Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street might be the some of the most famous New Orleans attractions but they’re not typically ones you think of as being kid-friendly. Luckily they’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding things to do in NOLA with kids. During our recent family vacation to New Orleans we discovered that the Crescent City is full of fantastic attractions for kids.
If you’re wondering what to do with kids in New Orleans, look no further! This list of New Orleans attractions for kids will make sure your whole trip is a huge success and 100% family-friendly.
New Orleans Attractions for Kids
There are tons of things to do in New Orleans with kids and we certainly didn’t have time to get to everything on our list. Make sure you check out Visit New Orleans for even more ideas.
Special thanks to Visit New Orleans for providing passes to some attractions. As always, this post contains my honest reviews and all opinions are my own. For more information, see my full disclosure policy.
Explore the French Quarter
We loved this historic and iconic area of New Orleans and no visit to the city is complete without spending time here. But there are some tips and tricks to touring this area (home to the infamous Bourbon Street) with kids. I wrote a whole post about Visiting the French Quarter with Kids that’s full of suggestions on what to see and how to avoid the parts that aren’t quite so family-friendly.
Louisiana Children’s Museum
The Louisiana Children’s Museum is the perfect place to play and blow off some steam, especially if the weather is bad. It’s set in an old warehouse not far from the French Quarter. You can easily take the streetcar and avoid having to find parking. My boys loved the upstairs grocery store experience and Mississippi River boat exhibit.
I would say kids ages 3-10 are probably best suited for the exhibits. The museum is eventually moving to City Park so depending on when you visit, it’s worth checking their websites for updates. The best news is that they offer FREE reciprocal admission to ASTC Passport participants.
Located several miles from downtown, you can easily get Audubon Park on the St. Charles streetcar line. The streetcar will drop you off on the north side of this huge city park (listen for the Tulane stop) and the zoo is on the south side of the park. It’s over half a mile to walk through a park, which is perfectly lovely when the weather is pleasant but you might want to grab the free shuttle (look for the small sign near the streetcar stop) or drive yourself to the zoo when it’s hot.
The park has beautiful trees and a great playground for kids. There’s a paved walking path around the lake and lots of shade to protect you from the sun.
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The Audubon Zoo is a walkable zoo that’s well laid out and is beautifully landscaped with lots of huge trees and shade. My favorite area was the Louisiana Bayou habitat which showcases some of the local wildlife including a rare white alligator. The restaurant in this area offers some unique New Orleans cuisine that’s better than your typical theme park food.
During the warmer months, there’s a huge water park area (extra admission) and my kids were disappointed it wasn’t open for the season yet. You can’t miss stopping by the Roman Candy cart for some old-fashioned taffy sticks.
A word of caution – we arrived right as the zoo opened to try and beat the crowds, but found bus after bus of school groups unloading. It made our first hour or so of touring very difficult since many of the groups were not well-supervised, but the crowds thinned out as the day went on so I would suggest waiting a few hours and visiting in the afternoon if you’re coming during the school year.
Streetcars are the quintessential New Orleans mode of transportation and can be an attraction all by itself. Plus, for $1.25 per ride or $3 for unlimited daily rides, it’s a pretty affordable activity. My boys were very happy to explore on the streetcars, especially in the morning when they were less crowded. They got really full during later afternoon and rush hour, so if you’re flexible, I’d try for morning rides.
The St. Charles line and Riverfront line offer access to most of the major attractions and we found the drivers as and fellow passengers helpful when we had questions. Make sure you have exact change or you buy your tickets on the NORTA GoMobile app.
This was probably my favorite place in New Orleans so I highly recommend a trip to City Park. It’s twice the size of New York’s Central Park and is so enormous that you couldn’t see it all in a day, but my favorite stops are all on the south side of the park and walkable from one parking spot near the visitor’s center.
For little ones, check out Storyland, a beautiful shady area which brings to life fun scenes from various fairy tales with fun playground equipment. There is a small admission fee that you pay at the visitor’s center but my kids loved this area and your ticket includes access to very clean restrooms.
Across the parking lot you can tour the New Orleans Museum of Art’s sculpture garden, free of charge. This was another surprise hit with my boys who enjoyed looking at all the art and wandering the pathways of the garden.
And finally, you have to schedule a stop at Morning Call, a beignet stand inside City Park that offers fantastic views and another chance to try this New Orleans classic. Unlike Cafe Du Monde, you put the powdered sugar on your beignets and they have a more extensive menu. We sampled several things and it was fun to split some dishes while letting the kids play in the grass.
If you have time, you can visit the Botanical Gardens, New Orleans Museum of Art, or play mini golf. There’s also a small children’s amusement park which is open only on the weekends during cooler weather so we didn’t get a chance to experience it but it looks like an adorable place to play.
Related Post: New Orleans: Visiting the French Quarter with Kids
There are two national parks offices in New Orleans and both are free to visit. The offer performances and ranger talks and also have information about the city and its historical connection to our country. Kids can earn junior ranger badges at both and they are fun and free places to pop into as you learn more about the city.
The Jean LaFitte National Park offers history about New Orleans and the people that have inhabited this city for over 300 years. The New Orleans Jazz Historical Park honors the rich musical heritage of the city. They offer lots of free all-ages concerts so make sure to check out their calendar.
Wednesdays at the Square
During the spring, catch FREE concerts in Lafayette Park during Wednesdays at the Square. Spread out with a blanket on the grass or bring lawn chairs and let your kids play a few lawn games while you grab tickets for the huge variety of local food and beer vendors.
Each person can pick their own eats and then camp out for a picnic while listening to the music. The crowds are thinner towards the back which gives kids more room to play. Highly recommended for families if you’re in New Orleans during the spring.
With too animal/nature lovers in our family, we splurged for a swamp tour on our last day. We chose Pearl River Eco Tours since they tend to be a little less kitchy than some of the other companies and I appreciated their environmental focus. I also appreciated that they let you make reservations but didn’t charge you until you check in, giving you some flexibility with weather.
Almost all the tour companies operate out of the same area about 45 minutes outside of the city. You can drive yourself or arrange transportation from you hotel (extra cost). Our boat captain was a retired DNR officer with tons of info about this unique habitat, and even though we visited in the early spring we were rewarded with lots of animal encounters and my kids really enjoyed it.
The tour is almost 2 hours long and can be a little slow in places so I’d suggest it for kids 5 and up.
Cheap Eats For Kids In New Orleans
To stretch our travel budget we didn’t spend a ton on food this trip. Obviously in a city like New Orleans, you could go crazy and prices are higher for food because it’s such a popular area. But we found lots of ways to sample the local cuisine without busting the budget.
By far our biggest money saver was staying at The Drury Inn – New Orleans. They offer free breakfast and an evening reception with plenty of food to make a meal (plus free drinks for the adults). We didn’t utilize it every night but it was a huge help saving on some meals.
Here’s a few of our favorite cheap eats for kids in New Orleans
- Beignets at Cafe Du Monde and Morning Call – A cheap treat that can be split easily. Morning Call has more food options too.
- Po-boys at Johnny’s Po-Boys – Split a sandwich between 2 adults, they’re huge. Cash only.
- Snowballs – A refreshing shaved ice treat. Easy to find stands for these throughout the city. We grabbed some in the French Market.
- Company Burger – Delicious local burger place that’s quick-serve so you don’t wait a long time.
- Central Grocery – Home of the famous muffuletta sandwich. Get a quarter sandwich per person.
- Roman Candy Company – Inside the Audubon Zoo. Nostalgic taffy sticks from an old wooden cart for only $1.
Have you visited New Orleans with kids? What are your favorite New Orleans attractions for kids? Do you have a favorite restaurant? We’re anxious to get back for another visit so leave me your best tips here!