New Orleans is a magical place that everyone should visit at least once! I’ve been six times! The combination of history, legend, delicious cuisine, music, grit, and art makes it, in my humble opinion, the most unique city in America! What are you waiting for?! Let’s go! Wait! Are you worried that it’s not kid friendly? You’re not alone…
Each and every time I go to NOLA I’m asked the same questions, ” Are you bringing the kids?”, and “Is New Orleans kid friendly?” The answer to these questions is a resounding YES! My boys have been four times, and if you ask them they’ll tell you it’s one of their favorite places!
Here are just a few of the many fun activities throughout the city for people of all ages!
1. The Audubon Nature Institute
Starting with the obvious, If you have animal lovers in your family then consider visiting any or all three of the Audubon Nature Institute’s sites during your visit, which include the zoo, aquarium and an insectarium. Many of the exhibits feature local creatures and habitats.
You can read more about our experiences in this related post: New Orlean’s Familystyle!
2. Ride The Street Car
The Street Cars in New Orleans, aren’t just for show, they’ve been used by locals and tourists alike for 150 years! The original, and my favorite, is the St. Charles line. As the name suggests its route is via St. Charles Street, and a ride on this line will take you through some of the city’s loveliest neighborhoods.
I love everything about riding these historic cars, watching the city roll by from the wide windows, the fantastic sounds they make, the old wooden benches, even the close proximity to other travelers!
The fares are very low, and they run often, so you won’t need a rental car during you visit. Get a lovely view of the city and where you need to go all at the same time!
3. Take a River Boat Ride
A really nice way to see and learn about the city is to take a ride on the Great Mississippi River. There are two options for riverboat rides, the Steamboat Natchez, New Orlean’s only steamboat, and the Creole Queen a paddle boat. We choose the Natchez, which conveniently docks on the riverfront just on the other side of the JAX Brewery in the French Quarter.
It’s not only a great way to see the city from a different point of view, but along the way, you’ll learn a bit of history, hear a little jazz, and even have a chance to go into the engine room.
4. French Quarter Carriage Ride
During your visit you’re sure to notice the many carriages lined up along Decatur Street and clip-clopping throughout the French Quarter. Rides are 30 minutes long and your guide will give you snippets of history and point out landmarks along the way.
I loved getting a chance to see the streets of the French Quarter from yet another perspective.
5. Visit a Museum
New Orleans has a number of great museums, many of which will appeal to children!
Mardi Gras World
New Orleans is famous for a certain holiday revolving around eating, drinking and being merry! No, I’m not suggesting you take the littles to Mardi Gras, but how about Mardi Gras World?!
More than a museum, but also a workshop/showroom, Mardi Gras World is the place to go to learn about the incredible parade floats associated with one of the world’s most famous carnivals!
During your visit you’ll have a chance to try on costumes, watch a short film about the history of Mardi Gras floats and sample a taste of King Cake. Next you’ll tour the warehouse where you’ll see the artists in action and learn how the parade floats (they make as many as 500 per year) and props are made.
The Presbytère, located just to the right of St. Louis Cathedral, was built in 1791. It features two permanent exhibits integral to understanding the city: Mardi Gras, and Hurricane Katrina, my kids found both exhibits fascinating.
In the Mardi Gras exhibit you’ll learn the history of the Mardi Gras celebration, and see brightly colored costumes. A perfect companion to your Mardi Gras World visit.
The Hurricane Katrina Exhibit is very powerful. It gives an in-depth look into what led to the catastrophic failure of the city’s levees, which in turn caused 80% of the city to be flooded. You’ll also hear first hand accounts, and see photos and video clips.
The National WWII Museum
This is a fabulous and very worthwhile museum. The information is very in-depth and includes first hand accounts, an easy to follow flow, and a lot of interactive exhibits. They’ve done a great job of not just telling you about the history, but immersing you in the settings as well.
6. Checkout the Art Scene
The Frenchmen Art Market
The family friendly Frenchmen Art Market is an evening art market located on Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny. We love the atmosphere of an evening market, and my little guy loves drawing with chalk on the floor of the outdoor “living room” locate in the center of the market.
French Quarter Galleries
The French Quarter is filled with art Galleries, which we always enjoy poking in and out of. You never know what you’re going to find and some of the art is pretty inventive. Okay, maybe this one isn’t exactly for kids, but it’s not all about them, is it?
Jackson Square, centrally located in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, is surrounded by local artisans and musicians day and night. If you’re looking to bring home a prize, then this is a great place to find some more affordable works of art!
7. City Park
City Park is one of the oldest and most visited urban public parks in the United States, and after visiting a few times I can see why!
There is so much to see and do, including boat rentals, a sculpture garden, botanical gardens, Storyland, festival grounds, ancient trees dripping with moss (begging to be climbed), and the list goes on… In fact so much so, that I think this place might deserve its own blog post… stay tuned!
8. Food Fun
One can’t talk about a trip to NOLA and not mention food! Whether you’ve got picky or adventurous eaters in your group, you’ll find something for everyone! Here are just a few casual ideas to get you started.
Cafe Du Monde
With multiple locations throughout the city you can’t go wrong with Dat Dog. Yes, as the name suggests its a hot dog restaurant, but don’t be fooled, it’s absolutely delicious! Beyond traditional beef they have lots of other options, including chicken, alligator and duck! For the adventurous eaters in your group, consider topping your dog with some crawfish Étouffée, or better yet Étouffée fries!
Jack Dempsey’s – After hearing this place offered frog legs, I knew we’d be going! This is fried food heaven, and if you’re looking for an experience this is your place! For those picky eaters, not to worry, there’s chicken tenders, amazing mac n’ cheese and plenty of fries!
SnoBalls, delicious icees filled with ice cream, are not just a treat in New Orleans, but on a hot day they’re an absolute necessity! We’ve enjoyed Snowizard’s snoballs on Magazine Street a number of times!
You can read more about our food finds in this related post: Let’s Eat Lunch and Talk About Dinner.
9. Go Ghost Hunting
New Orleans isn’t just famous for food, music and art, it’s also haunted! Yep, that’s right, with 300 years of infamous history there’s bound to be ghosts. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the cemeteries, vampires, voodoo and other mysterious happenings, just waiting
for you er, to be discovered.
Okay, I’m just teasing, well, that part where I said things were waiting for you… the rest is all true, or at least if you listen to the city’s various tour guides it is!
Okay, Okay, in all seriousness definitely take a ghost tour during your visit! We’ve always loved Haunted History Tours! Choose different tours based on your interests, by day if you want to learn more about New Orleans history or a ghost tour by night if you want silly fun! I’ve done both multiple times and it’s always interesting! Our kids came along too! These are not jump out and scare you tours. They focus on legend, history and humor!
10. Listen to Music
New Orleans is famous for its music scene and rightfully so! There are many great music clubs in the city, but with kids in tow, getting to them can be a challenge. However, if you’re looking to hear great music, you really needn’t look much further than the nearest street corner. Meaning your kids will also get to join in the musical fun…
And because you’re in NOLA you can still enjoy the beverage of your choice anywhere you’d like, so long as it’s in a plastic cup! Cheers!
Tips & Advice:
- The Aquarium and the Insectarium are located within walking distance of one another.
- Exact change is required for the street car, alternatively you can purchase an RTA pass.
- Carriage rides are on the expensive side $20 (cash only) per person.
- Mardi Gras World’s shuttles will pick you up free of charge from multiple locations throughout the city.
- Frenchmen’s Art Market is open from 7 pm – 1 am 5 night a week.
- Favorite streets to find galleries are Royal and Chartres streets.
- Ghost and cemetery tours are truly family friendly!
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