Things To Do With Kids: Southern Louisiana
Southern Louisiana is the perfect spot for families to “pass a good time.” Here are a few of our top kid-friendly picks in the area.
The exiled Acadians settled the swamps and backwoods of south-central and southwest Louisiana and, in doing so, created a cultural mecca unique to the world. Immerse yourself in the towns and customs of Lafayette, Lake Charles and the surrounding towns, and you’ll discover intriguing people, swamplands and cities known for authentic Cajun music and food. In Southeast Louisiana, New Orleans, the capital city of Baton Rouge and the Louisiana Northshore, St. Tammany Parish, offer an abundance of family-friendly fun.
Kid-Friendly Wildlife Attractions
Zoosiana Zoo of Acadiana: Visit this 45-acre gem in Broussard to see more than 750 animals from 130 species, including black bears, giraffes, cougars and zebras. While there, be sure to hop on the Safari Express train ride through animal habitats and check out the Jungle Lodge Playground, one of the largest playgrounds in Louisiana.
Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point: Start your journey on the Creole Nature Trail – an All-American Road linking Lake Charles with the state’s rugged, southwest coastline – at the Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point, a free fun attraction that immerses you in nature. The kids can check out the imaginative, hands-on displays that will show them the best places to spot alligators and migrating songbirds, plus give them a peek at wildlife found in bayous and marshes. They’ll walk away with a better understanding of Louisiana’s diverse wildlife and landscape.
Audubon Zoo & Audubon Aquarium of the Americas: Located in historic uptown New Orleans, this award-winning zoo will captivate kids of all ages with everything from towering elephants and white alligators to reptiles and other exotic creatures. Rediscover your fascination with dinosaurs at Dinosaur Adventure or beat the summer heat in the Cool Zoo. At the Aquarium, stroll 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, 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.
Global Wildlife Center: Located just an hour away from downtown New Orleans, a drive to Folsom will enchant 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.
Baton Rouge Zoo: Travel through themed exhibits to visit animals from Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas and, of course, Louisiana! And no visit here is complete without a ride on the scenic Cypress Bayou Railroad through beautiful wetlands surrounding the zoo – running daily every half hour, weather permitting.
Outdoor Activities for Kids
Grand Isle State Park: Venture off the coast of Louisiana to be rewarded with expansive Gulf views – and a launching point for excellent deep-sea saltwater fishing. Play in the sand, splash in the surf, camp on the beach or take a nature hike to spy numerous species of birds and other wildlife.
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.
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. 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.
Blue Bayou Waterpark & Dixie Landin’: Bring your bathing suit to Baton Rouge and experience more than a dozen water attractions, including some of the tallest, fastest and largest in the region. Next door, Dixie Landin’ Amusement Park offers wild to mild rides, from a giant looping rollercoaster called the Ragin’ Cajun to a host of kid-friendly rides for younger ones.
Bogue Chitto State Park: At this state park in Franklinton, visitors will experience a variety of natural habitats along the scenic Bogue Chitto River. The 1,786-acre site includes small streams, cypress-tupelo swamps, a forests and a rolling landscape. Rent a horse and ride along the seven or 14-mile equestrian trails through the park.
Family-Friendly Things to Do
Avery Island: Take a spicy trip to the ultimate Louisiana flavors found on Avery Island, home of McIlhenny TABASCO® for a “seed to sauce” factory tour showing how a tiny red pepper creates the world-famous TABASCO® sauce made on this salt-dome island. Afterwards, visit the country store for souvenirs, enjoy Cajun and Southern food at the on-site Restaurant 1868, then drive through Jungle Gardens to see the flora and fauna that abound in the bayou.
Children’s Museum of Acadiana: This museum in Lafayette is packed with activities for the kids, and the warning “don’t touch” doesn’t apply here. Hands-on exhibits help children explore a mock bank, grocery store, dentist office, veterinary hospital and more. A Wee Acres Farm, Architecture Alley, Sensory Sea and Bubble Factory add to the fun.
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: This re-imagined museum, opened in New Orleans City Park in 2019, 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!
Longue Vue House & Gardens: Hidden away inside this eight-acre jewel in New Orleans 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 history to life.
Knock Knock Children’s Museum: This award-winning 26,000-square-foot facility atop a hill overlooking City-Brooks Community Park in Baton Rouge is filled with fun hands-on “Learning Zones” designed to create teachable moments that will connect with children’s every day experiences. Special emphasis is placed on STEAM learning through exhibits touching on science, technology, engineering, art and math.
Louisiana Art & Science Museum: Marvel at fine art, immerse yourself in interactive art and science exhibits, stroll through an Egyptian gallery and visit the planetarium for exciting sky shows and large-format films – all inside a historic railroad depot overlooking the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge.