Hey, vegetarian family with kids in New Orleans, LA for the day?
I am breaking this down by: Where to stay? What to eat? What to see? We could do all these things below in less than 24 hours!
Where to stay?
The best place to stay is the French Quarter. My recommendation is to stay between North Rampart Street and Decatur and between Canal St. and Esplanade Ave. Within this rectangle is where all the action is. If you are traveling with kids, avoid staying too close to Bourbon Street.
I would say, Westin New Orleans probably has one of the best river views, so you won't go wrong if you choose anything in that vicinity. The Ritz-Carlton is closer to Bourbon Street so couples would be okay if they choose that. The Marriott, like the Ritz is right on the strip. They are both centrally located but in general, that area has a lot of hustle-bustle.
What to eat?
Local flavors is the way to go. You should be able to do all these three in a day:
Coffee and Beignets at Cafe Du Monde
There is always a line here but it moves really quick. There is restaurant seating but they also have a pick up window. Get a coffee with milk and a bag of beignets. The coffee is not cheap at almost $4 for a tiny cup but it is really superb - you may be tempted to buy a box to take home!
Their coffee blend has chicory which gives the coffee a slight nutty taste. This stand has been here in Jackson Square since 1862. Beignets are French donuts. Typically, they are served with a huge heap of sugar on top so even though they are not as sweet as donuts, they end up being sweet, anyway.
Vegan New Orleans cuisine at Sweet Soul Food
Traditionally, soul food is meat-heavy but fear not, this restaurant is a welcome relief for vegetarians and vegans. For lunch, make your way down to this quick-serve restaurant and pick up their buffet.
It is a little out of the way, but it is worth it. New Orleans cuisine is all about jambalaya, okra gumbo, sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas, collard greens so plan to try those foods!
A po-boy is a traditional Louisiana sandwich. At Killer PoBoys, you will find at least three vegan varieties! The sandwich bread is French with a crispy crust and fluffy center.
What to see?
FOCUS: French Quarter!
The Tram & Horse Carriages: The tram is such a cute way to travel from CBD to the French Quarter. It goes mainly on Canal Street. Lots of royal horse carriages - kids may love this stuff!
Bourbon Street: Music, food and drinking is what defines this narrow street. The adjoining streets (Royale and Dauphine) are similar in vibe. Loud music on the street.
French Market: Open-air market with European flair. Five blocks of local produce, artisan shops, handicrafts, specialty art and restaurants. The market closes early so make sure you go early! Stop by the bracelet store :)
Definitely sample the hot sauce and pick up some creole praline, memorabilia and some creole seasoning!
Jackson Square: Popular, historic and timeless spot that is a must-see. It is named after Andrew Jackson and it is right in the center of the French Quarter. In this square, you will see the St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere and state museums. There is also an open air artist colony right by the museums which is really cool to see!
The Banks of the Mississippi River: Take a cruise, or just go for a little walk. It's all very serene and beautiful! And your kids might enjoying throwing pebbles in the river too!
If you have kids 10+, there are two museums I would recommend:
The World War 2 museum in the Warehouse District (you like planes, they got them!)
The Presbytère in the French Quarter can help you have conversations about Mardi Gras and about Hurricane Katrina
For both, check the timings. Many places close around 5 PM.