The Best Things to Do in New Orleans with Kids
New Orleans isn’t just the land of strong cocktails, adult parties, and after-hours fun – believe it or not, the city is a wonderful place to take children, with plenty of kids’ activities to keep the little ones entertained. From outdoor adventures and educational opportunities to indoor attractions for escaping the rain, New Orleans is brimming with fun, family-friendly tours and activities. Visit popular museums, take a trip to the zoo, or play dress up in a Mardi Gras costume closet! Check out this guide for the top things to do with kids in New Orleans.
See a Movie at The Prytania
The Prytania Theatre offers a movie experience like none other. The oldest single-screen movie house in Louisiana (established in 1914), The Prytania’s red velvet ropes, balcony seating and historic decor are a step back in time. In fact, the same family has been operating theaters in the New Orleans area for over 130 years. You’re sure to feel the old-school charm and historic atmosphere at The Prytania. The theater screens classic movies, kids’ films, and late-night flicks, so you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect movie to entertain your family.
Book a Kid-Friendly Tour
We get it, you’re on vacation and the last thing you want to do is plan every minute of the day. Reserve a spot on a kid-friendly tour and know that your children will be entertained for a few hours (and tired for the rest of the day).
If you’re looking for something like a family-friendly New Orleans ghost tour, you can’t go wrong with a spooky tour experience that’s exciting for your youngest kids without being too scary. Embark on a kid-friendly ghost hunt around the French Quarter, complete with voodoo spells, ghost detectors, and stories of ancient pirates. This tour will capture your child’s imagination while educating them about New Orleans’ storied past.
Do your kids have an interest in New Orleans history tours? The Creole Kids Tour is just the thing for them! Join the tour guides as they take you back in time to the “Golden Era” of New Orleans – the 1830s. Learn what life was like for kids back in those days through fun props, maps, and stories. Hear about Creole culture, slavery, and other important aspects of 19th-century New Orleans.
Play Dress Up in the French Quarter
If your kids are really into Mardi Gras, they’ll love a visit to the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture, where they’ll get to try on carnival costumes and pose for photos. We all know it’s hard to hold some children’s interest when it comes to museum tours, but this one is different. The colorful Mardi Gras exhibits are enthralling, including costumes from the largest personal collection in New Orleans. See costumes from Mardi Gras Indians, Cajun Mardi Gras, and carnival royalty. The museum often holds events like Mardi Gras mask making, so be sure to check out what’s on the calendar during your visit.
Ride the Streetcar
Riding the historic St. Charles Streetcar is a thrilling experience for your young ones. It’s the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world, in operation since 1835. In fact, every single streetcar on the St. Charles Line has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
For just $1.25 per person, you can embark on a beautiful journey under stately live oaks, past ornate mansions, and all the scenery of NOLA’s lush Garden District. Starting in the French Quarter, the one-way ride takes about 40 minutes, passing through the Warehouse Arts District, onto St. Charles Avenue, then to South Carrollton Avenue. It’s the perfect opportunity to take a load off and do some sightseeing.
With about 25 miles of streetcar tracks and several different lines around the city, you could spend your whole day exploring New Orleans by streetcar (a very affordable family outing!). Check out the Canal Street Line and the Riverfront Line to keep the fun going!
Meet Animals at the Zoo
A trip to the zoo is a magical experience for kids young and old, especially if your child is an animal lover! New Orleans’ Audubon Zoo is one of the top zoos in the country, home to over a thousand exotic creatures like zebras, white alligators, piranhas, and many more. With zoo exhibits and an aquarium, your family can meet aquatic and land animals in one memorable experience.
Your little ones will be astounded by the lion pride and amazed by a visit to the African Savanna, where they’ll meet giraffes. For a glimpse at some of Louisiana’s resident wildlife, head to the Louisiana Swamp exhibit to see red foxes, black bears, and water snakes. Plus, kids will learn about the relationship between the Cajun people and the land in this immersive exhibit.
If you’re craving a closer look at the incredible swamps around New Orleans, be sure to book a swamp boat tour for another day.
Visit the Children’s Museum
Stuck inside on a rainy day? Get your kids out of the house for a visit to the Louisiana Children’s Museum. With exhibits geared specifically toward kids of various ages, this museum is a surefire way to keep the kiddos entertained. Here, you’ll find exhibits on early literacy (book nooks abound!), environment and sustainability, STEM, arts and culture, and more.
Kids can dig into nature and learn about Louisiana’s ecosystems, see how food travels from fields and rivers before hitting the plate, and follow the flow of the Mississippi River from the Twin Cities to the Gulf of Mexico. In short, there’s something for every kid – nature lovers, foodies, finger painters, and more.
All Aboard: See Historic Train Replicas
If your little one is enthralled by trains, you can’t skip a visit to the New Orleans Historic Train Garden. Located in City Park’s Botanical Garden, the Train Garden offers a miniature look (in the form of exact replicas) at the city’s train and automobile history. 1,300 feet of track are home to mini streetcars and trains that represent a model of New Orleans in the early 19th century. Walk the pathway around the track and pause at the stops to learn brief histories of the neighborhoods, trains, and streetcars featured in the garden. These vehicle replicas were made at 1/22 of their actual size! If you just can’t get enough of this impressive garden, the attraction is a great place to host your kid’s birthday party as well.
Ride the Carousel
While you’re in the City Park area, stop for a quick ride on the historic carousel, an absolute must for kids of all ages (adults love it too!). This hand-carved and painted carousel is a feat to behold – some of the animals were made in 1885 before the carousel opened in 1906. And it’s not just horses. You can ride a giraffe, a camel, and a lion that weighs 500 pounds! There are 56 horses and animals to choose from, so your kids will definitely want to ride more than once. In fact, the carousel is so well-loved and frequently ridden that the animals have to be repainted every two years. This attraction is certainly a NOLA tradition that you simply have to experience yourself.
Whether you’re planning to travel with kids or you’re a local looking for some new ways to play tourist with your little ones, your New Orleans adventure promises to be one to remember. With so many fun activities for everyone in your family to enjoy, it’s easy to find things to do year-round in the Crescent City. Remember to book your tours ahead of time to make the most of your family vacation. New Orleans’ family-friendly attractions await!