Free Things To Do Around New Orleans with Kids


There is certainly no shortage of things to do with kids in New Orleans. There are festivals, Mardi Gras, the Saints and Pelicans, playgrounds and endless water fun … the list goes on and on. We know how to pass a good time in New Orleans, and there are year round family-friendly events. Here at the New Orleans Mom, we break down all New Orleans has to offer for families. We understand that with growing families comes a consideration for the financial cost of said activities. For those times when you can’t find anything to do, there are no holidays in New Orleans, or when you simply find yourself looking for budget-friendly activities with kids in New Orleans … check out our list below!

Favorite Free Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids

Barataria Preserve at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park

Kids can explore the swamps and wetlands at the Barataria Preserve. There are owls, snakes, alligators and tons of other critters just out and about. Kids can become official junior park rangers, complete with their own ranger badge. The boardwalk trails are an awesome opportunity to be in nature but stay mud free. The added bonus is that it is stroller friendly! Your visits are guaranteed to be a different experience every time, seeing new sights! If you find yourself on the Westbank, check out these other hidden gems as well.

Audubon Louisiana Nature Center

Audubon Louisiana Nature Center is a cherished community resource located adjacent to Joe Brown Park in New Orleans East. Hurricane Katrina destroyed the facility but the Audubon institute, like the people of New Orleans, rebuilt. There are walking trails, an indoor interpretive center, a planetarium, and ranger chats. If you like the outdoors, also check out our guide to the best places to camp with kids in Louisiana.

Northlake Nature Center

The Northlake Nature Center is used for environmental education programs, hiking, and other nature activities. The Center offers visitors the opportunity to experience three different ecosystems: hardwood forest, pine-hardwood forest and pond-swamp.

Get Out & HIKE!

There are plenty of places to get out and explore nature in Louisiana, and we have more hiking trails then what most realize. There are over 250 to be exact, so there is sure to be one that is within driving distance. If you have never used All Trails, I suggest downloading the app. You can find new hikes around you, time your hikes, leave reviews, and post photos. I love being able to look back on the different places we have explored, checkout all these great hiking trails in Louisiana!

City Park

New Orleans City Park has lots of great areas to explore with your kids for free! They have four separate playgrounds: Stanley Ray, Magnolia, Sir Cumference, and Starbucks. They all offer different areas to play, but all have one thing in common – areas for parents to sit! The Couturie Forest is a beautiful place to walk the trails, watch for birds, and feel like you are out of the city for the afternoon. One local mom shares all about Couterie Forest and why it’s a fun free thing to do in New Orleans here. You can take your bikes around Big Lake, try your hand at a round at disc golf on the free 18 hole course, or go walk through the sculpture garden! There are days worth of free fun within our own New Orleans City Park.

Take A Ride On The Algiers Ferry

Board the ferry from the terminal next to the aquarium or in Algiers point for $2 per person, and take a ride across the mighty Mississippi! Sit on the top deck to feel the breeze and snap some pictures as you zip across the water. With it departing every 30 minutes, you can enjoy exploring each side – walking along the riverfront or Algiers point. This can make for a nice afternoon, especially if you catch a ride at sunset! You can register your phone and buy tickets online, information is here.

Explore The City Via Street Car

Looking for a different way to experience New Orleans? Why not do it on the various street car routes that are available? With adults only costing $1.25 and 5-18 year old only .50, riding the street car around different parts of town could be a cheap and unique experience for the day. Take the dark green street car down St. Charles (the oldest operating one) and daydream looking at the houses. The Canal line can take you to our historic cemeteries if your adventurous, or you can hop on one that says “museum” and head towards City Park and NOMA (free admission on Wednesdays!) to explore for the day. Head to the website to map out your day!

Checkout Rivertown

Rivertown in Kenner has so much to do! You can take a stroll through Heritage Park and visit Lafitte’s Landing. On Thursdays they have their farmers market setup from 12PM – 6PM. They of course also have the planetarium and observatory, and they also have the Space Science Complex that you can explore as well. Check their schedule and start planning your visit now!

Find a Family Movie

Some of our local theaters have great movie deals! At The Grand in Kenner, they have movies every Tuesday & Wednesday for just $2. Find the schedule here! AMC is offering something similar with $3 tickets on Wednesdays and $5 tickets on Saturdays. The movie listings are here, but check your local theater.

Go For Some Bowling

If you go over to this website you can find a bowling alley local to you that is offering free games for kids over the summer, there are eleven locations in Louisiana. Just click on the location and register your children ages 2-17 for their free games to enjoy!

Lakeside Kid’s Castle

The kid’s castle located in Lakeside Shopping Center is a great place to let your kids blow off steam indoors! It is a free to enjoy, but you do need to book a 25 minute time slot to be able to play. Every Friday at 11AM they will be having “Sensory Adventures” which will feature sensory activities that will engage your child’s senses in a way that facilitates exploration. Must be under 51 inches to play, and everyone (including adults!) need socks. Get more info here and book your free time to play.

Find Some Local Murals 

New Orleans is know for its art, so why not go check out some of the different murals around town (and snap some great pics!). This map gets updated regularly and there are over 140 different locations that you can preview to plan out your day.

Free Days at Local Museums

Library activities

Our community is full of public libraries whether you are in Jefferson Parish, Orleans, Plaquemines or St. Tammany. They are truly wonderful places. There are almost daily activities from story time, music time and weekend crafts. The craft hour will get you out of the house on Saturday mornings allowing your kids to create something and then you can grab some books for reading during the week. Kids absolutely love going to the library to craft hour. In addition to the activities listed above, the libraries host special summer programming that is worth checking out. This includes visits from magicians, musicians, and the Zoomobile just to name a few!

Crescent City Farmers Markets

There are three different Crescent City Farmers Markets throughout New Orleans on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Take a stroll around and look at all the locally grown produce, fresh baked goods, flowers, meats, Louisiana seafood, and more. Not only is everything going to be straight from farm to table, but they offer a variety of different ways to pay including using your SNAP benefits. They have local artists and musicians that perform each week, check the calendar here for everything that is going on.

Splash Around

Beat the heat of the summer and find one of the local splash pads or pools! In Jefferson Parish there are multiple options that are free or less than $5 on both the east and west banks. Personally, I love the one at Woldenberg Park in front of the aquarium. For a complete list from all over the state, find our recommendations here.

Take A Self Guided Tour

Did you know that there are tours around town that are next to free and self guided so you can go at your own pace? Whether it is the Garden District, French Quarter, or even playing a Historic Exploration Game there a variety of different options. This is a great and educational way of getting out of the house and learning about some local history.

Good Old Fashioned FUN

  • Check out a local playground
  • Throw rocks at the Bonnabel Boat Launch
  • Go “Sledding” down the levee with flattened cardboard boxes
  • Feed the ducks at City Park or Lafreniere Park
  • Pack a picnic lunch and head to the Fly to Fly Kites 
  • Go Geocaching with the entire family

What did we miss? What free activities do you enjoy doing with your family in New Orleans?

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Tara grew up all over south Louisiana and currently lives in Metairie with her husband Josh, and their 3 kids Dax, Dane and Delta. Tara is a buyer for a local food-service distribution company and Community Director for New Orleans Mom. During the week she can be found replying to emails, carpooling kids all around, giving out hugs and kisses, and looking forward to bedtime. Weekends are for family adventures, naps and cheering for LSU and the Saints. She loves trying new foods, travel, and she and her family love all things New Orleans, but especially Mardi Gras.


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