Top Activities in New Orleans for Kids

Many tourists don't think of New Orleans as a place to bring the children, but there are plenty of unique family adventures waiting here in New Orleans -- just ask any of the thousands of New Orleans kids who live here year-round. Remember, Bourbon Street is only one street in the city. There are many more that lead to family fun. Read on to find the top picks tried and loved by generations of New Orleans kids.

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The Audubon Zoo

Volunteer showing off hedgehog in petting section of Audubon Zoo.
Judy Bellah/Getty Images

The Audubon Zoo is a world-class facility located in Audubon Park and is easily accessible by streetcar, bus or boat. Its' Louisiana Swamp Exhibit is a popular place with locals, who flock to see alligators and nutrias up close. Watch for the Loup Garou (say "loo garoo"), a legendary Cajun swamp monster.

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The Audubon Insectarium

An employee at the insectarium holding a centipede and showing it a young boy

TripSavvy / Violet Smirnov

Bugs, Bugs, and more Bugs at the Audubon Insectarium. Which kid doesn't love bugs!

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The Cool Zoo Water Park

This animal-themed water park is a big hit with kids and parents. Located in the Audubon Zoo, the Cool Zoo has three areas, with one for toddlers and younger kids. There are water slides, one is a large alligator. There is also a giant spider monkey that dumps water, water-spitting snakes, jumping water spouts and much more. There are also shaded benches for Mom and Dad.

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The Aquarium of the Americas

exterior of the aquarium

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

The Aquarium of the Americas, located at the foot of Canal Street on the Mississippi River, is among the five top aquariums in the nation. It showcases the aquatic life of the Americas. Don't miss the 400,000 gallon Gulf of Mexico tank.

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The Louisiana Children's Museum

Exterior of the Louisiana Children's Museum

TripSavvy / Violet Smirnov

The Louisiana Children's Museum is in the Arts District on Julia Street and is a favorite of the children of all ages. Here, the little ones can shop in a pint-sized grocery store or serve you lunch in the cafe. Older children can pilot a life-size tugboat on the Mighty Mississippi.

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Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall is a funky old building where funky old music reigns supreme.
Phil Roeder / Creative Commons via Flickr

Preservation Hall, dedicated to the preservation of New Orleans Jazz has a family-friendly policy of no drinking or smoking and all ages are invited.

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City Park

A parent and child walking around a large sculpture in Storyland

TripSavvy / Violet Smirnov

Easily accessible by streetcar from downtown, New Orleans City Park is a 1500-acre park that offers boating, fishing, and nature trails. Two miniature trains tour the perimeter of the park. Take younger children to Storyland, a magical play area featuring 26 nursery rhyme exhibits. You'll also find an amusement park featuring a fully restored antique wooden carousel, one of only 100 left in the country. (Sons and daughters of New Orleans of every age call carousels the "Flying Horses.")

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River Boat Rides

Steamboat River Boat Natchez docked on the Mississippi River in New Orleans French quarter
 Edwin Remsberg/Getty Images

New Orleans sits on the banks of the Mississippi River. There are several river boats that dock near the foot of Canal Street that provide a great experience for families. The Natchez is a real steamboat that has Jazz dinner​ cruises. The Creole Queen is a beautiful Paddlewheeler. Both riverboats offer daytime or night cruises, with or without a meal. All ages are welcome.

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An Outdoor Kid-Friendly Museum

Imagine enjoying world-class art with your children and not worrying about whether they will touch anything. This beautiful part of New Orleans City Park may change your children's view of museums. It's a beautiful setting and accessible art is inviting, not intimidating to kids.

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National World War II Museum

Planes inside the WW2 Museum

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

The National World War II Museum is filled with planes, boats, and items from World War II Museum, along with special programs, make this museum something kids will love.

Another museum that kids actually like is the Pharmacy Museum

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Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras Float
Sharon Keating

What, Mardi Gras? If you're thinking, who in their right mind would take a child to Mardi Gras, you have either never been here or you've only stayed in the French Quarter when you came. It's true that the media loves to show the "exposures" for beads that go on Bourbon Street. But, there's a side of Mardi Gras few outsiders even know about and it can be one of the best vacations your family ever had.

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Have Your Own Streetcar Party

A New Orleans Streetcar
 Flavio~ / Flickr / CC

There's a lot of fun to be had in your own streetcar. Decorate it and bring food for a great birthday celebration. This is a unique way to celebrate any special occasion.

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The French Quarter

A man selling art in the French Quarter

TripSavvy / Vincent Mercer

Bourbon Street is not a street for kids. But there are other streets in the French Quarter that are great for kids during the day. Decatur and Royal don't have the strip clubs and bars that are on Bourbon Street. There are some interesting shops, one with nothing but toy soldiers, and there are street performers, artists, palm-readers all around.