Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ten things to do with teenagers in New Orleans

Yes, yesterday was Tuesday and I was supposed to write about a toolbag, but I didn't do that because instead, I spent all day coming up with something impossible: finding things for teenagers to do in New Orleans.* 

See, I got a call from my former boss who is bringing his family to New Orleans next week—his wife, 16-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter. 

And while I grew up in New Orleans (and was very much a teenager for eight of those years), I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I found fun or interesting.

Also, my standard “Nola guide” I send to people is 100-percent alcohol-related. 
No 13-year-olds allowed in Tipitinas!!! (although the 16-year-old could probably pass with a decent fake hahaha)

So without further adieu, HERE is my list:

(Side note: there is no quicker way to get depressed than by looking at upcoming events in New Orleans and not living there.)

1.) Streetcar rides

Screw inflation! This activity proves that you can have fun for the low, low price of $1.25 (per ride.) (Exact change only.) The St. Charles Avenue streetcar is the best way to see New Orleans from waaay uptown (“with the big mansions”) to the French Quarter. Bonus: My twin sister, Joy, and I (when we were teenagers...OK, fine, last year) would fight over who would get to pull the cord for our stop, so that could be a fun game.

2.) Costume shopping on Magazine Street

Parts of Magazine Street are super funky and just ooze New Orleans. The particular block I’m talking about includes costume shop Funky Monkey (3127 Magazine St.) and Miss Claudia’s Costume Shop (4204 Magazine St.) The 15-minute walk between the two of those places has you pass by thrift stores and used music instrument stores and you can try on wigs and costumes. Bonus: Absolutely no one will look at you funny if you decide to wear a costume around town in the middle of January. 

3.) Horseback riding at Audubon Park

I know, I know!!! I was also surprised to learn there were horses in New Orleans! Several are at Cascade Stables in Audubon Park. Audubon Park is a gorgeous park, and you can get there by streetcar, and they have horsesback trail rides that are much more relaxing than the horseback riding lessons I took with my mom for several weeks before I was almost THROWN off the horse and saw my life flash before my eyes. (uhhh maybe don’t mention that to the teenagers.) Bonus: Right now they are breaking in all the horses that will be in this year's Mardi Gras parades :)

4.) King Cake!!

The carnival season is upon the city and everyone is eating King Cake which you can’t properly describe to anyone from NOLA without getting yelled at for getting it wrong, but it’s a cinnamon iced doughy moist cake with a naked baby Jesus trinket inside. The colors on the top are traditionally purple, green and gold to represent the three wise men who brought gifts to said baby Jesus. Every single bakery should have this delicacy on hand. If you are on Magazine Street, check out Sucre (3025 Magazine St.) and District Donuts Sliders Brew (2209 Magazine St.) Bonus: Some bakeries serve beer. 

5.) City park sculpture garden

City Park is another glorious park in New Orleans and they have a great museum, the New Orleans Museum of Art, which USED to be the coolest museum because they had an exact replica of George Washington’s bedroom (It was ART!). But since teenagers don't like museums, check out the FREE sculpture garden next door. It has dozens of super cool sculptures hidden among lush green spaces. Bonus: Lots of selfie potential, tell the kids.

6.) Insectarium

Get your creepy on!!! Located on the border of the French Quarter (you can also get there by streetcar) the insectarium is actually really, really cool. You can put your head into a glass box and see cockroaches face-to-face, sit in a 4-D movie theater that sprays you with water as it explains the ecological benefits of gross things like spiders, walk through the butterfly atrium and EAT LARVAE SALSA prepared by a chef before your very eyes. 
If mammals are more your thing, the Audubon Zoo is my absolute favorite place and its cool to see all the animals they keep in existence by breeding endangered ones.

7.) French Quarter

There is always something going on in the French Quarter. To borrow a line from my dad: You can’t swing a dead cat around here without hitting a festival. 
I saw there's a “Kids’ Swing and Sing” event on Saturday Jan. 17 at 12:30 p.m. in the quarter, and while I know nothing about it, I DO know that if anyone can teach your kids to swing and sing, it’s dancers and singers in the French Quarter. 
The all-day event is taking place at the Jazz National Historical Park (916 N. Peters St. right near the Mississippi River. Live music and a high school band at 4 p.m.) 
Make a day out of it by getting beignets at Café Du Monde, gaze at the mighty Mississippi and walk down Royal Street. Also drink in the street! Just get your asses out of there by nightfall (danger).

8.) Cemetery walk

Because teenagers are all angsty and goth right??? And talk about SELFIE POTENTIAL! New Orleans has raised cemeteries because we don’t very well want bodies floating away during our massive floods. Still to this day, when I see “underground” cemeteries I’m suspicious. Countless companies do cemetery tours in New Orleans, but a few are free to walk around yourself like Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (you can get there by streetcar.) If voodoo entices the teenagers, check out Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo on Bourbon Street and buy a doll or five.

9.) Frenchmen Street 

This is a super busy, bustling street with loads of people playing music on street corners, and home to my favorite restaurant in New Orleans, Adolfo’s Italian – (611 Frenchmen St). It’s a hidden gem (and I never use that expression), upstairs from a bar called the Apple Barrel. They don’t take reservations, so you’ll have to wait, but thankfully there is an amazing arts market next door with cool silver, jewelry, prints and art where you can wait. There’s a light-up couch in the middle of the market and prices are actually reasonable.

10.) Second line
This is perhaps the most New Orleans thing on the list, a proper second line on Sunday with various marching groups and sometimes Mardi Gras Indians. 
Now, I know what you’re thinking: A second line?? Who died?!?? But various groups march second lines every Sunday, not just for jazz funerals. 
Although, Sunday, Jan. 18, the second line will be celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, so I guess HE’s the one who died. Ha
The group, “The Undefeated Divas and Gents,” an African American social aid and pleasure club/marching group, will hold a second line that rolls from noon until 4 p.m. all over the city. Join them and brass bands dancing in the street for as many or as few miles as you want. 
New Orleans Second Line Sundays are an incredible experience, with tons of costumes, amazing dancing among all ages and more culture than you can wrap your sweet little teenage mind around.
IMPORTANT: Stay together. The parade rolls through some neighborhoods that you wouldn’t want to get lost in. 

(Click here for the parade route and Click here for a video of past second lines or to brush up on your moves.)

OK, SO THERE YOU HAVE IT: Ten things teenagers might not hate as much as they hate their parents, hahahahahahaha. 

Just kidding. 

Really, though, anything you do in New Orleans is bound to be fun and exciting for all ages. 

Just DON'T send me a postcard.

I already wish I was there.


*find your own damn restaurants

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