Despite the Big Easy’s reputation for cocktails and late nights, you’ll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in New Orleans with kids. Glide under moss-covered trees in the bayou while looking for alligators and other Louisiana swamp wildlife. Step back into US history on a steam-powered paddle boat ride down the Mississippi. And learn about Mardi Gras, pirates, and ghosts while wandering through the French Quarter on a specially designed all-ages tour. Start planning your family vacation to New Orleans now with these top 10 kid-approved activities.
1) French Quarter Kids and Family Tour
See, smell, hear, touch, and taste your way around the French Quarter on an engaging and educational New Orleans kids and family tour. As you walk through the brightly painted French Quarter, your guide brings NOLA history to life with props and pictures. Listen to stories about Mardi Gras, jazz, pirates, and voodoo, and then march in your own traditional New Orleans-style second-line parade. Your kids are sure to love nibbling on local snacks and getting crafty with hands-on activities. This small-group tour is a great way to orient yourself to the area, and your guide can suggest more stellar things to do in New Orleans with your kids.
2) Mardi Gras World Tour
Raucous crowds make Mardi Gras in New Orleans a no-go for the little ones, but kids can still enjoy dazzling floats and a slice of King’s Cake on a Mardi Gras World tour. Open year-round, Mardi Gras World offers a behind-the-scenes look at Mardi Gras traditions and celebration preparation. Take the tour to see artists building and decorating colorful parade floats. Kids are sure to love trying on costumes and playing with props, so have your camera ready. A complimentary shuttle from the French Quarter and indoor location make Mardi Gras World a great rainy-day, family activity.
3) Steamboat Ride in New Orleans with Kids
Travel back in time as you cruise down the mighty Mississippi aboard a steam-powered paddle boat. Touring the Natchez’s engine room and hearing the captain’s orders come through an old-timey megaphone is sure to fuel your children’s imaginations. Then, enjoy the rhythm of New Orleans as a live band lights up the deck with jazz tunes. Feast on a buffet of Cajun favorites sure to entice even picky eaters—especially the powdered sugar-covered beignets.
4) Zoo & Aquarium in New Orleans
Delight in the antics of adorable sea otters, walk through the steamy Amazon jungle, and smile at toothy sharks at the Aquarium of the Americas. Even families with toddlers can manage to explore the entirety of this attraction. Plus, it’s conveniently located adjacent to the French Quarter. Across town in Audubon Park, take the family to meet mountain gorillas, spot spotted leopards, and see a rare white alligator at the Audubon Zoo. Save money on your family vacation in New Orleans with a combo ticket to both the zoo and aquarium.
5) Audubon Butterfly Garden & Insectarium
Buzz over to one of the top things to do with kids in New Orleans—the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. Like the name suggests, you can find hundreds of butterflies and creepy-crawlies at this engaging attraction. See the world from a bug’s point of view with the help of giant animatronic insects. If you’re daring enough, chow down on insect cuisine, such as crispy Cajun crickets and chocolate “chirp” cookies prepared by chefs in the Bug Appetit exhibit. Staying in New Orleans for a while? Score great savings to the zoo, aquarium, insectarium, and more with Audubon Nature Institute Experience tickets.
6) New Orleans Swamp and Bayou Tours
No visit to New Orleans with kids is complete without a boat ride on the Louisiana bayou. As you glide across dark waters, find alligators lurking just below the surface and basking on swampy banks. Learn about these ancient reptiles and other wetland wildlife such as turtles, herons, and nutria. If you’re traveling with older kids, turn your NOLA trip into a more active adventure by kayaking through the swamp.
7) All-Ages NOLA Ghost Tour
Ghost tours are one of the most popular things to do in New Orleans, but with kids? You bet! Get your chills and thrills on a family-friendly ghost tour of the French Quarter. Geared toward all ages (and complimentary for kids 5 and younger), this spooky tour takes you to some of NOLA’s most haunted haunts. See the restaurant that sets a table with bread and wine for a 200-year-old ghost and peer into the spirit-inhabited Andrew Jackson Hotel. If you’re traveling with teens, up the spook factor on a Voodoo, Vampire, and Witches tour or by inspecting the graves of Saint Louis No. 1 Cemetery.
8) City Park in New Orleans with Kids
Slide down a fire-breathing dragon, go round-and-round on the carousel, and putt a hole in one in New Orleans City Park. This wonderous greenspace offers plenty of things to do to expend your kids’ boundless energy. You can even download free scavenger hunt lists for different age groups from the City Park website. City Park also contains the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden, which provides activities designed for kids. Check out this local hangout on a bus tour of New Orleans or spend a whole day in the park.
9) The National WWII Museum
A ticket to The National WWII Museum transports you back in time with immersive exhibits and hundreds of artifacts. Visitors of all ages become enthralled while wandering through recreated bunkers and standing below combat-flown war planes. A vast collection of personal stories makes the displays intimate and honors the lives lost during the war. Plan to spend several hours or even a whole day at this epic-sized museum.
Local Expert Tip: Enjoy breakfast or lunch with jukebox tunes at the museum’s Jeri Nims Soda Shop. Don’t miss out on a handcrafted milkshake!
10) Louisiana Children’s Museum
Every family visiting New Orleans with kids should check out the world-class Louisiana Children’s Museum. Filled with interactive experiences, the museum encourages learning through play. Children can role play in a pint-sized grocery store, discover how vision works as an eye doctor, and even become encased in giant bubble. Get admission to this family-friendly museum and over 25 other Big Easy attractions with the budget-saving New Orleans Pass.