The French Quarter of New Orleans isn't exactly the first place that families consider when planning an epic family vacation. For parents of children who are knee-high to a grasshopper, Disney World or a large city full of zoos, parks, and museums will often make the list of possible travel destinations, not the land of beer, beads, and debauchery. The French Quarter in New Orleans has traditionally been a space for adults only, and not only adults but adults who are ready to party until the sun comes up.
This small and lively part of Louisiana is known for its bars, its drunkards, it's chaos and yes, its filth, but family's need to explore the region lingers, even if it seems untraditional and maybe a bit unsavory. With families braving the wild streets of New Orleans money-maker, Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and others are calling for cleaner streets and a safer Quarter because the market for families to bring business to this part of the state is there. “We don’t want to attract only people who want to drink daiquiris or go to a strip club,” Nungesser said. “We want to attract families from all over the world."
With a record ten million plus visitors gracing the French Quarter last year, this idea isn't so out of the realm of possibility. In years to come, could the eclectic, offbeat section of the U.S. be the next big thing for families yearning for great, cultural, family destination getaways? Anything is possible in the Land of Dreams.
Not everyone agrees with Nungesser and his vision, however. Dr. Brobson Lutz, a longtime resident of the area and prominent socialite and private physician, believes that restructuring the French Quarter to cater to families will in a sense "ruin it." “The last thing I would want to see it become is a family vacation destination." He described the Quarter's landscape as a "wetland," with each street containing, "You can see gay bears, you can see dancing fairies, predatory rats, the uptown elite, drunk college kids.”
While supporters of Nungesser continue to press for safety upgrades such as street lights and surveillance cameras, a clampdown on panhandling, and a park ranger on every corner, many others argue that The French Quarter is still one of the safest places to be in New Orleans. Violent crime has declined in the area, even though it remains high in regards to the overall crime rate in the United States.
Regardless of which direction community leaders take the historical space, one thing is for sure; visitors will leave full of memories because there is never a dull moment when visiting the land of beads, booze, and Bourbon Street.