How to do New Orleans with Kids: Top Things to See and Do

How to do New Orleans with Kids: Top Things to See and Do

New Orleans with Kids

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This article was updated February 2020

When people think of New Orleans, they think of Mardi Gras, Bourbon street, 24/7 bars; basically they think of a town that is one big party. And it is! But there is so much more to the Crescent city than its drinking past time. Think great architecture, fabulous music, world-class museums, good food, and, in general, a culture like nowhere else in the world. It’s a fascinating city to explore, and contrary to popular belief, very family-friendly too. In fact, there is so much to do in New Orleans with kids, that we weren’t able to squeeze everything in on our 5-day trip.

Below is a list of all the family-friendly things you can do with kids in New Orleans. It proved to be one of our most favorite family vacations ever. So, to answer any skepticism, yes, you absolutely CAN do New Orleans with kids!

Top Things to do in New Orleans with Kids

Take a tour of Mardi Gras World

Taking a tour of Mardi Gras World with kids in New Orleans

Mardi Gras World is where all the Mardi Gras floats and props are designed, and the proclaimed favorite activity of the trip by my girls. Begin the tour by trying on costumes, watching a short film on Mardi Gras, and eating a slice of King Cake. Then go behind the scenes and see all the floats and artisans hard at work. It is truly an eye-opener for all ages! To learn more, see my dedicated post on Mardi Gras World with Kids.

Wander around Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral

Jackson Square, located in the French Quarter, is the heart of New Orleans and where all the action goes down. Watch street performers and musicians, eat in nearby restaurants, dip into shops, or simply take in the view from a park bench. My girls really loved seeing all the musicians and characters here. It’s hard not to fall in love with Jackson Square. St. Louis Cathedral looms over the square in all its glory, and it’s a fun diversion to take a look inside (and cool off).

You might also enjoy: Exploring New Orleans: The Draw of the French Quarter

Eat beignets at Café Du Monde

Cafe du Monde is a must do in New Orleans with kids

Nearby Jackson Square is the famous Café Du Monde, an absolute must for any visitor! Open 24 hours a day everyday (except Christmas), it’s the perfect spot to take early bird kids. How many times do they wake up so freakishly early in the morning and you’re looking for an activity? This is it! They will love the beignets, which are essentially a French version of a donut. There is table seating, but if the line is long, there is also a take-out window.

Take a riverboat ride on Steamboat Natchez

Paddlewheel steamship ride along the Mississippi anyone? You can count on the kids wanting to do the Steamboat Natchez. Depending on what time of day you go, you can choose from a lunch or dinner package, or simply just purchase tickets for the ride alone. Either way, there is live jazz music, views of the Mississippi and a big boat to explore, including the giant paddlewheel and engine room down below. And, of course, for the grown-ups, the bar is in full swing! (Note: another popular boat ride is the Creole Queen, which we did not do).

Stroll the French Market

I had no idea my girls would love the French Market as much as they did. We went a few times at their request! The French Market is just down the way from Café Du Monde and is America’s oldest public market. It has arts stalls, flea market finds, food venders, flower shops and all sorts of other goodies. Kids love knick-knack type things, which is my guess as to why they loved it so much. We also came across an amazing artist who made name signs for their bedrooms, which totally drew them in.

You might also enjoy: fifi + hop’s Top Packing Tips and Checklist

Ride the Streetcar

Riding the streetcar with kids in New Orleans.

When in Nola, you have to take a spin on the classic streetcar. The kids will love boarding this old-fashioned “trolley” and going for a ride. It’s also a great way to see the city. I recommend taking the St. Charles line and going into the Garden District where you can see Magazine Street and all the beautiful, antebellum estates. To learn more, see my dedicated post on transportation in New Orleans.

Visit the World War II Museum

A visit to the World War 2 Museum in New Orleans with kids.

The World War II Museum is the official WWII museum of the United States and TripAdvisor’s #4 museum in the country. An amazing display of interactive exhibits, artifacts and oral histories, learn about the history of World War II and how it forever changed the world. The museum has done an incredible job with the design of the galleries, and giving its visitors the experience of practically feeling like you’re there.

Learn all about New Orleans with French Quartour Kids

Learning about the history of New Orleans on the French Quartour Kids tour.

For a tour of New Orleans geared toward kids, French Quartour Kids offers a few fun options: Creole Kids Tour, Spooky Tour, and Teens Tour. We did the Creole Kids Tour, which takes kids back to the “Golden Era” of New Orleans and where they can learn about how people lived like back then. An educational, yet fun experience (our guide was terrific), we started down by the river and ended up in the park in Jackson Square.

You might also enjoy: Planning Family Travel with a Full-Time Job and School-Aged Children

Visit the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

The Insectarium in New Orleans

Photo credit: Audubon Nature Institute

I am so bummed we did not get to go here as it comes highly recommended by all accounts. It was on our list, but the day we were supposed to go my girls got sick! In any case, the Insectarium is the largest museum in the U.S. dedicated to insects. Learn and experience all things related to bugs – you can even eat bugs! Apparently that is the most popular thing to do, go figure.

Take a trip to the Audubon Zoo

The zoo in New Orleans is one of the best zoos in the country.

Photo credit: Audubon Nature Institute

I always think a visit to a city’s local zoo is a great way to get kids excited about a place, and the New Orleans one is supposed to be awesome. The Audubon Zoo is known for its exhibits the Louisiana Swamp and Jaguar Jungle, and there are daily animal presentations and feedings. We did not make it there, but next time it is on our list!

And those are our top picks. New Orleans is such a vibrant city with so much to do, don’t ever think you can’t take the kids there. The people there welcome them with arms wide open.

Want to read more about New Orleans? Check out these books!

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How to do New Orleans with Kids




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  1. June 8, 2017 / 6:56 am

    New Orleans is high on my bucket list. It’s such a fascinating city with so much culture and history. #FarawayFiles

  2. June 8, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    You’ve done it Corey. This post covers all the fun stuff you can do without getting drunk in New Orleans! We did most of these when we spent 9 days here (for Mardi Gras) in 2003, and I can totally agree that all of them a very kid-friendly. It’s such an interesting city! I had no idea about the insectarium – that seems pretty interesting. And next time I go back, I will definitely check out the Mardi Gras Museum. #FarawayFiles

    • June 13, 2017 / 6:15 am

      9 days in Nola sounds awesome, lucky you!

  3. Ruth
    June 8, 2017 / 8:01 pm

    Certain cities have a reputation and I understand why people say some places are not for kids but, come on, kids live everywhere. Therefore, cities got to cater to families. Like that you found so many things to do with your kids. They look so happy in the pictures. The French Quarter Kids Tour is genius! #FarawayFiles

    • June 13, 2017 / 6:16 am

      It’s so true- kids live everywhere! Good point.

  4. June 8, 2017 / 9:38 pm

    Lovely post with great photos, and I can attest to the fact that all of these are fun since I’ve done almost everything on your list with my kids!! #farawayfiles

    • June 13, 2017 / 6:16 am

      Yes, you’ve done them all, and more!

  5. June 9, 2017 / 9:46 am

    I think about James Bond! Didn’t necessarily expect a WW2 museum here, really interesting.

    • June 13, 2017 / 6:17 am

      The person who designed the boats for WW II is from New Orleans and that’s why the museum is here..I didn’t know that either prior to my visit.

  6. June 9, 2017 / 12:44 pm

    Love the sound of the Mardi Gras museum – what a fun day that would be.

    • June 13, 2017 / 6:18 am

      It was surprisingly so much fun. I didn’t want to do it at first but glad everyone convinced me!

  7. June 11, 2017 / 10:07 am

    Love all these different options to explore NOLA as a family. I think my kids would love the French Market and the paddle steamer too. I hadnt really considered it to be a city to explore with kids until now! #FarawayFiles

    • June 13, 2017 / 6:19 am

      The French Market’s awesome, one of my faves!

  8. pigeonpairandme
    June 12, 2017 / 7:48 am

    I bet my two London-dwellers would love the buzz of New Orleans! Some great suggestions here – my favourite’s the Mardi Gras museum. #FarawayFiles

    • June 13, 2017 / 6:19 am

      They would love the Mardi Gras museum!

  9. June 13, 2017 / 6:37 am

    I’d really love to visit New Orleans one day, and am definitely making a note of the kids tours – the steamboat and beignets (among others) would definitely be on my list, but this is such a great idea to see and learn a bit more of the city. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • June 14, 2017 / 2:31 pm

      There is just so much to do with kids, which most people don’t realize about a place like nola. We are def going back!

  10. June 13, 2017 / 11:28 am

    A steamboat ride! I’m totally in for that and also maybe people watching from a restaurant or hotel balcony – maybe not the most child-friendly activity, but there has to be some characters out there in New Orleans! #citytripping

    • June 14, 2017 / 2:31 pm

      Oh, the people-watching is one of the bets things about nola!!

  11. June 15, 2017 / 2:24 am

    Fab list Corey! I know my kids would love the vibe and color and the BEIGNETS! Ummmm… Café du Monde! I think my favorite is Mardi Gras world though. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

  12. August 1, 2017 / 2:55 pm

    mardi Gras world looks fantastic

    I have loved you no series #fearelssfamtrav

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