1/8/20

Family-Friendly Christmas Fun in New Orleans - Part 3

This is my third post about our family's visit to New Orleans over Christmas. Click for the first and second posts from the trip. Because I blog about educational travel, I was given complimentary admission tickets, discounts, media rates, and other benefits for some of the places we visited. Many attractions we toured are free to everyone and we paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. I only share what I honestly recommend.

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Family-Friendly Christmas Fun in New Orleans



If you are thinking of spending Christmas time in New Orleans, I strongly encourage you to do so. If you are thinking of spending Christmas Eve Day and Christmas Day in New Orleans, know that a ton of stuff will be closed. When planning our Louisiana trip, I learned that many museums are always closed on Mondays, some tourist attractions are closed on December 24, and almost everything is closed on December 25. There were some don't-miss attractions in New Orleans that we had no choice but to miss, simply because they weren't open the only days we were in town. There was also at least one place that was supposed to be open, but wasn't (grrr). Fortunately, we still found plenty to do!

We started Christmas Eve morning with a full loop on the City Sightseeing New Orleans Hop-On-Hop-Off bus. The price for a 3-day pass versus a 1-day pass costs only $10 more per adult and is the same price for kids, PLUS it includes guided walking tours. For us, it was a no-brainer to get the 3-day passes.  


Because the guides on the HOHO are live (as opposed to recorded), we heard different stories and anecdotes than from the other guide the day before. Of course, some information was repeated, but that only helped us better understand the interesting history of New Orleans. 


"Look! Our good friend Becky has a gallery!"


We noticed many, many sets of beads and other Mardi Gras throws hanging from tree branches, power lines, and roofs. Our vantage on the double-decker bus gave us a view of them we didn't have when walking at ground level.  


We got off the HOHO at Jackson Square in order to visit Cafe du Monde. It's famously open 24 hours a day. Many people think it's also open 365 days a year, but nope. They close in the early afternoon on Christmas Eve and don't reopen until early morning on December 26. We were NOT going to miss our chance to have beignets at Cafe du Monde. Unfortunately, it was packed and there was a huge line snaking half a city block. 


Ah, but the long line is only for those who want table service! We only had to wait behind a half dozen people in order to get take-out. 


 In a matter of minutes, we were enjoying hot beignets on a nearby park bench.


We also got a cup of their outstanding hot cocoa, plus a cup of chicory coffee. I didn't like it, but I don't like regular coffee, so that wasn't a surprise. The beignets more than made up for it. 


We finished our beignets just in time for the French Quarter Walking Tour that was included with our HOHO passes. 


We learned so much more about the area and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. 


When the tour ended, we walked to Armstrong Park and admired the beautiful artwork and landscaping. 


  

"Peace y'all."


Next stop: the French Market.
  

The collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel in October has impacted travel in the city. We walked past the hotel with thoughts of riding the streetcar to see where it would take us, but we ended up turning back and trying to find a restaurant that was open for dinner.


We ended up back at Fulton Street.



We ate at Manning's. It ended up being the perfect choice. The food was outstanding. 


Our table was on the 20-yard line, which you can see to the left of Steve. The whole restaurant was filled with sports memorabilia and interesting football-themed art. I learned a lot about the Manning family and their connection to New Orleans. 


We'd talked about attending a Christmas Eve church service in New Orleans, but for a number of reasons that didn't work out. Instead, we were able to relax at our hotel for a little bit before heading to bed. 

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As I mentioned early, almost everything in New Orleans was closed on Christmas Day. The only exceptions were a few restaurants, mostly the ones affiliated with hotels. What to do when the entire city is closed? An Urban Adventure Quest, of course! This was our 13th Quest, I think. (You can read about the others here.) As always, the Quest brought us to places we hadn't seen, despite already having spent three days touring and exploring the city.



Dave and Pat joined us for the Quest, which includes a short ride on a streetcar. Another NOLA experience checked off our list!


It's true. Cafe du Monde really does close on Christmas.  


The shops at the French Market were closed, too. 


We usually race through the Quests and try for a fast time, but we took things very slowly this time. Stopped and smelled the roses, you might say. We even stopped at Belle's Diner in the middle of the Quest for brunch. It was delicious. Trevor ordered alligator for the second time this trip. 


 We found a geocache, too. We're hoping to eventually log at least one geocache in each state.


We headed back to the hotel to change, then met up with the whole gang for Christmas dinner at Trenasse. The food was outstanding.



From left to right: Steve's cousin's wife (Mary), Steve's cousin (Jeff), Steve's sister (Teri), Steve's dad (Dave), Steve's mom (Pat), me, Trevor, and Steve.


Trenasse is located at the InterContinental Hotel. Their lobby was not as grand as others we visited during the trip, but they did have a fun gingerbread display that we enjoyed.

  

See that blue dog in the swamp-themed gingerbread house? We'd been seeing it all over the place but didn't know what it was. We finally learned the story behind it. It's fascinating! Actually, the entire city of New Orleans is fascinating and well worth a visit if you've never been. It exceeded my expectations in every way.

Tomorrow I'll share what we did on our last full day in NOLA. It shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that we packed in a ton of fun.

2 comments:

  1. SO fun and kind of refreshing to see a 'big' city mostly closed for Christmas! Drives me batty how many businesses are now open here for Christmas. :)

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