As the top parenting website in New Orleans, we are constantly asked if visiting New Orleans is kid friendly. We can’t say it enough, but YES! Yes, you should absolutely visit New Orleans with your children in tow. New Orleans is family-friendly, New Orleans is kid-friendly and New Orleans offers a ton of activities for kids of all ages; we’d love to have you!
Visiting New Orleans with kids may be one of the best vacations you take. New Orleans at the holidays is particularly magical because there are literally dozens of kid-friendly New Orleans holiday events. Whether you want to cut down your own Christmas tree in Louisiana, have breakfast with Santa in New Orleans or just make memories with your family … New Orleans is a family-friendly holiday vacation. If you’d like to have your family pictures taken in New Orleans, these are the best family photographers in New Orleans with experience capturing memories in the French Quarter, Audubon Park and everywhere in between. There are also some amazing Christmas lights in New Orleans that are fun for kids and adults alike.
New Orleans is a destination packed full of amazing food, culture, music, festivals and all around great people. Whether you are heading to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (which we can attest is ALSO kid friendly!) or are just planning a weekend to soak up the Cajun vibes, New Orleans is a dynamic city and truly a great place to bring the whole family. This post is a frequently updated compilation of some of our favorite destinations, tips and tricks for visiting New Orleans with kids. If you are indeed coming to New Orleans for Mardi Gras with kids, we maintain a thorough list of resources for a Mardi Gras trip as well.
Visiting the French Quarter in New Orleans With Kids
Visit Cafe Du Monde. Treat your family to a snack in an open air French Cafe in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Yes, you can enjoy the French Quarter with kids! Cafe Du Monde serves up great chicory coffee, and the beignets are a must on any New Orleans trip! Insider Tips :: the cafe is open 24 hours a day. Tables are first come, first served, so there’s no need to wait to be seated, but during traditional “breakfast times” there is usually a line. After your snack (or while one of you is standing in that line), we suggest heading to the back of the cafe (riverside) to peek through the window to watch the beignets being prepared. While Cafe Du Monde is known for its delicious coffee, note that they also serve milk, chocolate milk and hot chocolate for the kids.
Take a horse and carriage ride around the French Quarter. There are no reservations needed for this fun New Orleans activity that is very kid-friendly. The horses line up right across the street from Cafe Du Monde in front of St. Louis Cathedral, and you can simply walk up and hop in! This is truly a fun way to see the city, and you’ll be indulged with history along the way. In fact, it’s also really fun to listen to the tour guides as they walk by while you’re strolling the Quarter. Even native New Orleanians learn something new!
Jackson Square. Check out the local artists selling art all along the edges of the square. Perhaps even get a portrait or caricature done of your children. Gaze up at the magnificent St. Louis Cathedral and imagine what it was like to live here hundreds of years ago. Insider Tips :: If you are facing the cathedral, on your right hand side is a little restaurant called Stanley. If you are up early (like so many of us with kids are) go there for breakfast before the lines start getting long. You can start dreaming of the eggs benedict and fried oyster po boys now.
St. Louis Cathedral. While the outside is a postcard in and of itself, don’t miss out on going inside to admire the beauty of this one. It truly is not to be missed and rivals any of the gorgeous churches in Europe. If you are a history buff, don’t miss the Presbytere and the Cabildo, on either side of the Cathedral.
Take a ride on The New Orleans Creole Queen or The Steamboat Natchez. Ride down the Mississippi River and gaze back at New Orleans with your children on an authentic steamboat. As you ride along you will be able to better see the topography and understand how the city received its nickname “The Crescent City.” If you have time, take the Jazz dinner cruise and listen to the band while watching the sunset. Magical.
Let your children shop The French Market. Check out this open-air flea market with lots of goodies for adults and children alike. If your kids are old enough you might consider giving them their own stipend so that they can choose some fun souvenirs or local snacks.
French QuarTour Kids. Tours often tend to be more adult-oriented around New Orleans, but if your kids are ages 6-13 consider setting them up with a tour targeted for their age group. These tours are designed specifically for kids and are intended to be fun and educational.
Grab a Muffaletta (which, if you’re not familiar, is a delicious sandwich stuffed with meats and a tasty olive spread) from Central Grocery on Decatur and head over for a picnic at Woldenburg Park.
Downtown, Uptown and The Garden District of New Orleans With Kids
The Audubon Zoo. Don’t miss the chance to touch an elephant, catch a sea lion show, gaze in awe at the apes, ride the Swamp Train or the Carousel. If it’s really hot out you might want to bring your bathing suits and check out the Cool Zoo, a mini water park within the zoo. (Insider tip: the Cool Zoo does cost an additional fee once you’re in the zoo, as it’s not included in the admission fee to the zoo.) Easy to access and with tons of attractions, the Audubon Zoo is sure to be a great memory for the whole family.
Audubon Park. If you have time to take a stroll – or even a run – you might want to stop at this park, which is right across the street from the zoo (actually, we think the zoo is technically IN the park, but that’s a separate story!). Bring some grapes or oats if you would like to feed the ducks (did you know feeding them bread is harmful?). You can even hop on the streetcar downtown, ride along St. Charles Avenue and get off in front of Tulane University to enter this gorgeous park with ancient oaks.
The Fly. Tucked away behind Audubon Zoo is a quaint area of grass known locally as The Fly. If you are looking at the entrance to Audubon Zoo, you’d want to enter via the street to the far right. Us locals love it out there! You can watch trains on one side, boats on the Mississippi River on the other, and enjoy the giant hill for running and burning energy. It’s a great spot for a family picnic and pet-friendly, too.
Shop, eat and wander your way from Uptown to Downtown on Magazine Street. Drop into fun stores like the Magic Box or Octavia Books. We also can’t recommend Little Pnuts toy shoppe out in the Lakeview neighborhood enough. Whether you need a gift or are just looking for some family-friendly shopping, Little Pnuts and the surrounding neighborhood is a fun stop!
Take a Walking Tour of the Garden District. Or if you’d rather float than walk, consider taking a ride to Algiers Point on the ferry. There isn’t necessarily anything specific to see in Algiers Point, but boat rides are always good for family fun!
The National World War II Museum. If you are a history buff, this one might be for you! Insider Tip: There is a John Besh restaurant, American Sector, within the museum. If you seek something more simple and fun to make the kids happy you can visit the Soda Shop. This option is both kid friendly and economical. You can build your own gourmet biscuit for breakfast, have creative sandwiches or wraps for lunch and then visit the ice cream/soda bar. You can enjoy your history and your lunch without even leaving the museum. Another fun activity for history enthusiasts is just a short boat ride down the river from the city: Chalmette Battlefield.
New Orleans is also known for being home to several new craft breweries. Believe it or not, some of these breweries are kid friendly … even offering children’s play areas and toys to keep them occupied. Our two favorite spots are Urban South Brewery (not far from downtown) and Second Line Brewing (if you’re closer to the City Park or mid-city area). Both often have food trucks or other fun planned as well, and we love these for casual late afternoons.
Off The Beaten Path Around New Orleans With Kids
City Park. City Park, which is within the city but a car ride from downtown, features a wide variety of attractions including Storyland, Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, a Sculpture Garden, the New Orleans Botanical Garden, the New Orleans Museum of Art, a train and lots of playgrounds. There’s also a Cafe du Monde within the park if you haven’t satisfied that beignet craving yet.
Within City Park, City Putt is a lot of fun, too! It has two 18-hole courses (one New Orleans, one Louisiana) and is pretty easy for kiddos. A bonus factor is that there’s a lot of shade.
Audubon Nature Center. With walking trails and a planetarium, the newly re-opened Audubon Nature Center is another fun outing with kids. It’s slightly outside of the city of New Orleans, but it’s a pretty quick and easy drive and worth a stop for your nature-loving little ones.
Plantations :: If you have older kids, check out some of the beautiful plantations outside of the city limits. These include Oak Alley, Destrehan, Laura, Ormond and San Francisco Both Oak Alley and Destrehan plantation were featured in the movie Interview with a Vampire. Oak Alley was also featured on Days of Our Lives when Bo & Hope got married. Looking for a guided tour? We have heard that Tours by Isabelle and Gray Line are both great resources for plantation tours. Head out to the River Parishes and see what the German Coast Farmer’s Market is all about. This isn’t far from the plantations, so you could easily combine these into one trip.
Swamp Tours :: If you’re the adventurous type, look into Slidell Swamp Tours or visit an alligator farm for good Cajun fun! We have also had several very good experiences with Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours – what’s more fun than coming face to face with alligators and wildlife?
State Parks :: If you enjoy natural beauty, check out Fontainebleu State Park for awe-inspiring beauty on the lake. If you’re here for several weeks at a time, or if you just prefer the great outdoors, you can even consider camping. Or, check out the trails at Jean Lafitte National Park.
Feel the need for speed? Check out NOLA Motorsports Park on the Westbank which is fun for the whole family! Take a spin on the go karts or drive a supercar like a Ferrari or Lamborghini. They maintain an active events calendar year-round, so on some days you may also be able to catch a water slide or concert!
Take a FREE tour of the Abita Factory and sample their variety of tasty beers. After your Abita Tour stop off at the Kids Konnection Playground. It is accessible to children of all abilities and is seriously one of the most fun and creative playgrounds that we have ever been to.
Global Wildlife Center, which is admittedly a trek from downtown New Orleans, is well worth the trip to Folsom if your children are into animals. Experience an up-close encounter with giraffes and feed zebras! This is as close as you can get to an African safari without going to Africa, and the quality is well beyond that which we have experienced in other cities. Parent tip :: If you have a large group or can afford it, consider the private tour (and book in advance). You get a much more leisurely and personal experience.
We also recommend a day trip to Hammond (check out 60+ activities in the Hammond area with kids)! If you have lots of time to burn, we can’t say enough nice things about Lil Bambinos Playtorium in Gonzales as well – your kids can easily spend 3+ hours exploring their various indoor play areas. If you’re up for an adventure to Baton Rouge, which is just a little bit farther than Gonzales, the fairy new Knock Knock Museum is clean, bright and provides a good 3-4 hours of indoor fun for children.
Rainy Day in New Orleans With Kids
The Louisiana Childrens Museum. Around the blog we are big fans of this museum. Chock full of exciting exhibits and spaces for imaginative and creative play, this museum is not only fun but prepares kids for life in the 21st century. There is also the Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center in Hammond, which is a drive from the city but still fun for kids up to age 12.
The Audubon Aquarium.
Don’t miss the chance to touch a stingray, feed a parakeet, or see a giant tank full of sharks. You can also purchase tickets for their one-of-a-kind Backstage Penguin Pass, which is an up close and personal encounter with penguins. While pricey, we feel it’s worth every penny for older children!
Take in a movie at the IMAX theater.
The Audubon Insectarium. Ready to see some creepy crawly bugs up close? Interested in participating in a bug cooking class? This one might be for you. As of 11/9/2021, the Audubon Insectarium is temporarily closed.
Grab a coffee while your children enjoy an indoor playground at NOLA Kidsground (this is outside of the city itself but very easy to get to). Luv 2 Play is another indoor playground in Metairie (pictured below) not far from the airport. As of 11/9/2021, Luv 2 Play is still closed due to Hurricane Ida. Lakeside Shopping Center also recently added The Kids’ Castle, an indoor playground near its food court that is great for the toddler set.
The Shops at Canal Place is an indoor upscale shopping center with dozens of stores and plenty of air conditioning. There is also a movie theater, a tad higher scale than your average movie theater, within the mall that serves drinks and food while you watch your movie! It is important to note that this theater is adults only (ages 18 and up) and we recommend purchasing tickets in advance.
Chez Clay. Put your artistic foot forward in this ceramic painting studio.
Visit Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. Check out the giant warehouses where Mardi Gras floats are actually designed and built. Insider Tip: Don’t go in the heat of summer, it is NOT air conditioned.
If you have a car and want to blow off steam, Adventure Quest in Harahan is a great go-to. Aside from laser tag there is also Cosmic Golf, Bumper Cars, a maze and rock climbing! Speaking of rock climbing, the New Orleans Boulder Lounge is fun for all ages.
Things to Do in New Orleans With Kids
Know Before You Go to New Orleans with Kids
- Think long and hard before you rent a car. If you are staying near the French Quarter or the Central Business District (CBD) you can get around easily on foot or via streetcar. The streets here tend to be hard to navigate, poorly signed and confusing. The hotel valet parking can also cost a pretty penny.
- If you need transportation we recommend that you consider contacting our sponsors KreweCar (similar to Uber except they are membership based and have size appropriate car seats for kids). You can learn more about KreweCar HERE.
- If you don’t regularly use your phone for GPS, you may want to consider investing in a map. As stated above, the roads here can be confusing!
- The airport is not actually within the city of New Orleans. You will need to take a 20-25 minute cab ride into the city. Of course, you can also meet an Uber or Lyft in the designated area at MSY.
- We recommend packing layers. The weather here is unpredictable. It can be 50 degrees in the morning and 80 degrees in the afternoon. And it can often rain out of the blue without any warning, so rain gear is always a smart idea!
- You need exact change for streetcars. The fare is $1.25 per ride or you can buy an all day pass for $3.00 per person. Additionally, beware of streetcars when walking (or driving) across the tracks! Even the streetcar has an app now, too!
- This may or may not seem obvious, but if you plan to ride a streetcar bring a stroller that folds quickly and easily.
- If you are here when the weather is really hot, make sure you stay hydrated as you explore. You can also keep your eyes peeled for the preferred New Orleans treat: Snowballs! Some of our favorites are Plum Street Snowballs in New Orleans or Papa Sam’s in Mandeville (on the Northshore)
- If you are planning to visit somewhere specific on a Monday or a Tuesday, verify that the restaurant, museum or attraction is actually open. Certain parts of the year local places tend to be closed on those days. For example, the zoo is not usually open on Mondays. We’ve learned that one the hard way!
- Consider carrying cash. Many local places are cash only and ATM fees can be prohibitive.
- While we hope that you won’t need it, New Orleans has a fantastic hospital for children uptown: Children’s Hospital and a new Emergency Room located conveniently in Metairie.
- If you’re a nursing mom and you happen to forget something, we strongly recommend ZukaBaby in Metairie. Whether you need pump parts or a nursing cover, this store will likely be able to accommodate you.