Top Things to do in New Orleans with Kids
There is much more to New Orleans than beignets at Café du Monde, and Hurricanes at Pat O’Briens, although those are certainly worth trying during a visit to the Big Easy. Many people only think of the adult fun that can be had in this town. For parents planning to visit New Orleans, here is a list of our top things to do in New Orleans with kids:
Haunted History Tours
There are several themed history tours available through the Haunted History Tour company. I had hoped that my daughters might be old enough to enjoy the French Quarter Ghost Tour with me, but they both chickened out. (That’s OK, I didn’t want them to be too scared to sleep in their own beds!)
We opted for the Cemetery History Tour, which is a two-hour walking tour through some of the oldest parts of the city and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. There are two tours daily, conducted during daylight hours.
Our guide, Ernie, was a New Orleans native and veritable city historian who provided insight into all sorts of city lore. He was a great storyteller and his humor kept our 11 year-old captivated during the entire tour. I would highly recommend this tour for older children. Our 8 year-old enjoyed it, but she lost interest before the two hours was up.
The Audubon Zoo
We love to visit zoos, and the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans had some special creatures on view, like an albino alligator and a white tiger. There is water playground called Cool Zoo which is open in April through the hot summer months. They are currently expanding this part of the park to include a river ride which will open in 2015. Between all the animal exhibits, the butterfly garden and the Cool Zoo play park, the Audubon Zoo is a great place for families to spend an entire day.
Visitors staying at Hilton New Orleans/St. Charles Avenue can take the street car all the way up St. Charles Avenue, past the Garden District to Audubon Park, where there is another short shuttle bus that takes you to the Audubon Zoo; no car necessary.
Arnaud’s Germaine Wells Mardi Gras Museum
We splurged and enjoyed a meal at a true New Orleans original: Arnaud’s. Since 1918, this restaurant has been providing fine Creole cuisine in its elegant dining room, and live jazz music in its neighboring bar, The Jazz Bistro.
Jackets are preferred for men in the dining room, so my girls and I took the opportunity to dress up as well. The experience of dressing up and dining in this 20th century restaurant with its tiled floor, crystal chandeliers and Parisian cane chairs transported us to a bygone era.
Arnaud’s renowned dishes, like Escargot en Casserole, Oysters Bienville and Bananas Foster, were delicious, and the service was impeccable. We had three waiters serving us throughout the meal!
Despite the memorable meal, what our daughters will remember from the evening is visiting the Mardi Gras museum upstairs. Open during restaurant hours, the Germaine Wells Mardi Gras Museum is a collection of gowns worn by Germaine Wells, Arnaud’s daughter and queen of more Mardi Gras balls than any other woman. She presided over 22 balls between 1937 and 1968.
The museum collection showcases 13 beautiful costumes and more than 70 photos of Mardi Gras history. It provides a unique glimpse at how extensive and deeply historic the Mardi Gras traditions are in New Orleans’ culture.
Any child who has enjoyed the Harry Potter series will enjoy visiting the Voodoo shops in the French Quarter. We chose to visit two: Marie Leveau’s Voodoo Shop, and Rev. Zombie’s Voodoo Shop, where the displays are more like museums than shops. There are signs everywhere offering information and requests of “Please Do Not Touch.”
Although my daughter was a little disappointed that there weren’t any spells to purchase, she was enthralled by all of the paraphernalia on display. There were plenty of small-priced items available for purchase. My daughters each opted to buy a voodoo doll that brings about positive energy. We took the voodoo dolls to use back home because, with all the friendly natives and their Southern hospitality in New Orleans, positive energy abounds there!
Get more ideas for things to do in New Orleans:
- See all of our vacation photos from New Orleans.
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Know Before You Go
- New Orleans is known as “The Big Easy.”
- The National WWII Museum is one of the top-rated museums in the country. Don’t miss checking it out!
- The famous Café Du Monde is open 24 hours a day to get your beignet fix.
- If you plan to go during Mardi Gras, pack comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.