Fun, unique, educational, affordable -- Louisiana is a super destination.
Why take the Family to Louisiana?
Fun: they don't say "laissez les bon temps roulez" ("let the good times roll") for nothing. People here have good times in their DNA; festivals and music are a big part of the fun and visitors can join right in-- at family-friendly festivals such as Shreveport's Mudbug Madness, for instance, with crawfish-eating contests and great music. Even the biggest music festival -- Jazzfest in New Orleans-- welcomes kids; and even the biggest festival of them all --Mardi Gras in New Orleans --can be a good event for family travelers.
Unique: New Orleans is a completely unique city and culture (- see history). And just outside New Orleans is "Arcadiana" , or Cajun Country, with its own fascinating history, fab music, and delish eats.
Edu-vacational: fun is the priority on a holiday, but it's a nice bonus when kids -- and grownups-- also learn a thing or two. Some great kid-friendly museums in Louisiana make it easy: learn about the history of the Acadians, or about New Orleans' past; or about swamp ecology, or music history. (Did you know that Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Elvis got started in Shreveport LA?)
Affordable: Louisiana in general has modest pricing. Even New Orleans hotels are priced low, post-Katrina.
A note about Mardi Gras:
Mardi Gras in New Orleans has a reputation for being a crazy-wild party, but families can and do enjoy Mardi Gras parades (- the families who live in New Orlean certainly do!) Visitors just need to avoid a few areas where tourists go wild. Know, too, that other towns in Louisiana have some very fun -- and novel --Mardi Gras celebrations that kids will enjoy.
A note about Katrina:
The K-word became a codename not only for tragic destruction for also for tragically poor emergency response and painfully slow rebuilding.
Tourists, however, can visit whole sections of New Orleans that either were minimally affected or look fully recovered; and we bring with us the tourist dollars so vital for wider recovery. NOLA's main tourist areas were built on higher ground and escaped the worst flooding (which devastated residential "lower ward" areas.) In the French Quarter alone, visitors can spend happy times strolling and sightseeing.
Meanwhile, families with older kids may want to take a tour to learn about the hurricane damage -- read more, at New Orleans - Things To Do.
When to Visit Louisiana
For those not tied to a school schedule, April and October are prime time for visits, with temperate weather and a flurry of festivals. For families with kids in school, March Break and Christmas are good picks, weather-wise. During summer months, hot and humid weather can be uncomfortable: schedule in some indoor sightseeing in an air-conditioned museum; or maybe do a drive tour in an air-conditioned car.
- can be a great time to visit. In New Orleans, Christmas is a month-long event with caroling in Jackson Square, a concert in St. Louis Cathedral,Reveillon Dinners at many restaurants.
The Steamboat Natchez has Caroling Cruises with choral groups and high school choirs. City Park has a Holiday Light extravaganza driving tour, with amusement rides and entertainment.
Bonfires on the River: on December 24th, bonfires are lit along the Mississippi River to help guide Papa Noel. Take a Gray Line bus tour to see the "feus de joie" (fires of joy), departing from the French Quarter.
Elsewhere in Louisiana: Opelousas has a lighting of Le Vieux Village early in December,including carols and arrival of Santa Claus. The town of Arnaudville has an annual Le feu et l'eau (Fire & Water) Festival, showcasing local artists, and with music of course. In Eunice, the Community Band & Choir has a Christmas Concert and Santa attends.