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New Orleans With Kids: Plan Your Best NOLA Family Vacation

The Crescent City has a reputation for nightlife and adult fun, but there’s plenty of things to do in New Orleans with kids. If you dig a little deeper than city’s facade, and peel away the attractions geared towards adults, you’ll find some fascinating attractions that your kids will love. They’re not obvious, less advertised and your itinerary will take you beyond French Quarter, but I promise you there are fabulous ways for families to enjoy New Orleans.

Travel tips for visiting New Orleans with kids.
New Orleans is a city known for adult fun, but there’s plenty to do as a family!

It’s a city that’s famous for its history, music and food. Don’t miss out on those highlights just because you’re traveling with kids to New Orleans. I’d rather visit NOLA with kids and have the opportunity to experience the city than miss out on it all together.

When you’re planning to visit New Orleans with kids, use this guide to create your vacation itinerary. From where to stay, eat and play, you’ll be able to experience the family-friendly side of New Orleans.

Best New Orleans Hotels For Families

New Orleans is such a walkable city. Stay in a hotel that’s centrally located to the French Quarter without being directly inside of it. Staying just a few blocks away is perfect. This will allow you to catch a ride share quickly or walk to the French Quarter attractions.

  • Sheraton New Orleans: The Sheraton New Orleans rooms have floor-to-ceiling sweeping views of the Mississippi River, a rooftop pool area, fitness center and two restaurants with amazing chef created menus. I highly recommend grabbing a hurricane from The Pelican Bar in the lobby after a day of exploring. The property sits on Canal Street, which is conveniently located just 13 miles from the airport and a few blocks from The French Quarter.
Image Credit: Sheraton New Orleans
  • New Orleans Marriott: The New Orleans Marriott is also located on Canal Street. I love that it’s close to the action, but still allows for a restful night sleep. The New Orleans Marriott has a fantastic pool area that’s perfect for families, with a kiddie pool area. Rooms are family-friendly with plenty of space and the on-site dining options are casual enough for kids. Grab a burger from the Burger Bar on way to the room, or quick-service meals from their pantry.
Image Credit: New Orleans Marriott

The Canal Street location is perfect for families, because it’s on the New Orleans street car line. The street cars cost $1.25 per ride for adults and children aged five to 12th grade are $0.50. The red Canal Streetcar Line takes tourists on a 5.5-mile route that ends at City Park Avenue.

10 Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids

1. Mardi Gras World

Go behind the scenes and be amazed by the artistry that goes into each Mardi Gras float. At Mardi Gras World, visitors can tour the production areas to see how float pieces are designed and made. From a sheet of styrofoam to larger-than-life float pieces, each step takes specific execution. Mardi Gras World also offers special events, like mask making classes or miniature float creation classes. It’s a great way for kids to explore their creative side.

Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras World is so fascinating and, at the end of your tour, you can sample King Cake.

2. Vue Orleans Observatory

Get a 360º view of New Orleans when you visit Vue Orleans Observatory. It’s the only observation deck in the city that offers views from 34 stories high. Before you ascend to the observation deck, visitors walk through an interactive museum that highlights the city’s culture, history, music and food. The combination of interactive educational exhibits and photographic scenery make this a perfect venue for families to enjoy.

Vue Orleans Observatory
Vue Orleans is one of the newer New Orleans attractions. Photo Credit: Vue Orleans

3. New Orleans Botanical Garden 

It’s hard to imagine when you’re walking the streets of French Quarter, but there’s a quiet and serene side to New Orleans. Head to the New Orleans Botanical Garden at City Park to escape urban life. It’s home to the nation’s largest collection of mature live oaks. Walk through themed gardens and see over 2,000 varieties of plants. The Living Fossil exhibit is most exciting for kids as they duck under low hanging ferns to find hidden treasures, like dinosaur eggs.

New Orleans Botanical Garden
There’s beautiful blooms to enjoy at the New Orleans Botanical Garden. Photo Credit: City Park Conservancy

4. New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

Where the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum lacks in size, it certainly makes up for with fascinating exhibits. The building that the museum occupies is a historic landmark. It’s a classic creole townhouse, in the French Quarter (constructed in 1822-1823), that served as the apothecary and residence of Louis J. Dulfilho, Jr., the first licensed pharmacist in the United States.

He created bitters, which were first used as a digestive aid in the Sazerac cocktail. Guests can walk through two stories of eye-opening exhibits that showcase the history of medicine. Pro Tip: the museum might be too much for younger kids, but there’s a beautiful courtyard in the back where families can take photos around a fountain.

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
The history of medicine gives you a new perspective when visiting the Pharmacy Museum.

5. Carousel Gardens Amusement Park & Storyland

Ride some of the oldest carousels in the U.S., aptly nicknamed the “Flying Horses”, and let the kids be kids when you visit Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. There’s also a lady bug roller coaster and train ride. Some of the rides have a 36″ height requirement. Nearby the amusement park is a children’s book themed playground area, known as Storyland. The playground sits under the giant oak trees, and offers 18 larger-than-life storybook sculptures that kids can climb and play on. It’s easy to visit both attractions since they’re both in the City Park area.

Storyland New Orleans With Kids
Storyland characters come to life at City Park. Photo Credit: City Park Conservancy

6. New Orleans Museum of Art

What makes the New Orleans Museum of Art truly unique is how they utilize indoor and outdoor spaces so its art meets garden. The majority of the exhibitions are housed inside of the NOMA building, with over six collections to view, but there’s also a sculpture garden that’s home to 90 outdoor works of art. The museum offers Family Days and monthly youth workshops where kids can find their own inner artist. Check the NOMA event calendar for more details.

New Orleans Museum of Art Sculpture Garden
The sculpture garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art feels miles away from French Quarter. Photo Credit: NOMA

7. The National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum aims to honor the American experience in the war as well as the contributions of ally nations. It’s one of the most prominent museums dedicated to World War II in our country. The museum boasts an extensive collection of artifacts, documents and photographs. Kids can use the interactive displays to understand the exhibits and connect on a deeper level. It can be a heavier, more emotional museum, for young kids but it’s a huge piece of history that found it’s permanent home in New Orleans.

The Road To Tokyo is one of the immersive exhibits at The National WWII Museum. Photo Credit: National WWII Museum

8. Audobon Zoo

When you’re in New Orleans with kids, you’ve got to let them go wild at the Audubon Zoo. It features exotic and endangered animals from around the globe. The shaded park includes natural animal habitats, intimate animal encounters and a kids play area. Watch orangutans swing through treetops, walk through the bird aviary or splash around at the Cool Zoo. Purchase Cool Zoo tickets and your Audubon Zoo ticket is included! It’s their waterpark area that includes a lazy river, sand beaches and a splash pad for little ones.

Petunia the porcupine celebrates Mardi Gras with a King Cake. Photo Credit: Audubon Zoo

9. Audubon Aquarium

After renovation and reimagining, the Audubon Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the country. From alligators in the bayou exhibit to seeing the vibrant ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit, kid will adore the aquarium. If you want to feel even closer to the marine life, try one of their virtual reality experiences where you’ll feel like you’re swimming with humpback whales or diving with sharks. The aquarium is a great rainy day attraction for families.

Every kid loves a trip to the aquarium! Photo Credit: Digital Roux Photography

10. Louisiana State Museums: The Cabildo

The Cabildo is a historic Spanish colonial building located in Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In 1803, the building was the site where the transfer of the Louisiana Territory from France to the United States was formalized. Today, it’s part of the Louisiana State Museum system. It’s home to various exhibits that showcase the history and culture of Louisiana. It’s a great way to see how French, African American and Spanish cultures collided to make New Orleans the city it is today.

The Cabildo is one of the most photographic buildings in Jackson Square. Photo Credit: Louisiana State Museums

Family-Friendly New Orleans Festivals

  • Mardi Gras Parades: While Mardi Gras has a reputation for an adult side, many parades throughout the Mardi Gras season are family-friendly. Look for parades from the Krewe of Bacchus, Krewe of Orpheus, or Krewe of Endymion, which often have family-oriented floats. They’re known to throw plenty of beads and toys.
  • French Quarter Festival: Held in April, this festival celebrates the rich cultural heritage of New Orleans with music, food, and arts. It’s known for its family-friendly atmosphere, showcasing local musicians and offering activities for all ages.
  • Bayou Boogaloo: Held on Bayou St. John in mid-May, this festival offers music, food, and a family-friendly atmosphere. Activities include paddleboat races, art markets, and entertainment specifically geared towards children.
  • Celebration in the Oaks: Held during the holiday season at City Park, this festival features a dazzling display of lights, including a lighted walking tour, amusement rides, and nightly entertainment. It’s a magical experience for families to enjoy together.

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