New Orleans with kids? Yes! From the lively-music scene to the nostalgic streetcars, there are so many things for kids to do in New Orleans.
Families are fascinated by the history of the French Quarter. Kids love climbing the towering oaks of the Garden District. And let’s not leave out the incredible food and music scenes! Read on to discover our picks for the best things to do with kids on a New Orleans family vacation.
Things to do in New Orleans with Kids on a New Orleans Family Vacation
1. Learn About History at the National World War II Museum
Follow the life of a soldier through the interactive National World War II Museum. Learn about the WWII efforts at home and abroad, as well as the role New Orleans played.
Start your experience in a simulated train where each visitor receives a dog tag card representing a solider that served in the war. Tap the card at various points throughout the museum to see what your GI was up to during that time, and at the end, if they made it back home.
The Beyond All Boundaries 4D experience, shown in The National WWII Museum’s Solomon Victory Theater, should not be missed. It is great for kids who are ready to truly understand the impact of World War II, but also don’t want to stop to read all the signs. And the US Freedom Pavilion is perfect for kids into planes and awesome army vehicles.
2. Spend Some Time Outdoors in City Park
Step out of the city life and into the peaceful beauty of City Park. With multiple playgrounds and giant trees to climb around, families are in heaven.
The playgrounds and sculptures in Storyland are straight out of a fairytale. And Carousel Gardens Amusement park is home to a rare, hand-carved carousel as well as 15 other rides for kids to enjoy.
You can also wander among unique sculptures in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, see local plants at the New Orleans Botanical Garden, or meander the trails through Couturie Forest.
Bike and boat rentals are available to explore the water and trails around the park, too. Bring a picnic (or stop by the delicious Acorn Café) and don’t forget some extra bread to feed the ducks.
The park is accessible from the French Quarter through the Canal Street streetcar line. Plan to spend a half a day or more, especially if you are going to the museums.
3. Celebrate at Mardi Gras World
Want an authentic Mardi Gras experience year round? Check out Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World for a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make Mardi Gras happen.
Learn the history of Mardi Gras, sample some King Cake, and explore the studio to see the amazing floats being created.
If you are visiting at the right time of year, you can even enjoy Mardi Gras parades. Learn how to have a family-friendly experience with our article Kid-Friendly New Orleans Mardi Gras.
4. Learn Through Play at the Louisiana Children’s Museum
Kids and adults will appreciate this refreshing break from “adult” attractions. The Louisiana Children’s Museum, now located in City Park, lets kids experience New Orleans through play.
Splash around in the simulated Mississippi River while learning about its impact on the area. Then create pretend culinary masterpieces in a replicated Creole Kitchen. And dance around on the soundscape map of New Orleans to hear the sounds of the city.
When the kiddos get hungry, head to Acorn Café, a Dickie Brennan Café in the Louisiana Children’s Museum. In addition to kid favorites, this restaurant serves up delicious variations of classic dishes using local ingredients.
Ready to explore more of the state? Here are the 10 best things to do in Louisiana with kids.
5. Visit the Audobon Institute Attractions
The Audubon Institute operates family-friendly museums and parks that are sure to please nature lovers.
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas offers a unique, interactive look at sea creatures. You can pet a shark, find a rare albino alligator, and even visit the rainforest.
Local and exotic animals await visitors at the shady Audubon Zoo. One of my favorite attractions is the swamp where you can see a Cajun houseboat on a lagoon full of alligators.
After a visit to the zoo, explore Audubon Park and let the kids climb The Tree of Life, a 100-500-year-old sprawling oak tree.
6. Learn About (and Listen to) Jazz in the Birthplace of Jazz
New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, and still boasts some of the best musicians in the county. New Orleans Jazz Museum at Old U.S. Mint will get families in the mood for music through interactive exhibits.
While there, check out the Jazz National Historical Park visitors center. Jazz NHP hosts ranger performances and jazz concerts most days of the week. Kids can even get a Jazz Junior Ranger badge!
To experience top-notch performers in a historic setting, buy tickets to a show at Preservation Hall where family-friendly shows are offered multiple times a night. No need to be nervous about bringing kids. The performers encourage you to clap, shout, and dance along.
You can also enjoy live jazz at the cozy, outdoor Musical Legends Park on Bourbon Street. Grab some beignets at the café as you listen to the free musical entertainment.
7. Go for a Carriage Ride in Jackson Square
The world’s a stage at Jackson Square. After taking a picture with the iconic Andrew Jackson statue, wander the block to see the great talents of New Orleans.
Artists display canvases for sale while creating more masterpieces while human statues pose for photos with tourists.
Don’t miss some of the greatest jazz performers on Royal Street. Jackson Square is also a great place to hop on a mule-drawn carriage ride. There are even haunted history tours for families who love a good ghost story.
8. Visit New Orlean’s Unique Cities of the Dead
New Orleans is known for the unique way they bury their dead above ground because of the high water table in this swampy part of the country. As you wander through these enchanting “Cities of the Dead,” stories of its residents are told through words and symbols engraved on tombs.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is located in the beautiful Garden District and is a favorite of tourists and film-makers. Join one of the guided tours or make your own using the Self-Guided Tour of Lafayette Cemetery #1 by Free Tours by Foot.
9. Tour the French Quarter
One of the best things to do in New Orleans with kids is learn all about the history and culture of the French Quarter.
While most tours barely tolerate kids, French QuarTour Kids is made for them. This kid-friendly tour explores the French Quarter through interactive riddles and stories, keeping everyone in the family engaged and excited.
Doctor Gumbo Tours also provides a fun way for families to learn about the area through their Food History Tour. The knowledgeable guides entertain families with local history and lore while you sample a variety of Cajun and Creole dishes.
10. Come Aboard the Steamboat NATCHEZ
Cruise along the Mississippi River in New Orlean’s only authentic steamboat, Steamboat NATCHEZ. The daytime cruise offers a narrated tour of the sites along the river and entertainment by a live jazz band.
Future engineers will enjoy seeing the steam engine in action from the engine room. Opt for the buffet lunch to sample some local favorites made fresh on the boat.
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Great Places to Eat in New Orleans with Kids
Every visitor to New Orleans must have beignets at Café Du Monde. These mouthwatering doughnuts will put a smile on your face and powdered sugar on your shirt.
While in the French Quarter, stop by Johnny’s Po-Boys for some classic southern sandwiches, Coterie for Creole and Cajun favorites, and The Court of the Two Sisters for the most amazing jazz brunch ever.
If it is fried chicken you crave, head to Willie Mae’s Scotch House or Dooky Chase for some of the best chicken on the planet.
Make a trip to the warehouse district to indulge in gigantic sandwiches made with locally-sourced ingredients at Cochon Butcher. If you find yourself uptown, be sure to stop by The Camellia Grill for an old-fashioned diner experience the family will love.
Where to Stay in New Orleans with Kids
Feel all the comforts of home at Homewood Suites French Quarter. Being on the northern border of the French Quarter provides easy access to attractions while keeping the night time noises to a minimum.
Meals are a breeze with a full kitchen in every suite, free hot breakfast, and even free dinner some nights. The friendly staff and games in the lobby are sure to make you feel welcomed and entertained.
The adorable boutique hotel, Bienville House, boasts a fabulous French Quarter location just across the street from the Mississippi riverfront and a couple blocks away from Jackson Square. The best dining, attractions, and landmarks all close enough for little legs to walk to.
Families also love the heated pool in the cutest old-world courtyard surrounded by wrought-iron balconies and lush greenery.
The Omni Royal Orleans Hotel makes a special effort to make the littlest guests feel welcome with the Omni Kids program. Upon check-in, children receive a backpack filled with fun activities just for them.
Even better, cookies and milk are delivered to your room the first night of your stay. The location right in the middle of the French Quarter puts many major attractions just a few minutes walk away.
Ready to visit? Check out the hotel rates in New Orleans– Best Rate Guaranteed & Free Cancellations!
Day Trips from New Orleans with Kids
Take a Swamp Tour
The abundant wildlife is part of the charm of the south, and there’s no better way to experience it than on a swamp tour. Cajun Encounter’s guides add a personal touch by sharing stories about the animals they know from living along the bayou. They also provide pick-up service from your New Orleans hotel.
Visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Although often overlooked, the Mississippi Gulf Coast has loads of fun and adventure to offer families. Explore the Pascagoula River with Eco-Tours of South Mississippi.
Learn about the shrimping industry at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum or on a Biloxi Shrimping Trip. A visit to the popular Beauvoir will let kids see the effects of Hurricane Katrina while also learning about the Confederate State’s only president.
Find out all there is to do while reading our article on Exploring Mississippi’s Gulf Coast
Tour a Plantation
About an hour outside of the city, you can bask in the beauty of charming southern plantations. Join a walking tour at Laura, A Creole Plantation to get a glimpse into life for families and slaves in the 19th-century.
A visit to Oak Alley Plantation, surrounded by 300-year-old Virginia Live Oak trees, will make you feel as though you’ve be transported to another era. No car? No problem. Cajun Encounters also offers plantation tours.
But wait, there is so much more! Check out our article highlighting nine great daytrips from New Orleans for families.
Want to make your trip to The Big Easy even easier? Follow my Itinerary: Best of New Orleans in 3 Days with Kids