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American Family Adventures: Why You Should Visit Preservation Hall in New Orleans with Your Kids

Preservation Hall New Orleans Review for Kids

Preservation Hall is an unquestioned American music landmark, one that is still sending shivers up spines and creating memories for music lovers every single night of the week. Located in the heart of the famed French Quarter in New Orleans, steps from the beaded and bewildered Bourbon Street, Preservation Hall presents 3 sets of jazz nightly (8, 9, and 10pm) for $15 per person, paid in cash at the door. The queue starts out front early and runs south along St. Peter Street towards Royal Street. You’ll want to get in line by at least 7:15pm to ensure entry into the 8pm show (which starts at 8:15 and runs until 9 on the nose) and this fact will not, in all likelihood, please your littlest be-boppers. Fortunately, only one member of your party needs to hold the place in line so the others should consider scampering over to Cafe du Monde for a beignet or three, strolling the more docile Royal Street, having their tarot cards read by candlelight in front of St. Louis Cathedral (if you are in to that sort of thing,) or even taking the opportunity to sit down for a proper (albeit hurried) bite to eat before showtime.

Once inside, know that half the small room is standing room only in the back and the other half are benches with no backs. Because seating is first come first serve, you will want to be one of the first in line to guarantee spots on a bench. Admittedly, Preservation Hall does not offer much in the way of modern comfort inside the un-air-conditioned room but the 45 minutes of classic, New Orleans jazz will more than make up for the mild, retro inconveniences.

Having your kids witness a musical tradition unlike any other is worth the wait and any relative discomfort that may ensue. Uuuuuuunfortunately, our first full-family visit to Pres Hall last weekend didn’t go as smoothly as I’d envisioned. The Sunday night line was unusually long already at 7:15 meaning we didn’t get seats, the kids were pooped, and the weather was decidedly glue-sticky. They persevered, enjoyed the scene and the songs as much as they could, and then crashed on the walk back to the hotel.

Preservation Hall Inside Before the Jazz Show

Things of note when taking your kids and family to Preservation Hall:

  • Pres Hall is an all-ages venue and, unlike Bourbon Street a stone’s throw away, is absolutely a family-friendly experience.
  • There are no bathrooms in Pres Hall so make your tinkles beforehand.
  • There is no food or drink for sale inside Pres Hall but you can bring both inside with you.
  • No photos inside once the band starts playing! Keep your phone in your pocket and soak up the sounds and sights in real time.
  • Your only way inside Pres Hall is with greenbacks, so make sure you have enough cash on hand.
  • The above is true with one caveat, ‘Big Shot’ reserved seating tickets which guarantee you a seat up front. Those can be purchased online ahead of time.
  • The Pres Hall merchandise — CDs, t-shirts (like the rad one I bought – see below,) pins, stickers and more — can be purchased with a credit card.
  • There are occasionally early shows at 6pm on Friday and Saturday evenings. If you want to get in and out of the French Quarter before things get, um, more interesting and also while your little ones are still chipper, look for these early sets on the Pres Hall calendar. I wish we’d opted for the Friday 6pm vs. the Sunday 8pm. 🙁

Preservation Hall T-Shirt Selfie

Have fun with your kids at Preservation Hall in New Orleans!

*Click here for a personal story of my first visit to Preservation Hall during the Dad 2.0 Summit in February of this year.

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