Christmas is only days away and in true New Orleans fashion, the highs are averaging in the 60s. While friends across the country are posting photos of carefully constructed snowmen and trees covered in a white blanket of fluff, I’m wearing shorts and trying to explain what snow is to Edith. (Thanks to the myriad of “snow” machines around town, I’m quite sure she thinks it’s just really thick soap.)
What we lack in snowy weather, however, we make up for in fully decked out hotel halls and the holly jolly ability to drink outside! Whether you’re like me, looking for an outing with your little one during the two-week stretch with no childcare (#christmasvacation) or planning an ugly sweater bar crawl with your friends, this holiday hotel walking tour is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.
Put on your Santa hat and comfortable walking shoes, and prepare a thermos of something yummy. We set Edith up in a stroller with a comfy Christmas blanket because she can’t be trusted not to bolt into oncoming traffic, and the stroller also happens to have cup holders for our drinks. (Don’t judge.)
Stop #1: Park in a lot near the Harrah’s Hotel and pop in for the giant gingerbread replica of the St. Louis Cathedral. This not only has floor to ceiling scale but there is also impressive attention to detail. Delicious, delicious detail… We also let Edith run around and see the lights and tree at Fulton Ally, an important chance to burn off some energy before hanging out in the stroller for a while.
Stop #2: Windsor Court has a large Christmas tree display guarded by a life-sized Santa and train. After riding one at Celebration in the Oaks, Edith is fully obsessed with trains. The chorus of her alternating “Santa” and “choo choo” was heard all the way down Canal Street. For a little lagniappe: If you’re there during high tea, let your glance move beyond the tree into the dining room for a collage of ladies in fancy hats!
Suggested Beverage Stop: The second location of Envie Espresso Bar & Café has fancy coffee drinks, with or without booze. It’s a worthy stop for parents and partiers alike. If you want to extend the walk to Jackson Square, this is when to do it. Continue up Decatur, stroll around the square, and walk back towards Canal on Royal Street. Unfortunately, our toddler’s patience would not allow for the half-mile detour. Onward!
Stop #3: Hotel Monteleone is a worthwhile stop, with it’s old world charm, soaring Christmas tree, and my favorite Ramos Gin Fizz in town at the Carousel Bar. That said, it’s typically pretty bustling. If your little one is struggling to hang out in the stroller, this one is ok to bypass. The next stop has some space for running.
Stop #4: The Royal Sonesta’s hallways are lined with Christmas trees that were gently stroked by Edith’s tiny hands for an exhilarating sensory experience. The more casual vibe paired with the layout of the hallway, lobby, and courtyard made for a great place for Edith to get out and run.
Suggested Beverage Stop: Bourbon House makes a frozen bourbon milk punch that is perfectly festive and appropriate for any sudden heat wave we may experience in the next week. You may also recall from our Royal Sonesta Teddy Bear Tea article that Bourbon Street is surprisingly enjoyable for toddlers.
Stop #5: Unsurprisingly, the Ritz Carlton puts an extravagant yet classy spin on the holiday décor. The walk through replica for the “Wedding Cake House” on St. Charles Avenue is made of nearly 400 pounds of gingerbread, and the scent of cinnamon perfumes the entire lobby. Keep an eye out for patch jobs throughout the structure from overzealous kids as well as adults who have had a little too much eggnog at the bar.
Stop #6: The final stop on our tour is the grand finale: the famous Waldorf Wonderland at The Roosevelt Hotel. The lights, the trees, and the intricate gingerbread tree will be the star to top off your Christmas adventure. If you’re walking without kids, grab a drink at The Sazerac Bar and take an Uber home. If you’re like me, tired of walking and needing to get back to your car before you get to the witching hour, hop a streetcar on Canal and enjoy the lights of the city.