What to do with your kids in New Orleans:
While New Orleans may proudly wear the title of a party town, I was impressed by not only how easy it was to get around town, but all the kid-friendly activities there were to do! We only had a limited time in New Orleans, and while we conquered a lot, there was still even more I want to go back and visit.
Activities we did
- Aquarium of the Americas
- Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
- Carriage ride through the French Quarter
- Steamboat Natchez
- Storyland at City Park
- Riding a Streetcar
- Beignet tasting at Cafe du Monde
Audubon Aquarium & Insectarium
In one morning, we were able to visit the Aquarium and Insectarium, as they are conveniently located only one block from each other. We spent about 4 hours between both, including time for lunch, exploring their exhibits and partaking in a few of their interactive features.
Having one of the largest Aquariums right in our backyard (The Tennessee Aquarium), I have pretty high standards when it comes to aquariums. While this one is smaller, I loved a lot of their hands on exhibits, like the stingray and parakeet feeding. Next to each tank/aquarium is a digital sign with pictures of the fish, a name, and a brief description. My daughter loved trying to find the fish from the signs in the tanks. This aquarium is clean, well kept and easy to navigate, even with a stroller. It was raining on the day we visited, making this a perfect indoor activity with the kids.
After we visited the aquarium, we walked the one block over to the Insectarium. I was skeptical about how interesting a place just about bugs would be, but I was so surprised by how much I loved it. If you only had time to do the Insectarium or the Aquarium, I would actually recommend the Insectarium, mainly for how unique and interesting it was.
The Insectarium offers several great exhibits – with lots of hands of opportunities for the kids. They can touch a beetle, have a butterfly land of them, watch a digital film with special effects or even taste some critters!
For me, the highlight of the Insectarium has to be the fact that Easton ate a bug 🙂 In their cafe, they offer free tastings of several different snacks or spreads, and while my daughter wasn’t having any part, Easton happily downed a chocolate covered cricket and even asked for more. How often does your kid get the opportunity to try a beetle cookie or chocolate cricket?!
Emmie would say her highlight was having all the butterflies land on her in the Butterfly Gardens. One even landed on top of her head! She also loved the film they showed – Awards Night. They did a great job of combining an educational opportunity with a fun experience for kids. The film, which main character is narrated by Jay Leno, gives a great description of bugs, while making it funny and entertaining with unique special effects like smelly gas and moving seats.
I really loved our time at the Insectarium and will always remember the sound of Easton crunching the bug in his mouth, and smiling 🙂
Carriage Ride with Royal Carriages
My favorite tour we did in New Orleans was hands down the carriage ride through the French Quarter with Royal Carriages. They offer hour long group tours, or you can take a private tour for 30 minutes or an hour. With our young kids we knew they wouldn’t last long, so we booked a 30 minutes private tour, and it was perfect! I am not sure Easton would have made it any longer. Our tour was at 6pm, giving us time to grab dinner after.
I LOVED seeing all the architecture and beauty of the French Quarter, and taking our time by carriage as we strolled up and down the streets was the perfect way to do it. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, and I loved hearing all about the history of the city, including which houses were believed to be haunted and why.
The kids loved riding behind the horse, and getting to pet him before we got on. Their favorite part was getting to “drive” the carriage when they got to hold the reins at the end of the tour. Our guide was so sweet and patient with the kids!
This tour is a great for families as it is a good combination of fun for kids and informative for parents. They loved the horses and Emmie felt like a real princess riding in a carriage. I loved that I got a good history and sense of the city from our guide. I liked hearing more about the city in a one-on-one setting from our guide, rather than just being part of a big group. Our guide even recommend where we go for dinner with our kids – and I am so thankful for it as the food was amazing! We really loved this experience and would definitely recommend it for your visit to New Orleans.
The Steamboat Natchez is a real steamboat that takes you up and down the Mississippi River to get a great view of New Orleans by boat. They offer lunch and dinner cruises, with live jazz in the main cabin.
We took the lunch cruise during the week and have a great time. I loved getting to see the New Orleans city scape from the top of the boat, listening to jazz music and getting to peak inside the engine room to see how it runs. My kids loved watching the big red wheel churn through the water, and I have to say, it was very cool!
We did not buy the lunch onboard as my daughter can’t have diary and almost everything there included it. I brought a few items with me (peanut butter cups and crackers) and we picked up a few items from the snack bar to make our own lunch. It was windy on one side of the ship, but the other side was hot so we stuck with the wind 🙂
The cruise takes about 2 hours total. While we loved our time on the ship, my kids were done about an hour into it. It was seriously close to naptime which didn’t help, but after having lunch and exploring around there wasn’t much for them to do. I still loved the experience and would absolutely take them again, I just wish it ended 30 minutes earlier 🙂
I fell in love with City Park as it is stunning with its old oak trees and droopy moss. We only have an hour here, and it wasn’t enough. We went to the Storyland park, which is a super cute play area for children based off storybook characters. I felt bad as I made this rush through this part so we could make it to our lunch cruise on time, as they really could have played here for the whole hour.
If we had more time, I would have loved to have taken them to the lake at the front, where you can go paddle boating or taken family bicycle carts out around the lake. I could easily see how you can spend an entire morning or whole day at this park.
Cafe du Monde
Emmie was most looking forward to our stop here for two reasons: she has a major sweet tooth and she loves Tiana. We came at about 5pm before our carriage ride through the french quarter. While very busy, we sat down immediately and within 5 minutes had our beignets. And oh my, they were delicious! I am glad to have checked this off our New Orleans bucket list and would happily return.
New Orleans might just be the most kid friendly city to navigate we have ever visited, thanks to the street cars. Not once did we need to get in the car! Our hotel, the Hilton Riverside, was located right next to the main hub of streetcars, giving us a good proximity to everything. For $3 a day per person (2 and under free), you can ride as many times as you want in a day.
We took the streetcar all the way to City Park one morning, and then rode it right from our hotel to the French Quarter. I even took our City Mini stroller with us, and just folded it up easily once we got on. The kids loved being able to sit freely without a carseat, and I loved looking our the window at everything that was going on around me and enjoying the view.
Our hotel was located right on the Riverwalk, which is an area with a few restaurants and outlet shopping along the river. It also has a splash pad right in front of the Aquarium, which my daughter happily cooled down in. It was nice to walk alongside the river at night to get a good breeze and view.
As I mentioned before, we saw a lot in our little time in New Orleans, and I am thankful for all that we got to do. If we had more time, I would like to have added these things to our list:
- Audubon Zoo
- Louisiana Children’s Museum
- Garden District
- More time at City Park – bike rides and paddle boats