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. To see what’s in store for the days you’ll be there, our events calendar is the spot to check out.

photo: Oliver_Wiedmann via pixabay

Garden District via New Orleans Streetcar
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.

St Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA
Online: norta.com

Louisiana Children’s Museum / Arts District
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.”

20 Julia St
New Orleans, LA
Online: lcm.org

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French QuarTour Kids Tour
The only tour company focused exclusively on kids, this tour is a great way to navigate the French Quarter in New Orleans with kids. Led by two 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.

Dumaine St
New Orleans, LA
Online: frenchquarterkidstours.com

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
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 gigantic sharks, tarpon and rays. Other highlights include live penguins, a sea otter and parakeet feeding opportunity.

#1 Canal St
New Orleans, LA 70130
Online: audubonnatureinstitute.org

City Park
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.

1 Palm Dr,
New Orleans, LA
Online: neworleanscitypark.com

photo: skeeze via pixabay

Mardi Gras World
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.

1380 Port of New Orleans Place
New Orleans, LA
Online: mardigrasworld.com

Steamboat Natchez Tour
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.

600 Decatur St., Toulouse Street Wharf
New Orleans, LA
Online: steamboatnatchez.com

National World War II Museum
Kid love the spacious layout of this 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.

945 Magazine St
New Orleans, LA
Online: nationalww2museum.org

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.

—Kate Loweth