New Orleans is a city in the state of Louisiana which is best known for their iconic Mardi Gras festival, Creole food and southern charm.
The heart of the city is the historical French Quarter which is notably known for their amazing French and Spanish Creole architecture and as well as the colorful nightlife along the Bourbon Street.
The city offers not just the usual boisterous party scene but there are many wonderful and magical spots that are great for vacationing families.
This was Aiden & I’s second time, and my husband’s first time in New Orleans. We spent a total of four days in New Orleans with kids and we were able to do a lot of things, but I do wish we had more time there.
The first time I visited New Orleans Aiden was three years old, and we spend Mother’s Day weekend there, which was the start of our Mother and Son “Mother’s Day Trips”.
You can see the other places we spent Mother’s Day below.
- How Did We Get To New Orleans?
- New Orleans Neighborhoods
- How To Get Around New Orleans
- Where To Stay In New Orleans
- Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids
- New Orleans Plantation Tours
- Where To Eat In New Orleans
- New Orleans Itinerary
- Tips For Visiting New Orleans For The First Time
- Homeschooling On The Go
- Thoughts On New Orleans With Kids
How Did We Get To New Orleans?
We flew to New Orleans from Los Angeles on United Airlines. We took a red eye flight with a layover in San Francisco, and arrived New Orleans very early in the morning at about 6am.
I love red eye flights because for us that means we have one less night at the hotel to pay for, which also means when we get to our destination we have a full day to explore.
Getting From The Airport To The City
The airport (Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport / MSY) is about 13 miles from the French Quarter which is about a 30 to 45 minute drive depending on traffic when you arrive.
Limo Service – We were picked up from the airport by Limo Livery and someone as waiting for us in the baggage claim area when we arrived.
Airport Shuttle – There is a shuttle at the airport that offers transportation to various hotels in New Orleans. This costs $24/person for a one way trip or $44/ person round trip. Check out Aiport Shuttle New Orleans for more.
Lyft/Uber – Lyft and Uber are both authorized to pick up passengers from the airport. You can find the pick up location on the first floor of the short term parking garage located by baggage claim 6.
New Orleans Neighborhoods
New Orleans has different neighborhoods, and before you book you trip it is important to map put the different neighborhoods to know where to stay, how to get around and where all the attractions to plan to visit are.
- French Quarter
- The Garden District
- Downtown ./ Canal Business District
- Uptown / Carrollton
- Ninth Ward
- Esplanade Ridge
- Arts / Warehouse District
- Marigny / Bywater
- New Orleans East
How To Get Around New Orleans
We got around New Orleans by walking, taking Lyft as well as the street car.
You can rent a car in New Orleans and drive around, however there’s a lot of traffic and parking is hard to come by. So I don’t recommend that you rent a car unless you absolutely want to.
Click here for a detailed list of ways to get around New Orleans.
Where To Stay In New Orleans
We stayed at the Jung Hotel & Residences in New Orleans. This hotel has a restaurant attached with yummy breakfast which we enjoyed every morning.
Our hotel was right on Canal Street and it was an easy ride in the street car straight there. So we took the street car back a few times instead of paying for Lyft.
When choosing a place to stay in New Orleans, make sure you access the location to ensure that it is close to public transportation, and also an easy walk from places you want to visit.
Other Places To Stay In New Orleans
- Omni Riverfront Hotel
- Hotel Monteleone
- InterContinental New Orleans
- Hotel Le Marais
- Drury Inn & Suites New Orleans
- Courtyard New Orleans
Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids
- Be amazed at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
The Audubon Aquarium has four sea life habitats waiting to be explored which are the Amazon, the Caribbean, the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River.
Kids can have an interactive experience where they can touch a stingray or even feed a parakeet. It also offers a different underwater world experience which the kids will surely love.
The Audubon Aquarium is located on the Mississippi River which is adjacent to the French Quarter. Click here for tickets and other details on Audobon Aquarium of the Americas.
- See the beautiful butterfly at the Audubon Butterfly Garden And Insectarium
The Audobon Butterfly Garden was one of our favorite things to do in New Orleans with kids. It is the largest museum in America dedicated just insects only. This place is amazing!
SssHhh, I’m so scared of butterflies, and my husband captured this freak out moment.
HaHa Aiden obviously was having a blast with the butterflies.
- Mardi Gras Experience
NOLA’s Mardi Gras may be notorious for its wild party scenes which usually happens on Bourbon Street. However, there are many family-friendly areas where you can enjoy the scenes of the Mardi Gras.
One of the best spots is at St. Charles Avenue just near the intersection of Third Street in the Garden District neighborhood.
Your kids will surely enjoy dressing up and catching all the beads and of course watching the parade of incredible floats. Read about Mardi Gras here.
- Enjoy beignets at the world famous Café Du Monde
One of the best things about visiting New Orleans with kids is their unique gastronomic experience. Beignets are French-style doughnuts which are covered in powdered sugar.
Your visit to NOLA will never be complete without indulging on one or two beignets. Café Du Mondein the New Orleans’ French Quarter has been serving up beignets since 1862.
Treat your kids to something delightfully sweet without spending a lot. And don’t forget to also try out their chocolate milk. Check our Cafe Du Monde here.
- Explore City Park
The City Park is considered as one of the oldest urban parks and it spans 1300 acres and is definitely a true oasis. The park is located within the city which is really great since you do not have to travel that far.
You can hop on a Streetcar which would take about 45 minutes or you can also drive which would take up to 25 minutes. The story themed playground called Storyland is City Park’s most popular attraction.
However the park also offers other cool spots such as the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, biking paths, botanical garden and it is also the home of the oldest grove of live oak trees.
There are so many activities to enjoy at the park which can last the whole day. Click here for more information on City Park.
- See animals and splash at the Audobon Zoo
The Audoboon Zoo in New Orleans is such a great activity when in New Orleans with kids. It is highly rated as one of the best zoo’s in the USA.
This zoo not only has animals, but also a mini splash water park for hot days. So don’t forget to pack your swimsuit if your’e planning to visit. Read more on Audobon Zoo here.
- Stroll around the French Quarter
No other place embodies New Orleans than the French Quarter. Some people may think that the French Quarter is just for grownups but the magical vibe and old charm of the place can surely capture the attention of kids.
The French Quarter is known for their colorful facades, unique architectural designs, cast-iron balconies and rustic shutters. One of the best things about the French Quarter is the old feel which is even magnified by horses and carts which navigate through the narrow streets.
You can also enjoy the many street musicians playing jazz tunes which can certainly add to the overall ambiance of the place.
- Learn something new at the New Orleans Museum of Art
Museums are cool because their main function is to impart knowledge to the visitor. The NOMA is considered as one of the best museums in the country wherein they have exhibits and classic works of art that both kids and adults will appreciate.
The museum offers child-focused art workshops, art classes and story time activities. Click here for details on schedules and upcoming events.
- Pretend play at the new Louisiana Children’s Museum
The new children’s museum in New Orleans is one of the best children’s museums that Aiden and I have visited. Two floors of endless exhibits, an as well an outdoor play area.
This children’s museum has a total of 8.5 acres for kids to explore inside and out. Expend to spend the whole day here!
Kids can pretend play in the kitchen as well as grocery store filled with pretend food. They can also dig into nature by getting an up close view of bugs and more and even play doctor at the veterinary hospital.
- Take part in the French QuarTour Kids Tour
The French QuarTour Kids Tour is designed for kids to learn about the rich history of New Orleans and French Quarter. The tour takes kids to interesting places such as Jackson Square, Old Slave Auction House and the Mississippi Riverfront.
This tour is the best activity for kids to learn the fascinating NOLA culture such as the French Creoles and Creoles of Color. The tour also shows how NOLA has played an important role in military campaigns and also in trade.
There are many tours to choose from such as the Spooky Tour which is the most popular option. Click here to book the French QuarTour Kids Tour.
- Experience Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street is considered a very historic street and is located in the heart of the French Quarter. It extends thirteen blocks from Canal Street all the way to Esplanade Avenue and is packed with bars and strip clubs.
A lot of people will argue that Bourbon Street isn’t very kid friendly, and I agree. However I still suggest catching a glimpse of it with your kids, especially if they are older.
Do note that there are strip clubs on Bourbon Street and even during the day time most people walking around there will be drunk and sometimes wild. So proceed with caution. Click here to read more about Bourbon Street.
- Spend the day on a Big Easy Bayou Kayak Tour
This is a great activity for older kids since paddling can be a bit tiring but an exhilarating experience. This fun and unique experience will let you see New Orleans on a different light with their beautiful bayous and iconic waterways.
The Big Easy Bayou tour is even great for first time kayakers since it only lasts for 2 hours. Click here to book a New Orleans Kayak Tour.
- Grab a ride in a Streetcar
The streetcar has been used by the locals since 1835 and is one of the best ways to get around the city.
The starting point is Canal Street and the ride costs $1.25. Be prepared to have the exact amount and enjoy taking in a piece of NOLA’s history.
- See gators up close with the Swamp Tour
The swamp tour is one of the most touristy activities that you can in New Orleans and you should never pass up to this experience. There are many licensed operators that offer swamp tours and do make sure to make a reservation.
The tour takes you to the famous New Orleans swamp where you can get up close and personal with alligators, egrets, wild boars and snakes.
This is one of the best tour that can get you close to wildlife in their natural habitat and also learn about the Louisiana bayou. Click here to book a swamp tour here.
- Take a food tour
Go on a walking food tour in the French Quarter. One of the most popular is this half-day food tour of the French Quarter.
You’ll be able to expand your palate by trying several Creole and well known New Orleans dishes such as alligator and even turtle.
Other Things To Do In New Orleans
- Take a ride on Steamboat Nathez while cruising the Mississippi River
- Enjoy a few rides at Storyland Theme Park
- See amazing views of New Orleans while riding the Canal Street Ferry to Algiers Point
- Take a history lesson at the National WWI Museum
- Explore the city on the Hop Off & Hop Off Bus
- Smell the flowers at the New Orleans Botanical Garden
- Take a cooking class – Click here for a list of cooking classes to choose from.
- Explore the city on the Hop Off & Hop Off Bus
- Go on a New Orleans Voodoo Tour
- Ride around new Orleans via Bike Tour and learn about the city.
- Take a horse drawn carriage tour of the French Quarter
New Orleans Plantation Tours
Although these New Orleans plantations are well manicured and beautiful estates to look, years ago, they housed slaves who worked endlessly and tirelessly day in and day out. So, it was very important for us to go on a New Orleans Plantation tour while in New Orleans.
This wasn’t Aiden’s first time learning about his history. When we visited Ghana, learning about slavery first hand was very important. Aiden was about four years old when I started talking to him about the slavery and the real truth about it.
We visited the Whitney Plantation and it was upsetting, painful and eye opening to see the conditions that slaves lived in, and everything that they had to endure without much of a choice.
If you are planning to take your kids on a plantation tour, I highly suggest that you start of by reading a book from this collection with your kids reaching them about slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges and more.
Regardless of race, background, ethnicity, it is important to talk to your children about slavery.
Talking to your kids about these topics and being open with them will give them a solid foundation and a better understanding of what they will see and learn about at the plantations.
List Of New Orleans Plantations
There are eleven plantations in New Orleans:
- Whitney Plantation
- Laura Plantation
- Oak Alley Plantation
- Houmas House Plantation
- San Francisco Plantation
- Nottoway Plantation
- Destrehan Plantation
- Ormond Plantation
- Malus Beauregard House
- St. Joseph Plantation
- Madewood Plantation
Want to know which plantation to visit – then click here to read more about each New Orleans plantation individually.
If you haven’t talked to your kids about slavery yet, then you absolutely should, and while in New Orleans make sure that you also show them as well.
Whitney Plantation With Kids
The doors of this museum were opened for public in 2014 for the very first time in the entire history of the museum and this is the only New Orleans plantation which is based on the views of slaves and everything that they endured.
The museum at the Whitney Plantation exhibits memorial artwork, plenty of first-person slaves’ narratives, restored buildings, and can give a unique perspective of the enslaved people who lived there.
From New Orleans you can drive to the plantations or go with a tour group. We went with a tour group because we didn’t rent a car and it went well.
Reading this below made my heart ache thinking about all the slaves had to endure and how strong and resilient they were.
Booking A New Orleans Plantation Tour
There are plenty of New Orleans plantation tours so it is important to make sure that you are booking a tour to the specific plantation that you want to see.
All the tours below include pick up from New Orleans, so make sure to inquire where exactly the pick up location is for your tour when you book it.
Do note that you can visit some of these plantations on your own, however an advance purchase ticket is a must. I do however highly recommend a tour especially because you get a more in depth explanation of everything.
- Whitney Plantation tour – this half day 5 hour tour includes a full visit to one of the most popular plantations. It includes museum exhibits, restored building and offers a first hand experience from a slaves point of view. This is the tour we booked.
- Swamp boat adventure and plantations full day tour – this nine-hour tour is a full day tour which includes visiting secluded areas of the bayous to witness Cajun living. This tour also includes Oak Alley Plantation and Laura Plantation.
- Swamp boat ride and southern plantation tour – this is a five and a half hour plantation tour which includes viewing wildlife and a visit to Destrehan Plantation.
- Double plantation tour – this five-hour tour includes a combined visit to Oak Alley, Laura Plantation or Whitney Plantation. When you book this tour you have the option to choose any two plantations that you’ll like to visit.
- Plantation brunch and swamp experience tour – this eight and a half hour tour not only includes a visit to Oak Alley and Laura Plantations, but it also includes a delicious Cajun brunch as well.
Here is a compiled list of New Orleans Plantation Tours you can choose from.
Where To Eat In New Orleans
Cafe Du Monde – when in New Orleans, this is an absolute must. I have tried beignets all over and they make the very BEST!
Jung Hotel – we had breakfast here every morning and they had a really good selection of breakfast items. The lobster and crawfish benedict below was very yummy.
Gris-Gris – really good food. Make sure to request a seat at the Chef’s table. The food is cooked right in front of your eyes.
Domenica – this restaurant has really good Italian food. Aiden ate his whole entire pizza, I had the lasagna and my husband had the lobster squid ink pasta. Both were so good!
Central Grocery – this restaurant / grocery is well known for Muffuletta sandwiches. They are soooo good – this is a must try!
Brunch at Brennan’s – do not miss brunch at this restaurant. Lots of options and as you can see below my steak and eggs were cooked at my table with a fire display. So Yummy!!
Galliano – this place has plenty of yummy Creole dishes. We really enjoyed eating at this restaurant.
Acorn – this restaurant is located at the Children’s Museum and serves plenty of healthy meals.
Freezy Street – Aiden tried a snow cone for the first time and loved it! There are plenty of options in New Orleans.
Other Places To Eat In New Orleans
- The Backyard
- Hansen’s Sno-Bliz
- Cochon Restaurant
- Willie Mae’s Scotch House
- Coop’s Place
- Oceana Grill
- Mother’s Restaurant
- Flamingo A Go Go
New Orleans Itinerary
When planning a trip to New Orleans with kids, it is very important to have a New Orleans itinerary in place so that you can visit all the sites on your list.
This New Orleans itinerary is exactly what we followed, so I hope it is as helpful for you as it was for us. You can always tweak it if you need to.
New Orleans Itinerary Day 1
- Arrive New Orleans
- Visit Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter
- Stroll around the French Quarter and enjoy the sights.
- Visit the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
- Dinner at Gris-Gris
New Orleans Itinerary Day 2
- Sleep in
- Enjoy brunch at Brennan’s
- Explore the French Quarter. Below are a few sites in the French Quarter that you don’t want to miss when exploring.
- Presbytère – Louisiana State Museum
- Marie Laveau House Of Voodoo
- Jackson Square
- Royal Street
- New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
- French Market
- Visit the Audubon Butterfly Garden & Insectarium
- Dinner at Domenica
New Orleans Itinerary Day 3
- Visit the New Orleans Children’s Museum in City Park
- Lunch at Acorn located in City Park just around the Children’s Museum
- Visit the Audobon Zoo
- Dinner at Galliano
New Orleans Itinerary Day 4
- New Orleans Plantation Tour
- Lunch at Central Grocery
- Visit Mardi Gras World
- Desert at Ice Cones
- Flight back home
Tips For Visiting New Orleans For The First Time
- Always have cash on you to tip street performers – They are talented, they work hard and they deserve it.
- Purchase a New Orleans Pass – It offers discounts to plenty of attractions versus paying for each one at the door. But the pass online to save even more money.
- Pack your most comfortable walking shoes – You will be walking a lot so make sure that your kids can handle it by getting them comfortable shoes. (Here’s my list of tried and tested shoes for our family).
Homeschooling On The Go
Aiden is homeschooled, and when we travel I make sure to pack paper, pencils and some workbooks to keep him busy. On our ride to Whitney Plantation he was able to work on some math with my husband.
Looking for more information on homeschooling and worldschooling? Check out my other articles below:
Thoughts On New Orleans With Kids
New Orleans is one of our families favorite cities. If you’re looking for places to visit in the USA, I highly recommend that you plan a trip to New Orleans.
There’s just something about the atmosphere and ambiance that you’ll fall in love with. Your kids will too!
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