12 Things to Do with Kids in New Orleans

by Paul Joseph  |  Published February 14, 2024

The legendary Louisiana city of New Orleans hits visitors like a sensory explosion – and it’s an enthralling experience for adults and children alike.

A young girl tackles a climbing wall at Louisiana Children’s Museum (Photo: Samantha Chapnick via Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED)

Situated on the Mississippi River, near the Gulf of Mexico, the city nicknamed the “Big Easy”  is perhaps best known for its round-the-clock nightlife and vibrant live-music scene. But this is also an enthralling destination for families with kids of all ages, embodied by the festive spirit of Mardi Gras that lingers long after the elaborate floats and costumed masses have disappeared. We’ve picked out 12 of the best things to see and do in New Orleans when you have children in tow.

Visit a family-friendly museum

Spread over 8.5 acres of indoor and outdoor space in City Park, it’s no surprise that the acclaimed Louisiana Children’s Museum makes it onto our list of New Orleans’ top kids’ attractions. Packed full of hands-on, interactive exhibits, the museum invites little ones to immerse themselves in themes that explore arts and culture, health and wellness, sustainability and literacy, and more. Highlights include the chance to shop in a pretend grocery store, get creative in an on-site arts studio, and run wild in the outdoor play areas.

15 Henry Thomas Drive / Weds-Fri 9.30am-4.30pm Closed Sat-Tues

When the Great American Alligator Museum opened its jaws, I mean doors, in late 2022, it elicited great excitement among New Orleans locals with an enduring fascination for these fearsome creatures. Prior to its arrival on Magazine Street, the best chance of catching sight of one was by venturing into the Louisiana Bayou. But now all that has changed. The speciality museum has been a big hit since launching, drawing a steady stream of visitors who come to see its huge collection of Americana and kitsch refashioned into gator-shaped items, along with fossils, folk art, and educational displays about the world’s only living member of the prehistoric family Alligatoridae. Be sure not to miss – how could you? – the 13-foot -long taxidermied alligator that serves as  the museum’s very own mascot.

2051 Magazine Street / Thurs & Mon 11.30am-5pm Tues 2pm-5pm Fri 11.30am-3.30pm Sat 12.30pm-5.30pm Closed Weds & Sun 

An exterior shot of the Great American Alligator Museum (Photo: Great American Alligator Museum)

Designed with kids in mind, the Southern Food & Beverage Museum features big open spaces and colourful displays that capture the imaginations of little ones. Week-end classes are one way to participate, but it requires advance planning because classes fill up quickly. (they are available for kids from 7 to 13). And they have have scavenger hunts for children of all ages to use and explore the museum.

1504 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard / Thurs-Mon 11am-5pm Closed Tues-Weds

Kids get hands-on at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum (Photo: Southern Food & Beverage Museum)

Enter the magical world of Mardi Gras 

If you can’t time your visit to coincide with actual Carnival, a visit to Mardi Gras World is arguably the next best thing. Said to be the world’s largest float designing and building facility, here is where the vast majority of Carnival floats are constructed. Anyone keen to discover more about this world-renowned spectacle can take a tour of the factory, during which they’ll learn about the many traditions and practices surrounding Mardi Gras parades, balls and music, as well as the intricacies of how the floats are put together. As a bonus, kids can take up the opportunity to don authentic Mardi Gras costumes for themselves.

1380 Port of New Orleans Place / Mon-Sun 9am-5.30pm

Quirky characters on display at Mardi Gras World (Photo: nola.agent via Flickr / CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Take a look around the famous French Quarter

Packed with jazz clubs, Cajun eateries and raucous bars, The French Quarter’s adult attractions need no introduction. But venture beyond bustling Bourbon Street – the area’s main thoroughfare – and you’ll soon discover that New Orleans’ oldest neighbourhood is also a great place to explore with children. Quieter streets lead to the French Market, where more adventurous kids can sample local delicacies and peruse hand-made crafts, while Jackson Square is famed for its street performers who entertain onlookers in front of the imposing St. Louis Cathedral.

You can book a mule-drawn carriage tour around the French Quarter at GetYourGuide

A mule-drawn carriage in New Orleans (Photo: Unique NOLA / Courtesy GetYourGuide)

Let the kids loose at an amusement Park

Another of City Park’s myriad of tourist attractions, Carousel Gardens Amusement Park is packed full of rides that will keep your kids entertained for hours Open seasonally, among its most popular activities are a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, a drop tower, bumper cars, a miniature train that travels around the confines of the park, and a vintage carousel that dates back to 1906, making it one of the oldest in the country. For little ones of a less thrill-seeking disposition, there are also more genteel options for fun including slides and swings.

7 Victory Avenue / Sat-Sun 11am-6pm Closed Mon-Fri

A roller-coaster ride at Carousel Gardens Amusement Park (Photo: Jeremy Thompson via Flickr / CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Get a taste of the city’s food scene

Po’ boys, red beans and rice, sno-balls, beignets, pompano en papillote, gumbo… the list goes on. Quite simply, there is no city in America with more culinary specialities than New Orleans. Heavily influenced by Creole, Cajun, and ‘soul’ cuisine, with an injection of Italian immigrant-inspired delicacies and dishes, New Orleans’ food scene is one of its biggest draws.  Visitors can discover it for themselves in everything from upscale, white tablecloth restaurants to hole-in-the-wall neighbourhood joints, each offering their own window into the city’s rich and diverse culinary culture.

You can book a New Orleans food tour at Viator

Head to a historic urban park

One of America’s oldest urban parks, City Park provides the ultimate antidote to the hustle and bustle of the city and is the perfect place for little ones to let off some steam. Spead over some 1,300 acres, the vast green expanse draws millions of visitors every year with its picture-postcard scenery dotted with mature oak trees, endless walking and biking trails, pristinely-landscaped gardens, and multiple fish-laden lagoons. Come spring and summer, the park also plays host to host to a busy programme of events, including a live concert series.

Immerse yourselves in nature

If you’ve got little ones with an enthusiasm for nature – or if you’re keen to cultivate some – then the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center provides the perfect opportunity with its combination of environmental education and interactive fun. Located adjacent to Joe Brown Memorial Park, 20 minutes from downtown, the urban centre features 86 acres of mixed forest and wetland that showcases South Louisiana’s unique natural environment. Visitors can walk three miles of scenic hardwood bottomland forest, observe live swamp critters and fascinating wildlife exhibits, and see colourful flora and fauna native to the region. There’s also a planetarium that transports you on a memorable voyage through the nightime skies

11000 Lake Forest Boulevard / Mon-Sat 8.30am-3.30pm Closed Sun

A resident pops its head out of the water at Audubon Louisiana Nature Center (Photo: Audubon Louisiana Nature Center)

Get spooked on a family ghost tour

Every city has its dark underbelly and one of the best ways to discover the Big Easy’s spooky and sinister side is on a guided ghost tour. This 2-hour tour is designed specifically for families, with plenty of spine-tingling tales laced with just enough light-hearted whimsy to ensure your kids get to sleep that night. During the tour, you’ll visit some of the French Quarter’s most notoriously haunted spots, while your expert guide regales you with historical stories and facts that will bring the area’s many unexplained events of yesteryear to life.


Spend a day at the zoo

There are few better kiddie crowd-pleasers than the suggestion of a trip to a zoo – and in New Orleans families are blessed with one of the best In Louisiana. Located uptown, Audubon Zoo offers visitors the chance to get up close and personal with an exotic mix of animals from around the world, As well as unique natural habitat exhibits to explore, there are also daily animal presentations and live feeding sessions that offer insights into the behavioural traits of these captivating creatures and how zoos operate more broadly.

6500 Magazine Street / Mon-Sun 10am-5pm

A resident at Audubon Zoo (Photo: angela n. via Flickr / CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Explore nearby swamplands by airboat

The New Orleans swamplands are one of the region’s most unique geographical features, brimming with flora and fauna and alligators prowling around in their natural habitat. One of the best ways to see the area is on a Louisiana bayous airboat tour which will see you cruise along its atmospheric waterways, alternating between high and low speeds, stopping at various spots along the way to take photos and allow your expert guide to share insights and point out wildlife and other points of interest. The tour includes round-trip transportation from downtown New Orleans.

You can book an airboat tour at Viator