Sometimes Mother Nature defeats the most well-intentioned travel plans. On our recent trip to New Orleans, we had planned on visiting City Park for a trip to Carousel Gardens, a 100 year-old amusement park with one of only 100 hand carved carousels in the U.S. Afterwards, we would head to Storyland, a whimsical fairy tale themed playground with storybook styled playground equipment and sculptures.
The kids woke up early that morning, excited about the day’s activities, to gray skies and a relentless drizzle. With only three days in the city, we knew that the visit to the park couldn’t be rescheduled, but we needed to find a suitable fun alternative.
The concierge at Hilton New Orleans/St. Charles Avenue came to the rescue, and recommended that we visit the Louisiana Children’s Museum. I also mentioned that we wanted to take a streetcar ride at some point during our trip, and the concierge let us know that we could take the street car most of the way to the museum.
We walked a convenient block up St. Charles Ave. towards Canal St. and stood under the building eaves and waited for the streetcar. Lucky us, we got a dry ride to the museum, and the kids got the experience of riding the streetcar in New Orleans!
LOUISIANA CHILDREN’S MUSEUM DISCOUNTS
When we arrived at the museum, I read the admissions price board and I realized that the museum is a member of the Association of Children’s Museums, and we were entitled to 50% off our admission through our family membership at our local children’s museum. Even though our plans had changed, the day was getting better by the minute.
LOUISIANA CHILDREN’S MUSEUM EXHIBITS
Because we hadn’t really researched the museum before our visit, we just let the kids dictate where they wanted to play.
LITTLE PORT OF NEW ORLEANS
My son gravitated toward the Little Port of New Orleans exhibit, a shipyard-themed play area complete with a crane to load foam cargo onto boats waiting below. He explored the gallery of cruise ships, crawled through the cargo crates, and pretended to be the captain of a great ship.
LITTLE WINN DIXIE
My daughter spent nearly an hour in the Little Winn Dixie exhibit. We have seen grocery store exhibits in children’s museums before, but this one was spectacularly lifelike. Child-sized shopping carts were available for loading your cart with items from the deli, bakery, frozen food, and even a pet section.
When kids are finished with their shopping, they can line up at the cash registers to manually enter the prices for each item and a print a receipt. After checking out, your child can place the items back on the shelf in the correct department and practice sorting the grocery items into categories. If only real-life grocery shopping were this fun!
LOUISIANA HOSPITALITY FOUNDATION KIDS’ CAFÉ
All of that grocery shopping made us hungry, so everyone headed to Louisiana Hospitality Foundation Kids’ Café exhibit. My husband and I were seated in the restaurant by a 5 year-old maitre d’ dressed in an oversized black suit jacket and tie, while my two kids headed back to the kitchen to suit up in chef gear and aprons.
My son came out and took our orders, while we watched my daughter through the kitchen window, pretending to wash dishes and plate desserts. Our seven-course meals were expertly prepared by the kitchen staff, who all worked together and shared very nicely. Other moms and dads were also seated in the restaurant, and we were all having the best time watching our kids so engrossed in imaginative play with other children.
SIMPLE MACHINES AND BODY WORKS
Next, we went downstairs to the Simple Machines and Body Works exhibits. We saw what our skeleton looks like while pedaling a bike, and used a pulley to lift our body weight. The rock climbing walls helped to get that last bit of energy out.
TALK AND PLAY
For our last stop, we ventured upstairs to the Talk and Play exhibit. This exhibit houses a little cottage with a porch swing, a pretend pond with lily pads to jump across, and a realistic cypress forest made from cardboard. Nooks with classic children’s books beckon parents and children to sit for a moment and talk about what you have experienced that day, or to read a story. This was a nice place to wind down and reflect on the fun we had at the museum and transition to leave.
After our fun-filled day at the museum, we headed back to our hotel room with some worn out kiddos. They both conked out in their comfy bed. With the kids in bed early, my husband and I were able to leisurely drink a bottle of wine and blissfully relax. At times travel plans don’t work out exactly as planned, but sometimes that can be a good thing.
This article was originally published by Hilton Mom Voyage.