This post covers things to do in New Orleans with kids.
We include a top 10 list, free activities, suggestions for places to eat, things to do at night, and tours that are good for the whole family.
This post is geared toward visitors and tourists, though if you are a local, please enjoy it!
We also note whenever an activity or attraction is free with the purchase of the New Orleans Power Pass, a tourist discount card
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN NEW ORLEANS
Below is a list of some of the best things you can do with kids in NOLA. Some of these are free to visit, others charge admission fees.
On average, you can expect to pay between $10-$30 per ticket for most of the activities below.
For free things to do, see the section below as well as our general post on free and cheap things to do in New Orleans.
1. Visit the Swamps
People of all ages enjoy these boat tours where you get a closer look at Louisiana's wetlands.
There are several boat tour companies to choose from so read our post about swamp boat tours in New Orleans.
Aside from alligators, you may see bald eagles, herons, egrets, and other native species. You might even get to hold a baby alligator!
If you do decide to take a swamp boat tour, the New Orleans Power Pass includes a free swamp tour.
If you prefer to not spend money on this activity, you can hike or paddle around the swamp with your family.
Learn more about these free swamp tour options in our section on free things to do.
2. Discover Audubon Zoo
This zoo has dozens of different exhibits including one with animals that are typical of those found in Louisiana's wetlands.
The zoo also has activities that kids will enjoy like their train ride around the zoo and their carousel.
Bring a bathing suit to cool down in the water park called Cool Zoo!
The zoo is easy to reach by streetcar and they offer a free shuttle. Click here to learn more about Audubon Zoo.
You might also want to check out the Audubon Aquarium. You can read more about it in the Museums and Attractions section below.
TIP: If you are planning on going to both the zoo and the Audubon Aquarium, a tourist pass, like the New Orleans Power Pass can help you save money.
3. Take a Ghost Tour
Families with older children (10 years old and up), should consider taking one of the many spooky tours in New Orleans.
In addition to discovering the dark history of this city, you might also have the opportunity to learn about voodoo and vampires.
Tickets on most tours are around $25 per adult, but we offer a pay-what-you-like French Quarter ghost tour. Learn about our tour and others.
For younger kids, we recommend ghost tours offered during the day. Guides will tone down the scare-factor if children are present in the group.
Note: A free ghost tour is included with the Power Pass.
4. Spend some time in City Park
City Park full of wonderful activities for kids. There's the Carousel Gardens amusement park, a wonderful themed playground, known as Storyland, and a mini-golf course.
You could easily spend an entire day or more at this family-friendly park. Each attraction is very affordable and will put a smile on young faces.
- 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
Click here for more information about City Park.
5. Check out Mardi Gras World
At Mardi Gras World, you can celebrate Fat Tuesday every day of the year!
Blaine Kern's company have been producing beautiful Mardi Gras floats at this studio for over 70 years, and now you can see their amazing work up close.
Tours include a trip through the studios where floats are made.
At the end of your trip through Mardi Gras history, you'll receive a free piece of a classic Mardi Gras food, a King Cake.
Mardi Gras World 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.
- Ticket Prices: $22 for Adults | $17 for Students/Seniors | $14 for Kids
- Included for free in the New Orleans Power Pass.
- Included for free with Mardi Gras Tour.
- Click here for additional information about Mardi Gras World
If you are on a budget, there are also free ways to learn about Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
6. Visit a Historic Cemetery
Much like ghost tours, the historic cemeteries of New Orleans can be appealing to older children and teenagers.
The best way to learn about the cemeteries is by taking a guided tour, such as our pay-what-you-want tours St. Louis Cemetery #1 and Lafayette Cemetery #1.
Tours through these graveyards usually take place early in the day, so you won't have to worry about the scare level.
The tours are recommended only for children ages 7+.
The Power Pass includes a free guided tour of St. Louis Cemetery #1. You can also visit the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 on a Garden District tour from Take Walks.
Read our guide to New Orleans cemeteries to help plan your exploration and to learn more about why our cemeteries are so unique.
7. Take a Riverboat Tour
Most kids enjoy taking boat rides -- as do adults also! For an excellent family outing, you can take one of the many riverboat tours on the Mississippi River.
Even better, most riverboat tour companies offer free or very cheap tickets for children. Find out more from our post on riverboat tours in New Orleans.
These tours are a great way to spend time out on the water and see the city from a different point of view. Some have live jazz music on board.
Also, if you are considering the New Orleans Power Pass, it includes a free riverboat cruise.
If you are on a budget, you can take the $2 ferry ride with scenic views to Algiers Point. It leaves several times daily from the French Quarter.
8. Discover the Plantations of New Orleans
New Orleans is a city built on 300 years of history, some of which can still be found at nearby plantations.
Tours are an excellent educational opportunity for children to learn about plantation life was like more than 200 years ago.
Both the Laura and Oak Alley plantations offer tours and access to the grounds, and there are several other plantations to visit.
Plantation tours are offered daily all year long. As a convenience, most offer hotel pick-up for guests.
Find out about the best plantations and tours.
TIP: Admission to Oak Alley is included free with the New Orleans Power Pass.
9. Listen to the Music
New Orleans is synonymous with Jazz. For the young musicians in your group, you can take a kid-friendly music history tour.
You might like to visit Music Box Village (see below for information). There is also a lot of free street music in New Orleans.
Also, check out these family-friendly music venues:
- Preservation Hall
- 3 Muses
- Snug Harbor
- BB King's
- Commander's Palace
- Rock 'N' Bowl
10. Attend a Sporting Event
Sports events are perfect for a family outing. New Orleans is host to two major sports teams, the Pelicans (basketball) and the Saints (football).
The Pelicans are a pretty good team! Watch them beat the LA Lakers in this highlights video!
Alternatively, you may also want to see a New Orleans Saints game during the NFL season during the fall and winter months from September - January.
If you are in New Orleans around the New Year, check out the well known Sugar Bowl, a special football game played on New Year's Eve every year. See our post on things to do in January.
Play the Escape Game
Escape rooms are one of the most popular forms of family entertainment because you work together to find clues and solve puzzles.
The Escape Game has some great themed-rooms: Special Ops, The Heist, Playground and Prison Break. Games are recommended for kids ages 13 and up.
The Escape Game rooms are open as early as 8 am and as late as 11:55 pm so you have lots of choices.
Better still, The Escape Game experience is included in some New Orleans discount tourist passes like the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass.
FREE THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN NEW ORLEANS
There are a lot of free things to do in the Big Easy, and some are kid-focused.
Also, take a look at our post of free things to do in NOLA. You may see something that isn't in this post but that you know your kids will enjoy.
See a Horse Race at the Fair Grounds
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.
Admission to the grandstand is absolutely free and great fun!
Some special events and clubhouse tickets are not free, most races won't cost a dime. Get more information here.
Visit a Swamp
As mentioned in the Top 10 list above, there are a lot of swamps in the New Orleans area.
You do not need to take a paid tour to see some of the swamp and its native creatures.
Bayou Sauvage and Barataria Preserve both offer free admission to all visitors.
Also, City Park also has swampland with plenty of beautiful wildlife to experience. You may even spot alligators in all three locations.
Whether you decide to take a paid tour or venture on your own, find out more about how to visit the swamps when in New Orleans by reading our swamp tours post.
Check out the Mardi Gras Museum
If Mardi Gras World is beyond your budget, you can enjoy some free alternatives, such as the alternatives for free.
Stop by Arnaud's Restaurant and, for free, check out their Mardi Gras museum to see dozens of historic costumes, masks, and party favors.
No need to eat at the restaurant. It's open to all.
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 your budget allows, consider paying to visit the very colorful Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes & Culture.
Tickets to this museum are included with the Mardi Gras tour offered by Take Walks.
TIP: If you are coming to NOLA during the Carnival season, read our post about enjoying Mardi Gras parades including parades just for kids.
Take a Ferry Ride
If you can't afford a boat tour, you might want to consider a trip on the Algiers Ferry instead.
It departs from the foot of Canal Street just near the French Quarter.
This $2 ferry (OK, It's not free) will take you across the Mississippi River to Algiers Point, a funky, friendly neighborhood to visit.
You will also get great views from the ferry ride over.
You can get off the ferry and explore Algiers Point using our self-guided tour.
Walk Through the Sculpture Garden
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is filled with wonderful pieces of modern art that both children and adults can enjoy.
Most of the sculptures are family-friendly and easy for kids to appreciate.
Note that you might feel a few pieces of art aren't appropriate for your kids, but that is in your discretion.
Overall this Sculpture Garden is a nice place to visit with kids and is free to enter. It's open daily between 10 am - 5 pm.
It's located in City Park. You can get more information here.
Take a Ride on a Streetcar
Whether you're trying to get to the ferry, the zoo, or any number of different attractions on this list, the streetcar probably goes there.
Although they aren't free, they are a very inexpensive, and more importantly, a super fun mode of transportation.
In fact, riding the streetcars of New Orleans is an activity in and of itself!
We recommend taking a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar to the Garden District and use our free, self-guided tour of the neighborhood to explore.
Be sure to look at our post of free things to do in NOLA for more ideas of family-friendly fun.
FOOD AND NIGHTLIFE WITH KIDS IN NEW ORLEANS
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.
Below are a few ideas that the entire family can 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.
Most restaurants have a kids menu and there are some restaurants that cater specifically to kids! Here are a few:
Dat Dog - Get a hot dog with a choice of over 30 different toppings. Most menu items are under $8. Great for lunch or dinner.
Dave and Busters - 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 - Try some great cajun food with a side order of live music. Every night you can see live music from 7 pm to 10 pm.
TIP: Just want a snack or a dessert? You MUST try one of New Orleans' most famous foods, a beignet.
These fried dough fritters with powdered sugar can be found in many places.
Our post about the best Beignets in New Orleans will lead you in the right direction.
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 Theatre
The historic Saenger Theatre regularly hosts family-friendly plays. Most plays begin between 6 pm - 8 pm.
In the past, the theater hosted a live adaptation of Aladdin, a special Disney Junior Dance Party and the Phantom of the Opera for older kids.
Keep an eye out for special events and plays that may be available during your trip. Check the Saenger Theatre schedule to see what's happening when you visit New Orleans.
Ticket prices range from $50-$250 on average, but you may be able to score discounts from StubHub.
Take a Dinner Cruise
We mentioned above the different riverboat tours in New Orleans. Some companies offer dinner cruises on the Mississippi River.
Some of the cruises are geared toward an adult crowd, but 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. Find out more here.
Enjoy a Round of Mini-Golf
City Putt, located in City Park, is open until 10 pm on most nights and midnight on the weekends.
If your kids are still energetic after dinner, get in a round of mini-golf.
The course has 36 holes, some of which refer to the history of New Orleans making this activity both educational and fun!
Tickets are $6 or less for children 12 and under.
Discover the Rock n' Bowl
At the historic Rock n' Bowl, you can bowl or you can rock 'n' roll - they have both live music and bowling alleys. See for yourself from this video.
It's open until midnight on most nights, making this a perfect place to visit either before or after dinner. You can also grab food there.
Bowling lanes cost $24 per hour to rent. Most food items are under $20.
Visit the Cats in Jackson Square
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. Learn more about Jackson Square here.
MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS FOR FAMILIES
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.
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.
Music Box Village
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 an insight into the development of medication over the course of American history.
Historic New Orleans Collection
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.
In addition to housing a lot of fish, the Aquarium has exhibits with sea otters, penguins, and even parakeets!
Each ticket comes with a free show at their Entergy Giant Screen Theater.
There are also a variety of special events throughout the year that are perfect for kids.
The National WW2 Museum
Visiting this museum that has several interactive experiences, is an engaging way for your children to learn about World War II.
In addition to tours, you can walk around and see memorabilia and even some WW2 era vehicles.
It's the #1 thing to do in New Orleans according to over 26,000 reviews on TripAdvisor,
It's also free with the purchase of the New Orleans Power Pass.
New Orleans Museum of Art
The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is great for families to visit.
In addition to their free Sculpture Garden, they also have interesting exhibits that both young and old audiences can enjoy.
Louisiana Children's Museum
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!
The French Market
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're always welcome at this Christmas store in the French Quarter.
They sell tree ornaments and decorations and holiday-themed merchandise.
In addition to all of the other attractions available at City Park, they also have a beautiful Botanical Garden.
Tickets are very affordable, and on Wednesdays, Louisiana residents are welcome to visit for free.
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 also offers a great view of Lake Pontchartrain.
Escape My Room
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.
SIGHTSEEING TOURS TO TAKE WITH YOUR KIDS
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 guided tours.
There are also the previously mentioned riverboat tours, swamp toursy plantation tours, which are all hits with kids.
Here is a closer look at 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 fom 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 9:30 am - 5:30 pm
- 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.
Note: Tickets for this tour can get somewhat expensive for families. Still, they can be great fun.
- 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.