When you think of the best family friendly vacation locales, what comes to mind? Disney World? Cedar Point? Great Wolf Lodge? Sea World? What if I told you that New Orleans is a fabulous place to take your kids on vacation? Believe it or not, New Orleans has so much more to offer than the adult fun of Bourbon Street. As a native New Orleanian raising kids in the Big Easy, I have a few suggestions for traveling to New Orleans with children that will rock your vacation.
1. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas: Located right on the Mississippi River and adjacent to the French Quarter, the Aquarium is convenient by foot or even streetcar. We love observing the sea otters, penguins, sharks, jellyfish and seahorses but our absolute favorite new addition is the Parakeet Pointe where you get up close and personal with more than 800 square feet of interactive space. You can even feed the birds!
2. Audubon Zoo: Ranked among one of the best Zoos for innovation and entertainment, the Audubon Zoo is one of our go-to activities! The elephants, gorillas and sea lions are always family favorites and the food is amazing in the Louisiana Swamp exhibit. A recent addition, the Cool Zoo, is perfect when traveling to New Orleans with children during the hot summer months.
3. Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium: If you have a little one that is fascinated by bugs, this is the place for you! This is a highly interactive and educational activity which includes a 4D movie, gorgeous butterfly garden and even the opportunity to dine on some food cooked with bugs!
4. Louisiana’s Children’s Museum: The museum offers more than 30,000 square feet of interactive play that is sure to entertain. On top of supporting reading and math skills, your child will learn all about Louisiana culture through the programs and interactive exhibits. My girls love “makin’ groceries” in the pretend grocery store!
5. Cafe du Monde: Beignets and chocolate mik. Enough said. Parents, try the cafe au lait, too! Open 24 hours and 364 days a year (closed on Christmas Day).
6. Storyland in City Park: This playground featuring 26 storybook vignettes is set in the beautiful City Park of New Orleans.
7. Carousel Gardens Amusement Park: Located next to Storyland, this is the perfect place to get your play on! From the historic carousel to the ferris wheel and the train ride to the bumper cars, there is something for everyone in this amusement park.
8. Horse and Carriage Rides: If you head to Jackson Square, you will find the mule-drawn carriages which is a great way to see the City without all the walking!
9. Steamboat Natchez: Take a ride down the Mississippi River while listening to a jazz band and fun facts about the city. The kids love touring the boat and seeing how a real steamboat works from the inside out!
10. Mardi Gras World: Believe it or not, Mardi Gras is a wonderful family friendly activity. But if you are not in town for the festivities, I highly recommend heading to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World to see what it’s all about.
Traveling to New Orleans with children can be a fun, relaxing, entertaining and educational experience. I love raising my kids here surrounding by our rich heritage and culture. I hope you enjoy my City and laissez les bon temps rouler!