Bourbon Street and beads are New Orleans staples, but there’s plenty to do in the Crescent City that doesn’t involve booze and bosoms. Traveling to NOLA with kids? Here are 7 places they’ll love.
Louisiana Children’s Museum
This brand new museum (opened at the end of August 2019) teaches kids about sustainability, the environment and global warming—in a fun and interactive way. Interactive exhibits abound including a 100-foot Mississippi River replica that lets kids learn how the river flows, or a model-making area that lets them decorate and design their own mini New Orleans, just like city planners did post-Katrina. Little ones can also learn the effects of taking care of the environment through exhibits such as the eye-spy stations that peep the parks’ wildlife or the edible garden. There’s also a hands-on vet area (where kids can dress like vets and take care of the stuffed animals in their charge) an arts station and a massive grocery spot.
Audubon Aquarium of Americas
Located downtown, steps from the French Quarter, is this smallish but fantastic aquarium. It’s got tons of hands-on exhibits, but our favorite is the Maya Snorkel Adventure ($125 for non-members), which allows visitors to snorkel with the cownose rays, lobsters and other marine life. Essentially, you’ll be inside the exhibit. This aquarium is one of the rare aquariums in the country to have sea otters (they cost about $30-$40,000 annually to feed, as they eat often and require fresh fish), so take advantage and splurge to actually meet the otters up close ($75 for non-members).
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
The absolute best part of the insectarium hands down is the buffet, aka the Bug Appetit. It’s free with the price of admission, and hungry kids (and adults) can dig into the Hoppin’ Hummus (roasted crickets, ground chickpeas and red pepper), the Mango Chutney (mangos, apples and waxworms), Crispy Cajun Crickets and more.
Mardi Gras World
Go behind the scenes of Mardi Gras where the magic happens—in the workshop where the floats and props are created! You’ll see artists working, learn about the history of the festival and even get to sample some Louisiana-style king cake (a cake eaten throughout Carnival season). Mardi Gras World is colorful, loud and exciting—so it’s wonderful for kids.
Cafe Du Monde
This iconic spot lets your kids learn that New Orleans offers something that’s a million times better than a doughnut: a beignet. It’s fried dough dusted with heaps of powdered sugar and served hot all day (Du Monde is open 24 hours), even though it’s technically a dessert. Outside of Cafe Du Monde, there’s a volunteer jazz band that sets up every morning to set the perfect New Orleans scene.
French Quartour Kids’ Creole Kids Tour
We always book a walking tour when visiting a new city and we drag the kids along. The Creole Kids Tour is totally different. It’s designed specifically for kids, and is led by a teacher who knows how to engage them. Children learn all about the history of New Orleans in a way that’s appealing to them. They will learn that some kids were actual slaves back in the day, how the chamber pots worked and why the gutters look like they do and how sugar was traded via the Mississippi River.
Cajun Encounters Swamp Tour
Hop aboard and try not to fall off and get eaten by the gators. Just kidding. You’ll be on a flat-bottomed boat in the swamp, where you’ll spot and learn all about alligators, who will be friendly as long as they’re not threatened. This is the true Louisiana.
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