When it comes to kid-friendly fun, a trip to New Orleans is a lot like a choose-your-own-adventure story. Kids and families have plenty of options for experiencing the city, so whether you have a house full of aspiring artists, action-loving daredevils or curious future scientists, just choose an interest and get ready for a day of exploration and discovery.
From bellowing, steam-powered whistles to clanging trolley bells, you’ll know you’re set for an adventure once you step aboard one of New Orleans’ historic methods of transportation. The Steamboat Natchez is New Orleans’ only steamboat, and its elegant furnishings and antique accents transport passengers to a bygone era. Visit the steam engine room to see the riverboat’s inner-workings, and listen to melodic tunes from the authentic steam-powered calliope, which even can be heard from the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. For a ride through the city, hop aboard one of New Orleans' vintage streetcars, outfitted with brass accents and mahogany wooden seats. The St. Charles line is the world’s oldest continuously operating street railway and passes by notable areas such as Audubon Park and the Garden District.
The world is a fascinating place, and for inquisitive kids with an eye for science, there’s plenty to see and do in New Orleans. For one stop to satisfy them all, the Audubon Nature Institute has everything a curious kid could want—from insects to dinosaurs to underwater creatures. Visit the Audubon Zoo to see exotic animals, play in a water park, go on a dinosaur adventure and ride a colorful carousel. At the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, you can walk through an underwater reef tunnel, feel the fear at the tropical shark exhibit, watch penguins play and get a hands-on experience with hundreds of exotic birds. And don’t forget the Audubon Insectarium for an up-close glimpse of creepy crawlers, butterflies and edible insects.
Little artists can turn to the greats for inspiration when they visit the New Orleans Museum of Art. From Degas to Picasso, this cultural institution showcases more than 40,000 pieces, as well as a beautifully landscaped sculpture garden for little ones to frolic in. Check the education schedule for upcoming workshops and age-appropriate art classes offered at the museum.
If gardens, flowers and the great outdoors sound exciting, take your kids to visit New Orleans City Park. This 1,300-acre green space has sprawling moss covered oak trees, lagoons, walking trails through Couturie Forest and plenty of opportunities to spot birds and wildlife. City Park also is home to the New Orleans Botanical Garden, a lush urban sanctuary filled with blooming flowers and exotic plants.
The Carousel Gardens Amusement Park is open with extended hours for the summer. Located in New Orleans City Park on Victory Drive, City Park invites your entire family out to enjoy the fun! With one of the oldest antique, wooden Carousels in the country, a Ferris Wheel, miniature Train, Musik Express and Bumper Cars, there is so much for the family to enjoy!
Spend some time in Storyland, a Mother Goose themed playground for children inside beautiful New Orleans City Park. Visit the Three Little Pigs, Cinderella's Pumpkin, the Cheshire Cat and Snow White. Or try boating at Big Lake! City Park offers paddleboat and canoe rentals on beautiful Big Lake near the New Orleans Museum of Art on Lelong Drive. Or try hourly or day long bike rentals to enjoy the beautiful, scenic park with the largest collection of historic, live oaks in the United States.
For kids who like to stay active, New Orleans has a number of activities to keep the excitement level high. Start out with a thrilling game of laser tag at Adventure Quest Laser Tag. This massive facility features a 6,000-square-foot laser tag arena with a Mayan ruins theme, as well as arcade games, bumper cars and black-light miniature golf.
Photo by Flickr/princedd/Edd Prince.