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Top 8 Things To Do in New Orleans with Kids (+ Restaurants)

In my experience, New Orleans is one of the most culturally intense cities in the US. With jazz, voodoo, Mardi Gras, its French heritage, and others like Creole, African American, and the Caribbean, everywhere you look, there is something interesting to learn about. Top things to do in New Orleans with kids and the best restaurants for families.

The good thing is that it allows you to explore and have fun for days, weeks even.

This is exactly what happened to me and my family, we were there for a little over a week and by the time we left, there were still tons of things that we wanted to see and do.

Following is a list, and information on all the amazing things we got to enjoy as a family, great cafes and restaurants that we loved and recommend while traveling in New Orleans with kids.

The minute we stepped off the plane at the Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans I knew something had changed.

I have been to New Orleans two times before this trip with my kids on a solo parenting expedition.

Mardi Gras World New Orleans dressing up

When I was first here, was over 20 years ago for Mardi Gras. Not really a time for family travel. Plus, I was so young, kids were the furthest from my mind. So they never even came on my radar.

Recommended Read: Historical Facts About New Orleans

My second venture there was 15 years ago with my parents and brother. Since I was already in my twenties, we weren’t exactly going on a family-friendly type of trip, but to enjoy the Jazz Festival. Also, not really the youngest family-friendly time to visit. And even if it was, I certainly didn’t pay them any mind.

So when we got off and were literally surrounded by at least ten other families with kids my kids ages, I was thrilled.

And it only got better from there.

Things For Kids To Do In New Orleans

Honestly, I had no idea there was this much to do in New Orleans. When I started doing my research, I was blown away by all the cool activities and decided a week was a good time period for our trip.

Mardi Gras World

Mardi Gras World is a must-do. No matter the age. No matter how limited you are on time. This place is incredible. Not only do you get to see all the cool floats and how it’s being done right in front of you, but you also get to learn all about the Mardi Gras festival and its Cultural importance to New Orleans.

entrance to Mardi Gras World in New Orleans

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

This Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is without a doubt one of the best insect or bug live museums we’ve been to. It’s relatively small and can be done in about one to one and a half hours.

The highlight by far was the bug buffet. You and your kids can try food with real insects. I totally skipped on this, but my kids went for it.

build a bug at Audubon Insectarium in new orleans

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Aquariums are always fun. This one also isn’t huge. The whole place can be seen, including attending some shows, in about two hours. The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas combined with the Insectarium is a perfect way to spend the day.

The best part about it is the location. You have to walk along the Mississippi River along the riverfront walk.

stingrays at the audubon aquarium of the americas

City Park and Celebration of the Oaks

City Park is the main park area of New Orleans. It’s about a 20 minute ride by streetcar out, but really worth the trip. It’s a huge park which can have you enjoying it for a full day.

We also came during the Christmas season, which is a really popular festival called Celebration of the Oaks and is a must-see. We did it with a Gray Line tour so that I would be able to learn some history about it as well. But it was a short tour, and the rest of the time we spent exploring the festival area of the park.

New Orleans City Park - Celebration of the oaks

Steamboat Natchez

This is kind of a given that you will at one point or another end up on this cool steamboat cruise called Steamboat Natchez. You can either do lunch or dinner. If you do lunchtime, you don’t actually have to buy the food, and can simply enjoy the cruise. No matter the price you pay, everyone gets to enjoy some live jazz.

steamboat natchez at new orleans

Swamp Tour

If you have a chance to do a swamp tour, I highly recommend it. The whole Swamp Tour, including the ride out to the bayou area, is about four hours tops. We had to do it since my kids wanted to see where the Princess and the Frog spent most of their time. But after doing it, it was a really nice difference from the rest of your time in NOLA.

kid fun - swamp tours new orleans

Voodoo and Cemetery Tours

I couldn’t resist this tour. Voodoo is such a huge component of New Orleans culture and history, so I recommend doing voodoo and cemetery tours. However, I wouldn’t really recommend this tour for younger kids. It can get really verbose and a bit boring. Gratefully, my kids found a way to entertain themselves, but just be aware it can be boring and the kids will want to go home.

voodoo tours in new orleans

Walking Around and Sightseeing

New Orleans, especially the French Quarters area, is a walking city. It’s quite small as far as how many blocks. But each block has so much to do. Street performers. Musicians. Magicians. Sword swallowers. And the list goes on and on.

This is by far my favorite thing to do as soon as we land in a new place. Going on a city tour allows us to quickly get to know the city and to get familiarized with it before we set off on our adventures. This ensures that we spot some of the local restaurants, supermarkets or stores, pharmacies, or anything we might need during our stay.

All of that of course, on top of the facts and historical information that you learn. All you need to do is find the best New Orleans city tour in advance. You can do that a few weeks before your trip through a good internet search.

sword swallowers at the french quarters in new orleans

The riverfront walk is gorgeous. Plenty of spots to sit and enjoy the view while the kids can run around and explore in safety.

New Orleans Riverwalk

Jackson Square was one of our favorite spots. During the week, off season, it’s quieter with artists and horse carriages and the famous Cafe Du Monde. But during the weekends and high season this place has extraordinarily talented dancers, break dancers, magicians and countless of others. You can literally spend the whole day and not feel it.

French Quarters - Jackson Square

French Market – just a few blocks from Jackson Square is the famous French Market. This is an open market. Even though it’s great to see all the stuff for sale unless you plan on getting your kids something, it might be seriously boring for them.

French Market - New Orleans

This is just some of the things to do in New Orleans.  I’m sure you can find tons more, but for now it’s a good start.

Video Fun

Restaurants in New Orleans

Johnny Po Boy’s

You need to eat a Po Boy while in NOLA, it is one of their traditional dishes and Johnny Po Boy’s is a great place to do that. It is an order-at-the-counter style restaurant where you get to see how they are prepared.

The food is amazing, and it is one of the oldest po-boy restaurants in the area. Do you need more reasons?

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

I know that bars aren’t exactly what you look for when traveling with kids but this one is full of history and great food. It was built back in 1722 and has a fun history that includes fires and smuggling.

If you visit during the day you can enjoy a beer, get lemonade for your kids and order a snack while you enjoy the place.

Café Du Monde

Beignets are another of those dishes that you need to try in New Orleans!  These delicious pastries quickly became my family’s favorite things to eat during this trip. We ended up visiting this restaurant a couple of times per day.

Plus, this cute café with outdoor sitting is located right on Jackson Square in the French Quarters of the city and is open 24/7.

Café Beignet

YES! More beignets.

This place offers a delicious breakfast aside from the iconic beignets. It was the second most visited restaurant by my family while exploring New Orleans.

It is no wonder that beignets have been around for over 200 years as a staple food for breakfast. The only way I can describe them is as a mixture of a French pastry combined with a donut.

Dat Dog Restaurant

Can you tell that most of the restaurants we visited were selected by my sons? When we weren’t having po-boys or beignets, we were here having hot dogs.

But these weren’t your common hot dogs, they had some crazy and delicious variations that made me feel better about not going for more of a complete meal for my family. Fries also come in all sorts of styles in Dat Dog Restaurant.

How to Get Around

It is different for everyone, some prefer renting a car, but for my family and I, the trolley was our transportation of choice for this trip. We usually go by car too instead of public transportation, but, whenever we are in cities, we like to avoid the hassle of traffic, parking, and figuring out the safe places to leave the car.

Now that I have taken you on a quick tour of some of my family’s favorite places to visit during our visit to New Orleans tell me, which ones are you going to add to your bucket list for this city?

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