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Top 12 Family-Friendly Things to Do in New Orleans

Many people think of New Orleans as a place to party with friends and get wild while celebrating festivals and drinking on the street. However, New Orleans is also a great place for a family vacation because there are so many kid-friendly things to do here during the daytime.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor recreation, learning opportunities, or delicious food, NOLA has you and your family covered for non-stop excitement and exploration. Here are some of the best family-friendly things to do in New Orleans for your upcoming trip.

Go on a City Tour Saint Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square in New Orleans
Credit: Saint Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square in New Orleans by © F11photo | Dreamstime.com

Go on a City Tour

What Is It? There are many different city tours available in New Orleans that welcome families with children. Popular stops on the city tour include top New Orleans attractions, like the French Quarter, Garden District, Hurricane Katrina sites, and the famous cemeteries.

Why Do It? City tours give you and your family a great “lay of the land” when you first get to New Orleans. By trusting a local guide to show you the top sites, you can get a sense of where everything is located and come back on your own later to the things that looked particularly interesting.

Good to Know: This specific tour is three hours long, on an air-conditioned bus, and led by a professional guide. Round-trip transportation is provided from several different New Orleans hotels.

Relax on a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride A beautiful and unique way to see the city
Credit: A beautiful and unique way to see the city by © Lues01 | Dreamstime.com

Relax on a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride

What Is It? One of the most iconic things to do on a family trip to New Orleans is to go for a carriage ride. Carriage tours let you take a step back in time, while taking it easy on your sore feet.

Why Do It? Horse-drawn carriages were the original way that people got around the streets of New Orleans. Today, the rides come with guided commentary and are perfect for special occasions and memorable times with the people you love.

Good to Know: There are several local guide companies that offer horse-drawn carriage tours. You’ll typically find the carriages lined up on the Decatur side of Jackson Square.

Sail on the Mississippi Riverboat City of New Orleans
Credit: Riverboat City of New Orleans by Riverboat City of New Orleans

Sail on the Mississippi

What Is It? It is a special experience to go for a cruise down the Mississippi River with your family. The New Orleans Steamboat Company offers daytime, dinner, and Sunday jazz cruises. These cruises come with sightseeing and brunch options.

Why Do It? You and your kids will love seeing New Orleans from the water and relaxing on a historic vessel for your vacation. You’ll see the skyline, enjoy some food, and listen to music as you snap great photos together.

Good to Know: If you have little kids in tow, choose a daytime boat tour rather than an evening one for the best family-friendly vibe. The departure point is at the Gray Line ticket office at Toulouse Street.

Listen to Live Jazz Music Listen to the soothing sounds of jazz with your little ones
Credit: Listen to the soothing sounds of jazz with your little ones by © Geoff Goldswain | Dreamstime.com

Listen to Live Jazz Music

What Is It? It would be a shame not to see and listen to some live and authentic jazz music during your family trip to New Orleans. It’s certainly one of the top reasons to visit New Orleans. You can hear music all over the city – on the streets, in parks, and in jazz clubs during both the daytime and evening hours.

Why Do It? New Orleans is synonymous with jazz, and this activity will introduce your kids to an All-American style of music that is still cherished today.

Good to Know: You can listen to jazz music at various restaurants around the city, such as the Palm Court Jazz Café and Three Muses. There are all-ages shows and open-mic nights that don’t require attendees to be 21+. Jazz brunches are also good options for families, as well as the Jazz in the Park outdoor concert series events.

Tour a Southern Plantation View of the New Orleans Laura Plantation
Credit: View of the New Orleans Laura Plantation by © Filippo Bonfiglio | Dreamstime.com

Tour a Southern Plantation

What Is It? There is a lot of history to learn about in New Orleans, and much of this involves discussions of plantations and slavery. These can be difficult topics to discuss with children, but you can experience historic sites together with the input of an expert guide that will offer explanations and insights.

Why Do It? Plantation tours are available at various properties throughout the New Orleans area and highlight stunning architecture and landscaping while teaching important lessons about history.

Good to Know: The Oak Valley Plantation is one of the most photographed plantations in the region, but there are many others to consider visiting too. These include the Laura Plantation, Houmas House, and Whitney Plantation.

Indulge in Some Sweet Beignets Sugary goodness everyone will love
Credit: Sugary goodness everyone will love by © D Bergallo | Dreamstime.com

Indulge in Some Sweet Beignets

What Is It? New Orleans is famous for a variety of delicious foods, including the beignet. Beignets are a type of deep-fried pastry that is made from dough and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.

Why Do It? Beignets are a favorite treat among both visitors and locals in New Orleans. They’re a staple of NOLA culture and a fun way to indulge your sweet tooth while you’re traveling.

Good to Know: It’s totally acceptable to eat beignets at any time of the day. Café Du Monde is the most famous place to get them in town. But lots of other places have great ones too, including Morning Call, Katie’s, and Stuph’D Beignets & Burgers.

Play at the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park Ferris wheel in Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, New Orleans
Credit: Ferris wheel in Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, New Orleans by © Jaimie Tuchman | Dreamstime.com

Play at the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park

What Is It? There are over a dozen rides at this amusement park on Victory Avenue in New Orleans. Kids love the Ferris wheel and other attractions with their families.

Why Do It? This is one of the most unique attractions in the city. It’s fun to make a family-friendly outing that centers on this amusement park, City Putt, and the Train Garden.

Good to Know: Daily ticket prices are $25 for kids that are 36 inches and taller. Admission is free for kids under 36 inches, and adult prices are $15.

Join a New Orleans Cooking Class Seafood platter, New Orleans style
Credit: Seafood platter, New Orleans style by © Cafebeanz Company | Dreamstime.com

Join a New Orleans Cooking Class

What Is It? If you have older kids who are interested in food, a cooking class can be fun for the whole family. There are various cooking class options to choose from to learn about gumbo, jambalaya, pralines, and more.

Why Do It? New Orleans food is truly unique and absolutely delicious. Introduce your children to new flavors and textures while you travel!

Good to Know: This cooking class is about two hours long and involves a demonstration by a local chef. You’ll learn about the basics of New Orleans specialties and get to sample the dishes.

Visit the Audubon Zoo Audubon Zoo
Credit: Audubon Zoo by Audubon Zoo

Visit the Audubon Zoo

What Is It? New Orleans has a highly recommended zoo that is great for taking children to. It is located in the historic Uptown area and features animals from around the world.

Why Do It? Zoos are always a favorite family activity and a great way to keep little ones active, engaged, and entertained in NOLA. There is also an aquarium and nature center here.

Good to Know: The Audubon Zoo is open from Thursdays through Mondays, 10 am to 5pm. You can purchase your zoo tickets online in advance of your visit.

Canoe or Kayak on the Bayou Canoeing through an ancient cypress swamp as Spanish moss hangs in the trees
Credit: Canoeing through an ancient cypress swamp as Spanish moss hangs in the trees by © Lightscribe | Dreamstime.com

Canoe or Kayak on the Bayou

What Is It? If you have an active and outdoorsy family, it’s fun to take a canoe or kayak out on the bayou. There are guided tours that you can join. Alternatively, you can rent or bring your own gear for a DIY family outing.

Why Do It? New Orleans is surrounded by water, so it’s fun and educational to get out on a watercraft to experience this kind of nature. It’s also a great way to get a city break and get your kids’ bodies moving.

Good to Know: Popular places to take a canoe or kayak near New Orleans include Fort Proctor, Jean Lafitte National Park, Bayou St. John, and Bogue Chitto.

Learn About Mardi Gras Learn more about the iconic decorations and festivities of Mardi Gras
Credit: Learn more about the iconic decorations and festivities of Mardi Gras by © Amadeustx | Dreamstime.com

Learn About Mardi Gras

What Is It? Mardi Gras World offers an up-close look into the excitement of Mardi Gras with self-guided tours and informational signs. Here you learn about floats, costumes, parades, and everything else that Mardi Gras is about.

Why Do It? Many parents would be hesitant to bring their kids along to the craziness of the annual Mardi Gras festival. But that doesn’t mean they can’t learn about Mardi Gras and have a lot of fun with all of the costumes and traditions!

Good to Know: Mardi Gras World is open from 9am to 5:30pm every day except for select holidays. Tours last for about an hour and run every 30 minutes.

Check Out a Local Museum Walk around the sculpture garden in the New Orleans Museum of Art
Credit: Walk around the sculpture garden in the New Orleans Museum of Art by © Ruben Martinez Barricarte | Dreamstime.com

Check Out a Local Museum

What Is It? Aside from Mardi Gras World, there are lots of museums that are family-friendly in New Orleans too. These include the New Orleans Museum of Art, National WWII Museum, and the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

Why Do It? Museums are a great way to sneak a little educational time into your travel itinerary. They are also perfect for days when the weather isn’t cooperating or when you need some built-in entertainment to keep the kids engaged in your travels.

Good to Know: Most of the museums in New Orleans have admission fees, which can add up if you are traveling with a large family. However, many of these attractions have free and discounted admission days, so check the websites of museums you’re interested in for a budget-friendly deal.

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