By Kristy Christiansen
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Audubon Zoo riding the carousel in new orleans
Kids riding the carousel at the Audubon Zoo.

New Orleans is wild, funky and free-spirited. It’s known for phenomenal music, some of the best food in the world and more historic districts than any other city in the country. But did you know that it’s also a great place to bring kids? That’s right, trade in your Bourbon Street all-nighter for a whole lot of family fun.

Meet the Wildlife

Audubon Zoo: From playful sea lions to talented elephants, this top-five zoo will captivate kids of all ages. Check out the white alligators in the Louisiana Swamp exhibit and the Komodo dragon and two-headed snake in the reptile exhibit. Rediscover your fascination with dinosaurs at Dinosaur Adventure or beat the summer heat in the Cool Zoo.  

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas: The adventure begins under a tunnel of water, where colorful fish gaze down at you from above. This is the place to see sea otters and penguins, marvel at sea horses and jellyfish and pet a stingray. Don’t miss the sharks and sea turtles in the underwater oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit or the IMAX Theatre next door.

Audubon Insectarium: Have a budding entomologist on your hands? Come meet the creepy crawlies living in this French Quarter building, where multitudes of bugs are even available for touching and eating!  

Global Wildlife Center: Climb aboard a safari wagon to feed, touch and tour the wild animals at this 900-acre park. Your tour includes zebra, giraffes, camels, kudus, bison, kangaroos and more.  

Play Outdoors

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve: The boardwalks of the Barataria Preserve lead deep within Louisiana’s wetlands, past palmettos and bald cypress trees and bayous filled with alligators. At the Visitor’s Center, kids can earn their Junior Ranger badge and view the animals living in Louisiana’s wetlands.

Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and Southeast Louisiana Refuges Headquarters: Hike the Boy Scout Road boardwalk and trail to get a taste of Louisiana’s various habitats, from marshes to pine forests. Then stop by the Visitor’s Center for Southeast Louisiana’s eight National Wildlife Refuges and walk the garden trails of a former seminary and play in the interactive welcome center.

Tammany Trace: Bike, walk, run or ride a horse along this 28-mile railroad turned trail that travels through five historic communities in St. Tammany Parish. Kids will particularly enjoy the Kids Konnection Playground at the Headquarters in Mandeville; the beach, nature trail and water playground at Fontainebleau State Park; and the scenic Camp Salmen Nature Park.

Make New Discoveries

French Quarter: Rediscover the French Quarter from a child’s perspective. Eat some beignets at Café Du Monde, wander the historic streets listening to musicians and take a riverboat ride or horse and carriage tour. Be sure to catch a kid’s concert (or let your child take part in one) at the Jazz National Historic Park and walk the paths at Armstrong Park.

Louisiana Children’s Museum: Explore two floors of hands-on exhibits designed to teach kids about math, science, reading and life. Grab a shopping cart and navigate a child-sized grocery store. Discover a little Port of New Orleans, take a stroll through Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood or learn how the parts of the body work.

New Orleans City Park: This 1,300-acre park in the heart of the city is a family’s dream. See storybook pages come to life in Storyland, ride the antique carousel at the Amusement Park or be marveled by the Train Garden in the Botanical Gardens. Ride a train tour or paddle your way through the many lagoons. Afterwards, take a hike through the Couturie Forest or stroll the tranquil paths of the Sculpture Garden.

Longue Vue House & Gardens: Hidden away inside this jewel of an attraction is the children’s Discovery Garden. Kids can dig for worms, plant seeds, cart around pint-sized wheelbarrows and watering cans, maneuver an herb maze and learn about the wonders of gardening.

More family-friendly adventures:

Find family fun in north Louisiana.

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Find family fun in the Baton Rouge area.