Oaks – another magical light display. This would also be a perfect date night spot. It’s so romantic, but makes for a great family night too.

We squeezed in a ton during our short 3 day trip and there was still so much more we wanted to do with the girls, including the Louisiana Children’s Museum and Audubon Park. The city won me over and showed me that it is an amazing place to visit for the whole family.

*Editor’s Note: Check out Laura’s Instagram Stories for more highlights from her visit to New Orleans.

Visit New Orleans and leave with more than just a souvenir. #OneTimeInNola

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