Head To This Surprising City For An Unforgettable Family Vacation

Let the good, family-friendly times roll.



When I told friends that my husband and I were taking our eight-year-old son with us to New Orleans, I got a few skeptical looks. “Planning to take him to Bourbon Street?” one person joked. I had been to New Orleans on numerous adult trips—and always had an unforgettable time—but I had never been there with a kid before. Were we making a mistake?

The answer: Absolutely not. New Orleans is a surprisingly great travel destination for all ages, if you do some advance planning (and steer clear of Bourbon Street). Depending on your interests and the age of your children, there are more than enough kid-friendly activities in and around the city to fill a weekend, or even a week. Plus, there are few places in the United States that are as culturally rich as New Orleans, which is a great reason to bring your kids there.

Here are a few of our favorite stops, as well as suggestions and tips for a super fun, kid-approved trip to the Crescent City.

Related: The 41 Best Restaurants In New Orleans For Every Price Point


Courtesy of New Orleans & Company
Courtesy of New Orleans & Company

City Park

You could easily spend a whole day at this beautiful 1,300 acre park, and we almost did. It is home to a botanical garden, art museum, and a children’s museum, and that’s just for starters. Younger kids will love Storyland, a playground filled with sculptures of characters from famous stories, like Mother Goose and Captain Hook. Carousel Gardens, a small-scale amusement park with 18 old-fashioned rides, will delight everyone in the family. (Call ahead to make sure the park is open; it was closed on the day we visited). Play 36 holes of mini golf at City Putt. Or rent a bike, four-wheel vehicle (called surreys), boat, or a gondola at the Big Lake. We took a swan boat out for a spin and enjoyed the cool breeze off the water.


If you have your heart set on beignets at Cafe Du Monde, the location at City Park is far less crowded than the one in the French Quarter. 

Audubon Parks

More than just a single park, this area includes multiple green spaces, several playgrounds, golf and tennis courts, horse stables, a planetarium, the zoo, and more.

Crescent Park

It may be on the smaller side, but this green space along the Mississippi River makes up for it with lovely waterfront views. With plenty of trails and gardens, this is a great place to go if you need a break from the city and a little time in nature.


<p>Audubon Aquarium/Digital Roux Photography LLC</p>

Audubon Aquarium/Digital Roux Photography LLC

Audubon Museums

Nature-lovers have plenty of museums to choose from in New Orleans, namely the Audubon Zoo, Aquarium, and Insectarium. The zoo has been voted one of the best in the nation, and it offers much more than the usual exhibits: a waterpark called Cool Zoo, swamp habitat, jaguar jungle, playground, train ride, and an array of animal encounters you can add to your ticket price. The aquarium is also impressive, with 250 species, including sharks, jellyfish, penguins, and a rainforest complete with a sloth. The Insectarium, the newest addition, showcases species much smaller in size, but equally amazing. If you have time to visit all three, you can purchase combo tickets at a discounted price.

Louisiana Children's Museum

This fun, interactive, hands-on children’s museum has activities for all ages (children 12 months and under are free), but it is ideal for kids under 10. There are dedicated spaces for children 4 years and younger, as well as experiences relating to nature, food, STEM, and art.

Mardi Gras World

While the excitement of the annual parade might be overwhelming for smaller children, kids of all ages (and adults) will love getting a close-up look at magnificent Mardi Gras floats stored in this enormous building. Self-guided tours at Mardi Gras World are available seven days a week. In addition to old and new creations, you might even get to see artists at work.


Mardi Gras World is located in the Central Business District, near the convention center. If this is out of the way, there is a complimentary shuttle service with 10 stops if you are taking a tour.

The National WWII Museum

Highly recommended by locals and visitors, this innovative museum offers an important look back at history through artifacts (including tanks and planes), a 4D theater, 360-degree galleries, a submarine experience, and more. Older children and teenagers will likely get the most out of this museum, but kids of all ages will take away something from a visit to this powerful place.

New Orleans Museum of Art

On our trip to City Park, we spent several hours completely absorbed by this fantastic, wide-ranging museum, which includes work by big names like Degas, Picasso, and Miro, as well as a large collection of African, Native American, and Japanese art. Even if your children aren’t typically interested in art, they will love exploring the beautiful sculpture gardens surrounding the museum, where a wide range of works are nestled between ancient live oak trees and two lagoons.


<p>Camille Barnett</p>

Camille Barnett

Preservation Hall

This legendary French Quarter jazz venue (one of the few all-ages music halls in the city) offers matinee performances on weekends that are perfect for families. There are concerts seven days a week, and no matter who is on the bill that day, it’s worth checking out.


This hands-on, very visual attraction is made for the Instagram age, so it will go over well with older kids and teenagers, the entire family will have fun here too. The name stands for “joy-art-music” and includes 17 exhibits involving local artists that celebrate “the iconic art, music, food, and theatrics of New Orleans.”

Vue Orleans

Music is just one component of Vue Orleans, an experience that tells the story of New Orleans through interactive exhibits on its history, architecture, culture, food, and more. It’s located atop the Four Seasons Hotel and has a 34th floor observation deck, so admission also comes with an incredible view of the city.

Cheap Thrills

<p>Courtesy of Hansen's Sno-Bliz</p>

Courtesy of Hansen's Sno-Bliz

Hansen's Sno-Bliz

No matter how long the line is at Hansen’s, the snow-like shaved ice and punchy homemade syrups are worth the wait. On a hot day, a snoball is essential in New Orleans, and this family-run, 85-year-old business makes the best ones in town, and always with a smile.


With its colorfully painted houses, flowering porch displays, and gorgeous old oak trees, just taking in the scenery in New Orleans is a fun activity. Especially when you’re doing it via a streetcar. And it’s an inexpensive way to get around the city when everyone’s feet need a rest. Currently, fares are $1.25 per ride for adults, 0.50 for kids from five to 12th grade, and 0.40 for seniors and riders with disabilities.


Through the transit authority's Le Pass app, you can buy passes for the streetcar (as well as the bus and ferry) on your phone, which is much easier than having exact change.

Free concerts

You’ll hear music almost everywhere you go in New Orleans, and much of it is free (although gratuities are appreciated). Historic Jackson Square is a hotspot for performers of all kinds, and Congo Square has Sunday afternoon drumming and music. The New Orleans Jazz Museum, has a free concert series in its performance center on Friday afternoons; tickets are first come, first served.

French Market

This area is very crowded, and very touristy, but it’s still worth checking out for souvenirs from the flea market, locally-made art and crafts, and edible finds from the farmers’ market.

Related: The Best Places To Shop In New Orleans

For more Southern Living news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Southern Living.