I wanted to share with you our favorite spots we visited while exploring New Orleans. This is a kid friendly travel itinerary. Tim & I didn’t get to explore the great night life and bar scene that NOLA has to offer but we did explore almost every park and playground the bustling city has to offer!
First impression, I was shocked with how many kid friendly things there are to do in New Orleans. I wasn’t expecting it. It’s actually a super family friendly vacation destination. And if you are able to get a sitter or grandparents to accompany you there’d be plenty of things to do as a family during the day, and then plenty to do for a parents night out.
NOLA is relatively small for a city. You could visit for a long weekend or the whole week. There are SO MANY options for places to eat that it can get overwhelming. What I ended up doing was putting all points of interest i’d found through online research on a google map and then started to plan our days around locations that were close to each other.
Unfortunately for us, we were there the week of the polar vortex. So we weren’t able to do some things that i’ll recommend below. Also, City Park is like a mini Golden Gate Park with Museums, Amusement Parks, a Train – unfortunately, a lot of it was closed for the season (open spring – fall). So keep that in mind, it would have been really nice to have been there when those were open.
French Quarter – This is the main hub of the city. There are several streets that flow off of this street – all offering shops, restaurants and bars. You could take a half day exploring or 3 days exploring – it depends on your preference and budget. Evelyn isn’t in to shopping and we don’t have the money to spend on that so we easily walked the whole area in half a day.
Park at one of the lots (it’ll be pricey around $12-$15) near Cafe Du Monde. The line will be long but it goes quickly and there’s usually a jazz band playing outside to entertain the kids. Order your beignet and Cafe au Lait to go (CASH ONLY) then walk across the street to Jackson Square. Enjoy your treats on a park bench while the kiddos run around. Then continue walking straight to St. Louis Cathedral – right outside the church there will be more performers which can be fun for the kids. From there, shopping in all directions. You’ll see a kids store with nutcrackers out front.
You can start walking to explore Decatur Street, Royal Street and Bourbon Street. Bourbon street was under major construction when we were just there (Jan 2019), it’s also super dirty. You can make a giant loop and circle back for an Italian Muffuletta at Central Grocery. It’s delicious and HUGE, the whole family could split 1 sandwich. A few stores down is a liquor & beer store and we bought two local Abita Beers (Purple Haze is our favorite) for $2.50 each. We then headed back to Jackson Square and ate our lunch on a park bench. NOLA is an open container city FYI 😉
Walking down Decatur street you’ll hit the French Market which spans six blocks. You’ll be greeted by an indoor market area with several great food stand options (the crepe stand looked yummy!). A bit farther into the French Market you’ll discover the Flea Market with a lot of great offerings for locally made souvenirs. This is the spot to get all your gifts at a good price. There some gorgeous wood trinkets, alligator heads, NOLA apparel for baby, kids & parents.
Mardi Gras World – Tour of the warehouse where all the parade floats are stored and built. A bit pricey at $22 PP (toddler was free) but was worth it. Parking is $15 but we found a side street across from the main street (when on the main street, mardi gras world is on the right, instead turn left down side street. Tim dropped me & E off w/ stroller and then went to go park). There’s also a shuttle that’ll take you back and forth from there to the French Quarter so that’s another option to look into. This is indoors so this is a good option for an extreme weather day (cold, hot, raining). (TRAVEL TIP: We got tickets at a discounted price at 365tickets.com – they also had packages which offered a bigger discount. We didn’t end up going unfortunately because of weather but there’s Steamboat Natchez – a two hour Mississippi cruise w/ steam-powered sternwheeler w/ Jazz music -and we were looking at that ticket bundle on the discount site.) While you are waiting for your tour (there is one every 30 minutes) they have a super cute gift shop. However, E was a tornado in there so we stepped out onto their back deck and she watched the boats go by. It’s the perfect area for littles to run around while you wait for your tour to start. Before the actual tour starts, there’s an intro video that was really long, I had to step outside with E. But just make sure to get back in time for the king cake that’s served after the video!
The Steamboat Natchez cruise was what we had planned to do with the second half of our day but because of the weather we decided not to go. I saw mixed reviews on yelp on this. But in general it seemed to be a fun family activity.
We started our day with lunch while Evelyn napped in her stroller at Johnny’s Po-Boy Restaurant. OMG this was fantastic. Framed photo with the Obama’s at the pickup window so you know it’s top notch. The line took about 30 minutes so be prepared to wait, but worth it. Order at the window, food is ready in about 5 minutes and it’s outdoor table seating which is conducive to wiggly kids. It’s very loud but means your LO shrieking won’t bother anyone. We ordered and split the Shrimp Po Boy, Fried Pickles, Fries with Gravy and Bread pudding. BEST MEAL we had there, hands down. Don’t miss the sauce bar tucked by the doorway as you leave with your order to head outside.
We worked off our lunch, and E’s energy, at Walnut Street Playground at Audubon Park. One of the best playgrounds we’ve been to. She LOVED the little “roller coaster” seat ride. Park for free on a side street. I don’t have any photos because we were having too much fun but I promise this playground is a must see!
Next, pick up the New Orleans Green Line Streetcar – on St. Charles Ave across from the park. Cost is $1.25 PP, exact change needed. It is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world and has been in operation since 1835. The universities and homes on this route are stunning.
New Orleans City Park – OK this place is the WINNER for me of things to do with kids in New Orleans. We went back here several times. Unfortunately, a lot of their offerings are closed during the winter but we were still really happy with this playground and there’s a Cafe Du Monde right next to it!!!!!! If you are there on a good weather day you can easily spend 3 days just exploring the park.
Final Verdict: We would definitely come back and visit again during a warmer season. There’s endless things to do – we just scratched the surface. I’m pasting below a list of restaurants and attractions that were highly recommended but that we didn’t have the time to do these &/or it was closed but would be worth looking into for your trip!
New Orleans City Park (Seasonal) Offerings:
- Carousel Garden’s Amusement Park – 15 other amusement rides
- Putt Putt
- Train Ride
- New Orleans Museum of Art & Sculpture Garden – Offers a kids Storytime. Check calendar for kids friendly events.
- New Orlean’s Botanical Garden
- Audubon Butterfly Garden
- **Louisiana Children’s Museum – brand new, opening TBD 2019
- There’s also biking, hiking and an interactive nature walk for older kiddos.
Places/experiences that were recommended to us that we didn’t get a chance to do:
- Louisiana Children’s Museum
- Audubon Aquarium
- St. Louis Cemetery (There’s 3)
- Cemetery Tour
- Swamp Tour
- Frenchman Street is apparently the “New Bourbon Street” if you’re able to enjoy some nightlife.
Restaurants that came up in my search/recommended by friends but we didn’t get to go to:
- Cafe Beignet – There was a debate amongst our friends about whether Cafe du Monde or Cafe Beignet had the BEST beignets. Apparently they are made a bit differently so you may prefer one over the other. If you have enough time, try both!
- Coops Place
- The Gumbo Shop
- Willie Mae’s Scotch House
- Antoine’s Restaurant
For all my RVers – we stayed at Pontchartrain Landing which was an easy drive into the French Quarter and we got a Passport America discount.
I hope you enjoy your trip to New Orleans!