New Orleans is known for great food and a fun time but it’s not always associated with kids. Here’s one way to have some family-friendly fun while walking through art and history.
I really love New Orleans, but it had to grow on me, sorry, it just wasn’t love at first sight. It took 2 trips and some all over gallivanting. Not to mention, some travel advisor training as a New Orleans Specialist to really grasp how fascinating this place is. I was always in love with what I thought it was but when you haven’t lived in a big city in a while, a trip to a live working city can be a jolt to the system.
This walking plan is my alternate plan for the French Quarter and mostly focuses on the outer perimeter close to the Faubourg Marigny District.
Starting from Washington Artillery Park, you can stand at the top there and get a beautiful view of Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral with the horse drawn carriages passing. You might want to begin with some beignets from Café Du Monde first, but we’ll pass it again later too.
1. Make your way through Jackson Square towards the Cathedral.
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Maybe pose by the fountain, then head to the left as you leave the square facing the Cathedral on Decatur Street. If you take a right down the first street (St. Peter), you’ll be walking right down Pirate’s Alley (also known as Pirate Alley and Pirates Alley).
Any good ghost tour will tell you that it is rumored to be on of the most haunted spots in New Orleans. You can revel or argue over the lore of this street , the pirates, the design, it’s purpose, the absinthe or just enjoy the flower-laden balconies and curious shops.
A kid-friendly book option about Jean LaFitte and the Battle of New Orleans might spark further intrigue and discussion.
Some things that the kids might really get a kick out of in the French Quarter are the live musicians and street entertainment. Don’t overlook some of the creativity these artisans exhibit around Jackson Square, from the living sculptures to paintings and bands playing down Chartres Street. It is a feast for the senses.
2. At the end of Pirate Alley, you will be on Royal Street.
Turn right, followed by a left at the next street (Orleans St.) and you’ll be looking at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel.
A historic hotel filled with more ghost tales. If you happen to stay there, you can go on a complimentary ghost tour of the hotel.
And if you want to get my absolute favorite New Orleans souvenir (and feel like you participated in Mardi Gras), go into the Bourbon O Bar and order a Midas Cup. It will be filled with Housemade Strawberry Puree, Dole Pineapple Juice, Champagne, and a bit of Vodka. I smile every time I look at that cup!
Even if you don’t do any of that, just enjoy the surroundings, glance at the balconies above you and the signature lights on the exterior of the hotel. At the end of the block, you will be on Bourbon Street. You’ll be tempted to head down it, but save that for another tour.
3. Turn RIGHT.
When you reach the end of the block, you should be at Bourbon and St. Ann Streets. This might not be on everyone’s list of must-see stops but here you will find Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo where you can get a psychic reading.
Turn right again so you circle the Bourbon Orleans Hotel and head down St. Ann where you will pass Boutique Du Vampyre (lots of gothic items), Muriel’s Jackson Square, and the Vieux Carre Gallery. When you reach Monty’s on the Square, you will be at Decatur St.
You may see some live street art here.
4. Turn LEFT.
At the end of this block, my personal favorite praline store is the Royal Praline Company . Grab a box of La Belle Creole Creamy Pralines, yum! Aunt Sally’s are good, too. Continue down Decatur St. and if you’re hungry, now’s a good time to stop into Central Grocery & Deli for a Muffuletta. Afterwards, you’ll be at the intersection of St. Philip Street and Decatur.
Then, left on N. Peterson Street until you pass the French Market ( you may want to stop or browse as you pass, if so, add at least an extra 30 – 60 minutes for it). Be sure to check the events calendar for events like Stretch Ya Brass and Jazz History Piano Hour.
Continue until Peterson Street turns into Elysian Fields Avenue and turn right on N Peters Street. Continue at least until you see the elevator at Crescent Park. Take it up for a birds eye view of the French Quarter and beyond. Check out the Crescent Park Trail a bit or enjoy your Muffuletta here. This 20 acre riverfront park has a dog run, bike paths, and beautiful native landscaping. If you want to start the tour here, you could also take the streetcar or bus to this point or drive and park.
At this point, you would’ve walked about 1.6 – 2 miles in 35-40 minutes. Head back down Peters Street and Peterson Street until you reach Esplanade.
5. Turn RIGHT.
Go to the end of the block and turn right again onto Frenchman Street.
Now start a tour of the Marigny District. (Adapted from Free Tours By Foot)
I recommend at least reading their tour for the in-depth history of it. My adaptation is below with some of the parts that I found most interesting. I love this area and find it to be as vividly colorful as its historic past.
It was created in the early 1800’s when Marquis Bernard de Marigny , a wealthy creole land-owner, subdivided his plantation. Immigrants and free people of color settled in the area leaving creole cottages, shotgun houses, painted ladies, and grand mansions still standing today. He also popularized the game of “craps” known in France as Crapaud.
- 600 Frenchman
The building where Marigny slipped and fell with injuries that led to his death. He is often remembered as a descendent of the founders of New Orleans, the founder of Mandeville, and a gambler/drunkard that lost much of his family fortune but he was not without some success, lived a long life, and left his imprint on the city. He is buried in St. Louis Cemetery #1. This also begins the row of clubs and lounges representing the current music scene where you can see bands and local musicians nightly.
- 700 – 702 Frenchman
The last residence of Marquis Jean-Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville.
- 732 Frenchman
Built in 1870. The home of Edouard Edmond Bermudez, 1880 Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court.
6. Turn LEFT at Burgundy
- 2020 Burgundy
Greek Revival galleried Creole Cottage
- 2001 Burgundy
1920’s Georgian that used to be the Canal Commercial Trust & Savings but is now the Ruby Slipper Café (another good stop).
7. Turn LEFT at Pauger
- 1508 Pauger
The home of Elizabeth Mary Landreaux (1895 – 1963), known on stage as Lizzie Miles. She was fluent in Creole-French and traveled to France as an entertainer. In 1923, she was the first Black singer to make a record in France – You’re Always Messing Around With My Man. CLICK HERE to listen to it. Her audience called her “La Rose Noire de Paris” (the Black Rose of Paris).
8. Turn RIGHT on Dauphine Street.
- 1820 Dauphine
Home of Marie Philomene Glapion, the daughter of Marie Laveaux, the Voodoo Queen of the South. Philomene had a long relationship with a white descendant of French Aristocrats named Emile Alexandre Legendre who was 32 years older than her. They had 7 children together, all who were classified as “colored”. She was a Placée, the recognized system of common-law marriage with African, Indian, and white Creole women.
- 1825 Dauphine
Built in 1806, the oldest Creole cottage still standing. TURN AROUND, GO BACK TOWARDS PAUGER
- 1801 Dauphine
Home of Charles Laveaux, father of Marie Laveaux and friend of Bernard de Marigny.
9. Turn RIGHT on Pauger Street.
- 1457 Pauger
was moved, used to be at 1468 Pauger and was a German bakery.
- 1445 Pauger
Built in 1825, Creole & American Hybrid.
- 1437 Pauger
Ornate Victorian Double Camelback built in 1889.
10. Pauger Street Ends and Bourbon Street begins.
- 1440 Bourbon
Designed by Jean Louis Dolliele, one of the Free People of Color and a 19th century builder.
End of walking tour, continue back into the French Quarter.
Links to helpful lesson plans, ideas, and activities to help encourage further learning connections with walking and enjoying New Orleans.
- What does an Architect Do? (K-5)
- Battle of New Orleans video(High School)
- Creole World (7-9th grade)
- Jr. Ranger Jazz for Kids(K-3)
- Jr. Ranger Jazz for Kids 4 – 8th grades
- Historic New Orleans Collection of Lesson Plans
- Make a Shoebox Mardi Gras Float
- Free Louisiana Unit Study
- Photo Scavenger Hunt
- Make your own copywork sheets
- Louisiana Lapbook ideas
- More Louisiana lesson ideas
- Sounds of Louisiana
- Louisiana printables
- Louisiana Purchase Unit Study
- Alligator Bubbling Swamp Small World
- Make your own creole cottages using this house craft idea to get you started
- Straw windpipe Music Craft
- 42 Homemade Musical Instruments