20 Fun Things to Do in New Orleans with Kids

9 min read
2 colorful streetcars on the road with buildings and palm trees surrounding
New Orleans is a beautiful city with many kid-friendly activities

New Orleans, or NOLA for short, is a highly unique city found in Louisiana in the Southern United States. This bustling area is known for its stunning French-style buildings, jazz music legacy, and incredible food, among many other things. These traits make it a popular destination.

Interestingly, New Orleans is an exciting vacation spot for families. You can find a host of fun things to do in New Orleans with kids, from kayaking in nearby swamps to learning about the city's history and culture.

If you're planning your next family getaway, be sure to consider this amazing city and check out these 20 New Orleans attractions for kids.

  • 20 things to do

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New Orleans Things to Do Map

Using the map of New Orleans, you can explore all the things to do.

Learn about sea life at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is the ideal place to take your kids if they’re interested in sea life. This vast attraction features multiple fish tanks, a walk-through marine life tunnel, and exhibits with larger sea creatures.

Animals your kids can spot include colorful fish, sharks, rays, and penguins, among many others. An exhibit of particular interest if you want to teach your children about animal conservation is the sea turtle area. These turtles are rescue animals that are being prepared to be re-released.

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Discover beautiful butterflies at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is another incredible wildlife attraction for kids in New Orleans. Exhibits to see feature different species of beautiful butterflies and those with various bugs.

Along with viewing the creatures, your kids can learn more about their habitat and life cycle. The Butterfly Garden and Insectarium recently moved to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, so your kids can check out both attractions in one day.

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Visiting Audubon Zoo is one of the fun things to do in New Orleans with kids
A trip to Audubon Zoo is one of the fun things to do in New Orleans with kids

Spot exotic animals at the Audubon Zoo

The Audubon Zoo is one more of the animal-based New Orleans attractions for families. Your kids will get to view an array of animals from all across the globe. Creatures to see at the zoo include tigers, zebras, penguins, and black bears.

Along with habitat feature animals from the greater United States and other countries, you’ll find displays on animals from Louisiana. These habitats include alligators and other swamp creatures.

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Have a historical day out at the National WWII Museum

If your kids are a little older, then a visit to the National WWII Museum is well worth it. The museum houses exhibits on military history and the US’ role in WWII. Along with traditional-style exhibits, you’ll discover many multimedia exhibits and can watch a 4D film.

Having explored the museum, your kids will have learned a vast amount about the United States’ efforts in WWII and the stories of those affected.

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Life-size superhero replicas in a warehouse
These superhero replicas are some of the props for the Mardi Gras parade you'll see

Explore Mardi Gras World

Mardi Gras World is where the floats that get used in the annual Mardi Gras parade are made. This large warehouse is open to the public, making for a fun attraction. During your visit, you can see the colorful floats come to life and learn more about the iconic Mardi Gras celebration.

Your family can explore the building alone or consider a Mardi Gras World behind the scenes tour. This experience includes a guided tour of the facility plus a slice of King Cake, a traditional Mardi Gras dessert.

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Wander around the New Orleans Botanical Garden

The New Orleans Botanical Garden is found in City Park and features an array of stunning floral displays. With so many vibrant gardens to explore, it's one of the most fun family attractions in New Orleans, LA.

There are 23 different gardens to discover in total, including a rose garden and a Japanese garden. There's even a train garden with miniature trains and buildings - a kid-friendly favorite!

You can also pick up boxed picnic-style meals to enjoy anywhere in the park. Having a quaint picnic surrounded by stunning gardens is sure to keep all your kids happy!

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A white cathedral with black spires behind an iron fence at night
There are many spooky places to see in the French Quarter, like St Louis Cathedral

Dare to go on a family-friendly ghost tour

New Orleans is known for its paranormal and spooky past. It’s also believed that many of the places in the city are haunted. Due to this, you can find an array of ghost tours. While lots of them aren’t kid-friendly, you can find a few that are.

The New Orleans Family-Friendly Spooky Ghost Tour takes your family to some of the French Quarter’s most haunted spots. You’ll hear spooky tales relating to each area that are scary but not over the top for little ones.

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Check out the kid-friendly Louisiana Children’s Museum

Visiting the Louisiana Children’s Museum is one of the most fun things to do in New Orleans with kids. This attraction is not just great for kids but is created with them in mind.

The museum features a range of interactive exhibits as well as a climbing wall and art studio. It’s the ideal place for kids with active imaginations to explore. Visiting the Children’s Museum is notably an ideal rainy-day activity.

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An old building with a faded wood exterior, iron balcony, and windows with shutters
Preservation Hall is one of the most iconic jazz spots in New Orleans

Listen to jazz music at Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall is an iconic jazz venue located in the French Quarter. When visiting New Orleans, you can go into Preservation Hall and listen to live jazz performances.

Your kids will love the live music and may be able to sing along to some of the more well-known songs. You do need tickets to attend this event at Preservation Hall, so try to book in advance to avoid long lines once you arrive.

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Storyland and Carousel Gardens Amusement Park are some of the most kid-friendly attractions in New Orleans. Storyland is a fairy tale world complete with an array of magical creatures. Kids can explore the park and take pictures with all the interesting surroundings.

Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, next to Storyland, features a selection of fun theme park rides. The park has been closed, almost permanently, since Hurricane Katrina. However, it is now open again for all to enjoy.

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An old-fashioned Steamboat Natchez on the water with a city skyline behind
Your kids will love being on the water on a Steamboat Natchez river tour

Venture out on the water on a Steamboat Natchez river tour

Heading out onto the Mississippi River on a Steamboat Natchez river tour is one of the fun things for kids in New Orleans that the adults will also enjoy. These cruises are taken on an old-fashioned steamboat, with many offering live music and food.

Once on the boat, you’ll be taken along the Mississippi and will be able to take in incredible views of New Orleans. Your kids are sure to love the unique-looking boats and the fun of enjoying food and music aboard.

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Try on costumes at the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture

Another fun and kid-friendly Mardi Gras attraction in New Orleans is the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture. This highly interactive museum features a range of exhibits on Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans.

You can look at costumes worn by those in the parades. The kids can even try an array of costumes on. They’re sure to love the bright and bedazzled looks, and you’ll be able to get some adorable pictures!

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An alligator hiding in swampy waters
You and your kids will likely spot alligators on a swamp tour

Head to New Orleans’ swamps on a swamp tour

Kids will love heading out into the Barataria Preserve swamps near New Orleans to learn about all the creatures that live there. They may even spot an alligator! Multiple companies offer tours of the swamps. The majority include transport to and from New Orleans and the swampland.

Once at your destination, your boat will take you through the swamps, and a guide will give more information on the area. You’re also likely to have wildlife encounters that will amaze you and your children.

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A horse and carriage on a road in front of an old fashioned New Orleans building
Taking a horse and carriage ride is a fun kid-friendly way to see the French Quarter

Go on a horse and carriage ride of the French Quarter

Going on a horse and carriage ride of the famous French Quarter is one of the most memorable family activities in New Orleans, LA. Your kids are sure to enjoy this mode of transport that reminds them of carriages in a fairytale. If they love horses, it will be even more of a hit!

The ride will take you past famous New Orleans landmarks, and your guide will offer more information on them and the general area. It’s the ideal way to see the French Quarter, especially if you have younger kids that can’t walk around for too long.

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Visit NOMA and the Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

If your children are interested in art, then visiting the New Orleans Museum of Arts, or NOMA, must be on your to-do list. The museum features over 40,000 artworks. Pieces on display cover a range of styles and come from a range of eras.

Due to the variation of exhibits, the museum is the ideal place for kids to learn about art and spark their curiosity. Additionally, you can check out the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. This garden features a range of interesting sculptures that you can discover as you wander around the garden’s path.

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A blue bike in front of a house with a white exterior and blue shutters
If with older kids, seeing the French Quarter on a bike is a fun experience

Bike around New Orleans

If your kids are at an age where they can ride a bike for a few hours, then trying a bike tour of New Orleans is a great idea. The tour provider will supply bikes and helmets, so even if you don’t have bikes with you, you can still take part in the experience.

Once ready to go, your local guide will lead you to famous sites and provide background information on everything you see.

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A white and black cathedral with a green park in front under a blue sky
Jackson Square is one of the stops on the exciting New Orleans Kids Experience

Get up to date on NOLA history and culture with the New Orleans Kids Experience

The New Orleans Kids Experience is a tour crafted for kids that takes them around New Orleans. On the tour, they’ll learn about New Orleans’ culture and history. Topics covered include jazz, Cajun culture, and voodoo.

Additionally, the guide will play a range of fun games with the kids and treat them to some Cajun cuisine. Each child will also get Mardi Gras beads and craft supplies. This tour is definitely one of the best family things to do in New Orleans.

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Colorful kayaks on a swamp edge with trees surrounding and a bridge in the back
When kayaking on Manchac Swamp, you’ll spot wildlife and the Manchac Swamp Bridge

Kayak on Manchac Swamp

A fun kid-friendly outdoor activity near New Orleans is kayaking on Manchac Swamp. Once you reach the swamp, your guide will provide kayaks, and you can then begin exploring the marshy area.

Along with taking in the surroundings, you may spot alligators, turtles, owls, and many other creatures. Your guide will additionally offer more information on the plants and animals you’re seeing. This activity is a memorable and exciting way to see Louisiana’s swamps. Kids must be six years of age or older to participate.

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A food stall with a flag and menu signs
A food tour of New Orleans allows your kids to sample the city's cuisine

Eat your way around New Orleans on a food tour

New Orleans has some of the most delicious and unique cuisine in the US. If your kids are adventurous eaters, why not take them on a culinary tour of the city?

A New Orleans French Quarter Food Tour provides the opportunity to try the best eats in NOLA. You’ll be guided around the French Market and French Quarter to try an array of delicious samples.

Food to taste includes beignets, red beans and rice, and praline. The tour is child-friendly, and kids under six can currently come along for free.

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A purple flag that says Mardi Gras on a house decorated with Mardi Gras decorations
Mardi Gras is an exciting, and family-friendly, annual celebration in New Orleans

Celebrate Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras, an annual celebration to mark the beginning of Lent, is New Orleans’ biggest party. While some think it’s a more adult-themed event, it’s actually extremely family-friendly. The celebration features vibrant costumes, exciting parades, live music, and traditional food and activities.

Your kids will love seeing the bright-colored decorations and playing a range of games hosted on the street. They can even dress up and adorn themselves with bead necklaces. The whole family will also get the chance to try yummy dishes, many of which are only available at Mardi Gras.

The date Mardi Gras is hosted aligns with the falling of Lent. This generally occurs in February or March.

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In Summary

New Orleans is an exciting and unique vacation destination for all travelers, including families. No matter what age your kids are, these 20 family activities in New Orleans, LA, are guaranteed to keep everyone happy.

This article was edited by Loredana Elena and was first published on Sep 21, 2021 16:50 UTC.

Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell WRITER Currently based in Canada, I've also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and travelled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. I love finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever I go!

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