Lafayette Hotel’s Guide to a Family-Friendly Spring in the New Orleans Arts District
Are you visiting New Orleans in the spring, with your family in tow? Here’s our quick guide to how to make the best of your family’s visit to New Orleans in the spring.
Lafayette Hotel is family-friendly and centrally located
When you visit New Orleans with your family, including kids, it makes sense to stay at the Lafayette Hotel, located in the New Orleans Arts District of the Central Business District (CBD). Along with the New Orleans charm and unique ambiance, the hotel is also pet-friendly, has spacious suites with a parlor that could easily and comfortably accommodate the whole family, and is centrally located.
When staying at the Lafayette Hotel, you’ll be just around the corner the city’s vibrant art and dining scenes, and within walking distance to many spring festivals (one, in fact, the kid-friendly Wednesday at the Square, will be happening right outside your window on the scenic Lafayette Square, the second oldest park in all of New Orleans, (right next door to our hotel).
Proximity to the French Quarter and the Garden District
The area around the hotel is located in downtown New Orleans, in the Arts District. It’s walkable, even with little kids, easily accessible by the historic St. Charles Avenue streetcar line, and is adjacent to the French Quarter and the Garden District. The arts and food scene is decidedly child-friendly, there are lovely cafés, world-class museums, and outdoor respites like the Lafayette Square, Piazza d’Italia, and the magnificent Audubon Park. You’re minutes away from Bourbon Street, the Superdome, Convention Center, Riverwalk, and many more popular attractions.
Museums and galleries
You’re lucky to be just a stone’s throw away from Julia Street “Gallery Row” and two of the city’s finest art museums, as well as the world-renowned National World War II Museum. The galleries are open all year round, but if you happen to be here on the first Saturday of the month, you can join the art lovers, local and visiting, on the walk down Julia Street (from Camp Street to Tchoupitoulas), to hit the latest openings at the scores of top-notch galleries peppering the area.
As one of the top military history museums in the country, the National WWII Museum is a must for the whole family. It features amazing multimedia displays and a slew of informative exhibits in its sprawling space. Don’t miss the gripping, award-winning 4-D film narrated by Tom Hanks, Beyond All Boundaries, which packs a ton of special effects and takes you from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the war’s end in under an hour. Close your visit with a stop at the on-site American Sector Restaurant & Bar, made to look like a 1940s café.
Three more museums in the area are also suitable for the whole family and are highly recommended. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art puts a spotlight on the visual arts and culture of the American South, holding some of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Southern art in the U.S., from the 18th century to the present. The building itself is also impressive, with a soaring atrium and a rooftop terrace. The Ogden also hosts many special events, including the lively Ogden After Hours, a weekly Thursday evening showcase of musical artists.
Across the street, the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) is a 10,000-square-foot marvel of modern architecture, packing four floors of multimedia art. And the enormous Mardi Gras World located on the Mississippi River is a must for families interested in all things Carnival. You can tour the 300,000 square-foot working warehouse to immerse yourself in the Mardi Gras magic. The majority of floats you see in the annual Mardi Gras parades are made there, and the guided tour covers many aspects of the Carnival, including its beginnings, the balls, the krewes, and other precious traditions unique to New Orleans.
Even better, the Mardi Gras World shuttle can pick you up for free from one of the many designated locations downtown and in the French Quarter. There are no prearranged pickups, so just call 504-361-7821. After the tour, get a taste of Mardi Gras with a free slice of King Cake, and enjoy the view of the Mississippi River at the on-site café.
We know, it’s not always that easy to navigate an unfamiliar city on foot with the little ones. Despite its flat terrain not all areas of New Orleans are walkable (though the Arts District and the French Quarter are). We recommend the guided city tour on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus as one of the best and easiest ways to see the CBD and beyond, especially if some of your family members aren’t up for walking.
The double-decker bus covers a lot of ground daily, stopping at a total of 19 stops along its two-hour loop, including the area near the Lafayette hotel. You can get on and off at any of the stops, including the French Quarter and Uptown. A one-day ticket is $39, but the best value is the three-day ticket for $10 more (tickets for kids ages 3-10 are $10 for any tour). The buses visit every stop approximately every 30 minutes, and the three-day pass includes two free guided walking tours, of the French Quarter and the Garden District.
Other tours, depending on your stamina, interests, and your kids’ ages, run the gamut from exercise-intense (bike tours) to bus and walking tours that visit the cemeteries and the haunted spots (which, in the city of over-300-year history, are supposedly many) to the leisurely guided rides in a mule-drawn carriage. In New Orleans, there are a plethora of food and drink tours too. Visitors can learn about the history of the city’s cuisine, including Creole and Cajun, and sample some of its most famous foods and beverages during those tours (check out our tour recommendations).
Spring is festival season in New Orleans. No sooner than Mardi Gras is followed by Lent March kicks into high gear with St. Patrick’s Day parades, St. Joseph’s Day altars and the Mardi Gras Indians’ Super Sunday. St. Patrick’s Day, and the weekend closest to it, is marked by block parties, general green-hued revelry, and three parades. The Irish Channel Parade is the biggest, tossing shamrock beads and heads of cabbage on Magazine Street Uptown; the Downtown Irish Parade starts in the Bywater, and Molly’s at the Market parade calls the streets of the French Quarter home (you can get up-to-date info on them all here).
On March 19, many citizens of the heavily Catholic New Orleans honor St. Joseph by building and displaying elaborate altars laden with food, and pass out lucky beans to people seeking his blessing at the many local churches and even private homes. At nightfall, you might get a glimpse of the Mardi Gras Indians on the streets, dressed in spectacular hand-beaded suits, feathers, and headpieces. Another chance to witness this amazing New Orleans tradition is on the Super Sunday, where the Mardi Gras Indian tribes gather either on the banks of Bayou St. John in Mid-City or at the A.L. Davis Park Uptown. This annual gathering is held around St. Joseph’s Day, usually falling on the third Sunday of March, weather permitting.
Starting in March, you can also catch Wednesday at the Square, a free concert music series held every spring in Lafayette Square. The 10-concert event lasts through mid-May, and features a variety of jazz, rock, swam pop, brass, and more. You can watch from your hotel balcony, or come on down and dance!
Among the other family-friendly spring festivals you might not want to miss are the Top Taco NOLA, held at the Woldenberg Park by the river; Hogs for the Cause at the UNO Lakefront Arena; and the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival, held at the Armstrong Park, which celebrates Cajun and Zydeco music with a stellar lineup of Louisiana acts and local food.
Freret Street Festival jumpstarts the action the first Saturday of April with three music stages and dozens of food, drink and craft vendors. The festival season approaches its peak around Easter, which is celebrated with three parades and festive brunches throughout the city.
Then the month kicks in high gear when French Quarter Festival segues into the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which segues into Bayou Boogaloo and beyond. The French Quarter Festival has grown into a massive affair, with over 20 stages of music, from jazz to zydeco, and dozens of food vendors. Jazz Fest, which hardly needs an introduction after being around for over 50 years, is held for two consecutive four-day weekends at the end of April and beginning of May, drawing music lovers from around the world with its incredible lineup of national headlines and the who-is-who of the local music scene.
The good times keep rolling in May with the Bayou Boogaloo, held along the banks of the Bayou St. John; the Greek Fest in Lakeview; and two free and kid-friendly festivals in the French Quarter, the Oyster Festival and the French Market Creole Tomato Festival.
The vibrant food scene
There are many delicious options located within walking distance of the hotel that are family-friendly. To start with, there’s one in our hotel! Desi Vega’s Steakhouse is rightly famous for its sizzling cuts of tender prime-aged beef, seared to order. In addition to its classic steakhouse menu, the restaurant is a good spot to try the iconic New Orleans and Southern fare like shrimp remoulade and fried green tomatoes.
For coffee or a quick breakfast, we recommend the bagels and pastries, made fresh daily, at Between the Bread, located across from Lafayette Square. The Mammoth Espresso and the French Truck Coffee’s CBD outpost have high-quality coffee both companies are known for. French Truck Coffee also has an all-day breakfast and lunch menus. Another option is the chic Drip Affogato, which creatively pairs ice cream and hot drinks.
For a longer, lingering sit-down the whole family will love, try the Southern favorites like BBQ shrimp and grits at the CBD location of the local, beloved brunch queen chain, the Ruby Slipper. Two Chicks Café near the Convention Center serves fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies, varied breakfast, and artisan sandwiches in a quaint and colorful setting with a welcoming, neighborhood vibe. And, any time of day, the CBD’s gem Willa Jean is unsurpassed when it comes to a Southern menu of baked goods paired with excellent coffee (check out the “Biscuit Situation” section of the seasonal menu).
As for lunch and dinner, the Lafayette Hotel is close to some of the best New Orleans restaurants, and all, even those that are open late, could be enjoyed by the whole family. Cochon Butcher, Gianna, and Sofia are all standout options for the whole family. Or hit Seaworthy for the locally sourced oysters and other seafood from the Gulf. Got vegetarians in your midst? The vegetarian/vegan menu at Carmo spans the globe and focuses on tropical flavors. Bittersweet Confections and Bakery Bar are among the top options for dessert near the Lafayette Hotel, where you can try the staples like bananas Foster bread pudding and Doberge cake.
This spring, stay in the historic New Orleans Arts District and enjoy our low weekday rates and other specials at the Lafayette Hotel. If you find lower rates on your Lafayette Hotel New Orleans Hotel room(s) at the time of booking, call 1(800) 366-2743 and we will match the rate! Stay in touch and save on rates and by signing up for our email list at https://www.lafayettehotelneworleans.com/email-offers/.