Family Friendly Activities in New Orleans

Things to do in New Orleans with Kids

New Orleans is known for many things: It is home to one of the biggest parties in the world, has a music tradition that has influenced virtually every type of modern music, has inspired cuisine flavors all over the world, and has, lately, become the poster child of resiliency and overcoming. But where does a family vacation fit into everything New Orleans offers? New Orleans does have somewhat of a reputation as an adult playground. But family vacationers need not fear that there is nothing for kids to do in New Orleans. As a family vacation destination, New Orleans is top-notch, offering cultural diversions that will entertain even the hardest to please a teenager. Even during Mardi Gras, when the term family vacation does not naturally come to mind, New Orleans offers a wealth of activities for family vacationers.

While out and about on your New Orleans family vacation, there are lots of places to see that are family-friendly. One particular place that everyone on the family vacation will love is the Old US Mint, which was once a mint, then a prison, and now the home to the New Orleans Jazz Collection, which tells the story of jazz. Inside this beautiful Greek Revival building is also the History of Old US Mint Exhibition, which displays coins that were formerly minted there.

New Orleans French Quarter

The French Quarter will get a lot of your family vacation time, and it should, since so much culture has been formed from this location. The French Quarter is so iconic and has become so prolific that you should split up your exploration of it into several days or your New Orleans family vacation. If your family lodging is located in the French Quarter, then count yourself lucky, as every day of your family vacation can be spent exploring this dynamic heart of New Orleans. In the heart of the French Quarter lies Jackson Square, a gathering place for locals and tourists and a must-stop on your family vacation; here, artists display their work and jazz musicians play for the passers-by.

On Jackson Square is the 1850 House, which recreates the opulent lifestyles of antebellum New Orleans. This is a great way to sneak learning into your family vacation! French Market is another great French Quarter stop on your New Orleans family vacation: Mostly taken over by a flea market, you can expect one of a kind souvenirs of your family vacation.

Café du Monde

While in the French Quarter, make sure you stop by famous Café Du Monde, which only serves two things: café au lait and beignets (square French donuts). No trip to New Orleans is complete without a stop at the historic Café du Monde for chicory coffee and Beignet bliss.  Café du Monde has been serving chicory coffee & beignets since 1862.  Their beignets are the best that we have ever tasted, hands down!  We are not alone in this, so you can expect long lines all day long. But the line moves fast and they will help you grab an available table, take your order and deliver your treats promptly.  Be prepared to get covered with powdered sugar.

Jazz at Preservation Hall

Looking for kid-friendly jazz?  Preservation Hall offers nightly concerts by master practitioners.  The shows are casual, family-friendly and fun!  The performances are only 45 minutes long so it’s easy for the kids to enjoy without getting overwhelmed. Five performances happen nightly.  General admission is cash only — $15 Sunday-Thursday and $20 Friday- Saturday, and children under 5 are free.  Tickets are sold at the door and you can often get a spot if you line up 45 minutes before the show.  They also offer a limited amount of “BigShot” seating for $30-$50.  These seats include a good location and no waiting in line and can be reserved on their website.

Royal Street and Bourbon Street

The two most famous streets in the New Orleans French Quarter offer differing experiences for family vacationers. Bourbon Street is synonymous with the famous New Orleans party scene; lined with bars and nightclubs, most nights the famed iron balconies that line Bourbon Street are lined with revelers. Head out during the day on your family vacation, however, and there is plenty to entertain the family on Bourbon Street. Arnaud’s Restaurant is a top pick for a true New Orleans dining experience. Royal Street is considered the most beautiful street in the New Orleans French Quarter and is family vacationer friendly.

The big draw on Royal Street is antique shops, which may not entertain the kids, precisely, but offer neat, museum-like views of old-style chandeliers and furniture. Stop by Brennans, one of the most famous restaurants in New Orleans, for a bite on your family vacation. Tucked just behind Royal Street is St. Anthonys Garden, which is a great stop when you need a break on your busy family vacation day. Small but beautiful, this garden used to host duels in the 18th century. A great museum to visit on Royal Street is the Historic New Orleans Collection, which has ten galleries of historical artifacts and has something to please everyone on your family vacation. Gallier House Museum is another Royal Street museum that showcases the intersection of American and Creole life. The Lalaurie House is sure to be a hit on your family vacation, as it is associated with ghosts.

Steamboat Natchez

Kids of all ages will love a cruise on the Steamboat Natchez on your New Orleans family vacation. An authentically replication of a 19th-century steamboat, Steamboat Natchez offers daily cruises that feature all the entertainment that would have been offered in the past: saloons, opulent rooms and card tables included. A very scenic and relaxing ride down the Mississippi. We recommend the Harbor Jazz Cruise. This 2-hour ride includes a narrated historical tour, a Jazz concert by The Duke Heitger’s Steamboat Stompers Jazz Trio, and entrance into the Steam Engine Room exhibit. You can buy cocktails on board and they do have meal packages available but we prefer to eat in one of the many amazing restaurants in town. Tickets start at $34 Adult and $13.30 children 6 to 12. Children under $6 are free.

Garden District

Another way to spend a wonderful day of your New Orleans family vacation is to visit the Garden District, which is the most beautiful and romantic part of New Orleans. Do not be dismayed by the term romantic: the parents in the family will enjoy the creeping flowers and opulent mansions, while the kids will scream for a trip on the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar, the last of its kind in the country and a distinct part of New Orleans. Also in the Garden District is the Audubon Zoo, which features animals in open paddocks and has a special exhibit called The Louisiana Swamp, where white alligators roam and relax. A family vacation hit!

St. Charles Streetcar

The streetcar is a wonderful way to see the city.  It has 3 lines: Canal Street, St. Charles, and the Riverfront.  They all originate downtown but each takes you different parts of the city.  Riding the Streetcar costs $1.25 per person and you need exact change.  You can also buy an unlimited ride pass on the website or on their RTA mobile app.

New Orleans City Park

This is a MUST do if you are looking for things to do in New Orleans with kids and stay on a tight budget! We had a blast! All of these fun things are in the city park. Enter the park and spend hours enjoying the fun! There are cooling fans throughout the park to help cool down. There are concessions and a cafe. Make sure you bring cash for snacks and drinks. You are not allowed to bring food or drinks into the park.

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City Park is the fifth largest urban park in the U.S. and offers a wonderfully relaxing experience on your New Orleans family vacation. There are sights and exhibits to enjoy within the park, but one of the best ways to enjoy it is to simply take a picnic and watch the city pass by on your New Orleans family vacation. City Park is faithful to the southern Louisiana flora and fauna; moss-draped oaks and lagoons are the dominant landscape in the park.

New Orleans Botanical Garden

Inside New Orleans City Park is the New Orleans Botanical Garden and the New Orleans Museum of Art, both great family vacation stops. Enjoy seeing fossils, orchids, and a vegetable garden. This is a very educational experience. Even if the kids complain, you must not miss a family vacation visit to the New Orleans Museum of Art, which is one of the most prestigious in the country. Permanent exhibits in the museum include a Faberge egg and Woman in an Armchair, by Picasso, world-famous sights on your family vacation. The botanical gardens might initially appeal more to the family vacationers; local flora like camellias, azaleas and magnolias abound, as well as tropical plants and trees. This is a great way to spend a few hours relaxing on your New Orleans family vacation.

Discover Storyland

Your kids’ favorite fairytale characters are all here! More than 25 large, whimsical sculptures are in this storybook-themed playground. Explore the Dragon Slide, climb aboard Captain Hook’s pirate ship, and into the mouth of a whale with Pinocchio, and more. This is a very cheap way to have hours of fun! For these three attractions, the admission was $4 for person (Kids 36” & under get admission free) $17 unlimited rides or $3 per ride. Paid admission includes entry into the Amusement Park,  Botanical Gardens, and Storyland. Buy at the ticket booth or online.

Historic Sites in New Orleans

Kids resist learning on family vacations—and who can blame them, after being stuck in a classroom all day? Family vacations are a time for fun! The best family vacation destinations offer ways to blend fun with education, and New Orleans has this in spades. Interesting architectural elements and ghostly history make a visit to historic sites in New Orleans acceptable to kids. The Old Ursuline Convent is such a place. Kids will enjoy seeing the nuns old kitchen and laundry areas and roam around the beautiful gardens. The St. Louis Cathedral is another must-stop on your New Orleans family vacation. European style in its grandeur and spiritual importance, the St. Louis Cathedral was the place of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase and also has a Mardi Gras Museum inside. Families with strong constitutions will get a kick out of a visit to the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum on their New Orleans family vacation, which centers around famous Marie Laveau. Some of her possessions are on display here, including altars, amulets, and charms. While you are on the ghostly track on your family vacation, visit St. Louis Cemetery, which contains the grave of Marie Laveau and has plenty of ghost stories attached to it. One thing is for sure—your New Orleans family vacation will surprise and delight you every minute.

Ghost Tour

New Orleans is known for its spooky hauntings and a ghost walking tour is a perfect way to experience the eerie side of New Orleans. There are several to choose from and all combine scary stories with some real facts about New Orleans history and architecture. The tours involve a lot of walking but at a leisurely pace and all of the guides that we have gone with have been really knowledgeable and entertaining. Some of the stories can be gory so make sure that you enquire about the content when booking your walk.

Even More

More family-friendly places abound on a New Orleans family vacation: including Aquarium of the Americas, which focuses on marine life native to the New Orleans area. Hop a ferry to Algiers and Mardi Gras World, and see where many of the Mardi Gras floats are constructed. You can even try on costumes worn by Krewe members during previous Mardi Gras, a surefire way to get great family vacation photos. This a great way to get a taste of Mardi Gras, even if your family vacation does not fall during the traditional Mardi Gras time.

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