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Louisiana is not the biggest state in the country. However, what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in culture, character, and entertainment. We love visiting Louisiana. Chris and I make at least one trip to the state every year. I realize that there are lots of great things to do in Louisiana. Some are very kid-friendly, while others are not. Today I want to give you my top 5 must-do’s in Louisiana, all of which are perfect to share with your kids. This list is not confined to any one location. There are things on this list from all over the state.
5. Eat beignets at Cafe du Monde
Cafe du Monde is a fundamental piece of New Orlean’s French Quarter. For anyone who has visited, it is one of the things you think about when you think of the French Quarter. Cafe du Monde is famous for two things: beignets and chicory coffee. I am not a coffee drinker, but I love their beignets! They are the best! They are little square pillows of sweet fried dough covered in a mountain of powered sugar. Yummy! Whether as an afternoon snack or an after-dinner dessert, beignets are an indulgent treat that will make you feel like a kid again! They are as fun to eat as they are delicious. Your kids will love eating them! At Cafe du Monde, you can buy a half order of beignets, which is 3, or you can get a full order of 6. Just enjoy them while they are still warm!
4. Explore the French Quarter
The French Quarter is not a large area, but it is definitely worth taking some time to explore. The small district is chock full of unique architecture, colorful history, and that laid-back feel that Louisiana is known for. If you have your kids in tow, stroll through the area during the day to see the best the Quarter has to offer. If you have time, take a guided tour to hear some of the stories of the various buildings to give you an even deeper appreciation for the neighborhood.
3. See a real-life swamp
Most people know that Louisiana is full of swamps, but few have ever seen them in person. For an easy, kid-friendly way to see a real-life swamp without riding an air boat out into the middle of one, visit the campus of the University of Louisiana Lafayette. Right in the middle of the campus, you will see Cypress Lake, which is an actual living swamp. This is a great way for your kids to experience the swamp because it is surrounded by a small brick wall. This will allow you to get up close to it while still having dry feet. Your kids can easily see the gators and other wildlife that call this swamp home.
2. Celebrate Mardi Gras
Most people outside the State of Louisiana don’t fully grasp just how big of a deal Mardi Gras is. It is not just a party held on Fat Tuesday. It is a state holiday that is celebrated for a month or more. I would say it is almost as important as Christmas in Louisiana. Residents decorate their homes for it. They wear Mardi Gras clothes and eat king cake. And they have a variety of parties, parades, and get-togethers to celebrate the season. These celebrations take place all over the state, not just in New Orleans. We attend a Mardi Gras ball with some of our good friends in Lake Charles every year. Take a trip to Louisiana during the early Spring to experience a little piece of Mardi Gras for yourself. Your entire family will be fascinated by the holiday and the spectacle that it is.
1. Eat a Darrell’s Special
If you read my trip report about going to a Ragin’ Cajuns football game, you know how much I love Darrell’s. It is a bar in Lake Charles, Louisiana. It has the best po’ boys in the world. The Darrell’s Special is my favorite. It has ham, turkey, and roast beef, along with three types of cheese, on a warm, soft, and slightly sweet bun. You have your choice of regular mayo or jalapeno mayo on it. This is one of the most delicious things I have ever put in my mouth! We can’t go to Lake Charles without stopping by for a Darrell’s Special. More than once, we have contemplated making the 6 hour drive from our house just to eat one of these sandwiches! You haven’t lived until you have had a Darrell’s Special.
Louisiana is a fun and unique state. It has a culture all its own which is colorful, friendly, and laid-back. The people who live there truly embrace the saying, “Let the Good Times Roll.” You need to visit Louisiana at least once in your lifetime. There are many special things to do throughout the state that are perfect for families to experience together. This is a list of my favorite family-friendly must-do’s in Louisiana. I hope you will take your kids to experience some of these things in Louisiana soon. Happy travels!