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The Teen/Tween Girl’s Guide to NOLA

A Teen-Approved Mother-Daughter Itinerary

While not all stereotypes are true, anyone who ever was or ever has encountered a teenage (or tween-aged) girl knows that they can have *opinions*. And they’re often not shy in sharing them­­. So, while this age (like any) comes with its own unique set of challenges, there’s also the remarkable opportunity to experience trips together as a family that cultivates the interests that they’re starting to focus in on as they move into young adulthood.

Devonte Williford, New Orleans & Co.
Kayaking on Bayou St. John

New Orleans, in its very nature, is a feast for the senses. With so much food, culture, beauty, and fun, it can provide an ideal backdrop to explore a range of experiences that both parents and their kids will genuinely enjoy. From girly fun like shopping and spas to bike tours, educational experiences, and ‘gram worthy snacks and locations, the following picks have been vetted by the toughest critics (i.e., friends and family in the correct age group) and are certified “non-cringe” (if that’s even what the kids are still saying these days).

Jump To: Where to Stay | What to Eat | Educational Experiences | Additional Things to Do

 

Note: In the name of simplicity, this is positioned mostly as a mother-daughter itinerary, however, this obviously works for father-daughter, aunt-niece, and/or parent-son trips, depending on interests. It’s mostly meant to highlight the frilly, silly, beautiful, and curious side of New Orleans that most appeals to femme-leaning pre-teens and teens, regardless of gender.

Photo credit: Paul Costello

Where to Stay

Larger family vacations come with different requirements, but if you’re doing a one-on-one mother-daughter trip, a fun hotel with tween-approved amenities will set the tone for the perfect trip. Staying along the streetcar line provides a built-in activity and a fun/inexpensive way to explore the city. The Chloe feels like you’re staying in a gorgeous old mansion–which makes sense since it was at one time home. Complete with a pool and a great restaurant, this small-but-mighty property is away from the hustle and bustle but still feels unique and special.

Similarly, further down the streetcar line, The Pontchartrain Hotel is a historic property with girly, gran-millennial flourishes in the rooms, and an Insta-famous wall of artwork outside on the on-site restaurant, Jack Rose. No stay is complete without a slice of their famous Mile High Pie.

Want to be closer to Downtown? The Windsor Court has beautiful and bright rooms, offers tea service in the lobby, and has a gorgeous pool for relaxing. Or try The Westin, which is just steps to the French Quarter and offers sweeping views of the Mississippi River and an elevator that drops you directly into an upscale shopping mall.

For those who love a little history or any avid reader, The Monteleone is a great French Quarter-based pick complete with a rooftop pool. Or try The Roosevelt–gorgeous all year, but an absolute must during the holidays, when its famous lobby transforms into a winter wonderland.

Justen Williams, New Orleans & Co.
Brunch at Birdy's

Where to Eat

Of course, New Orleans has no shortage of incredible meals. And while there’s obviously more to choosing a restaurant than aesthetics, the following choices are as Instagrammable as they are delicious.

When it comes to casual bites in cute settings, you can grab breakfast, lunch, smoothies, and more at spots like Birdy’s Behind the Bower or Daily Beet–both of which also happen to be perfectly positioned for nearby shopping before or after. Willa Jean is another great option for pastries and coffee (or more substantial dishes like avocado toast, grain bowls, shrimp and grits, or biscuit sandwiches), and bookworms will love Chicory House–an adorable café located alongside the gorgeous Garden District Book Shop, which features a sizeable young adult section in a cozy setting.

Rebecca Todd
Brennan’s New Orleans

For nicer, sit-down meals, Commander’s Palace in the Garden District is an unforgettable dining experience and one that will surely create a lasting memory of your trip together. Girly-girls will adore the interiors at both Brennan’s (be sure to snap a pic in front of the building’s iconic pink exterior) and Justine, both located in the French Quarter. Brennan’s also features a lush patio for good-weather days, whereas Justine feels like a hip bistro straight out of Paris with New Orleans flair, complete with custom-made murals by local artist Ellen Macomber.

Speaking of France, Francophiles will also enjoy the cozy French vibes at La Crepe Nanou Uptown (save room for ice cream from nearby Creole Creamery afterward), or you can head to Saba, where the front patio provides excellent opportunities for people-watching on Magazine Street–and a prime location for browsing baubles nearby, whether it be at tween-favorite Kendra Scott, ear piercings in the tween-friendly Studs, or permanent jewelry at Love Weld.

Paul Broussard
Beignets at Cafe du Monde

And finally, when it comes to sweet treats along the way, you’ll find plenty of options. Beignets at Café du Monde are obviously a must, or you can opt for sno-balls during the spring and summer for another only-in-New Orleans treat. If you’re craving gelato or other over-the-top pastries, dip into the sparkly, pink wonderland that is Sucré, or grab a boba tea along Magazine Street from either Feng Cha or Gong Cha. Just remember that any photo-loving gal will live by the rule that the phone eats first–especially for these extra photogenic stops–so let them snap a pic before diving in.

VueOrleans.com
Vue Orleans

Educational Experiences That Your Tween Will Actually Enjoy

In a city as culturally rich as New Orleans, seeking out fun and engaging educational experiences is easy. Even if your daughter has “aged out” of trips to the zoo for the time being (circle back to us once she’s older and returns to her senses), the recently renovated Audubon Aquarium is beautiful and a perfect way to spend a few air-conditioned hours, plus it’s conveniently located right along the Mississippi River. Also nearby, you’ll find Vue Orleans–an interactive exploration of the New Orleans cultural landscape that features sweeping 360-degree views of the city from an observation deck perched atop the Four Seasons New Orleans.

Rebecca Todd

Similarly, JAMNOLA also highlights the arts and culture of New Orleans in a photo-friendly environment. Nearby StudioBE is artist Brandan “Bmike” Odums’ stunning and thought-provoking visual exploration of Black history, Civil Rights, street art, and New Orleans culture.

For tweens and teens studying Civil War and American history, a trip out to Whitney Plantation is an emotionally poignant opportunity to learn more about the role that Louisiana played in slavery in the United States from the only house museum in the state to focus solely on the experiences of the enslaved. For those studying world history, The National WWII Museum provides an in-depth look at all angles of the conflict, from the war efforts at home to soldier experiences in both Europe and the Pacific, and the human cost of war.

Image Courtesy of Zip NOLA
Zip NOLA

If your daughter is planning to go pre-med (or just acing biology), The Pharmacy Museum is a quaint and informative French Quarter-based museum dedicated to early medical history. Or spend time exploring the nearby swamps and Louisiana’s natural habitats and ecological systems through a swamp tour–with everything from kayak tours to ziplining and more, there’s a swamp tour for everyone.

Additional Activities for Teens and Tweens in New Orleans

When it comes to good old-fashioned fun, there’s a lot to explore. For sporty gals, consider a pick-up game at the stylishly cool Exchange Pickleball + Bar (rentals and lessons are also available, in addition to snacks). Or check out a bike tour for a fun and active way to see the city. Here during basketball or football season? Saints and Pelicans games are always a good time.

Justen Williams, New Orleans & Co.
Trying on Wigs at Fifi Mahony’s

If your teen is interested in the supernatural, consider a ghost tour or even a tea leaves reading at the Bottom of the Cup Tea Room. Does she have a flair for the dramatic? There are plenty of opportunities for live theater in New Orleans, or you can join a group for a thrilling experience at The Escape Game. Personalized wig fittings at Fifi Mahony’s are also a blast, plus you can browse sparkly delights in a hyper-girly setting.

If you’ve got a budding musician on your hands, you can explore the history of jazz together at the New Orleans Jazz Museum or Tremé Petit Jazz Museum, and then catch a show at the iconic Preservation Hall, which offers several all-ages shows per night (see more picks for where to see music under the age of 21 here).

For more hands-on creative fun, you can find everything from candle-making classes at Wicks NOLA to perfume-making at Tijon, and of course, plenty of options for cooking classes to hone in on culinary skills from pastry making to learning classic New Orleans cuisine, all of which you can recreate at home to remind you of your time together in New Orleans.

And finally, no girls' trip is complete without a little bit of retail therapy. The aforementioned Magazine Street is the ultimate shopping destination where you’ll find smaller, locally owned boutiques intermixed with the national brands they know and love, including Free People, Stoney Clover, and more. With more than six miles of retail and dining, it can be hard to decide where to start, but the largest concentration of clothing and accessory boutiques can be found near Jackson Avenue, and then in between Washington and Napoleon avenues, and from Jefferson Avenue up to Nashville Avenue.