They don't say "laissez les bon temps roulez" ("let the good times roll") for nothing in Louisiana. People here have good times baked into their DNA. Festivals are a big part of the fun and visitors can join right in at family-friendly festivals such as Shreveport's Mudbug Madness, for instance, where you'll find crawfish-eating contests and great music. Even the biggest festival of them all —Mardi Gras in New Orleans—can be a good event for family travelers.
Why Visit Louisiana With Kids
Culture: Louisiana's unique Cajun heritage offers many opportunities for an enriching cultural experience. This is particularly easy to discover in New Orleans and just outside New Orleans in "Acadiana," or Cajun Country, which has its own fascinating history, wonderful music, and delicious food. Of course, you want a vacation to be fun, but it's a nice bonus when kids and grownups also learn a thing or two about local culture.
Affordability: Louisiana is an affordable destination; even in New Orleans, hotels are priced relatively low compared with similarly sized cities around the country.
Best Times to Visit Louisiana
For families whose kids are not tied to a school schedule, the April and October shoulder seasons are prime times for visits, thanks to temperate weather and a flurry of festivals. For families with kids in school, spring break and Christmas also typically offer reasonably mild temperatures.
During summer months, hot and humid weather can be very uncomfortable, especially for visitors from the North who aren't used to temperatures in the 90s and above. Strategies might include scheduling indoor sightseeing during the hottest part of the day or maybe touring in an air-conditioned car.
The holiday season can be a terrific time to visit, as Louisiana destinations put their own spin on Christmas.
In New Orleans, Christmas is a month-long event with caroling in Jackson Square, concerts in St. Louis Cathedral, and Reveillon Dinners at many restaurants. The Steamboat Natchez offers caroling cruises with choral groups and high school choirs. City Park has a holiday light extravaganza driving tour, with amusement rides and entertainment. On December 24th, bonfires are lit along the Mississippi River to help guide Papa Noel.
Elsewhere in Louisiana, Opelousas has a lighting of Le Vieux Village early in December, including carols and arrival of Santa Claus. The town of Arnaudville has an annual Le Feu et l'Eau (Fire and Water) festival, showcasing local artists and musicians.
What to Know About Visiting New Orleans
A note about Mardi Gras: Mardi Gras in New Orleans has a reputation for being a crazy-wild party, but families can and do enjoy Mardi Gras parades. Visitors just need to avoid a few areas where tourists go wild. Know, too, that other towns in Louisiana have some very fun and unique Mardi Gras celebrations that kids will enjoy.
A note about Katrina: While New Orleans' main tourist areas have rebounded from the tragic hurricane of 2005, the rebuilding is still ongoing in poorer areas a decade later.
Families with older kids may want to take a tour to learn about the hurricane damage and how the city is taking steps to protect itself in the future.