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.
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!
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!
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
- The Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum :: located inside Arnaud’s and is free during restaurant hours. The museum features a lavish exhibit of dozens of Mardi Gras costumes dating back to the 1940s.
- Longue Vue House and Gardens :: On the first Sunday of each month, Longue Vue offers free garden admission to all Louisiana families from 1PM to 5PM. Pre-registration is required.
- New Orleans Museum of Art :: Louisiana residents receive free general admission on Wednesdays.
- Ogden Museum of Southern Art :: Louisiana residents receive free general admission on Thursdays from 10AM to 5PM.
- Contemporary Arts Center :: Louisiana residents receive free general admission on Sundays.
- Wendell Williams Aviation & Cypress Sawmill Museum :: located in Patterson, this museum is always free and perfect if you have an airplane lover.
- New Orleans Museum of Trade :: This free museum is a self guided tour learning about the historical importance of money in New Orleans. This is interesting and a great thing to pop into downtown.
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.
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.