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12 Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids

A family of 7 leans against a railing looking at the Mississippi River in New Orleans.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

There are so many fun things to do in New Orleans with kids! The Big Easy offers an unparalleled variety of historic and unique cultural experiences families will love. You’ll have no problem finding activities that appeal to everyone in your group! In fact, New Orleans provides a beautiful backdrop for multigenerational travel. Meander the iconic French Quarter, learn about Mardi Gras, or take a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Then, you can walk to many locations Downtown and in other parts of the city. Or, take a more charming approach by using the iconic red and green streetcars! In New Orleans, you’ll discover a city that is easy to traverse (both walking and public transportation), explore, and enjoy. Without further ado, this is your guide to 12 Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids that will allow your family to make amazing memories together!

Embark on a Bayou Tour

A young boy looks over the railing of a boat on a swamp tour in New Orleans.
Photo Courtesy: Angie Reedy

One of the best things to do in New Orleans with kids is to embark on a Bayou Tour. New Orleans offers a variety of tour companies that can transport your family into a nearby bayou. In fact, some hotels can even arrange tours for families and many tour companies will provide transportation to select locations or hotels! Based on the personal experiences of our team, we recommend Happiness Bayou Tours or Cajun Encounters. On your tour, learn more about the local flora and fauna, including alligators, a variety of birds, turtles, and wild boar. Many tours have captains who grew up on the bayou and are willing to share their personal experiences, as well as humorous stories about their Louisiana adventures. On the Happiness Bayou Tour, you can even see George kiss an alligator! Happiness Bayou Tour also offers private tours, which is highly recommended for larger groups!

Learn a New Recipe at the New Orleans School of Cooking

A chef at the New Orleans School of Cooking smiles while she shares a story amidst a cooking lesson.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

Quintessential to the New Orleans experiences is the food! Whether you are looking for Cajun, Creole, French, or contemporary American food, New Orleans has it all. If you are interested in learning more about iconic New Orleans fare, take a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking! Here, you can learn how to make classic dishes like gumbo, shrimp and grits, bananas foster, and more. Kids will love watching the chefs stir large pots, hearing their humorous stories, and tasting all of the food. Have picky eaters? Don’t worry, most menus include something that will appeal to young children (like pralines!) The New Orleans School of Cooking offers large group classes, as well as private cooking classes. If you don’t have time for a class, be sure to check out the general store. Here, you can purchase spices, unique souvenirs, cookbooks, and more!

Relax in City Park

A young girl wearing pink sits next to a fountain surrounded by blooming flowers in City Park.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

New Orleans can be an adventure! But if you’re looking to slow down a bit and relax, there is no better place than City Park. This 1,300-acre public park is truly one of the best things to do in New Orleans with kids! Inside, you’ll find the Louisiana Children’s Museum, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the New Orleans Botanical Garden. Those traveling with little kids will love meandering through Storyland, a vibrant and imaginative play area with kid-centered sculptures and storybook characters. Or, families can take a ride on the historic carousel, lovingly referred to as the “Flying Horses” by the locals. For a quick snack, grab a beignet from the Cafe du Monde satellite shop, while your kids play at the nearby playground. Finally, you can also rent a swan boat or surrey bikes to tour and enjoy the grounds!

Take a Family Tour of New Orleans History

There are a plethora of New Orleans tours that families can take to immerse themselves in New Orleans history and culture. Firstly, families can take a tour illustrating the history of Hurricane Katrina. Find out how New Orleans families overcame this natural disaster as a community, rebuilding their treasure city one house and block at a time. Then, kids will delight in taking one of the ghoulishly fun ghost tours offered throughout the French Quarter. Learn about the scary amount of monsters who lurk in the shadows of New Orleans! Many companies, including Ghost City Tours, offer family-friendly versions of their more notorious tours. Finally, families can also take a tour to learn more about the infamous mausoleums, tombs, and cemeteries of New Orleans, including the Saint Louis Cemetery. On these tours, knowledgeable guides will share historic facts and New Orleans folklore about its most famous residents, witches, and legends.

Explore the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

Those traveling with small children can’t miss the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. Located in the U.S. Custom House on Canal Street, this delightful environment will engage kids in all of their senses. In fact, this is the largest museum devoted to insects in North America! Families can spend hours meandering the exhibits, seeking out the colorful creatures. Kids can even get up close and personal with inspiring critters such as tarantulas, blue morpho butterflies, termites, and dung beetles. Curious kids will devour the informative plaques describing the inhabitants of each habitat. Wander through the plethora of exhibits where you’ll be shrunk to bug size, explore the Louisiana back-country, and enjoy other interactive opportunities. With so much to offer, you’ll quickly see why the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is one of the best things to do in New Orleans with kids!

Meander Through the French Quarter

Colorful buildings line a street in the French Quater, all with stunning hanging baskets of flowers.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

The French Quarter is truly a sight to behold! Not only is the French Quarter the heart of New Orleans, but this historic district also has a vibrant nightlife, quaint shops, and restaurants galore. Families will love to meander the cobblestone streets while gazing upon colorful buildings and flowers around every corner. You can witness the city truly come alive on the streets of the French Quarter! Once you’ve had your fill of the busier parts of the French Quarter, head toward the French Market where you can find artisan shops and foods to spoil your kids and find souvenirs for friends and family. Off the French Quarter, you’ll also find Jackson Square, a great place to spend a lazy afternoon (more on that later!). The French Quarter never looks the same, so it’s best to wander this infamous neighborhood more than once on your family trip to New Orleans.

Celebrate at Mardi Gras World

A young boy stands between the head of Smokey the Bear and Abraham Lincoln, both used in a Mardi Gras parade, now houses at the Mardi Gras Museum.
Photo Courtesy: Angie Reedy

New Orleans hosts the largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States. Even though the parties and parades take place in February, a visit to Mardi Gras World is a memorable New Orleans experience! The museum will give you a glimpse into the iconic festivities, no matter what time of year you visit. The main attraction at Mardi Gras World is the tour through the work area. Here, giant and elaborate floats and props are built. Your family will adore learning how these floats are designed; from the blank forms to the decorative creative process to the vibrant, finished floats (past and future). This is your opportunity to get up close to the colorful floats. Before you take the tour, don’t miss the video telling the history of Mardi Gras. Finally, discover all the details involved in planning this iconic celebration! 

Listen to Music at the Historic Preservation Hall

A man holding a drink poses with his mom outside of Preservation Hall before a show.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

Jazz music is central to the identity of New Orleans. You’ll find jazz musicians in clubs, restaurants, and street corners across the city. If you want to be immersed in the music and mesmerized by each sound, you must go to Preservation Hall! Inside, you’ll find a music tradition steeped in history. Several shows are offered each night. You can either book tickets in advance (more expensive, but includes priority seating) or queue for general admission. Those hoping for general admission are advised to begin queuing 30-45 minutes prior to their desired showtime. Generally, those in line between Preservation Hall and the sign for Pat O’Brien’s should get in. They do not sell alcohol on the premises, but you can bring a drink inside from one of the nearby establishments. Kids will love singing along with their favorite tunes, like When The Saints Go Marching In!

Stroll Through Jackson Square

A view of Jackson Square with St. Louis Cathedral in the background.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

Families looking to people watch and rest their legs can head to Jackson Square. One of New Orleans’ most recognized landmarks, it’s located in the French Quarter. You’ll find benches, green spaces, and a large fountain within the square. It’s also a great place to let kids run for a bit during a busy day of touring! Plus, you’ll be able to admire the magnificent Saint Louis Cathedral which stands proudly on one side. Jackson Square also holds historical significance, as it was the site where Louisiana was declared a U.S. territory via the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Kids will love browsing the art stalls, fortune tellers, and jewelry vendors that flank the square. Stroll through and around the square to admire all that makes New Orleans unique. Finally, Cafe du Monde is adjacent to Jackson Square, which means you can enjoy yummy treats while you rest!

See the Animals at the Audubon Zoo

A young girl stands smiling in front of a fountain of elephants at the Audubon Zoo.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

The Audubon Zoo is one of the best things to do in New Orleans with kids! It’s a can’t miss attraction for those traveling with littles. Covering over 58 acres and housing 2,000 animals, kids will delight in gazing upon these magnificent creatures. In fact, families can see Asian elephants, giraffes, cougars, capybaras, and many more amazing animals. You’ll even have a chance to see the famed white alligator! Specifically designed to entertain kids, most exhibit areas are paired with a playground. This allows children to let loose and play, while also learning about the critters who call the zoo home. The Audubon Zoo also includes a carousel, as well as several dining options for families. Finally, families looking to cool down should pack their swimming suits, as there are a splash pad and lazy river on-site! 

Learn About the Battle of Normandy at The National WWII Museum

A display at the WWII Museum reading "A Nation Goes to War".
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

Do you have a history buff in your family? If so, The National WWII Museum is a must-stop! In this military history museum, you can learn about the Battle of Normandy and the Japanese internment camps enacted by the U.S. military during WWII. (Plus other significant war-time events that occurred in both Europe and the Pacific Ocean.) Throughout the museum, you’ll also find interactive learning opportunities, first-person accounts, and informative plaques in each exhibit. Be sure to check the calendar before your visit, as the traveling and special exhibits change frequently! Museum tours are also available, which offer an additional opportunity to learn about WWII from a knowledgeable guide. Older kids in particular will appreciate seeing history come to life in this well-designed, interactive museum. Finally, families will also find on-site dining that includes classic Americana fare like milkshakes and hamburgers!

Indulge in Iconic Beignets from Cafe du Monde 

Three kids sit around a table at Cafe du Monde enjoying their beignets.
Photo Courtesy: Angie Reedy

In the French Market, you’ll find the iconic Cafe du Monde. Eating here is simply one of the best things to do in New Orleans with kids! Your family will love sampling beignets, the French-inspired, Louisiana version of a doughnut. Stop in for one of these fried squares covered in powdered sugar, sure to give your kids enough energy for another hour or two of walking! Coffee lovers will also want to try Cafe du Monde’s specialty-brewed coffee with chicory. It’s an unusual blend that is definitely one to experience when you’re in the Big Easy. Cafe du Monde is open every day around the clock, but if you decide to stop for breakfast, be sure to plan a little extra time. Don’t be deterred by the line, it moves fast. Once you taste the delectable, warm beignets, you’ll know what the locals know, that the wait is worth it!

A Notes About New Orleans During COVID

Three kids wearing masks stand near a display at the New Orleans Mardi Gras Museum.
Photo Courtesy: Angie Reedy

Common safety guidelines are in practice in New Orleans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks are required when out in public. Some restaurants may be closed and others may have limited seating. Since restaurants may not be operating at full capacity, you may want to have reservations and try calling ahead to find out the latest information. Visit the New Orleans visitor website before you go. Because the situation is always changing, you’ll want to call ahead and find out what to expect. 

Happy Planning!

Three kids stand smiling with their dad at Mardi Gras World.
Photo Courtesy: Angie Reedy

New Orleans can come with a bad rap – and many only see it as a place to drink and party. However, we know New Orleans is becoming more and more of a family destination. One, where great food, informative local tours, and quaint walking districts provide families a wonderful place to make memories. No matter what is on your bucket list, New Orleans is a fun, vibrant city waiting to be explored! We hope you include these 12 Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids on your next visit.

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the activities on this list may also be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision.

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Families Love Travel Team

The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.
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