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Jackson Square in New Orleans features a large white church in the background, with gardens in front of a busy street. Cars and horse-drawn carriages are in the street and street performers entertain tourists. Shutterstock

The 31 best things to do in New Orleans with kids

A family’s guide to the Big Easy

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Although tourists might think of New Orleans as a booze-soaked adult playground, locals know there’s so much more to the Crescent City. And people who had the privilege of growing up in New Orleans realize there’s no place more magical to spend the most magical time of one’s life. From Mr. Bingle to Storyland, from coffee milk to Carnival costuming, childhood traditions in New Orleans are as unique as the city itself.

Outdoorsy types will appreciate the city’s many parks and nature-focused destinations; families can kayak in the bayou or explore a larger-than-life storybook playground. And just because you're with kiddos doesn't mean you have to miss out on local culture. We've identified the best cemetery tours, jazz venues, and even bookstores for the under-18 crowd.

Behold, the 31 best places in New Orleans for families and kids.

Traveling to other cities with your kiddos? Don’t miss Curbed’s maps of the best family activities in Washington, D.C., Boston, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans, Austin, and New York City.

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New Orleans Historic Train Garden

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Tucked away in a verdant corner of City Park’s Botanical Garden, the New Orleans Historic Train Garden features replicas of streetcars and trains that wind around 1,300 feet of track. It’s an informative look at New Orleans’ history—all in miniature!

While the Train Garden is open during Botanical Garden hours, the trains only operate on Saturdays and Sundays. The Train Garden is also available for birthday parties.

Historic Carousel in City Park

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Set under a collection of gorgeous, massive live oaks, City Park’s amusement park has 15 rides, including a gorgeous, hand-carved historic carousel that will impress even the most jaded adult.

Storyland in City Park

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Filled with 25 larger-than-life sculptures modeled after storybook characters, this unique playground boasts a dragon slide, Captain Hook's pirate ship, and the whale from Pinocchio.

New Orleans Museum of Art

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With works by Picasso, Renoir, Matisse, Monet, and Georgia O'Keeffe, NOMA is an oasis of fine art that can be appreciated by both parents and children alike. Kids will love story time, child-focused art workshops, and art classes.

Children are seated at a table doing arts and crafts. Courtesy of NOMA

Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

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Just outside NOMA’s front door, find the recently expanded Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, a collection of sculptures set among City Park’s oaks and lagoons. The three-acre expansion includes 27 outdoor artworks. Admission to the sculpture garden is always free.

A large round circle-shaped sculpture through which a grassy vista and modern building is visible. Photo by R. Alokhin.

Big Easy Bayou Kayak Tour

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Older kids will love paddling from neighborhood to neighborhood and learning about the history of Bayou St. John during a two-hour tour perfect for first-time kayakers. You might even see a bit of wildlife!

A body of water with several people in kayaks. Courtesy of Kayak-Iti-Yat

Backstreet Cultural Museum

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Get an up-close look at colorful second-line outfits, Baby Dolls costumes and Mardi Gras Indian suits in the heart of Treme at Sylvester Francis’ living tribute to African-American parading culture.

Photo by Barry Solow/Creative Commons

Drag Queen Story Hour

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New Orleans drag performers lead a monthly reading at the 9th Ward library, where kids and parents get an animated afternoon reading on the third Saturday of every month from some of the city’s celebrated drag stars. Storytime starts at 1 p.m.

The Music Box Village

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This assembly of small, shack-like houses is part art installation, part musical instrument, and part playground. Each offers interactive fun for kids and adults of all ages, and the rustic, forest-like art garden doubles as a music venue and event space. Open hours for hands-on play are 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

A small house at the Music Box Village in New Orleans. Photo by Josh Brasted courtesy New Orleans Airlift

Louis Armstrong Park

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This 32-acre park located in the Treme neighborhood is a good option for kids to explore near the French Quarter. You'll find picturesque green space, a sculpture garden, and paths aplenty.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

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The St. Louis Cemetery was founded in 1789 and is the oldest burial ground of New Orleans’ most illustrious residents. There, you’ll find the gravesite of Voodoo queen Marie Laveau, as well as actor Nicolas Cage’s future tomb.

Book with Save Our Cemeteries to have an up close and personal look at an array of wall vaults and tombs just steps from the French Quarter—and don’t forget the sunscreen.

Crescent Park

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This 1.4-mile, 20-acre urban park on the riverfront offers landscaped gardens, a dog park, walking paths, public restrooms, swings, and panoramic downtown views.

Don't miss the David Adjaye-designed Piety Street Bridge, a pedestrian walkway that rises above active railroad tracks to connect the river with the Bywater community.

A post shared by BJ Knights (@bj_knights) on

French Quarter Kids

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Families with kids ages 4 to 18 can take an interactive tour of the neighborhood with French Quarter Kids and learn about ghosts, music, and local history.

Children play with toy swords on a street. There is a sign on a building in the background that reads: French Quarter Kids Tours. Courtesy of French Quarter Kids

Preservation Hall

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If you're looking for a kid-friendly jazz venue in New Orleans, this is it. The all-ages music landmark offers sets of jazz nightly—fyi, there's no food and beverage service—with some shows starting as early as 6 p.m.

Pro tip: Queue early and grab one of the benches; seating is first-come, first-served.

Faulkner House Books

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Tucked off an alley behind Jackson Square in the French Quarter, this adorable bookstore sells new and used books and has a small but well-stocked children's section.

A post shared by gonola504 (@gonola504) on

Jackson Square

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Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Jackson Square is surrounded by gorgeous historic buildings, like the St. Louis Cathedral and Pontalba apartments. Kids love the spot for its street performers, people-watching, and delicious beignets at nearby Cafe du Monde.

Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture

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Installations throughout Carl Mack’s Carnival museum in the French Quarter highlight different parts of parade culture, from costume displays of past krewe royalty to Cajun Mardi Gras and walking groups and social aid and pleasure clubs. Play dress up in a rotating costume closet full of Carnival must-haves and fun finds. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Steamboat Natchez

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This two-hour cruise along the Mississippi River uses a real steam-powered sternwheeler and provides great views of the city. Teachers can organize field trips geared toward younger and older students using the company’s resources, which include worksheets on topics ranging from the structure of a riverboat to local history.

The Canal Street Ferry

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Twice an hour, this ferry takes a 10-minute trip across the Mississippi River from the Central Business District to Algiers Point, and the $2 ride offers great views of the New Orleans skyline.

Confetti Park

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If you need to take a break in between exploring some of the historic architecture in Algiers Point, this unique community-centered playground is perfect for kids between two to five years old.

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

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This 23,000-square-foot museum is the largest insectarium in the United States. Don't miss the butterfly garden, where a colorful butterfly might land on your child's shoulder.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

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With four major sea life habitats to explore—the Amazon, the Mississippi River, the Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean—this aquarium offers hands-on aquatic fun for kids of all ages.

Check out the penguins, Parakeet Bay, and the popular 2,600-gallon touch pool where kids can touch cownose rays.

A post shared by ☕️ (@sanedoglady) on

Louisiana Children's Museum

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The museum moved from its longtime Julia Street home into a new $47.5 million campus in City Park, featuring five interactive exhibits exploring the state’s natural environment, music, and culture. The new campus includes old favorites like the bubble wands and grocery store as well as new additions like a classroom floating above a lagoon and a fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya.

Aerial view of the new Louisiana Children’s Museum and surrounding lagoons Photo by Webb Bland via Mithun

National World War II Museum

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Older kids and adults will find this exemplary museum worth exploring. Exhibits examine America's contribution to the Allied victory in World War II, with a multi-sensory cinematic feature produced and narrated by Tom Hanks playing at the 4D Solomon Victory Theater.

Ogden Museum of Southern Art

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Located in the Warehouse Art District, the Ogden Museum showcases the art, history, and culture of the American South and has a few art projects and resources designed specifically for families. It also hosts a series of artsy summer camps for kids of all ages.

Children are standing near a table doing arts and crafts. Photo by Skip Bolen/Getty Images

St Charles Avenue streetcar

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As the oldest continually operating street car in the United States, the New Orleans streetcar has been transporting locales—and thrilling children—since 1835. Head to the St. Charles line for views of the Garden District and New Orleans' many picturesque universities.

Ashé Cultural Arts Center

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The 6,600-square-foot arts facility hosts theater and dance performances, drumming and dance classes, storytelling, music and other events highlighting the city’s African-American performing arts community. It’s also home to New Orleans Youth Open Mic performances and an art gallery.

Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World

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Kids love the tour of this massive warehouse where they'll get a behind-the-scenes look at the artisans, LED-lit floats, and parade paraphernalia of Mardi Gras. Pro tip: Don't miss the dress up costume trunks.

Prytania Theatre

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At more than 100 years old, the single-screen theater in Uptown is a step back in time, with red velvet ropes, balcony seating and family-friendly screenings of hand-picked classic films.

A brick movie theater with colored string lights across its entrance is photographed at night.
The Prytania Theater
Photo by Josh Brasted/Getty Images

Audubon Zoo

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Consistently ranked as one of the top zoos in the country, the Audubon Zoo boasts more than 1,300 creatures ranging from rare white alligators to a komodo dragon. Older kids shouldn't miss the Safari Simulator ride, while the younger ones will love checking out the scenery on board the zoo's Swamp train.

During the warm summer months, check out Cool Zoo, a splash park with an alligator water slide, water spouts, and a lazy river. The splash park requires an additional ticket with your zoo admission.

A water fountain with several large sculptures of elephants.

Barataria Preserve Visitor Center

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This swampy nature preserve is only a half-hour drive from downtown New Orleans, but its cypress trees, turtles, wildflowers, alligators, and 200-plus species of birds make it feel light years away. Explore the boardwalks on your own, or have kids earn a badge with the park’s Junior Ranger program.

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New Orleans Historic Train Garden

Tucked away in a verdant corner of City Park’s Botanical Garden, the New Orleans Historic Train Garden features replicas of streetcars and trains that wind around 1,300 feet of track. It’s an informative look at New Orleans’ history—all in miniature!

While the Train Garden is open during Botanical Garden hours, the trains only operate on Saturdays and Sundays. The Train Garden is also available for birthday parties.

Historic Carousel in City Park

Set under a collection of gorgeous, massive live oaks, City Park’s amusement park has 15 rides, including a gorgeous, hand-carved historic carousel that will impress even the most jaded adult.

Storyland in City Park

Filled with 25 larger-than-life sculptures modeled after storybook characters, this unique playground boasts a dragon slide, Captain Hook's pirate ship, and the whale from Pinocchio.

New Orleans Museum of Art

Children are seated at a table doing arts and crafts. Courtesy of NOMA

With works by Picasso, Renoir, Matisse, Monet, and Georgia O'Keeffe, NOMA is an oasis of fine art that can be appreciated by both parents and children alike. Kids will love story time, child-focused art workshops, and art classes.

Children are seated at a table doing arts and crafts. Courtesy of NOMA

Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

A large round circle-shaped sculpture through which a grassy vista and modern building is visible. Photo by R. Alokhin.

Just outside NOMA’s front door, find the recently expanded Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, a collection of sculptures set among City Park’s oaks and lagoons. The three-acre expansion includes 27 outdoor artworks. Admission to the sculpture garden is always free.

A large round circle-shaped sculpture through which a grassy vista and modern building is visible. Photo by R. Alokhin.

Big Easy Bayou Kayak Tour

A body of water with several people in kayaks. Courtesy of Kayak-Iti-Yat

Older kids will love paddling from neighborhood to neighborhood and learning about the history of Bayou St. John during a two-hour tour perfect for first-time kayakers. You might even see a bit of wildlife!

A body of water with several people in kayaks. Courtesy of Kayak-Iti-Yat

Backstreet Cultural Museum

Photo by Barry Solow/Creative Commons

Get an up-close look at colorful second-line outfits, Baby Dolls costumes and Mardi Gras Indian suits in the heart of Treme at Sylvester Francis’ living tribute to African-American parading culture.

Photo by Barry Solow/Creative Commons

Drag Queen Story Hour

New Orleans drag performers lead a monthly reading at the 9th Ward library, where kids and parents get an animated afternoon reading on the third Saturday of every month from some of the city’s celebrated drag stars. Storytime starts at 1 p.m.

The Music Box Village

A small house at the Music Box Village in New Orleans. Photo by Josh Brasted courtesy New Orleans Airlift

This assembly of small, shack-like houses is part art installation, part musical instrument, and part playground. Each offers interactive fun for kids and adults of all ages, and the rustic, forest-like art garden doubles as a music venue and event space. Open hours for hands-on play are 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

A small house at the Music Box Village in New Orleans. Photo by Josh Brasted courtesy New Orleans Airlift

Louis Armstrong Park

This 32-acre park located in the Treme neighborhood is a good option for kids to explore near the French Quarter. You'll find picturesque green space, a sculpture garden, and paths aplenty.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

The St. Louis Cemetery was founded in 1789 and is the oldest burial ground of New Orleans’ most illustrious residents. There, you’ll find the gravesite of Voodoo queen Marie Laveau, as well as actor Nicolas Cage’s future tomb.

Book with Save Our Cemeteries to have an up close and personal look at an array of wall vaults and tombs just steps from the French Quarter—and don’t forget the sunscreen.

Crescent Park

This 1.4-mile, 20-acre urban park on the riverfront offers landscaped gardens, a dog park, walking paths, public restrooms, swings, and panoramic downtown views.

Don't miss the David Adjaye-designed Piety Street Bridge, a pedestrian walkway that rises above active railroad tracks to connect the river with the Bywater community.

A post shared by BJ Knights (@bj_knights) on

French Quarter Kids

Children play with toy swords on a street. There is a sign on a building in the background that reads: French Quarter Kids Tours. Courtesy of French Quarter Kids

Families with kids ages 4 to 18 can take an interactive tour of the neighborhood with French Quarter Kids and learn about ghosts, music, and local history.

Children play with toy swords on a street. There is a sign on a building in the background that reads: French Quarter Kids Tours. Courtesy of French Quarter Kids

Preservation Hall

If you're looking for a kid-friendly jazz venue in New Orleans, this is it. The all-ages music landmark offers sets of jazz nightly—fyi, there's no food and beverage service—with some shows starting as early as 6 p.m.

Pro tip: Queue early and grab one of the benches; seating is first-come, first-served.

Faulkner House Books

Tucked off an alley behind Jackson Square in the French Quarter, this adorable bookstore sells new and used books and has a small but well-stocked children's section.

A post shared by gonola504 (@gonola504) on

Jackson Square

Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Jackson Square is surrounded by gorgeous historic buildings, like the St. Louis Cathedral and Pontalba apartments. Kids love the spot for its street performers, people-watching, and delicious beignets at nearby Cafe du Monde.

Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture

Installations throughout Carl Mack’s Carnival museum in the French Quarter highlight different parts of parade culture, from costume displays of past krewe royalty to Cajun Mardi Gras and walking groups and social aid and pleasure clubs. Play dress up in a rotating costume closet full of Carnival must-haves and fun finds. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Steamboat Natchez

This two-hour cruise along the Mississippi River uses a real steam-powered sternwheeler and provides great views of the city. Teachers can organize field trips geared toward younger and older students using the company’s resources, which include worksheets on topics ranging from the structure of a riverboat to local history.

The Canal Street Ferry

Twice an hour, this ferry takes a 10-minute trip across the Mississippi River from the Central Business District to Algiers Point, and the $2 ride offers great views of the New Orleans skyline.

Confetti Park

If you need to take a break in between exploring some of the historic architecture in Algiers Point, this unique community-centered playground is perfect for kids between two to five years old.

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

This 23,000-square-foot museum is the largest insectarium in the United States. Don't miss the butterfly garden, where a colorful butterfly might land on your child's shoulder.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

With four major sea life habitats to explore—the Amazon, the Mississippi River, the Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean—this aquarium offers hands-on aquatic fun for kids of all ages.

Check out the penguins, Parakeet Bay, and the popular 2,600-gallon touch pool where kids can touch cownose rays.

A post shared by ☕️ (@sanedoglady) on

Louisiana Children's Museum

Aerial view of the new Louisiana Children’s Museum and surrounding lagoons Photo by Webb Bland via Mithun

The museum moved from its longtime Julia Street home into a new $47.5 million campus in City Park, featuring five interactive exhibits exploring the state’s natural environment, music, and culture. The new campus includes old favorites like the bubble wands and grocery store as well as new additions like a classroom floating above a lagoon and a fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya.

Aerial view of the new Louisiana Children’s Museum and surrounding lagoons Photo by Webb Bland via Mithun

National World War II Museum

Older kids and adults will find this exemplary museum worth exploring. Exhibits examine America's contribution to the Allied victory in World War II, with a multi-sensory cinematic feature produced and narrated by Tom Hanks playing at the 4D Solomon Victory Theater.

Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Children are standing near a table doing arts and crafts. Photo by Skip Bolen/Getty Images

Located in the Warehouse Art District, the Ogden Museum showcases the art, history, and culture of the American South and has a few art projects and resources designed specifically for families. It also hosts a series of artsy summer camps for kids of all ages.

Children are standing near a table doing arts and crafts. Photo by Skip Bolen/Getty Images

St Charles Avenue streetcar

As the oldest continually operating street car in the United States, the New Orleans streetcar has been transporting locales—and thrilling children—since 1835. Head to the St. Charles line for views of the Garden District and New Orleans' many picturesque universities.

Ashé Cultural Arts Center

The 6,600-square-foot arts facility hosts theater and dance performances, drumming and dance classes, storytelling, music and other events highlighting the city’s African-American performing arts community. It’s also home to New Orleans Youth Open Mic performances and an art gallery.

Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World

Kids love the tour of this massive warehouse where they'll get a behind-the-scenes look at the artisans, LED-lit floats, and parade paraphernalia of Mardi Gras. Pro tip: Don't miss the dress up costume trunks.

Prytania Theatre

A brick movie theater with colored string lights across its entrance is photographed at night.
The Prytania Theater
Photo by Josh Brasted/Getty Images

At more than 100 years old, the single-screen theater in Uptown is a step back in time, with red velvet ropes, balcony seating and family-friendly screenings of hand-picked classic films.

A brick movie theater with colored string lights across its entrance is photographed at night.
The Prytania Theater
Photo by Josh Brasted/Getty Images

Audubon Zoo

A water fountain with several large sculptures of elephants.

Consistently ranked as one of the top zoos in the country, the Audubon Zoo boasts more than 1,300 creatures ranging from rare white alligators to a komodo dragon. Older kids shouldn't miss the Safari Simulator ride, while the younger ones will love checking out the scenery on board the zoo's Swamp train.

During the warm summer months, check out Cool Zoo, a splash park with an alligator water slide, water spouts, and a lazy river. The splash park requires an additional ticket with your zoo admission.

A water fountain with several large sculptures of elephants.

Barataria Preserve Visitor Center

This swampy nature preserve is only a half-hour drive from downtown New Orleans, but its cypress trees, turtles, wildflowers, alligators, and 200-plus species of birds make it feel light years away. Explore the boardwalks on your own, or have kids earn a badge with the park’s Junior Ranger program.