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New Orleans - bits & bobs

1. St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest continually operating cathedral in the United States.

2. The Pontchartrain Causeway, a bridge across Lake Pontchartrain (just north of New Orleans) is credited with being theworld's longest continuous bridge over open water (it is 23.79 miles long).

3. New Orleans is known as the birthplace of Jazz.



NewOrleans | Daytime Activities | Dining | Parades, Krewes, Events & Calendar
Mardi Gras 2018 is Tuesday, February 13th


Family-Friendly Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Family Oriented and Kid-Friendly Mardi Gras & Year-Round Attractions in New Orleans

New Orleans Mardi Gras Crowd - Uptown Parade Route

While Mardi Gras in New Orleans is unquestionably one of the most notorious adult parties on the planet, the city of New Orleans (NOLA) is an extraordinarily complex place, that easily accommodates both the annual pre-Lenten bacchanal, and also offers a host of attractions for families with children. And for the discerning parent, the NOLA Mardi Gras parades and events offer a host of lessons for children, as well as the sheer unbridled fun of chasing after beads and playing dress up.

Whether you are traveling with family, or simply operate on something less than full tilt party mode when you travel, Mardi Gras in New Orleans is one of those "must see" life events. It would be a shame to pass it up. Fortunately you don't have to. Here are a few things to keep you occupied if you decide to take a walk on the mild side.

Mardi Gras Parades

With some of the biggest Carnival crowds and most well funded krewes (parading social organizations) on the Gulf Coast, Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans do their best to out do their each other. As a result the floats are large, creative and extravagant. As a 20’ Poseidon turns the corner with masked riders hanging off of it lofting foam footballs into the crowd, the looks on children's faces is pure magic.

And, while there is fierce competition for bead strings and other throws, most people (at least early in the day) will make way for children. And, in general, the parades on the Uptown and Garden District routes tend to attract locals and families (until the floats wind their way closer to the French Quarter) more than the Mid-city and Central Business District routes which are an easy walk for the Bourbon Street party throngs.

Though they are quite a ways to travel (far from the French Quarter), the Metarie, Mandeville, West Bank, and Chalmette parade routes are all quite suburban and decidedly tame in comparison to the downtown experience.

So, for out of town families visiting NOLA for Mardi Gras, the Uptown, Garden District and the more suburban routes will still be crowded, but the focus tends to be more on families, and children are catered to more than on some other routes. Bear in mind that this is a generalization, and your experiences may vary.

That said, family-friendly Mardi Gras in New Orleans goes well beyond just parades.

National WWII Museum

945 Magazine St.

Whether you and yours are paraded out, or are in-between bead scavenging benders, the National World War II Museum on Magazine Street is an intense and captivating experience that spans multiple buildings, filled with hundreds of planes, tanks, vehicles, artifacts, high-tech dioramas and exhibits.

The museum’s signature attraction is, "Beyond All Boundaries", an epic 4D-cinematic experience that combines sound, light, and special effects to present a realistic view of World War II. ‘Beyond All Boundaries” was executive produced by Tom Hanks, and is shown every hour, but tickets should be purchased in advance to guarantee seating.


Musical Legends Park

311 Bourbon St.

Free and open to the public (Sun-Thurs from 8am to 10pm and until midnight on Fri. & Sat.)

In a community deeply committed to arts and culture, particularly music and musicians, Musical Legends Park in the midst of the French Quarter (at 311 Bourbon Street - between Bienville and Conti) is charged with, and dedicated to, honoring New Orleans’ rich cultural and musical heritage.

Filled with live and recorded music and bronze statues of many of New Orleans’ musical geniuses, this tiny vest pocket park offers visitors a chance to step off the street (but not have to retreat indoors) while listening to music and contemplating the lives of renowned masters, and a few lesser-known New Orleans musical icons.


Louis Armstrong Park

701 N. Rampart St.
(between St. Philip St., Rampart St., Basin St., St. Peter St., and N. Villere St.)

 

This quiet 31-acre greenspace with it’s canal/pond, gazebos, bridges, and manicured walkways sits in the Treme district, just north of the French Quarter (across Rampart) and honors one of New Orleans’ musical giants.


Congo Square

701 N. Rampart St.
(between St. Philip St., Rampart St., Basin St., St. Peter St., and N. Villere St.)

This open-air plaza in a southern corner of Louis Armstrong Park has been an established public meeting spot since New Orleans was founded in 1718. In the late 18th Century, when many slaves were given Sunday afternoons “off", the plaza was used by both slaves and free black men and women as a market and a place to dance and make music together.

Congo Square is credited with giving New Orleans’ black community a sense of social cohesion at a time when there lives were anything but settled, civil, and certain.


Jackson Square & Saint Louis Cathedral

700 Decatur St.

(roughly defined as the area between Decatur St., St. Peter St. Chartres St., and St. Ann St. - though the Cathedral grounds extend to Royal St.)

Pinched between the French Quarter and the Mississippi River, spacious, green Jackson Square with it’s broad strolling paths (circling the massive bronze sculpture of Andrew Jackson on horseback) and busker-clad surrounding sidewalks is an easily found landmark, weary traveler reference point, and a creative laboratory and test kitchen for many of NOLA’s street performers and musicians. The square sits at the foot of the majestic, storybook Saint Luis Cathedral.

Saint Louis Cathedral’s three spires are a signature of the New Orleans skyline. Completed in the mid 1,800s, the cathedral stands on a site that has been used by numerous churches as far back as the early 1,700s. The Cathedral is open daily after the 7:30am mass when self-guided tours can be taken (using a brochure available for $1) until 4:00pm


French Quarter (NOT BOURBON STREET)

Simply walking through Bourbon Street and enjoying the stately French & Spanish architecture and wrought iron artistry can’t help but give you a sense of times long past, and people gone but not forgotten. Great fun can be had seeking and spotting the dozens of historical markers scattered around this storied, mostly pedestrian friendly area between Rampart St., Esplanade Ave., Canal St., and the Mississippi River.


The Mighty Mississippi River

And regardless of what we do and where we go in New Orleans, there is the sense that the river, the Mighty Mississippi, is always by our side, perhaps not seen, but never far off.
From controlling where people live, how they make a living and how they spend their free time, the Mississippi River is a primal force in The Big Easy. And it’s well worth strolling its banks on any of the many walking strands set up along its banks. Some of the easiest to access are just behind the French Quarter Visitors Center across Decatur Street from Jackson Square, and Woldenberg Park between the Bienville and Toulouse streetcar stations.

From family-friendly Mardi Gras parades, music, architecture, contemplative parks and walking tours to the awesome power and influence of the Mississippi River, New Orleans offers families, Mardi Gras visitors, and year-round travelers quite a few alternatives to Bourbon Street’s drinking establishments, street parties, and balcony “shows” without having to stray far from the French Quarter.


Sources (and External Links)

The author/editor is indebted to others for the content in this article. While the final product on this page is ours, and we claim full ownership and responsibility for same, what you read here is based on our research, which led us to the following sources of information:

1. National World War II Museum -

2. Musical Legends Park -

3. About Travel: "French Quarter HIstory"; Sharon Keating

4. French Quarter (dot com) -

5. Media Nola: Amstrong Park

6. African American Registry: "Congo Square"

7. Go Nola: "Congo Square"

8. St. Louis Cathedral -

9. NOLA Baby Magazine -

10. City of New Orleans (Parks Department)

11. Virtual Tourist: St. Louis Cathedral

12. New Orleans Online: St. Louis Cathedral

13. CNN (Online): 10 of the World's Longest Bridges; Benjamin Solomon; Travel & Leisure; April 17, 2014

14. Movoto: 25 Things You Should Know About New Orleans; Michael Broussard

15. New Orleans Online: Birthplace of Jazz

16. Red Hot Jazz: The Origins of Jazz; Len Weinstock


New Orleans Feature Stories

HIstory of the French Quarter - History, Art & Architecture of the French Quarter

The Krewe Of Rex - The King Of Carnival, The Rex Organization, and Pro Bono Publico

NOLA Walking Neighborhoods - How to avoid traffic during Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Street Performers - Etiquette and standards for watching musicians and performance artists

Simply Heaven - Muriel's Jackson Square: Gulf Coast Cuisine With Supernatral Sides

Pat O'Brien's - The Home of The Hurricane Is A Family Tradition That's Here To Stay

Local Hero - Breakfast At Slim Goddies Diner Feeds New Orleans In More Ways Than One


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