photo credit: Andi F via Yelp

Known around the world for it’s Mardi Gras celebrations, New Orleans has a lesser known reputation for its family-friendly museums, attractions, carousels, street cars and other things to do with kids that go way beyond the typical tourist destinations (we’re looking at you, Bourbon Street). Here are our picks for a PG-rated, hangover-free visit to the Big Easy.

Sure, children and parents alike love carnival, but New Orleans offers everything from top-notch kid-centric museums  to one of the world’s largest aquariums. It’s also a relatively easy city to navigate with kids, especially if you take a public transportation.

To highlight everything that New Orleans has to offer, we’ve scoured the streets to find the best activities for parents and children of all ages. Whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor, here are the 8 best places in New Orleans for families and kids.

Louisiana Children’s Museum / Arts District
20 Julia St
New Orleans, LA 70130
lcm.org

An interactive museum with over 30,000 square feet of art, music, science, math, and health, and role-playing environments, the Louisiana Children’s Museum is a local favorite. Activities include the “Little Port of New Orleans,” where kids can pilot a towboat down the Mississippi River or serve a make-believe meal in the cruise ship galley.

The museum is located on the Arts District (Warehouse District), a historic neighborhood with cool art galleries and restaurants (including the Original Emeril’s).  The whole family will love exploring the “Soho of the South.”

Garden District via New Orleans Streetcar
St Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130-5968
website

New Orleans is home to the oldest continually operating street car in the United States. Operating since 1835, the street car has several routes through the city. We recommend the taking a ride to the Garden District. Once there, you can visit Ann Rice’s favorite book store, Garden District Book Shop,  and Lafayette Cemetery Number 1, the setting for that thrilling scene from the Ashley Judd film Double Jeopardy.

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French QuarTour Kids Tour
Dumaine St
New Orleans, LA 70116
www.frenchquarterkidstours.com

The only tour company focused exclusively on kids, we highly recommend tour as the best way to navigate the French Quarter in New Orleans with kids. Kids walking tours of the French Quarter, 4-18 years old. . the Led by 2 former teachers, the tours include following a treasure map, life as a Creole kid, or a not-too-spooky ghost hunt. Stops on the tour included the Mississippi Riverfront, Jackson Square and the Old Slave Auction House.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
#1 Canal St
New Orleans, LA 70130
audubonnatureinstitute.org/aquarium

Located on the Mississippi River adjacent to the French Quarter, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is a favorite destination for families. The 400,000 gallon Gulf of Mexico Exhibit includes a walk-through tunnel featuring our gigantic sharks, tarpon, and rays. Other highlights include live penguins, a sea otter and parakeet feeding opportunity.

City Park
1 Palm Dr,
New Orleans, LA 70124
neworleanscitypark.com/

Spread out over 1,300 acres in the heart of the city, City Park is bustling with family-friendly fun, including the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park,  Storyland, a theme playground filled with 20 larger-than-life storybook sculptures featuring classic fairytale characters, The Historic New Orleans Train Garden, snuggled inside the Botanical Garden, and CityPutt, a 100% ADA accessible mini golf complex showcasing streets and iconic themes from around the city.

Mardi Gras World
1380 Port of New Orleans Place
New Orleans, LA 70130
mardigrasworld.com

Imagine all of the costumes, floats and décor of the New Orlean’s Mardi Gras parade without the crowds of drunk revelers? This tour is a great option if you are in New Orleans outside of Mardi Gras season. To be clear, this isn’t a museum, but rather a warehouse filled with memorabilia. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of Instagram worthy photos opps with all of the props and costumes. Each tour ends with a slice of King Cake (which is hard to find out of season). A complimentary shuttle is available for people taking the tour.

Steamboat Natchez Tour
600 Decatur St., Toulouse Street Wharf
New Orleans, LA 70130
steamboatnatchez.com

Many locals believe the best way to see New Orleans is from the water. As the only steamboat in New Orleans, Steamboat Natchez takes visitors on an old-timey tour of the Mississippi River, as the captain shouts through a hand-held megaphone and a band plays vintage jazz music. You can have lunch aboard the ship or simply buy an ice cream from the gift shop, as the tour guide points out area of historical significance, as well as industrial points of interest like a sugar factory. Kids love the walk through the engine room.

National World War II Museum
945 Magazine St
New Orleans, LA 70130
nationalww2museum.org

This interactive museum is ranked #4 in the country and #11 in the world by TripAdvisor, and ranked #1 among family attractions in the city. Attractions include a 4D experience narrated by Tom Hanks.  Kid love the spacious layout of the museum that sprawls out over a large campus where they have the opportunity to climb aboard a Sherman tank as well as ride on the world’s only fully restored combat-veteran PT boat in operation today. Also located in the Arts District / Warehouse district.
The Best Upcoming Events for Kids in New Orleans
If you’re looking for events and activities, don’t miss our local New Orleans family events calendar, which has everything from story times to seasonal activities like apple picking, pumpkin patches, and Christmas tree farms.