The Big Easy is full of museums, restaurants, and outdoor spaces for families to enjoy
Known around the world for its Mardi Gras celebrations, New Orleans has a lesser-known reputation for its family-friendly museums, attractions, carousels, streetcars, and other things to do with kids that go way beyond the typical tourist destinations (we’re looking at you, Bourbon Street). Here are our picks for a PG-rated, hangover-free visit to the Big Easy.
Ghost Tours with ToursByLocals
One of our favorite ways to get to know a city is through a walking tour. We recommend taking your tour at the beginning of your vacation because the tour guide is likely to give you lots of insider tips for under-the-radar spots to visit. A trip to New Orleans is incomplete without a ghost tour and you’ll love the Voodoo, Zombies, and Vampire Legends tour from ToursByLocals. You’ll get to visit the most haunted sites in the French Quarter and learn about the origins of voodoo. Best of all, your tour can be modified based on the ages and interests of the kids in your group.
photo: Oliver_Wiedmann via pixabay
Garden District via New Orleans Streetcar
New Orleans is home to the oldest continually-operating street car in the United States. Operating since 1835, the street car has several routes through the city. We recommend taking a ride to the Garden District. Once there, you can visit Ann Rice’s favorite book store, Garden District Book Shop, and Lafayette Cemetery Number 1, the setting for that thrilling scene from the Ashley Judd film Double Jeopardy.
Louisiana Children’s Museum / Arts District
An interactive museum with over 30,000 square feet of art, music, science, math, health, and role-playing environments, the Louisiana Children’s Museum is a local favorite. Activities include the “Little Port of New Orleans,” where kids can pilot a towboat down the Mississippi River or serve a make-believe meal in the cruise ship galley. The museum is located in the Arts District (Warehouse District), a historic neighborhood with cool art galleries and restaurants (including the Original Emeril’s). The whole family will love exploring the “Soho of the South.”
photo: Fat Tire Tours
Fat Tire Tours
Fat Tire Tours is one of the most highly rated outdoor experiences in New Orleans and offers a variety of year-round bike and Segway tours that are led by expert, local guides. One of the most popular New Orleans options is the French Quarter & Garden District Bike Tour which features fascinating stories and anecdotes about the history of the city, covering popular highlights in “the Quarter” including St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square along with some lesser-known gems, all while telling you fascinating stories about your surroundings. Kids of all ages and with any level of biking experience are welcome on the tours. Parents can choose from a variety of kid-friendly bikes and bike modifications, including baby seats, tandem bikes, and toddler trailers for kiddos who are still learning to ride, as well as smaller city bikes designed for kids ages 6-11.
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Located on the Mississippi River adjacent to the French Quarter, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is a favorite destination for families. The 400,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico Exhibit includes a walk-through tunnel featuring gigantic sharks, tarpon, and rays. Other highlights include live penguins, a sea otter and parakeet feeding opportunity. The aquarium is closed for renovations until summer 2023.
Spread out over 1,300 acres in the heart of the city, City Park is bustling with family-friendly fun, including the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, Storyland—a theme playground filled with 20 larger-than-life storybook sculptures featuring classic fairytale characters, The Historic New Orleans Train Garden snuggled inside the Botanical Garden, and CityPutt, a 100% ADA accessible mini golf complex showcasing streets and iconic themes from around the city.
photo: skeeze via pixabay
Mardi Gras World
Imagine the costumes, floats, and décor of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras parade without the crowds of drunk revelers. This tour is an excellent option if you are in New Orleans outside of Mardi Gras season. To be clear, this isn’t a museum, but rather a warehouse filled with memorabilia. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of Instagram-worthy photo ops with all of the props and costumes. Each tour ends with a slice of King Cake (which is hard to find out of season). A complimentary shuttle is available for people taking the tour.
Steamboat Natchez Tour
Many locals believe the best way to see New Orleans is from the water. As the only steamboat in New Orleans, Steamboat Natchez takes visitors on an old-timey tour of the Mississippi River, as the captain shouts through a hand-held megaphone and a band plays vintage jazz music. You can have lunch aboard the ship or buy ice cream from the gift shop, as the tour guide points out an area of historical significance and industrial points of interest like a sugar factory. Kids love the walk-through of the engine room.
National World War II Museum
Kids love the spacious layout of this museum that sprawls out over a large campus where they have the opportunity to climb aboard a Sherman tank as well as ride on the world’s only fully-restored combat-veteran PT boat in operation today.
French QuarTour Kids Tour
The only tour company focused exclusively on kids, this tour is a great way to navigate the French Quarter in New Orleans with kids. Led by two former teachers, the tours include following a treasure map, life as a Creole kid, or a not-too-spooky ghost hunt. Stops on the tour included the Mississippi Riverfront, Jackson Square, and the Old Slave Auction House.