New Orleans is wild, funky and free-spirited. It’s known for phenomenal music, some of the best food in the world and is believed to have more historic districts than any other city in the country. But did you know that it’s also a great place to bring children? That’s right, you can trade in your Bourbon Street all-nighter for a whole lot of family fun.
Things to Do with Kids in New Orleans
Audubon Zoo: Located in historic uptown New Orleans, this award-winning zoo will captivate kids of all ages with everything from playful sea lions and talented elephants to other exotic creates in natural habitats. Check out 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. Built right on the Mississippi River next to the city’s famed French Quarter, this is the place to see sea otters and penguins, marvel at sea horses and jellyfish, even 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 Butterfly Garden and Insectarium: Have a budding entomologist on your hands? Come meet the creepy-crawlies living in this French Quarter building – the largest museum in North America devoted to insects – where multitudes of bugs are even available for touching and (gulp) eating! You can “shrink” down to bug size, wander through a swamp-like setting and gaze at thousands of butterflies in an Asian garden.
Global Wildlife Center: Located just an hour away from downtown New Orleans, a drive to Folsom, LA will enhant the kiddos with a chance to see safari wildlife up close! Climb aboard a safari wagon to feed, touch and travel through areas of wild animals at this 900-acre park, one of the largest free-roaming wildlife preserves of its kind in the country. This popular spot in Folsom is home to more than 1,000 exotic and endangered animals from all over the world, including zebra, giraffes, camels, kudus, bison, kangaroos and more.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve: Stroll the boardwalks of the Barataria Preserve deep within Louisiana’s wetlands, past palmettos, bald cypress trees and bayous filled with alligators. At the visitor center, kids can earn their Junior Ranger badge and view the animals living in Louisiana’s wetlands. Chalmette Battlefield and cultural exhibits highlighting Cajun culture are also located here.
Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex: Hike the boardwalk and trails to get a taste of Louisiana’s various habitats, from marshes to pine forests, spread throughout this 18,000-acre refuge. Then stop by the onsite headquarters for Southeast Louisiana’s eight National Wildlife Refuges to 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 Louisiana’s top-rated rail-trail, an approximately 30-mile route that travels from downtown Covington through the historic communities of Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe and Slidell in the Northshore area of St. Tammany Parish. Kids will particularly enjoy the inclusive Kids Konnection Playground in Mandeville; the beach and nature trail at Fontainebleau State Park; and scenic Camp Salmen Nature Park in Slidell.
Kayak-iti-yat: Explore New Orleans waterways to see the city from a whole new perspective. You’ll not only paddle through beautiful bayous and historic waters, but also feel the hum of the city around you. It's a fun, active way to spend the day – and tours range from the nice-and-easy Big Easy Bayou Tour to the ramped-up four-hour Pontchartrain Paddle Tour.
Immersive Family-Fun Activities
New Orleans City Park: This 1,300-acre park in the heart of the city is one of the country’s oldest urban parks – and a family’s dream come true. See storybook pages come to life in Storyland, ride an antique carousel at the amusement park or explore lush botanical gardens. Ride a train or paddle your way through the many lagoons, then take a hike through Couturie Forest or stroll the tranquil paths of the Sculpture Garden. You can spend the entire day here and not see it all. Better plan another one!
Louisiana Children’s Museum: Celebrating its grand opening in August 2019 at a new location in New Orleans City Park, this re-imagined museum offers 56,000 square feet of new interactive exhibits and old favorites indoors – plus 8.5 acres of outdoor adventures in the garden or on the water. Separate galleries are devoted to food, art, nature and more, while nooks throughout offer great places for storytelling, puppetry, poetry – and play!
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 carriage tour. Stroll the paths at Armstrong Park and be sure to catch a kid’s concert (or let your child take part in one) at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.
Longue Vue House & Gardens: Hidden away inside this 8-acre jewel is the children’s Discovery Garden, where kids can dig for worms, plant seeds, cart around pint-sized wheelbarrows, maneuver an herb maze and learn about the wonders of gardening. Garden tours are self-guided, but a docent-led tour of the house brings the area’s plantation history to life.
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