When you think of New Orleans, you probably imagine partying the night away at Mardi Gras, but it’s not just a party town. There are plenty of fun things for families to do too, which means it can be a great destination for a family vacation!
From the Children’s Museum to The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, there’s plenty for your little ones to do, but you do have to make sure everyone is safe. Here are some tips that will make sure you have a fun, safe time in New Orleans.
Use Public Transit
It’s true that renting a car and driving around town yourself is the most convenient way to get around, but it isn’t necessarily the safest. New Orleans has high rates of car accidents, which means you could be putting your family in danger by trying to drive around town yourself.
That’s not the only problem with renting a car. Vehicle break-ins aren’t uncommon in New Orleans. That can cause a lot of problems, especially if you’re renting your car.
Instead, use public transit. Streetcars will get you where you need to go, and riding one is an essential New Orleans experience to boot. Taxis are also an option. You won’t have to figure out where you’re going, you can avoid an accident, and you won’t have to worry about what you’re going to find in the morning after leaving your car in a dark parking lot.
Know Which Places to Avoid
New Orleans is comprised of smaller neighborhood areas, some of which are safer than others. It’s a good idea to avoid the sketchiest neighborhoods, especially if you’re traveling with small children.
Little Woods and Central City have some of the highest crime rates, but other areas you’ll want to avoid include:
- The Lower 9th Ward
- St. Claude
There are plenty of places you can take the kids without worrying about your safety. The French Quarter is a popular spot, and it’s also relatively safe. The Garden District, Lakeview, and Audubon are also safe neighborhoods to visit.
Avoid Staying Out Late
If you’re not sure about a particular neighborhood, there’s a fairly easy fix—head back to the hotel before it gets dark.
There are some especially dangerous places that get more dangerous when the sun goes down that you should avoid at all costs, but you should also generally avoid the nightlife if you’re hanging out with kids. Pickpockets and scammers are always around, but they increase in number when the sun goes down. If you do decide you want to catch a jazz band, choose a safe neighborhood and head back to the hotel before midnight.
It’s also important to mention that you should avoid visiting the city’s cemeteries unless you’re with a ghost tour group. Criminals like to hide behind tombstones and monuments hoping to catch someone unawares during the day, as well as at night.
Know When to Visit
The best time to visit New Orleans is between February and May. Not only is the weather more comfortable, but it’s also when Mardi Gras celebrations are in full swing.
If you’re looking to save on your vacation, you may be tempted to travel in the summer or fall, but beware. The summer can be swelteringly hot, and hurricane season is a very real threat in the fall. If you want to save a little money, avoid the crowds, and enjoy milder weather, consider traveling in December and January. The city can be an especially magical place for the kids during the holiday season.
Look Less Like Tourists
Mardi Gras has more pickpockets and scammers than most other cities in the country, so it’s a good idea to go above and beyond to make sure you and your children don’t look like tourists as you’re walking around town.
A few tips for blending in with the locals include:
- Avoid letting the kids carry bags or other items.
- You can get away with a backpack if you have kids, but a carrier bag can help you blend in better.
- Avoid taking too many photos.
- Avoid wearing tourist garb from trinket shops.
You should also make sure you carry valuables carefully. For example, money is best kept in a front pocket instead of a back one.
There’s no reason to avoid New Orleans as a vacation destination if you have kids. You can keep everyone safe and have fun at the same time when you follow these tips.