15 Fun Activities to try in New Orleans with Toddlers
March 29th 2021
Taking a trip with your little ones is an exciting way to explore together and bring out your family’s sense of adventure! We all know how tricky it can be sometimes traveling with the whole crew nonetheless. With so many different ages and interests, finding a location that makes everyone happy is definitely not child’s play!
When you first think of a place to go with your kids, visiting New Orleans is probably not the first idea that comes to mind. New Orleans, however, has a lot to offer when it comes to great kid-friendly options for your next trip! Keep reading to discover 15 Fun Activities to try in New Orleans with Toddlers.
Table of Contents
- What to do in New Orleans with Toddlers?
- New Orleans Zoo
- New Orleans Aquarium
- New Orleans Butterfly Garden & Insectarium
- Bayou & Swamp Tours
- The National WWII Museum
- Mardi Gras World
- City Park
- Global Wildlife Center
- Louisiana Children’s Museum
- Mardi Gras for Kids
- Ride on a Street Car
- Carriage Rides
- Preservation Hall
- The French Market
- The Music Box Village
- Family-Friendly NOLA
What to do in New Orleans with Toddlers?
The Big Easy is really the perfect spot for families. Between the historic French Quarter and wild and wondrous swamps and bayous, you will be amazed with all of the family-fun there is to be had. So, what is there to do in New Orleans with toddlers? Find out below!
New Orleans Zoo
You will feel right at home with your little wild ones at the New Orleans Audubon Zoo! Your children will love the daily animal presentations at Shell’s Wildlife On Stage, where they will get to learn about one of the many animals that call the zoo home which include:
- And MORE!
Your whole family will be so enamored with all there is to see, that it will surely be a day everyone will always remember!
New Orleans Aquarium
Getting up-close-and-personal with the magnificent marine life at an aquarium in the Big Easy. Photo Courtesy of Audubon Nature Institute
If you are looking for something to keep your kids entertained while on a trip to the French Quarter, take a brief pitstop to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, which is located just adjacent to the area on the Mississippi River.
Start your visit in the Amazon Rainforest exhibit, where your family will get to learn all about the infamous payaras and piranhas. Then climb up to the Amazon “tree-top loop” to catch a unique view of what the Amazon rainforest looks like from above.
You will want to be sure to check out the pride and joy of the aquarium, the gigantic 400,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico exhibit! Your kids will be at a loss for words while obsessing over the animals swimming around the 17-foot deep tank which include:
- Sea Turtles
New Orleans Butterfly Garden & Insectarium
According to a recent Traveler Story, their child’s favorite part of their trip to New Orleans was the butterflies at the Butterfly Garden. Photo Courtesy of Audubon Nature Institute
If your kids just will not sit still on your trip, take them to get a glimpse of some other creatures that like to zip around constantly. The Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium will have your children feeling right at home, and adults will definitely not complain about getting to watch the thousands of beautiful butterflies flutter around in the Asian garden.
If you are at a loss for what to do in New Orleans with toddlers in tow, this place might be your saving grace with its Underground exhibit, where visitors get to experience the illusion of “shrinking” to the size of a bug. Be sure to also attend “Field Camp” where your kids can meet live insects and talk to an insect expert until their hearts are content!
Bayou & Swamp Tours
Swamp boat tours, like the one pictured above, are one of the best swamp tours for families to take
Swamp tours will give you the opportunity to see wonderful wildlife and impressive scenic views on your thrilling ride. You will be able to explore firsthand the natural habitat of many wild animals that call New Orleans home including:
- Wild Pigs
If your children love a wild ride, then check out one of the many bayou and swamp tours New Orleans has to offer! Tour operators will take you out in an incredible swamp vessel like an airboat, pontoon, or swamp cruiser (learn more about visiting the swamps in our recent blog). It would be a crime to come to the area and not go on an adventurous outing through the wet marshland the region is known for.
The National WWII Museum
In a recent Traveler Story, one grandmother explains how she enjoyed teaching her granddaughter about the war her grandfather was in. Photo Courtesy of The National World War II Museum
Play on your children’s natural curiosity and teach them about the rich history that came long before them at the National WWII Museum. This is the perfect place for all generations, as it is consistently ranked the #1 attraction in the city!
When thinking about visiting New Orleans with toddlers, this should be placed at the top of your list due to its incredible experiences and exhibits such as:
- The Arsenal of Democracy
- Beyond All Boundaries
- Road to Tokyo
- Road to Berlin
- Bayou to Battlefield
The vibrant displays and beautiful storytelling will leave your family in awe of the history behind WWII.
Mardi Gras World
Tours of Mardi Gras World allow you to see some incredible Mardi Gras floats, decorations, and more
It can be hard with school schedules and the needed routines of your little ones to make sure you get to the Big Easy for its annual Mardi Gras celebration. Do not be upset if you are not able to make it this year, because you can still give your family the colorful experience of Mardi Gras at Mardi Gras World!
At Mardi Gras World, you will get a behind-the scenes look at all that goes into the giant celebration. It is a great option for all ages as the tour is only an hour long and completely indoors. Beyond just looking at how all the floats are made and the history behind the holiday, you will also get to chow down on a slice of King Cake and take in a gorgeous view of the Mississippi River!
Image of a moss-covered tree at City Park courtesy of http://neworleanscitypark.com/
When thinking about visiting New Orleans with toddlers a beautiful warm day, the first thought that comes to mind is taking a trip to City Park. Upon your visit you will immediately get to see a more tranquil side of the city, and your kids will love Storyland’s colorful themed playground with 20 larger-than-life sculptures of fairytale characters.
You will also want to check out the Train Garden, which features replicas of streetcars and trains winding around a 1,300-foot track. Exploring this attraction truly offers a glimpse into life during the late 1800s through the early 1900s and is sure to help your kids gain a new perspective. Other popular City Park attractions include:
- The Botanical Garden
- The Carousel Gardens Amusement Park
- City Putt
With so many fun things to do at City Park, you can spend a whole day enjoying the beautiful New Orleans weather outside with your little ones!
Global Wildlife Center
Giraffes, like the one pictured above, zebras, bisons, and llamas are just a few of the animals you can expect to see at the Global Wildlife Center
Let your kids embrace their wild sides at the Global Wildlife Center! This energy-packed attraction offers the largest free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the country, and is sure to keep the attention of children of all ages with its over 4,000 exotic animals!
The 900-acre preserve has 12 ponds and a lake to explore on its guided Safari Wagon Tour. You and your children will get to experience some incredible animals face-to-face on this exciting excursion!
Louisiana Children’s Museum
Photo Courtesy of the Louisiana Children’s Museum
Get those little minds working and little hands moving at the Louisiana Children’s Museum! With over 30,000-square-feet of exhibit space, the museum offers a wide-range of activities that promote learning while on your trip.
You can feel good about your vacation after giving your kids the opportunity to experience engaging lessons with first-hand experiences. They will have a ball playing on the bubble table, and see things in a new light at the Eye to Eye exhibit, where they will learn all about vision. They can even get some retail therapy of their own at the kid-sized Lil’ Grocery Store!
Mardi Gras for Kids
An intricate and interesting Mardi Gras float rolling down the street for one of New Orleans’ famous parades
You may not think of Mardi Gras as a great way to spend time in New Orleans with toddlers. This may be especially true if you’ve experienced Mardi Gras firsthand in your younger years. Believe it or not, there is a less crazy side to this famous New Orleans celebration!
You obviously will want to avoid the French Quarter with its adults-only activities, but you can still get your family dressed up in their best beads, feathers, and masks for a different take on the holiday!
There are a number of kid-friendly parades you can see with your family outside of the French Quarter. You can also venture just a short distance from the downtown Mardi Gras celebration to “Family Gras.” This family friendly event offers pre-Mardi Gras parades, local creole food vendors, an art fair, and engaging musical entertainment.
Want to know more about Mardi Gras in New Orleans? Check out these interesting facts and become a Mardi Gras expert for your next trip to the Big Easy:
Ride on a Street Car
Photo by cate_89 via Shutterstock
You might think it would be hard to see all of the city with your children in tow, but there really is an endless amount of options for exploring New Orleans with toddlers if you think creatively. Taking one of the many street cars the city has to offer will give you a charming and easy way to see many areas of the Big Easy!
There are four distinct lines that all originate in Downtown, that each highlight different feels of the city. For example, the Saint Charles Street Car Line is known for its sense of romance, while it travels by dozens of antebellum mansions. The Canal Street Line, on the other hand, will drop you off to explore some of the area’s most historic cemeteries known as “Cities of the Dead.”
Along with hop on hop off and double decker bus tours, Street Cars offer a fun and family-friendly way of exploring the city. We wrote all about bus tours, boat tours, and more in our article regarding the best ways to explore New Orleans!
Carriage rides through Royal Carriages, like the one pictured above, are one of the best ways to tour the French Quarter
Help your kids feel the magic of New Orleans on an enchanting carriage ride through the city. Your family will love seeing the beautiful mules pull your carriage as you observe the gorgeous architecture surrounding you.
There are many different types of carriage rides, which can offer different locations and themes for whatever your family would prefer. This is a great chance to sit back and relax and see a slower, more easy-going side of life in New Orleans.
Photo by VDB Photos via Shutterstock
When in New Orleans, listening to some great jazz music is a must! Give your kids the chance to experience the more sophisticated side of the Big Easy at the family-friendly Preservation Hall. Open nightly for concerts, Preservation Hall offers five performances every evening.
Make sure to get in line early to get your tickets, since the venue holds only 100 people at a time. Additionally, make sure to stop by an ATM before your visit as general admission is cash only. Your whole family will love swaying and dancing to the music provided by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which serves as an enthusiastic reminder of the history of this vibrant genre!
The French Market
Photo by LightField Studios via Shutterstock
Take a trip to one of the most historic sites in the Big Easy by going to the French Market, which has existed on the same site since 1791. Explore these six blocks in the French Quarter that contain a variety of restaurants and shops.
Your children will be able to find the perfect souvenir to take home from their New Orleans vacation, and you are sure to find something nice for yourself as you make your way through all that the French Market has to offer.
From gift shops to artists’ galleries to a farmer’s market, everyone in the family is sure to love the endless amount of local shopping there is to do here!
The Music Box Village
Image courtesy of Music Box Village
For a truly unique experience in New Orleans that your toddlers will love, make sure to put the Music Box Village at the top of your list! This one-of-a-kind, artist-built sculpture garden is full of whimsy and magic. This hidden gem will bring out the child in anyone, as what looks like a bunch of tree houses are revealed to actually be musical instruments artists use to perform.
Children are invited to explore and play during public hours, as long as they have adult supervision due to the delicacy of the musical instruments. There are also a variety of performances you can attend that will help to bring the Music Box Village to life!
New Orleans, Louisiana, is the perfect destination for both you and your kids to have the most memorable vacation! There is no limit to what you can do in New Orleans with toddlers with new family-friendly attractions popping up constantly throughout the Big Easy! So, pack your bags and make this family vacation the best one yet!
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