New Orleans is known for Jaz, Mardi Gras, Beer, and Bourbon Street. Couples love the chance to ditch the kids and have a weekend of fun and partying. Kids usually don’t come to mind when you think NOLA. But there are actually tons of fun things to do in New Orleans with kids. You just have to expand your bubble away from Bourbon Street.
I’ve been to New Orleans a few times now and every time I come back with all kinds of stories. I kept telling my kids “when I take you”, but that day was always so distant, like when they are 21.
With their spring break coming up and being forced to take vacation time from work, I was about to embrace a Staycation. That was until my Sister-in-law invited us to join her on spring break to NOLA with her family.
With one week before we would leave, we hurried to get the house in order, dog kenneled and everything else needed to do this impromptu trip. Would the kids like NOLA?
Would there be enough kid stuff to do? Much to my surprise, there were so many fun things to do in New Orleans with Kids, it was hard to say goodbye.
This cross-country road trip would be the first time in over a year that I left the state. That is just crazy to think about considering how much I love exploring.
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Things to do with Kids in New Orleans
City Park New Orleans is a spectacular collection of green spaces. Inside you’ll find 1300 acres of activities. Enter the enchanted Botanical Garden, New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden, or the play area. Pick up some coffee from Café Dumont.
Play around with Mini Golf, Ride the train, or take a swan boat around the lake. They even have a Storyland where kids’ storybooks come alive. You can spend hours walking and exploring the park.
The City Park was such a great find compared to the chaos that is Bourbon Street. There is plenty of place at the park to carve out your own piece of space, catch your breath and get to know what New Orleans is really like.
Take a ride on the Mississippi on one of the many steamboats. Steamboat Natchez parent company has been transporting passengers since 1870. As you ride through the harbor, listen to some traditional Jaz music and enjoy some great New Orleans delicacies.
Some of the favorite tours include a Sunday Jazz Brunch or even take a dinner cruise. The tours last two hours and include live music, city views, and more depending on what package you purchase.
The Steamboat Natchez Jazz Dinner sells out nightly. Make sure to get your tickets by clicking here.
Haunted History Family Ghost Tour
Around 5pm in New Orleans, it’s hard to turn down a street and not see a haunted family ghost tour. When it comes to kids, you have to go with Unique NOLA Tours Family Friendly Tour. Before leaving, they take a gauge of the group to determine how scary to make everything.
As parents, feel free to speak up and let them know if blood and guts are ok. You have a better idea of what will keep your kid up at night than they do.
You’ll get the chance to see 6-8 different locations all with their own creepy story attached. The location stops are usually no more than a block apart.
Make sure to book your tour in advance as they do sell out. There are a limited number of family-friendly tour options!
The National WWII Museum
One of the surprising finds in New Orleans was the National WWII Museum. This museum is so large it’s broken up into 4 different campuses with another one being added.
They do a great job explaining the war and its different elements of it. Starting off with a train ride into boot camp, you’ll go on a journey hearing the stories from those that lived through it.
Their collection of artifacts and displays rival the Smithsonian’s. Our son’s favorite souvenir was a B-17 Model Toy we purchased at the National WWII Museum.
The National WWII Museum is one of the Go City passes. This is a great deal if you are looking to do more than one thing in the city. For one price, you can visit the Museum, go on a Paddle Wheeler Cuire and Do a Swamp Adventure all in one day. Check out all the great places you can visit on your trip.
Laura Plantation Creole
The Laura Plantation Creole Heritage Site isn’t like a typical plantation you’ll see in New Orleans. The plantation owners used this as the primary home and kept the grandeur all in New Orleans. This gives a truer look at what life was like for both the family and those that worked the land.
I highly recommend visiting this plantation with your kids, especially for those younger that are just starting to learn about the pre-civil war in the south. Make sure you reserve your tickets before you leave. They will sell out!
Find out more about the tour: The Laura Plantation Tour: Tips and other info for your visit.
Reserve your Tickets and Transportation today but clicking here.
Oak Alley Plantation
Oak Alley Plantation is the South’s most famous and photographed plantation. Its stunning 300-year-old oak trees line the front pathway to the main house. The house depicts all the grandeur of the time.
The property is equally immaculate. Inside the house is a 30-45 minute tour of the Big House. You’ll learn about the lives of the people who resided there.
The rest of the grounds are free for you to roam around and explore as you wish, making it ideal for those with smaller children that get impatient.
Check out these tips before you dive there!
There are many great plantation tours around New Orleans. Tour companies often feature an Oak Alley and Laura Plantation combination tour because of how close they are together. T
hey are also beautiful plantations further away, like the Houmas House. As much as I encourage you to visit them all, if you have younger kids, they may be over the long car rides to all the plantations. Pairing these two up can save you some money.
Reserve a combination ticket and save some money by clicking here.
Swamp Tour on Kayak
When the sun is shining, you have to take a Kayak Tour in the swamp Manchac Swamp. My first thought when someone proposed this to me was, are you crazy? Kayaking with alligators!!!!
Most of the gators you’ll see are babies. They do have one larger gator in the area, but they’re a total of 3 alligator-related injuries reported in Louisiana in the last 100 years. It’s completely safe.
The Kayak tours are designed for every level, with two-person or single Kayaks. Another beautiful area to kayak is the Honey Island trip. It’s seasonal. Both trips will change how you think of a swamp.
Reserve your tickets before you leave. They will sell out!
Mardi Gras World
Ever wonder how all those crazy floats get made for Mardi Gras parades? The work is done year-round and the Mardi Gras World.
The studio started with Roy kern, a local artist turned sign and banner painter. Roy and his Son Blain built their first float by the request of a Mardi Gras Krewe.
It was a mule-drawn float built on the back of a garbage wagon. One float led to another and soon they were the leading parade designers. After many requests for behind-the-scenes tours, the studio opened up to the public in 1984.
On the tour, you’ll get to learn a little about the history of the biggest celebration in the united states, and then get to see artists working on different floats. Since most people staying in the French Quarter normally don’t rent a car, the museum has a free shuttle service.
In 1816 French immigrant Louis Dufilho Jr. became America’s first licensed pharmacist. He opened up his pharmacy right in the French quarter. His pharmacy used science to combat many of the afflictions of the time.
In addition to the regular drugs we have today, there were also things like leeches, opium, Voodoo, and a soda fountain installed to help with ailments. You can visit the pharmacy today.
During normal times there are guided tours of both the first and second floors of the townhomes. At the time of writing this, Covid protocols have it available for self-guided tours of the first floor only.
If that doesn’t interest you enough, there is also another legend about the property. Supposedly it has a haunted past.
It is rumored that he still hangs out in the building after the museum closes up at night. You may not want to tell the kids about him before you go.
Jackson Square Entertainment
Jackson Square is always bustling with entertainers that change out often. You never know what you will see or hear. The square is a beautiful courtyard to sit and relax at.
Outside you’ll find carriage rides, and street artists lining the courtyard. Between the square and the Church is usually a musician or other street performers.
While some groups can get suggestive, most are PG enough. We even ran into a street magician who brought the kids into it all.
The Audubon Aquarium is a great place to take kids. They have more than 3,600 animals from more than 250 species, including endangered species. You can even see a rare albino alligator.
Walking inside you’ll visit the Caribbean, the Amazon Rain forest, and even the Water that makes up New Orleans, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico.
When it’s raining, this Audubon Aquarium is packed with visitors. If your kids are entranced with life under the sea, I recommend stopping by.
The Audubon Zoo is a fun zoo to explore in New Orleans with kids. I got the opportunity to visit it after the Hurricane that never was.
The zoo has beautiful enclosure award-winning enclosure. My favorites are Louisiana Swamp and Jaguar Jungle. They also have a train ride around the park and a Cool Zoo water park inside the zoo that kids love.
Take a Carriage Ride
If your kids are anything like mine, they will be begging for a place to get off their feet. With so much walking around the French Quarter, why not do a Carriage Ride around the town?
The carriages are pulled by mules, not horses, due to their ability to handle the Louisiana summer heat. Along the way, your driver will provide information about the town’s history.
Bike Tour of the Garden District
Another alternative to a walking tour is on Bike. There are a few different companies that offer bike tours of the area, but my favorite is the FreeWheelin’ Bike Tours.
It’s a family-owned company offering fun adventures exploring the non-touristy parts of town. I recommend this adventure for older kids that want to explore. They do not have bikes for younger kids. If you want to bike but don’t want the tour, they also offer rentals.
Reserve your trip by clicking here!
Depending on the kids, you should do a Cemetery Tour. They are a unique way to learn about this history of the city as well as learn about notable residents.
Find out why they bury their residents above ground as well as some of the other fun facts about Louisiana culture.
I highly recommend taking an Ask Arthur Walking Tour if you can. He’s a history buff that is passionate about the city. There are a couple of different cemeteries to choose from, Lafayette Cemetery, St. Louis Cemetery #1 & St. Louis Cemetery #2 are the most popular.
The final resting place of the Voodo Queen Marie Laveau is in St. Louis Cemetery #1.
One thing to note, not all cemeteries are open to the public. This means you need to have a licensed tour guide walk you through it. They also are owned and operated by New Orleans Catholic Cemeteries.
They often close the cemeteries on national holidays, when a hurricane blows in or during COVID. All different times I’ve tried to visit. Most tour companies have canceled their tours when this occurs.
I’ve seen some that still decided to run and let their guest stand outside the gates while they talk. If you are not interested in this type of tour, I recommend checking with them before making purchases.
Shopping along Royal Street
The French Quarter is a mix of good, bad, and everything in between. Trinket shops sell stuff for everyone. The safest set of stores to bring your kids into, without depicting adult-themed content was along Royal Street.
There are a lot of high-end vendors with plenty of stuff for the kids to check out.
As an alternative to some of the shopping in the French Quarter, head to the French Market. Part Farmers Market, Part Flea Market. This is a fun and safe area to pick up a few trinkets.
There are also dining options inside. They even make Beignets and other treats. Because it’s on the outskirts of the Quarter, it’s less visited!
The Artmazing Gallery is a larger than life 600 sqft Pop Art exhibit for people of all ages. You can immerse yourself in fun uniquely themed installations that inspire your creativity.
Designed for selfie-loving families, you can experience twirling around in a million dollars, or creating your own rainbow. Everyone gets into it.
Frenchman Street Music
There is a reason in the movie Chef, Jon Favreau’s character called Bourbon Street for tourists. The real soul of New Orleans music is found along Frenchman’s Street.
All-day long you’ll hear the clubs playing intoxicating New Orleans Jazz music. Find a club like the Blue Nile and listen to anything from jazz to blues to reggae and rock.
Also, check out the Snug Harbor or the Spotted Cat. During the day kids are allowed in most locations but after 10pm hits it becomes a 21+ crowd. They also have patio seating where you can easily enjoy the music from the street with the kids.
Where to eat with kids in New Orleans
Beignet Café Du Monde
There is multiple Café Du Monde around New Orleans. At the time of writing this, there are actually fifteen locations.
Some are outside of NOLA, while others are hidden in other establishments like stores and Airports. The original one is in the French Quarter off of Decatur Street by Jackson Square.
If you are looking for a more chill dining experience, check out the location in City Park. Inside is a viewing area where you can watch the magic of Beignet being made.
There are plenty of tables inside and out for everyone and you can also take your donuts to the park and watch the kids play. Get your own fix of New Orleans Coffee and Beignets.
Boil Seafood House
Do you have an adventurous eater? If so you gotta check out Boil Seafood House on Market Street. They sell traditional seafood boils family style.
Let your kids dig into some delicious crawfish, lobster, and crab. It will be an experience they never forget. They add in as much or as little spice as you want. If your kids are just not feeling it, they also sell chicken tenders and fries.
What I loved about this establishment was the outdoor dining. At their Market Street location, you’ll head up to the second floor, climb out the window and have a chill night with the best seafood you’ll ever eat.
Menus were scannable on your phone and the service was out of this world.
Katie’s Restaurant and Bar
We were trying to get into another restaurant when they recommend, we visit Katie’s just down the street. The place was buzzing but there was no wait.
We sat down and ordered some delicious Po Boys. I finally decided to embrace the classic Po boy experience with seafood. Wow. My husband went for another specialty and the kids found Pizza and Spaghetti.
It was all they talked about the rest of the trip. It wasn’t until we were wrapping up that we realized all great the reviews this place has gotten, including visits from the Food Network on multiple occasions.
A New Orleans-style deli with a taste of St Louis. Francesca’s by Katie’s was another restaurant we stumbled up finding that we couldn’t get into the neighboring restaurant.
With outdoor family-style picnic tables and a nice breeze, this restaurant was amazing. They had New Orleans’s favorite foods deli specialties.
Portion sizes were large and easily shareable, there were also kids’ menu options. The service was amazing and the flavors were spot on.
The most intriguing part about it was that they were owned by Katie’s. It explains why everyone loved it so much.
Gelato at Angelo Brocato
Angelo Brocato® Original Italian Ice Cream Parlor has been operated by the Brocato family in New Orleans, Louisiana for over one hundred years.
Originally churning ice cream by hand in the French Quarter, they offered flavors you can still get today. Production has changed and so has the location, now in Mid-Town, but the quality remains.
Today you can stop in and get made to order cannoli’s, pastries, biscotti, and of course gelato. It’s worth a special trip to find it.
If you are in the French Quarter looking for a bite to eat with the family, there are plenty of bars and umm questionable looking establishments. But my favorite to take the family to is the Market Café.
They have a huge outdoor dining space, with live music playing all the time. They serve favorites like Muffuletta, Po Boys, Red Beans, and Rice. The portions are large, so you can split everything with the kids.
Where to Stay in New Orleans with Kids
Normally in New Orleans, the plan is to stay as close to the French Quarter as possible. When it comes to staying in New Orleans with kids,
I recommend staying a couple of blocks away. It will create for a more relaxed trip, strolls in the park, and more family time. I highly recommend staying with Hosteeva. They have an amazing apartment complex each with individual rentals on Bienville.
It came with a full living room and kitchen, 4 bedrooms, 2 car garages, and a courtyard for the kids to enjoy. And the best part was it cost the same as a traditional hotel room. Think of it as having your own swanky apartment in the suburbs.
Find the perfect condo by clicking here
Renting a Car or Walking with kids?
If you are staying in the French Quarter everyone will tell you to not rent a car. They have public transportation and most everything is within walking distance.
There is no free parking in the French Quarter, even if you are staying at their hotel. If you plan on staying in the Quarter the entire time, and never leaving as most childless people do, it’s a good suggestion.
If you plan on visiting a plantation, doing a kayak tour, or eating outside the quarter on more than one occasion, the cost of renting a car and parking may be cheaper than public transportation. Trust me, I did the math!
Now if you have children, rent a car, and pay for parking, just do it. Finding Ubers for the family can be challenging at times. Public transportation, while fun at times, can also take longer adding to kids’ stress.
And let’s face it, kids get tired of walking. The entire city opens up to you. You no longer are limited to the tourist spots.
Save money and rent a car!
If you only have a day in New Orleans with Kids?
When it comes to kids, I’ve learned that planning is important, but so is the chill time. Trying to pack it all into a day can be rough.
If I had to choose only a few things to do in New Orleans with kids, I do breakfast at Café Du Monde at City Park, then go Kayaking in the Manchac.
Lunch at Francesca’s, end the day walking through the French Quarter, stopping at shops, and listening to music by Jackson Square.
If you can squeeze in a stop at the Boil Seafood House for Dinner, do it. It will give everyone a taste of what New Orleans is all about. Everything on the list was done on our Four Day New Orleans Itinerary.