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A Weekend In New Orleans With Kids


Since our travel guides to Charleston with kids and Palm Springs with kids have elicited requests for more travel ideas with kids, we’re back with an overdue recap of our 3-night trip to New Orleans. We’d never been to The Big Easy before and were impressed by how family-friendly the city is. It’s not all booze, beads, and Bourbon Street! So here’s a look at where we stayed, what we did, and what we’re excited to do next time we go back – because we will definitely go back!


Greeting From Nola Mural With KidsGreeting From Nola Mural With Kids



The four of us (well, five if you count our chihuahua!) went to NOLA for 3 nights in November of 2022. At the time, our kids were 8 and 12 years old. So unfortunately we can’t vouch for our suggestions being a good fit for toddlers or younger children. Although I’m sure ours would’ve loved the Louisiana Children’s Museum and Storyland playground back in the day!

Why Vacation In New Orleans With Kids?

New Orleans is a one-of-a-kind city in the United States because of its diverse cultural influences, including French, Spanish, and African heritages. It’s known for its music, food, festivals, art, and even for ghost tours & the history of voodoo. It offers a wide variety of sights and activities for all ages, and its unique architecture and flavors sometimes make it feel like you’ve traveled to a whole new country!


Mom And Kids Walking In French Quarter New OrleansMom And Kids Walking In French Quarter New Orleans



We chose it for many of the reasons above, and now that we live in the Florida Panhandle, it’s only a short drive away. We heard so many good things about it from friends and neighbors that we quickly added it to our “must visit” list after moving here.

When To Visit New Orleans

Unsurprisingly, the most popular time to visit New Orleans is around their world-famous Mardi Gras celebration (typically in February or March), but since we were going with our kids and aiming for a more laid back experience, we chose a less busy time for our inaugural visit (November). Coming in the late fall is a great way to avoid the hot, muggy summer months. Plus we got to see some holiday decorations start to pop up around New Orleans! Lots of beautiful wreaths were hung on the historic old homes too.


Shopping on Magazine Street New Orleans During Christmas HolidayShopping on Magazine Street New Orleans During Christmas Holiday



The only downside to visiting in November was that it was a bit cold and rainy one day (which is why you’ll see heavy coats on in some of these pics). Luckily, by the end of our visit, we were wearing shorts again. Good thing we’re used to fickle weather here on the Gulf Coast! But next time we might time our visit for September or October when we’re more likely to get warmer weather.

Where We Stayed In New Orleans

Our family loves finding walkable cities to vacation in (that’s another reason we loved Charleston so much). So we chose to stay in this artsy Airbnb in Uptown New Orleans near the Garden District. It’s located right on Magazine Street, one of the main shopping districts in New Orleans. That meant we could access tons of restaurants, stores, and parks without getting in our car. Plus, it only a short drive or steetcar ride to the French Quarter. It was an awesome location!


Pelican Mural On Wall Of Airbnb In New OrleansPelican Mural On Wall Of Airbnb In New Orleans



The Airbnb itself was fun and colorful, with lots of cool murals and bold wallpaper. Our kids loved drawing on the big whiteboard in the hallway and we appreciated that it was also dog-friendly. We recommend bringing a sound machine because the front bedrooms face Magazine St and there is some street noise, but nothing crazy. The Airbnb is located on the second floor (the first floor is a shoe store) but we heard basically nothing from below.


Dog-friendly Airbnb In New Orleans Magazine Street With Large WhiteboardDog-friendly Airbnb In New Orleans Magazine Street With Large Whiteboard



Our favorite part of the Airbnb was definitely its location. Not only did we have easy access to Magazine Street, we also could easily peruse beautiful areas like the Garden District, St. Charles Avenue, and Audubon Park. The architecture in the Crescent City is just so unique, we could’ve spent all day just walking around looking at houses!


New Orleans Garden District Home Decorated For Christmas HolidayNew Orleans Garden District Home Decorated For Christmas Holiday



When we come back, we’ll stay in a similar area for sure – probably somewhere between St. Charles Ave and Magazine Street. The only reason we’ll probably pick a different Airbnb is because we always love trying new houses!

What We Did In New Orleans With Kids

We tend to be more go-with-the-flow travelers, rather than cram-in-all-the-sights tourists. A lot of our 3-day trip to New Orleans was spent winding our way to various meals & destinations, just taking in the sights along the way. But don’t worry, we hit up some must-see spots too. Here’s a quick overview of our favorite kid-friendly activities.

Walk & Window Shop On Magazine Street

Magazine Street is a six-mile walkable stretch of restaurants and shops, both local and chain. We spent one evening and the following morning leisurely exploring about half of it. From our Airbnb near Napolean Ave, we mostly walked East toward downtown. One of our kids’ favorite shops was Lionheart Prints, thanks largely to this mesmerizing wall of colorful pens and markers.


Colorful Pens At Lionheart Prints Magazine Street New OrleansColorful Pens At Lionheart Prints Magazine Street New Orleans



We also all had a great time exploring H. Rault Locksmiths. Sounds strange, I know, but this is a nearly 200-year-old locksmith that has fascinating collections of old locks and other architectural salvage.


Antique Doorknob Plates On Wall At H Rault Locksmiths New OrleansAntique Doorknob Plates On Wall At H Rault Locksmiths New Orleans



Our kids especially loved this bin of tiny novelty keys.


Bin of Novelty Keys At H Rault Locksmiths New OrleansBin of Novelty Keys At H Rault Locksmiths New Orleans



Some other favorite stops were Peaches Records & Tapes and our daughter really loved checking out Buffalo Exchange. It had a particularly good range of secondhand clothing when we ducked inside, and it ignited her love of thrift store shopping, which is still going strong two years later.

Explore The Garden District

I’m probably using the term “Garden District” a bit generally, but the neighborhoods between our Airbnb and St. Charles Avenue (which is part of the Mardi Gras parade route) were fun to walk around. In addition to the charming homes, there were random bookstores, cafes, and restaurants that we’d pop into along the way.


Colorful Painted Signs On Street Post In New Olreans Garden DistrcitColorful Painted Signs On Street Post In New Olreans Garden Distrcit



St. Charles Avenue reminded us a lot of the downtown area of our former town, Richmond, Virginia. There are beautiful, huge trees, stunning houses, and – oh yeah! – an iconic streetcar that goes down the middle of the road!


New Orleans Real World HouseNew Orleans Real World House



I actually went for a run one more along the streetcar tracks and it was one of my all-time favorite runs. The tracks aren’t electrified and the street cars are relatively slow & infrequent, so lots of people use the area (referred to as the “neutral ground”) for jogging or walking. Obviously, just stay aware of your surroundings and step off to the side whenever a streetcar is approaching.


Mom And Child Walking Near New Orleans Street CarMom And Child Walking Near New Orleans Street Car



Oh, and for any of my fellow MTV generation kids out there, you may recognize that big house a couple of photos up as the one from Real World: New Orleans.

Visit Audubon Park

New Orleans’ City Park is its largest and most popular public park, but our Airbnb was closer to the smaller Audubon Park. It’s still plenty big and is even home to the Audubon Zoo. We didn’t have time to visit the zoo, but there’s still plenty else to enjoy in the park. They’ve got playgrounds, fountains, tennis courts, a golf course, and a great paved walking & biking path. There are also picnic shelters and giant shady trees to grab lunch under.


Paved Bike Walking Path In Audubon Park New OrleansPaved Bike Walking Path In Audubon Park New Orleans



The southern end of Audubon Park borders the Mississippi River so there are also views of the water with nearby playgrounds and sports fields.

Ride A Streetcar

The St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line is the oldest continuously operated streetcar line in the world… and it’s just a short walk from Magazine Street. A ride is only $1.25 for adults and $0.50 for children, so our whole family rode it to the French Quarter and back for only $7! You can pay in cash, or download the Le Pass app. There are plenty of clearly marked stops along St. Charles Ave and the ride to the turnaround point at Canal Street took about 30 minutes.


New Orleans Streetcar Up CloseNew Orleans Streetcar Up Close



Riding the streetcar felt like a step back in time and a nice leisurely way to see more of the city. But it’s still an active public transit system so be mindful of the locals using it to get to work.

Experience The French Quarter

NOLA’s French Quarter is probably its best-known and most popular tourist destination. You could write a whole post just about things to do, see, and eat in the French Quarter. We spent an afternoon there after checking out of our Airbnb, and it was truly like visiting another country. Wish we could have spent more time there. We definitely will be back.


French Quarter New Orleans Live Music And ArchitectureFrench Quarter New Orleans Live Music And Architecture



Even in the daytime, there’s an exciting energy with artists, performers, and musicians on almost every corner. We parked in one of the paid public lots and spent a fun couple of hours popping into shops, exploring different streets, and listening to some great live music along the way. We stayed between the river and Royal Street (pictured here) because we heard Bourbon Street (one block further up) isn’t always as kid-friendly.


Band Playing On Street Corner In French Quarter New OrleansBand Playing On Street Corner In French Quarter New Orleans



The historic centerpiece of the French Quarter is Jackson Square. The fenced square isn’t dog-friendly (we had our pup with us since we had already checked out of our Airbnb) but we still got to enjoy the open-air artist market around the perimeter. Across the street is the iconic coffee and beignet shop called Cafe du Monde and the artisan booths of the French Market.


New Orleans Farmer Market With KidsNew Orleans Farmer Market With Kids



We were in the French Quarter the morning before Thanksgiving, so it was fairly busy with holiday vacations. For those unaccustomed to busy cities, it might be a bit overwhelming. So you might want to plan for a less busy day if you want to avoid crowds.

Check Out The Audubon Aquarium

When rain washed out our plans one afternoon, we happily checked out the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas downtown for a fun indoor activity. This was in 2022 before its recent renovation added the Audubon Insectarium and butterfly garden as well. But even then it had tons of fun features like touch tanks, virtual reality experiences, and more.


Kids At New Orleans Aquarium Shark TankKids At New Orleans Aquarium Shark Tank



As an adult, I also enjoyed visiting a local aquarium that taught me a bit more about the unique ecosystems of Louisiana and the Mississippi River. If you plan to visit the zoo and aquarium, be sure to buy your tickets at the same time – you’ll receive a discount!

Where We Ate In New Orleans

New Orleans has a famous culinary scene, and the food was great! We easily found some great restaurants that we all loved. This is definitely not a fancy-foodie list of the hottest “must-eat” restaurants in New Orleans – but if you’re traveling with young diners, these were some of our favorite places to grab a bite.

French Truck Coffee


French Coffee Truck Restaurant In New OrleansFrench Coffee Truck Restaurant In New Orleans



We walked to breakfast at French Truck Coffee one morning (the location on Dryades St) and had the yummiest breakfast on their patio. The kids had waffles and my only regret is that Sherry and I hadn’t started drinking coffee yet because it smelled delicious in there! We’ll be back.

Dat Dog


Sherry Holding Chihuahua In Front Of Dat Dog Mural New OrleansSherry Holding Chihuahua In Front Of Dat Dog Mural New Orleans



Another place I’m excited to go back to is Dat Dog, which is a funky hot dog spot with really cool outdoor dining. It was pretty low-key on the chilly November night we went, but we can imagine it being super lively and fun in better weather. I got their special Thanskgiving-themed hot dog and it DID NOT disappoint!


Special Thanksgiving Hot Dog From Dat Dog In New OrleansSpecial Thanksgiving Hot Dog From Dat Dog In New Orleans



There are multiple locations in New Orleans, but we went to the Freret Street location. Their pictures online give you a good idea of its vibe.

Cafe Beignet

You can’t come to New Orleans and not get beignets. Cafe du Monde is probably the most well-known spot to get these warm powdery pastries, but it had a really long line so we ended up grabbing some from Cafe Beignet, which has a convenient location on Canal Street near the end of the streetcar line.


Beignets On Cafe Table In New OrleansBeignets On Cafe Table In New Orleans



I’m no beignet connoisseur but my review would be five stars, no complaints. And it was really fun to ride a streetcar and hop off for some New Orleans beignets. Some other iconic New Orleans dishes include gumbo and red beans & rice, so we’ll have to get some when we return.

Sucré


Sucre Art Deco Cafe In New Orleans Magazine StreetSucre Art Deco Cafe In New Orleans Magazine Street



To keep our kids’ energized on our day walking Magazine Street, we popped into a beautiful sweet shop called Sucré (there are other locations in the city too). We shared some gelato and macarons for a nice sugar boost, while soaking up its Art Deco decor.

La Boulangerie


Pastries For Kids From La Boulangerie In New OrleansPastries For Kids From La Boulangerie In New Orleans



Another stop on Magazine Street was a French bakery cafe called La Boulangerie that’s known for its breads and pastries. It was pretty busy, but we were able to snag a table outside and treat ourselves to (more) yummy carbs.

Barracuda

My main regret from our trip was getting takeout from Barracuda Taco Stand (to eat at our Airbnb) instead of dining in person. The weather was a bit chilly so dragging everyone out to a “margarita garden” on a dark November night didn’t sound enticing. But when I went to pick up the food it looked like a fun place to hang out (and they had outdoor heaters!). The food was still delicious when we ate it at our Airbnb, but I wish we had gone to the restaurant. Next time!

Empanola

Empanola was a cute little empanada place on Magazine Street that offered us some quick fuel on our shopping day. There were a ton of flavors of empanadas to choose from, and they were warm and delicious.

Other Kid-Friendly Activities In New Orleans

We will definitely be going back to New Orleans! There’s so much we didn’t get a chance to do yet (and lots of stuff above that we want to do again!). So here are some of the things we might add to our itinerary next time:


New Orleans French Quarter Royal Mask CompanyNew Orleans French Quarter Royal Mask Company



Mardi Gras World

This self-guided tour grants you behind-the-scenes access to the artist studios where the extravagant Mardi Gras parade floats and decorations are made. It sounds like a great way to experience Mardi Gras without coming during that wild week of actual Mardi Gras.

City Park

The largest green space in New Orleans is City Park, located north of Downtown. It’s twice as large as New York’s Central Park and has everything from an Art Museum, Botanical Garden, and Sculpture Garden to attractions like mini golf and even a small amusement park.

National WWII Museum

The sprawling National World War II Museum may not seem like a place to take your kids, but the TripAdvisor reviews are stellar for people of all ages. Families say its fun, interactive, educational, and eye-opening. It sounds like another great rainy-day alternative to the Aquarium!

Riverboat Cruise

Several companies, like Steamboat Natchez, offer daytime and evening cruises along the Mississippi River complete with live jazz music and a meal. This seems like a fun way to see the city on a charming old paddlewheel boat.

Swamp Tour

Slightly outside the city are boat and kayak tours of the swamp where you can spot wildlife, including alligators. Cajun Encounters seems to be a popular option because their flat-bottom boats aren’t as loud as airboats. They also offer transport from the French Quarter.

Ghost Tour

This ghost tour company offers a family-friendly tour that promises a fun glimpse into New Orleans’ haunted side without being too spooky. It feels like a cool way to learn some history while keeping the kids entertained.

Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids: A Summary

If you’re someone who likes having a list of things to do, here is a quick bulleted summary of all of the sights, eats, and activities we discussed above.


Things to Do In New Orleans With Kids CollageThings to Do In New Orleans With Kids Collage



Other Kid-Friendly Trips We’ve Taken


Collage of Family Vacations In Tropical And Urban LocalesCollage of Family Vacations In Tropical And Urban Locales



If you’re interested in our take on other destinations or are in search of family-friendly trips, you might also enjoy these posts:





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