New Orleans is one of our favorite cities in the world. It is such an exciting city with the perfect combination of history, culture and delicious food. And despite its reputation as a hard-partying town, New Orleans is also a great place for families!
Explore The French Quarter
Our favorite way to laissez les bon temps rouler in New Orleans is just strolling the streets of the French Quarter. We love to wander the streets looking in store windows, listening to the musicians and stopping to watch the street performers. Jackson Square always has street vendors selling all sorts of things, and you can watch artists painting in front of you. There are jugglers, magicians, sword swallowers and fortune tellers.
The St. Louis Cathedral, built in 1727 when New Orleans was a French port, dominates the landscape. The boys love to walk on the waterfront and watch the boats sail by. The French Market is also a fun place to explore with tons of shops, a flea market and a Crafts Bazaar. We tend to avoid Bourbon Street which can be too crazy for kids, but the surrounding areas are just fine. We recommend Royal, Chartres or Decatur streets.
National World War II Museum
The National World War II Museum is one of our boys’ favorite museums in the world. It includes hands-on exhibits and uses sound and video to bring the exhibits to life. The exhibits cover the war on a global scale but also feature individual soldiers, pilots, nurses, and scientists, so you understand the war on a personal level. Our boys loved the 4D Movie “Beyond All Boundaries,” narrated by Tom Hanks. The movie isn’t included in the admission and costs $5 per person, but it’s worth seeing. The museum is huge and impossible to get through in one day. Adult admission is $28 and you can add a 2nd day to your ticket for $6. Kids K-12th grade are $18, and 5 or under are free. They offer military and college discounts and World War II veterans always enter for free.
Looking for some ghoulish fun in the Big Easy? New Orleans is known for its spooky hauntings and a ghost walking tour is a perfect way to experience the eerie side of New Orleans. There are several to choose from and all combine scary stories with some real facts about New Orleans history and architecture. The tours involve a lot of walking but at a leisurely pace and all of the guides that we have gone with have been really knowledgeable and entertaining. Some of the stories can be gory so make sure that you inquire about the content when booking your walk.
Café du Monde
No trip to New Orleans is complete without a stop at the historic Café du Monde for chicory coffee and Beignet bliss! Café du Monde has been serving chicory coffee & beignets since 1862. Their beignets are the best that we have ever tasted, hands down! We are not alone in this, so you can expect long lines all day long. But the line moves fast and they will help you grab an available table, take your order and deliver your treats promptly. Be prepared to get covered with powdered sugar!
Jazz at Preservation Hall
Looking for kid-friendly jazz? Preservation Hall offers nightly concerts by master practitioners. The shows are casual, family-friendly and fun! The performances are only 45 minutes long so it’s easy for the kids to enjoy without getting overwhelmed.
Five performances happen nightly. General admission is cash only — $15 Sunday-Thursday and $20 Friday- Saturday, and children under 5 are free. Tickets are sold at the door and you can often get a spot if you line up 45 minutes before the show. They also offer a limited amount of “BigShot” seating for $30-$50. These seats include a good location and no waiting in line and may be reserved on the website.
Mardi Gras World
Along the waterfront in New Orleans is a massive 300,000 square foot working warehouse where floats are made for the world-famous Mardi Gras parades. Mardi Gras World produces the vast majority of floats and offers daily tours of their operation.
The Mardi Gras parade originated in New Orleans sometime in the 18th century as a city-wide party before the beginning of Lent and the fasting that is traditionally associated with that. In 1856, the first formal parade was organized by teams, or ‘krewes’, of people who jointly pay for, build and ride on the floats, plus they often throw parties on or before Mardi Gras.
At Mardi Gras World, you get to see parade floats being made, try on costumes, and taste the famous King Cake. They also make painted styrofoam displays for commercial companies, like the cows on the Chik-fil-a billboards in the United States.
Open daily (except major holidays) 9:30 to 4. Tours begin every half hour and last for approximately one and a half hours. Tickets are $22, with discounts for seniors, students with college IDs and children under 12. Mardi Gras World offers a free shuttle from downtown and the French Quarter.
St. Charles Streetcar
The streetcar is a wonderful way to see the city. It has 3 lines: Canal Street, St. Charles, and the Riverfront. They all originate downtown but each takes you different parts of the city. Riding the Streetcar costs $1.25 per person and you need exact change. You can also buy an unlimited ride pass on the website or on their RTA mobile app.
A very scenic and relaxing ride down the Mississippi. We recommend the Harbor Jazz Cruise. This 2-hour ride includes a narrated historical tour, a Jazz concert by The Duke Heitger’s Steamboat Stompers Jazz Trio, and entrance into the Steam Engine Room exhibit. You can buy cocktails onboard and they do have meal packages available but we prefer to eat in one of the many amazing restaurants in town. Tickets start at $34 Adult and $13.30 children 6 to 12. Children under $6 are free.
There are 45 cemeteries in New Orleans and cemeteries are one of the biggest tourist attraction in the city. Often called Cities of the Dead, the cemeteries are known for their above-ground tombs and fascinating history. Our favorite on our last trip to NOLA was Lafayette Cemetery, which was built in 1832. We also liked St. Louis #1, which is New Orleans’ oldest cemetery and said to be the most haunted cemetery in the United States. Be sure to book a tour if you would like to visit, as they no longer allow people inside St. Louis #1 without a tour guide.
Looking for an adventure? How does speeding around on giant fan-powered airboat in search of alligators, snakes, and birds of prey sound? There are numerous companies offering airboat swamp tours in New Orleans. Most offer transportation to and from your hotel and the rides last just under 2 hours.
Where to eat with kids
Oceana Grill is our favorite place to eat in the French Quarter. It has a fun New Orleans feel with friendly servers and yummy food. Our boys loved the Gator Tail Bites and the Fried Shrimp Po-Boys. The crab cakes and blackened fish are my favorites. Oceana Grill is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and has a kids menu. Dinner reservations are recommended.
Acme Oyster House
Acme Oyster House is a great place to eat with kids in the French Quarter but we highly recommend going off hours because they do not take reservations. The line can be really long! We usually go at 11 am and can walk right in. We love the Gumbo, Jambalaya, the fried oyster po’boy and the crawfish hush puppies.
Feel like a picnic? Central Grocery is located on Decatur Street in the French Quarter and has been serving up their famous muffulettas since 1906. You can eat on stools in the shop or walk about a block to the waterfront Woldenberg Park for a picnic.
Our favorite place to eat in the Garden District is Superior Seafood. It is at stop #24 on the Charles Street Streetcar line and is open for lunch and dinner. The food and service are always wonderful! We love to start with the crawfish cornbread and fried green tomatoes. They have a nice kids’ menu and fantastic desserts.