Travel has always been of paramount importance to me and raising a global citizen with an expansive world view is a priority as a parent. I love to explore new places, meet new people, experience new cultures, new foods, new sights and smells, the whole body-immersive experience of travel. My husband and I were never going to stop traveling after becoming parents and, while it is different, we thrive in our ability to enjoy new things as a family. Travel has also been an invaluable source of inspiration as I carve out my path as an entrepreneur. In the wise words of Jonah Lehrer, “We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same, But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.”
“We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same, But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.”
On a recent family trip to New Orleans, I created a map on Google, a great trick my husband introduced me to. It is an easy and efficient way to collect all the information needed. I usually separate the map into 5 categories: restaurants, bars, shops, places of cultural interest and family fun. One of the best things about making the map when you travel as a family is it makes it so much easier to plan out days. Armed with a carefully curated map, I expected to like New Orleans but I didn’t expect to fall in love with it. A city steeped in history and soul, with its vibrant arts and music scene, an expansive enough landscape to feel like a bustling big city and so many family friendly options it ticked all our boxes for a great family vacation. (Our son was 3 years old when we went to New Orleans.)
- The eponymous Emeril Lagasse (one of the most respected chefs in New Orleans) restaurant was round the corner from the Garden District apartment we rented for our trip so it made an easy and excellent choice for dinner on our first night.
- The nearby Willa Jean had the type of easy, crowd pleasing menu that had us making multiple visits on our trip for their shrimp & grits, cornbread and biscuits.
- The blue crab beignets at La Petite Grocery were a standout in a city known for the best beignets in the world.
- Cochon, a tribute to the old world butchers presented us with some of the most creative dishes that we’ve ever tasted made from the humble pig.
Pro Tip: A surprise, especially visiting from San Francisco, the home of the laidback dress code, was the business casual attire that existed at most of the restaurants we went to. New Orleanians like to dress up, and locals like to see other diners dressed up too. Even in October, it was around 90 degrees daily, so it definitely required some thought and planning to make sure we respected the rules of the fine dining establishments we visited.
- Be sure to visit a few classic New Orleans watering holes like The Sazerac. A cocktail bar with an illustrious history, bearing the same name as a drink which is often considered America’s first cocktail, with plush banquettes, timeless cocktails, an elegant old world vibe, where the patrons are sophisticated and elegant, it is what I like to call, grown up sexy.
- The music scene in New Orleans is world renowned but it still blew my mind. I’d read about Bourbon Street, Frenchmen Street, the French Quarter and the plentiful jazz bars dotted around didn’t fail to leave me in awe.
Pro Tip: The big surprise was there was so much soulful music everywhere! Irrespective of genre, the music was played from the soul and connected with your soul. From people busking on the street, music playing alongside striking art being displayed on the streets, to the live music in restaurants, we were able to enjoy the Big Easy nightlife as we travelled with family.
- The Audubon Park is such a magical and beautiful park. Covering approximately 350 acres in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans, the park opened in 1898 and was used by armies in the American Civil War and as a staging area for the Buffalo Soldiers, the first all black regiment in the US Army.
- Contained within Audubon Park, The Tree of Life is an enormous, droopy, knobbly tree straight out of a mythical fairytale, which is believed to be almost 500 years old, has low hanging branches that are easy to climb with scraps of stray ropes and handles to help you up as high as you dare. It’s an incredibly photogenic backdrop which is always a bonus on family trips and also a site for many a photo shoot.
- Hopping on the streetcar for a few minutes took us to downtown New Orleans. We spent some quality time in the Garden District Bookshop, a quaint, local gem with a great selection of New Orleans and Louisiana specific books with a great selection of autographed copies and frequent author events.
- The bookstore is opposite the beautifully eerie and historic Lafayette cemetery with above ground tombs, reminiscent of the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. It’s niche tourism and is a fascinating place to visit that is historically significant though somewhat macabre in nature.
- Down the road is the most famous restaurant in New Orleans, the Commander’s Palace. Open since 1880, the landmark restaurant with its turquoise and white striped exterior is a notable spot for refined Creole fare and was an ideal way to wrap things up on the last day of such a memorable trip.