When my family and I moved to New Orleans about a decade ago, we were pleasantly surprised to find so many great activities for children. Here are some activities that my wife and I would recommend:
- TheÂ Audubon Zoo makes for a nice day. You can get there via the St Charles streetcar, or a taxi. They even have a great archaeology section in the South America exhibit where your children can excavate ruins in the sand. Nearby Audubon Park has nice playground equipment, and Tulane and Loyola Universities are nearby as well (6500 Magazine Street, 504-581-4629).
- The Audubon Aquarium is also fun and within easy walking distance from our hotel. Though I’ve never been, I’ve heard mixed reviews about the newly opened Insectarium. The Aquarium has an imax theater, but the best bet would be the penguins. Therese says “the aquarium has eye candy for young and old alike, and it is stroller friendly” (Canal Street at the River, 504-581-4629).
- TheÂ Louisiana Children’s Museum is also within walking distance and is fun for younger children. Therese says it’s pretty much like every other children’s museum though. It’s a good option if it’s raining (420 Julia Street, 504-523-1357).
- If you take the Canal Street Streetcar (City Park Line) you can visit theÂ New Orleans Museum of Art and the Sculpture Garden. Plus, there are paddle boat rides where you can chase geese and great walking trails in City Park. There are some great playgrounds also for younger children.
- Cafe du Monde is a must stop for beignets and cafe au lait (1039 Decatur Street, 504-525-4544). Nearby you can watch boats on the river, and see street performers around Jackson Square. Get a muffaletta from Central Grocery (923 Decatur St, 504-523-1620) or even better, the Italian grocery next door, and bring it back to Jackson Square for a picnic.
- We’ve found that cemeteries are interesting to the old and young alike. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is on the N. side of Basin Street, and within walking distance of the hotel. Be sure to visit the grave of Marie Lavau, the voodoo queen. Check with Save Our Cemeteries for organized tours and visit their visitor’s center (501 Basin Street, 504-525-3377).
- There are free boat rides on the Mississippi River with the Canal Street Ferry.Â The round-trip ferry ride across the Mighty Mississipp is a pretty exciting adventure the first 100 or soÂ times, and feeling the power of Old Man River early in a New Orleans vacationÂ might help younger visitors understandÂ why our city exists where is does and has been rebuilt and reclaimedÂ after wars,Â fires, and floods.
- Therese recommends Mr. B’s Bistro as being kid friendly with great prices for lunch (201 Royal Street, 504-523-2078). Others recommend Arnaud’s Remoulade Restaurant as having authentic New Orleans cuisine at great prices and being kid friendly (309 Bourbon Street, 504-523-0377). I’d recommend the boudin appetizers.
- Do a walking tour, or a stroller pushing tour as the case might be.Â Some of the best walking tours of the French Quarter are done by the National Park rangers. They have pdf files to download with maps and mp3 files with tour information. TheÂ HNOC (Historic New Orleans Collection) has a pamphlet of self-guided tours; plus some pretty cool exhibits.
- Young and old alike would love a visit to Mardi Gras World (1380 Port of New Orleans Place, Â 1-800-362-8213).
- Finally, be sure to take your kids to Preservation Hall to hear some authentic New Orleans music. Check out the early show at 8 PM (726 St Peter Street, 504-522-2841).
Here’s a cartoon to get you and your children fired up: