Things to do with Kids in New Orleans
This post will focus on kid-friendly attractions you can enjoy in New Orleans, including a top 10 and free things to do sections as well as tips on food, tours, nightlife, and museums. This post is geared toward visitors and tourists. We also note whenever an activity or attraction is free with the purchase of the New Orleans Power Pass, a tourist discount card.
Even children know that some activities are more fun than others. If you’re looking for the most interesting things to do with your kids in New Orleans, this list should give you more than a few great ideas. Although some of these locations are free to visit, others will charge general admission fees. On average, you can expect to pay between $10-$30 per ticket for most of the services below.
There are a few different swamps in the area, and several local companies offer boat tours to give visitors a closer look at the natural wildlife of Louisiana’s wetlands. Aside from alligators, you might also see bald eagles, herons, egrets and other native species during a visit to the swamp.
If you don’t feel like paying for a boat tour, you can always take a hike or paddle around the swamp with your family. Learn more about these free options.
2) Discover Audubon Zoo
This zoo has dozens of different exhibits including one award-winning display with several animals that you might expect to find in Louisiana’s wetlands. In addition to all of the beautiful creatures they have, you can also enjoy a nice train ride around the zoo or take a ride on their wonderful carousel. As if that weren’t enough, they also have a water park called Cool Zoo which gives families a chance to relax after a long day of walking. The zoo is easy to reach by streetcar and they offer a free shuttle.
Families with older children may want to consider taking one of the many spooky tours offered in New Orleans. Believe it or not, children are actually invited on some of these ghost tours (usually 10 and up). In addition to discovering the dark history of this city, you might also have the opportunity to learn about voodoo and vampires. If you want to avoid anything too scary, we recommend searching around for ghost tours you can take earlier in the day, though our tour guides will tone down or employ euphemisms when children are present. A free ghost tour is included with the Power Pass.
Tickets are typically about $25 per adult, but we offer a pay-what-you-like French Quarter ghost tour. Learn about our tour and others.
4) Spend some time in City Park
City Park in New Orleans is full of wonderful activities for kids. In addition to the Carousel Gardens amusement park, there is also a wonderful themed playground, known as Storyland, and a mini-golf course called City Putt. With so much to see and do in the area, you could easily spend an entire day or more at this family-friendly park. Each attraction is very affordable and sure to put a smile on young faces. Click here for more information about City Park
Carousel Gardens Tickets: $4 per person | $4 per ride | $18 for Unlimited Rides
- Storyland Tickets: $4 per person | Carousel Garden admission included
- City Putt Tickets: $8 for Ages 13+ | $6 for Ages 4-12 | Children 0-3 FREE
- Kids 36″ or shorter get into Carousel Gardens and Storyland FREE
5) Check out Mardi Gras World
At Mardi Gras World, you can celebrate Fat Tuesday every day of the year! Blaine Kern and his company have been producing beautiful Mardi Gras floats at this studio for over 70 years, and now they also allow visitors to come see their work up close. Each tour includes a trip through the studios where they continue to make floats every year. At the end of your trip through Mardi Gras history, you’ll receive a piece of complementary King Cake. This is a great way to avoid raucous crowds and enjoy the sights of Carnival with your family. They offer a free shuttle from the French Quarter. There also free ways to learn about Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
- Ticket Prices: $22 for Adults | $17 for Students/Seniors | $14 for Kids
- Included for free in the New Orleans Power Pass.
- Click here for additional information about Mardi Gras World
Much like the ghost tours, a visit to the cemetery is an excellent idea for older children and teenagers. There are several historic cemeteries in New Orleans that you can visit for free, and we actually provide pay-what-you-want tours in St. Louis Cemetery #1 and Lafayette Cemetery #1. Tours through these graveyards usually take place earlier in the day, so you won’t have to worry about anyone getting too spooked after dark. Recommended only for children ages 7+. The Power Pass includes a free guided tour of St. Louis Cemetery #1.
Read our guide to New Orleans cemeteries to help plan your exploration and to learn more about why our cemeteries are so unique.
Considering that New Orleans is located right alongside the Mississippi river, it probably won’t surprise anyone that there are several different riverboat tours offered in the area. These tours are a great way to spend some time out on the water and see the big easy from a different point of view. In addition to providing a lot of information about the area, some of these services also offer live jazz music on board. Most riverboat tour companies offer free or very cheap tickets for children.
If you are on a budget, there we have a tip for an almost free ferry ride.
New Orleans is a city built on 300 years of history, some of which can still be found at nearby plantations. Both the Laura and Oak Alley plantations offer tours and access to the grounds for visitors looking to learn about the past, though these are not the only plantations that you could visit. This is an excellent educational opportunity for younger guests who might want to learn about what plantation life was like during the 1700’s and beyond. Plantation tours offered daily throughout the entire year and most offer hotel pick-up for guests. We review the best plantations and tours.
- Admission to Oak Alley is included with the New Orleans Power Pass
9) Listen to the Music
The history of this city is filled with music. Icons such as Louis Armstrong were born in New Orleans, which is just one of the reasons that they celebrate his life with a music festival once every year. NOLA is home to a lot of amazing artists, and you can find their influence almost everywhere you look. Whether you decide to enjoy the work of a live street band or take a music tour of the city, there are plenty of family-friendly activities involving the musical tales of NOLA.
- Take the kids to Music Village.
- Find out where to hear street music.
- Consider a visit to the following family-friendly venues:
- Preservation Hall
- 3 Muses
- Snug Harbor
- BB King’s
- Commander’s Palace
- Rock N Bowl
10) Attend a Sporting Event
New Orleans is host to three major sports teams worth checking out. Basketball fans will definitely want to take in a Pelicans game during the NBA season, and football fans are probably quite familiar with the Saints as well. If you’d rather see college football, it’s worth noting that NOLA is home of the Sugar Bowl, a special game played on New Year’s Eve every year.
Baseball aficionados can also attend a Baby Cakes (formerly Zephyrs) game to see one of the minor league affiliates of the Miami Marlins at work. Tickets for the Baby Cakes are much more affordable than the Pelicans or Saints, and after each home Baby Cakes’ home game, your kids get to enjoy a fireworks show.
There are a lot of free and fun activities in New Orleans, but they’re not all family friendly. In light of this, we’ve decided to provide a few ideas for places to go and things to see with your kids which won’t cost you a thing. Much like the cemetery visits listed above, the following attractions are easy to enjoy without paying a dime. If you want even more inspiration, take a look at our post about free things to do in NOLA.
See a Horse Race
If any of your kids have ever asked for a pony, chances are that they’ll love a trip to the New Orleans Fair Grounds. Considering that admission to the horse races is absolutely free, chances are that parents will also enjoy the opportunity to save a few bucks. Although clubhouse tickets and special events are not free, most thoroughbred races won’t cost a dime. Click here for additional information. Daily during the racing season.
As we mentioned in the Top 10 list, there are a lot of swamps in the New Orleans area. Although swamp tours aren’t free, there are a few swamps and wetlands which you can visit without paying a dime. Bayou Sauvage and Barataria Preserve both offer free admission to all visitors. If you’re looking for an easily accessible option, City Park also has swampland with plenty of beautiful wildlife to experience. It is possible to spot alligators in all three locations. This can be an affordable and fun activity for families with children of all ages. Learn more about these and other opportunities at nearby wetlands by reading our swamp tours post.
If Mardi Gras World is a little too expensive, we recommend visiting Arnaud’s Restaurant and check out their Mardi Gras museum to see dozens of historic costumes, masks, and party favors. Alternatively, you can also set up an appointment to see the House of Dance and Feathers and learn about the history of the Mardi Gras Indians. If you can afford to spend a few bucks, the Presbytère and Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes & Culture are two fairly affordable options to consider. Carnival season is a great time to visit with kids. So, if you are coming with a family, read up on our tips on enjoying Mardi Gras parades.
If you can’t afford a boat tour, you might want to consider a trip on the Algiers Ferry instead. This ferry will take you across the Mississippi River, allowing you to see New Orleans from the water. If you’re spending time in the French Quarter, you’ll find the terminal for this ferry at the end of Canal Street. Although tickets will cost $2 for most adults and passengers, children 2 and under are welcome to ride with their parents for free. After traveling across the water, you might want to consider taking our self-guided tour of Algiers Point!
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is filled with wonderful pieces of modern art that both children and adults can enjoy. Although there are a few exhibits that some parents may not be comfortable experiencing with their kids, most of them are easy to understand and appreciate and make for great photo activities. Located next to the New Orleans Museum of Art inside of City Park, visitors are welcome daily from 10 am – 5 pm to visit this attraction without paying a dime. Click here for more information
Take a Ride on the Streetcar
Whether you’re trying to get to the ferry, the zoo, or any number of different attractions on this list, the streetcar can probably get you there. Although this isn’t technically free, the streetcars of New Orleans are definitely one of the most affordable methods of transportation in the area. Even if you’re more interested in visiting some of the other free attractions on our list, these trolleys are still a very cheap way to reach your destination. If you want a destination, then take the St. Charles Streetcar to the Garden District and use our free, self-guided tour of the neighborhood.
No matter what you decide to do while in New Orleans, your family is eventually going to get hungry. With that in mind, we figured you might want to know about some of the best family-friendly restaurants in the area. If the kids are still full of energy after dinner, you may want to consider at least one activity to finish off the night. Here are a few ideas that both kids and their parents will enjoy. For more ideas, check out our master post on things to do at night in New Orleans, which also has ideas that are kid-friendly.
Family Friendly Restaurants
Most restaurants have a kids menu with several different options for children, but some businesses specifically target younger diners. If you’re looking for a great place to eat that your whole family will enjoy, consider one of the following locations:
- Dat Dog – As you’ve probably already guessed, this restaurant specializes in selling various types of hot dogs. Dat Dog offers over 30 different toppings and most of their menu items are under $8. This would be a fun place to stop for either lunch or dinner.
- Dave and Busters – Chances are you’re well aware of this restaurant. In addition to excellent food, they also offer a variety of arcade games for everyone to play. Finish the night off right with some fun and games at this popular location.
- Mulates – If your family is interested in some cajun food and music, consider a trip to Mulates. This restaurant offers live music from 7pm to 10pm every night along with authentic cajun cuisine. Enjoy some delicious food while listening to some fantastic tunes.
- Grab a Beignet – Looking for a local treat that you and your family can enjoy? Consider grabbing some beignets for dessert. You’ll find this delicious and sweet confection at a variety of different restaurants and businesses throughout New Orleans.
Take a Night Tour
There are a variety of tours available in New Orleans after dark, and most of them are early enough that older children can enjoy them. We mentioned our ghost tours above, but you may also be interested to know that we offer seasonal tours such as the Creole Christmas tour.
If you don’t feel like walking, Gray Line also provides a pretty nice bus tour at night.
See a Show at Saenger Theater
Not only is this one of the most historic theaters in New Orleans, it’s also a fantastic place to take your children for a night on the town. Saenger Theater regularly hosts several family-friendly plays which kids can enjoy. During 2018 alone, you can expect classics such as Phantom of the Opera, a live adaptation of Aladdin and a special Disney Junior Dance Party. Keep an eye out for special events and plays that may be available during your stay in the big easy. Most plays begin during the hours of 6 pm – 8 pm, so not too late for most children. Ticket prices range from $50-$250 on average, but you may be able to score discounts from StubHub. Click here to learn more about Saenger Theater
Take a Dinner Cruise
As we mentioned in our Top 10 list, there are a lot of different riverboat tours in New Orleans. In addition to various tours, you can also take a dinner cruise on the Mississippi River. Although some of these cruises are better suited to adult passengers, others offer a buffet and live music which is perfect for a family audience. Dinner cruise tickets for children range from $10-$30 on average.
Enjoy a Round of Putt-Putt Golf
The mini-golf course in City Park is actually open until 10 pm on most nights and midnight on the weekends. If your kids are still energetic after dinner, consider dropping by City Putt and taking in a round of golf with the family. This wonderful little golf course has a total of 36 holes, some of which make reference to the history of New Orleans. Tickets are $6 or less for children 12 and under.
Discover the Rock n’ Bowl
This historic location is more than just a bowling alley. In addition to bowling a few frames, you can also enjoy live music and dancing. Rock n’ Bowl is open until midnight on most nights, making this a perfect place to visit either before or after dinner. Alternatively, you could just get some food while you’re bowling and save some time while having fun with the family. Bowling lanes cost $24/hr to rent and most of their menu items are under $20. Check out this video.
If you and your kids love to spend time with cats, a trip to Jackson Square might be in order. When the sun goes down, a surprising number of cats begin to enter the park. Nobody really knows why they choose this specific square, but locals and tourists alike are welcome to visit and see all of these wonderful felines for themselves. This is an entirely free activity and it could be a great way to finish off the night. Click here to learn more about Jackson Square
We’ve already mentioned several fun attractions in New Orleans in our top 10 and free things to do sections, but there are quite a few activities that we have yet to cover. Bearing that in mind, the following list will provide a variety of interesting and educational experiences for you and your children. Although most of these locations are not free, tickets are typically very affordable.
If you or your kids feel like making some music, this is an excellent location to visit. Although Music Box Village is technically a sculpture garden, they have a lot of interesting and kid-friendly instruments to play. Depending on when you visit, you might also have the opportunity to see a live performance.
Visit the apothecary where America’s first officially licensed pharmacist once practiced. All of the curious and interesting bottles on display will give your children insight into the development of medication over the course of American history.
This museum is found at one of the oldest and most historic locations in New Orleans. Although some of their events come with a price, their main exhibit is entirely free to visit. The Louisiana History Galleries include a number of wonderful relics and pieces of art dating back to the 1800s.
This location includes a number of historic pieces and even some WW2 era vehicles. This is a great opportunity to teach your children about the history of our country. In addition to tours, there are also a few interactive experiences offered at this museum. With its impressive 5 out of 5 stars rating, it’s the top-rated thing to do on TripAdvisor with over 22,000 reviews. It’s also free with the purchase of the New Orleans Power Pass.
New Orleans Museum of Art
The New Orleans Museum of Art is a wonderful location for families to visit. In addition to their free Sculpture Garden, they also provide a number of interesting exhibits that both young and old audiences can enjoy.
With exhibits on bubbles, simple machines, architecture and more, there’s plenty for your kids to see and learn about at this Children’s Museum. This location also offers special seasonal events such as a new year’s eve celebration for kids!
Visit the French Market to see incredible local artists and maybe even pick up a few interesting souvenirs. In addition to shopping, you can also enjoy our self-guided tour of the area to learn about the history of this location.
No matter what time of year it is, you’ll always be welcome to visit this wonderful Christmas store in the French Quarter. In addition to various ornaments and decorations, this shop also sells Christmas trees and other holiday-themed merchandise.
In addition to all of the other attractions available at City Park, they also have a beautiful Botanical Garden. Louisiana residents are welcome to visit for free on Wednesdays and tickets are very affordable on every other day of the week.
This historic lighthouse has been in New Orleans since the 1800s and it now houses a pretty interesting museum. Guests are welcome to take a tour and tickets are reasonably priced at well under $10 per person. It’s also a great view of Lake Pontchartrain.
Escape rooms are becoming quite popular all over the country, and this particular company provides rooms themed after the history of New Orleans. Enter the Mardi Gras Study, the Jazz Parlor or the Inventor’s Attic and try your best to escape with the help of your family.
Take a look at some of the most incredible artwork created by local artists at the Palace Market. This location is specifically aimed at providing artists with a place to share and sell their wonderful work. Whether you want to buy some souvenirs or just take a look around, this is a great place to visit with the family.
There are several family-friendly tours to take in the big easy. For starters, you should definitely take a look at our pay-what-you-wish tours. We run tours daily and they are as affordable as you want or need them to be. And we are #1 on TripAdvisor. And don’t forget the previously mentioned services such as the riverboat tours, swamp tours, and plantation tours, which are all hits with kids. In view of this, let’s take a closer look at some of the other tours for kids in New Orleans.
French Quartour Kids Tours
This company provides a variety of tours specifically aimed at children and young adults. In addition to offering a ghost tour for ages 5 and up, they also deliver tours focusing on Creole and New Orleans musical history. French Quartour Kids also caters one of their tours to teenagers, giving them a look at famous teens from throughout the 19th century. Tours last 90 minutes and tickets are somewhat affordable. Kids under 4 are welcome to join in for free.
- Ticket Prices: $20 per person | Free for Kids under 4
- Click here for more details.
Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tours
CitySightseeing offers a pretty interesting hop-on, hop-off bus tour for families. Although tickets are a bit pricey for adults, tickets for children are only $10. There are 18 stops on this tour including locations such as Jackson Square, the French Market, and the WW2 Museum. Several travelers use this service just to get around while they’re visiting the big easy. Whether you want to enjoy the tour or just make use of the transportation, this is a fantastic opportunity.
- Ticket Prices: $39 for Adults | $10 for Children
- Availability: Buses run daily every 30 minutes.
- Duration: Service is available from 9:30am – 5:30pm
- Click here for additional information.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more classy, consider taking your family on a carriage ride through the French Quarter. These services will take you past historic locations such as Jackson Square, Napoleon House, and St. Louis Cathedral. During your ride, a tour guide will provide several interesting details about New Orleans and its history. Tickets for this tour can get somewhat expensive for families.
- Ticket Prices: $40 per person
- Availability: Sunday-Thursday at 10 am and 11 am
- Duration: 60 minutes
- Click here for more information
Family-Friendly Bike Tours
Some bike tour operators offer discounts for kids and have attachments to bikes for small children, such as baby seats or trailers. They don’t always advertise this, so you will need to contact each.