So you told your neighbor that you’re bringing the kids to New Orleans for a family vacation, and they scoffed at you. New Orleans’ reputation as a party city with a wild side is well earned, but scratch beneath the surface (and you don’t have to go deep) and you’ll find the softer side. Indeed, a side that is very family friendly. With gorgeous parks, world class museums, lively street musicians, and beignets, New Orleans provides entertainment for families of all ages. Follow this list of must-sees and your Instagram stories and Facebook photos from New Orleans will be enough to get that skeptical neighbor planning their next trip to NOLA.
1.) Take a ride on the Canal Street Car to City Park. The Street Car in itself is an experience, but the real treat awaits as you arrive at City Park. This 1,300 acre urban park has more activities than you can do in a day – so prioritize, (or just come back again). Start with breakfast in the form of beignets at City Park’s Café du Monde. Next, wander through an impressive (and free) 11.5 acre Sculpture Garden, which is considered one of the best in the world. As you exit the Sculpture Garden, make your way to Story Land where you’ll again wander through favorite childhood fairy tales on route to the Flying Horses Carousel. This hand-carved carousel is one of only 100 remaining in the United States and dates back to 1906. Generations of New Orleans children have enjoyed ride after ride on this little piece of history. Finish your City Park experience with a game of mini golf, or a jaunt on one of their many walking paths that lead you through one of the world’s largest collections of live oaks draped in Spanish moss.
2.) Spend an hour in Jackson Square. This Square is iconic to New Orleans and its beauty alone is something to behold. But it also has a lot of action happening at any given moment – from street performers and musicians to tarot card readers, there’s a little something for everyone. Dip into Pirate’s Alley (right between the St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo, and tell the tale (likely folklore) that it was a haven for pirates in days past.
3.) After you’ve worked up an appetite from your sightseeing, visit Tableau. This restaurant is one from New Orleans most famed restaurant family – the Brennan’s. Dickie Brennan and his team operate this Creole restaurant. You’ll find New Orleans classics, as well as inventive approaches to time-honored dishes. The wrap around balcony overlooking Jackson Square provides entertainment. They are child friendly, and offer a stellar kids menu.
4.) “They all asked for you…,”or so the chorus goes from a popular New Orleans song about the Audubon Zoo. Regardless, you’ll want to take the animals up on their offer and visit them at this world class zoo. From elephants to lions, this beautiful, sprawling zoo can easily provide a day of fun. If you’re visiting in the warmer months, bring a swimsuit and cool off at the Cool Zoo, complete with a lazy river.
5.) New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and no trip to this city is complete without some live music. Traveling with kids will mean that bars are off limits, but a perfect (and historic) place to see some of the city’s best jazz musicians is at Preservation Hall. They’re open nightly and all ages are welcome. They play five sets a night, with the first starting at 5 p.m. This French Quarter institution is world-famous for a good reason.