15 Fun Things to Do with Kids in New Orleans
We’ll be traveling to New Orleans in a few months as part of our cross-country summer road trip and I can’t be more excited. My brother and his wife moved to New Orleans six months ago and my nephew is due to be born any day now. So, there’s that. Plus, I can’t wait to experience New Orleans outside of Mardi Gras (I went twice in my early-20s).
There’s so much for families and kids to do in New Orleans from carriage rides and plantation tours to delicious praline shops and even an alligator ranch. Take a look at 15 fun and fantastic things to do with kids in New Orleans, many of which we hope to do when we’re in town in June.
1. Take a Kid-Focused Sightseeing Tour. Hook up with French Quartour Kids for a 60- to 90-minute walking tour around the French Quarter. Guides use maps, props and costumes to keep children engaged and entertained. Look for Tiny Tours (ages 4-7) and Creole Kids Tours (ages 7-13).
2. Learn to Cook with Insects. Nowhere else can you watch as chefs work insects into their culinary creations as part of the Bug Appetit program at the Insectarium. Also, take time to learn about bugs that have made New Orleans their own, including pink katydids and love bugs.
3. Take a Ride on a Streetcar. Hop on the St. Charles Streetcar in New Orleans for a look at antebellum mansions, historic monuments, Tulane University and more. As a bonus, it’s just $1.25 per ride. The streetcar also passes dozens of restaurants so plan to stop for a meal as you explore the Crescent City.
4. Explore the History of Mardi Gras. Head to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World for a short film on the history of Mardi Gras, as well as a guided tour to see parade floats up close. You can even check out statues and decorations as they are being made. This is definitely on my list.
5. Cruise Along the Mississippi River. Enjoy a two-hour Harbor Jazz Cruise down the Mississippi River aboard the Steamboat Natchez. Your kids will love hearing a bit of history while listening to Dixieland music. Or, try the Creole Queen, which offers historical river cruises on a paddlewheel boat.
6. Ride in a Mule-Drawn Carriage. See the French Quarter or Garden District from the vantage point of a mule-drawn carriage with Royal Carriages. Learn what makes New Orleans unique, like the courtyards and iron-laced balconies, from your guide on a private or group tour around the city.
7. Indulge in Café au Lait and Beignets. Sure, it’s touristy, but your kids will love eating powdered sugar-covered beignets at Café du Monde. They are completely delicious. For you, pair the beignets with a café au lait. Interestingly, I’m pretty sure they only sell these two items at Café du Monde. Genius.
8. Visit a Working Alligator Farm. Head across Lake Pontchartrain to Covington to get up close and personal with alligators at Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery. Kids can actually pick up and play with baby alligators in the touch pool. Also, take a tour for an inside look at the alligator industry in Louisiana.
9. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Pralines. It’s a must to stop in Aunt Sally’s Pralines for their original creole pralines. There are two locations in New Orleans, and before you go, make a note that it’s “prah-leen,” not “pray-leen.” Good tip from the Aunt Sally’s website (I’ve been saying it wrong for years!).
10. Take a Plantation Tour. Pay a visit to Oak Alley Plantation in nearby Vacherie. Take a walk around the grounds or enjoy a guided tour of the Big House. Kids will love exploring the blacksmith shop and running around 300-year-old oak trees. Get an ice cream at the Plantation Café to end your day.
11. Ride on an Antique Carousel. Head to Carousel Gardens Amusement Park to ride the antique carousel, one of only 100 antique carousels in the country. You’ll also find a Ferris wheel, bumper cars and a miniature train that tours the park. It’s also a must to stop by Storyland next door.
12. Visit with Hundreds of Colorful Parakeets. At the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, it’s a must to visit Parakeet Pointe to see hundreds of yellow, green and blue parakeets. Purchase a seed stick or two and kids can feed the parakeets as they walk around the outdoor exhibit.
13. Explore Works of Art in the Sculpture Garden. At the New Orleans Museum of Art, spend some time in the Sculpture Garden with such works of art as Spider and Tree of Necklaces. Admission to the Sculpture Garden is free and is worth a visit when the kids want to run around and explore.
14. Take a Swamp Tour. Get in a small boat for a guided tour of the Honey Island Cypress Swamp withDr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tours. Keep your eyes peeled for alligators, owls, turtles and herons. You may even see Big Foot (also known as The Thing), so stay alert.
15. Say Hello to the Animals at the Petting Zoo. Visit Watoto Walk at the Audubon Zoo where little ones can interact with goats and sheep. You’ll also want to spend time seeing the elephants, giraffes and rhinoceroses. Look for a splash park and a new lazy river to keep everyone cool in the summer.
Have you been to New Orleans? Let me know some of your favorite things to do.
Photo Credit: Flavio