Despite the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the city nicknamed "The Big Easy" for its lazy Southern charm has rebounded with its famous high spirits higher than ever. As a family destination, New Orleans has it all. Animal-loving kids can see wildlife in an award-winning zoo and aquarium -- and on a swamp tour. Thrill-chasing teens can indulge in a cemetery tour, voodoo shops, and understand the power of nature firsthand with a visit to the Ninth Ward. Adults can take in live jazz and zydeco music while eating some of the best regional cooking in the world.
February (for Mardi Gras) and April (for JazzFest) are the big tourist times. Some may argue that there's no bigger party in the country than Mardi Gras. While not every street is as wild as Bourbon Street, this may not be the best time for families to visit. Late April brings the popular annual JazzFest, and more crowds, though not as much as Mardi Gras. Plan your trip for sometime between October and April, possibly excluding Mardi Gras and JazzFest to avoid crowds and the summer heat and humidity.
New Orleans winters are generally short, and snow is rare. If you visit this time of year, you'll be comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt during the day, as temperatures average between 48 and 67 degrees. Bring a jacket for the evening. Summers are infamous for extreme heat and humidity, and are often the wettest months of the year. Late summer into fall brings hurricane season. Get more weather info.
Though there are a few small regional airports in the area, your best bet is to fly into Louis Armstrong International Airport, (MSY) which is served by most major airlines. Since this airport is 11 miles northwest of downtown New Orleans, you're just a quick taxi ride away. Amtrak trains and Greyhound bus lines will also get you there.
It's not really necessary to rent a car, unless your itinerary includes numerous plantations and other attractions outside the city. And popular attractions such as swamp tours offer transportation to and from your hotel for an additional fee. Parking is a real challenge and can be quite pricey in some areas. You can get around fairly easily on foot, by taxi, by bus, or even by carriage ride or a classic streetcar. Check public transportation schedules.
New Orleans' reputation was built on celebrating! Here are a few of the more popular events; the music-related festivals may be better suited for families than the others.
Head to NewOrleansOnline.com for various services (dining, attractions, hotels, etc.) around the city. Click to open, then print the coupons.