New Orleans is a vibrant city with a rich history, distinctive jazz music, mouth-watering cuisine, supernatural roots, and the annual Mardi Gras celebration. It is one of the most unique cities in all of the United States because of its multicultural and multilingual heritage. Many adults tourists are drawn to the city for its party atmosphere, but New Orleans has a lot to offer for families as well. From museums to zoos and family-friendly jazz clubs, there are cultural events and attractions all over town that can show the whole family a good time. No matter your age, there’s something for everyone is in this energetic and memorable destination. So, let’s break it down by sections of the city.
The French Quarter
Beyond its elegant architecture and rich history, the French Quarter is home to casual dining, green space, Mississippi River-based attractions, and an aquarium. No doubt, this is the most famous section of New Orleans and the one most tourists think of first.
Parents and kids can both agree that Cafe du Monde is a sweet way to start off your day. Share an order of beignets, the iconic powdered pastry New Orleans is known for, paired with a cafe au lait or hot chocolate. Then visit the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. With sea life ranging from jellyfish to penguins to otters, the aquarium will delight children and adults alike.
As the evening approaches, catch the sunset in Jackson Square. Your family can sightsee on a mule-drawn carriage ride, or take a walk and enjoy street buskers, performers, and artists. There’s no place quite as magical. Treat the family to New Orleans cuisine at Mambo’s or Oceana Grill before making your way to Three Muses for a live jazz set.
Finish off the day with a ghost tour throughout the French Quarter, perfect for anyone that enjoys haunting tales and a thrill.
The Arts/Warehouse District
Enjoy a day of intriguing museums, amazing attractions, and delicious dining in the Arts/Warehouse District that’s sure to keep the entire family happy. Fun for kids and adults alike, the National WWII Museum is filled with hands-on experiences and dozens of interactive and educational exhibits. There’s no need to travel far for lunch – The American Sector is located on the museum’s campus and serves up traditional American fare, including cheeseburgers, hotdogs, patty melts, and more.
Close out the day discovering the many other offerings of the Arts/Warehouse District. Start a family feud with a bowling competition at Fulton Alley or use your best teamwork skills at Escape My Room.
Garden District and Uptown
This is a great choice for a relaxed day of nature, shopping, and of course, delicious food options. Sit back, relax and enjoy the view of St. Charles Avenue along the historic St. Charles Streetcar. The entire family can experience a leisurely ride through the Garden District and Uptown with unlimited all-day “Jazzy Pass” access for less than $5.00. Along the way, fuel up with breakfast at the iconic Camellia Grill for a classic diner setting and some entertaining hospitality.
Hop back on the streetcar after breakfast and head over to Audubon Zoo. Animals from all over the world, including the rare and famous white alligator, freely roaming peacocks, and their newest addition, the lion pack, will have the whole gang excited and amused. Have lunch at the Zoofari Cafe or grab something to go and enjoy a picnic at Audubon Park. Local favorites like Domilise’s or St. James Cheese are perfect for picnic spreads.
Mid-City / Esplanade Ridge
When the weather is nice, spend an entire day in City Park. Take the kids on a tour through the Botanical Gardens or the newly expanded Sculpture Garden next to the Museum of Art. Check out Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, which offers a variety of rides for kids of all ages, or enjoy an afternoon of sunshine and boating on Big Lake.
Mid-City is also home to the newly-remodeled Louisiana Children’s Museum. Let your little ones experience specially curated exhibits, interactive activities, and ample outdoor space. After an afternoon filled with play, head over to the museum’s restaurant Acorn, for a family-friendly lunch. If your family prefers the indoors, let them rock out to live music while bowling at Rock n’ Bowl.
For colorful houses and a break from the busy city, explore the Marigny and Bywater.
Named after Dorothy’s shoes from The Wizard of Oz, The Ruby Slipper Cafe is a quintessential New Orleans go-to. The kids can enjoy sweet favorites like Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes while parents indulge in their award-winning Bloody Mary. Crescent Park, right along the Mississippi River, is a breath of fresh air and green space in the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods. Access begins just downriver from the French Market.
Dat Dog on Frenchmen Street is a fun and colorful spot for hotdog lovers. Stick with a standard beef dog or try an alligator or duck sausage. Enjoy the sounds of this local music stretch while eating as brass bands fill the streets daily.
Explore the oldest African American neighborhood in the U.S. with a visit to Tremé. Walking tours are a popular choice for learning the history of the area, but a visit to the New Orleans African American Museum or Armstrong Park/Congo Square are great options as well. Tremé connects to the residential neighborhood of Gentilly, which you can drive through to access the beautiful Lakefront.
Outside of NOLA
Venture outside of NOLA for a swamp tour. Many tour operating companies offer transportation from downtown New Orleans to your swamp of choice, where you can board an airboat and feed marshmallows to alligators.
Also just outside of New Orleans is the Whitney Plantation, which is the only plantation museum in Louisiana with an exclusive focus on the lives of enslaved people. The tour is appropriate for all ages.
Source: Tourism Board – New Orleans Insider’s Guide
Lead – New Orleans – source AdobeStock trial
French Quarter – source thebocfc on Pixabay
National War Museum – source National War Museum
St Charles Street Car – source New Orleans Insider by Rebecca Todd
New Orleans City Park – source Susan Q Yin on Unsplash
Dat Dog Hot Dog Restaurant – source New Orleans Insider
African American Museum – source NOAAM.org
Airboat Swamp Tour – source Airboat Tours