There are so many sights to see and places to visit in New Orleans that there's never a reason to get bored or run out of things to do. Deciding what is appropriate for children and what might interest them is another matter. Below are suggestions for activities that will entertain children and parents alike.
ART / HISTORY / MUSIC
Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World
On a tour of the legendary float-making business, see Mardi Gras floats up close and learn about the artistry and technology involved in staging a Carnival parade. The guided tour includes the screening of an exclusive Mardi Gras video and a refreshment break with king cake. The facility also includes a restaurant with a view of the Mississippi River. Open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. (Closed Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and Mardi Gras). Admission $19.95 adults, $15.95 seniors, $12.95 children 2-12 years old, children 2 and younger are free.
The Cabildo, Louisiana State Museum
701 Chartres St., (504) 568-6968;
Built in the late 1700s for the municipal government, this National Historic Landmark was the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer in 1803 — the table used for the occasion is on display — and the Louisiana Supreme Court issued the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision while housed there. The Marquis de Lafayette lived at the Cabildo when he visited the city in 1825, and the building at one time served as a prison. It now houses a comprehensive exhibit about Louisiana's early history. Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed holidays. Admission is $6 adults; $5 seniors, students and active military personnel; free for children 12 and younger.
French QuarTour Kids
The company provides hourlong walking tours in the French Quarter designed for kids . The Port, the Pirates & All the Rest! retraces Louisiana's history and the role its location and geography played. Historian Jill Dresser leads the Creole Kids Tour exploring 1830s New Orleans, including how children lived, what people wore, etiquette of the time and more. The tour includes a visit to the courtyard of the Hermann-Grima House. Admission to the adjoining museum is available at a discount. Tours are offered Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Admission is $12 per person (cash only), free for children 5 and younger. Children must be accompanied by an adult (one per four kids).
Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve Laura C. Hudson Visitor Center
419 Decatur St., (504) 589-3882;
The visitor center in the French Quarter houses exhibits and murals illustrating the importance waterways such as the Mississippi River have played in the formation of Louisiana and its culture. Other exhibits and interactive displays focus on flora and fauna in the area, food, culture and festivals. Ranger-led walking tours of the French Quarter start at 9:30 a.m. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (except Christmas and Mardi Gras). Free admission.
National World War II Museum
945 Magazine St., (504) 528-1944;
The internationally renowned museum has everything children love: tanks, planes, guns, love stories, movies, fashions, video-taped stories, the Stage Door Canteen's song and dance venue, dining options and more. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission $21 adults; $18 seniors; $12 children 5-12 years old, students, active military with ID; free children 5 and younger, military personnel in uniform and WWII veterans.
New Orleans Museum of Art
City Park, 1 Collins C. Diboll Circle, (504) 658-4100;
In addition to permanent and changing exhibitions of paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, Faberge eggs and more, the museum hosts programs for children and families including the monthly Story Quest at NOMA, in which professional authors, actors and artists read stories cued to a theme, followed by family activities. Where Y'Art (5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays) features a variety of performances, art activities and more. The programs are free with regular museum admission. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. Admission $10 adults; $8 seniors, active military personnel, university students with ID; $6 children 7-17 years old; free for children 6 and younger. Admission is free for everyone on Wednesdays.
Old U.S. Mint
400 Esplanade Ave., (504) 568-6993;
This building began producing coins in 1838 and continued (with some lapses) until 1909. It now houses the Louisiana State Museums New Orleans Jazz Club Collections, the Louisiana Historical Center and a performing arts center. Check the website for events such as music and yoga classes. Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed holidays. Admission is $6 adults; $5 seniors, students and active military personnel; free for children 12 and younger.
The Presbytere, Louisiana State Museum
Jackson Square, 751 Chartres St., (504) 568-6968;
Mardi Gras is always exciting for children, and the permanent exhibit Mardi Gras: It's Carnival Time in Louisiana provides eye candy and fun, tracing New Orleans' parades and Carnival balls from their beginnings to today. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed holidays. Admission is $6 adults; $5 seniors, students and active military personnel; free for children 12 and younger. Admission includes other exhibits in the museum.
726 St. Peter St., (504) 522-2841;
Policies barring drinking and smoking make this legendary traditional jazz club kid-friendly and gives youngsters a rare glimpse of jazz being performed where it began: in the music halls and parlors of the French Quarter. Open 8 p.m. daily (shows start at 8:15 p.m.). Admission $15.
Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
1 Colin Diboll Circle, City Park;
All ages Stroll through a five-acre garden with walking paths, pedestrian bridges and reflecting pools. Help your child find the 60 sculptures by European, American, Israeli and Japanese artists that are on display throughout the garden. A free audio tour is available. Open 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. daily and 10 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. Friday. Free admission.
AMUSEMENTS / RIDES / GAMES
Carousel Gardens Amusement Park
City Park, 1 Palm Drive, (504) 483-9383
Home to one of only 100 wooden carousels remaining in the U.S., the amusement park is open seasonally and a variety of rides, including a 40-foot slide, a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, Tilt-A-Whirl, a miniature train and kiddie rides. Minimum height requirement for rides is 3 feet. Admission $3, free for children under 3 feet; ride tickets are $3 each or $20 per person for unlimited rides. Check website for open dates and times.
11075 Nicolle Blvd., Avondale, (504) 302-4875;
Minors must be accompanied by an adult This new complex for riding go-carts, motorcycles and race cars has miles of tracks in a variety of configurations, a 7-acre paddock, state-of-the-art safety features, dining facilities and soon will offer villas for rent. Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call for admission information.
156 Bertucci Lane, St. Rose, (504) 469-0148;
The stable offers lessons and equestrian camps during the summer and holidays including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mardi Gras and Easter. Lessons include learning all about horses, how to care for them and how to ride them using English and Western riding disciplines. Private and group lessons are available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, by appointment only.
1001 Filmore Ave., (504) 483-9398;
and older The equestrian center at City Park offers riding lessons, camps and field trips and hosts birthday parties. Show riders train at Equest, which also boards privately owned horses. Group rides are available by appointment. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Contact the stables for prices.
INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS / ATTRACTIONS
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas/ Entergy IMAX Theater
1 Canal St., (504) 581-4629;
This state-of-the-art indoor aquarium includes a stunning walk-through arch aquarium and houses about 600 species of sea creatures, including sharks, penguins, alligators, frogs and lots of fish, and a special parakeet exhibit. There also is a petting tank, demonstrations, and play spaces. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $21 adults, $17 seniors and high school and college students with a valid ID, $14 children 2-12, children under 2 are free. The Entergy IMAX Theater adjacent to the aquarium has a five-and-a-half-story-high screen and shows films about nature and other topics. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with films starting every hour. Admission $10.50 adults, $9.50 seniors and high school and university students with an ID, $7.50 children 2-12 years old, children under 2 are free.
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
U.S. Custom House, 423 Canal St., (504) 581-4629;
The intriguing world of butterflies and insects is explored through bigger than life displays and interactive exhibits. There's also a restaurant featuring taste treats made with bugs and an enclosed walk-through butterfly garden. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission $16 adults, $13 seniors and high school and college students with ID, $11 children ages 2-12, children under 2 are free
5604 Blessey St, Harahan, (504) 835-6424;
Ages 2 to 11 years old
This 8,300-square-foot indoor playground filled with Inflatable equipment, obstacle courses, bouncing rooms, slides and more provides lots of options for children ages 2 to 11. The facility will be closed on Mondays after Labor Day (Sept. 3), and often is booked for parties and special events on weekends (call for availability), but walk-in play generally is available 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. There's a concession area and high-definition TVs broadcasting sports events for adults accompanying children. Admission is $8 for 90 minutes.
Louisiana Children's Museum
420Julia St., (504) 523-1357;
This fun-filled educational facility features interactive exhibits that turn learning into playtime. Some attractions include a bubble station, miniature grocery store, transportation display, an exhibit about the body, a new literacy project and more. Open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday (the museum closes on Monday during the fall). Admission $8 per person, children under 1 year are free.
The Monkey Room Indoor Playground
1501 Religious St., Suite C, (504) 301-2695;
Toddlers to pre-teens
Kids can play full-out on a tube slide, punching bags, three-lane speed slide, ball room, crawl-through bridge, climbing structures, foam rollers and more. There's also a toddlers-only play area and a snack bar. Children must wear socks to enter the playground. The Monkey Room is closed Tuesdays, but other days it's open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., unless there's a special event (check the calendar on the website). Admission is $9, $7 for the toddlers area only; adults are free.
Playmakers Indoor Sports
All ages The indoor turf facility organizes leagues in soccer, lacrosse, flag football and more, as well as developmental sports programs for kids as young as 18 months. Call for a schedule. Annual membership is $25 family, $20 adults, $15 youth.
RC Racing Station
1401 Fulton St., Kenner, (504) 858-3577;
The indoor racetrack for remote-control cars has pit space and a hobby shop on location. Call for hours and admission.
OUTDOOR PARKS & ACTIVITIES
6500 Magazine St., (800) 774-7394;
Children can see (and sometimes touch) animals indigenous to Louisiana as well as exotic animals from all over the world. The zoo has a miniature railroad that runs through the zoo, a splash park (admission is extra), innovative natural habitats for the animals, special education programs, play stops, the Monkey Hill play area, a dinosaur exhibit and more. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission $16 adults, $13 seniors and high school and college students with an ID, $11 children 2-12 years old, children under 2 are free.
(504) 814-0551; www.bayoukayaks.com
Ages depends on skills
This kayak rental company launches on Bayou St. John near the corner of Moss Street and Florida Avenue. Rentals are available 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Monday, with sessions starting at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Rentals are $20 for a single-rider kayak, and $40 for a tandem kayak.
City Park, 1 Palm Terrace, (504) 483-9386;
Walking paths take visitors through lush gardens of flowers, trees, indigenous plants and other foliage designed around fountains statues and benches. There's a goldfish pond, a conservatory with a "Living Fossil" section, a simulated rainforest and other educational features. Watch for special children's programming. Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission $5 adults and children 13 and older, $2 children 5 to 12 years old, children under 5 are free.
Audubon Zoo, 6500 Magazine St., (800) 774-7394;
Toddler to pre-teen
Open through Labor Day, the splash park offers waterspouts, an alligator water slide, a spider monkey soaker and more in three splash zones and an area just for toddlers and younger children. Admission $7, $5 for Audubon Institute members. Splash park tickets are not included in regular zoo admission.
Disc Golf at City Park
City Park, 1 Palm Drive, (504) 482-4888;
The 18-hole disc golf course opened in 2010 and is open to the public. Tee times aren't normally required (unless there's a tournament). Free admission. Open daily.
Disc Golf at Lafreniere Park
Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie, (504) 895-7512 or (504) 456-1851;
There are 24 holes on the disc golf course on the north and east sides of the park. The course is open to the public, and admission is free. Park gates are open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Global Wildlife Center
26389 Hwy 40, Folsom, (985) 796-3585;
All ages The more than 4,000 exotic, threatened and endangered animals from around the globe who are housed on the wildlife preserve are allowed to roam freely in the natural environment. The preserve is open daily. Call for tour schedules. Admission is $17 adults, $15 seniors 62 and older, $11 children 2 to 11 years old, children younger than 2 are free. Private tours are $35 per person.
Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours
All ages Tour a swamp in a Cajun-style flat boat or on an air boat and see the Spanish moss and other flora natural to south Louisiana swamps as well as wildlife including alligators, snakes, egrets, deer, mink, nutria and more. Tours are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. daily. Admission $25 adults, $12 children 3-12 years old. Airboat rentals are $54-$70.
Age depends on skills
The company offers kayaking tours along Bayou St. John to Lake Pontchartrain and guides point out the sights, wildlife, fauna and history of the area. They provide the kayak, safety jacket and wet bag. The four-hour Paddle Pontchartrain tour is $60 per person, and the two-hour Lazy Twilight Tour is $40 per person.
Lagoon, Lafreniere Park
Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie, (504) 838-4389;
The 20-acre lagoon stretches through various areas of the park, and has turtles and several species of fish as well as ducks and geese. Free admission. Park gates are open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Longue Vue House and Gardens
7 Bamboo Road, (504) 488-5488;
Children can roam through the 8 acres of gardens designed by renowned 20th-century landscape architects. The Classical Revival-style mansion, which is open for tours, illustrates life as it was long ago. Longue Vue's Lucy C. Roussel Discovery Garden provides children with a place to dig and learn about gardening and nature. Check the website for special programming. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission starts at $7 adults, $4 children 3 and older, children 2 and younger are free
All of Lafreniere Park is a dedicated bird sanctuary, but Marsh Island also is bountiful in Louisiana's indigenous vegetation and animal life. It's a favorite spot for feeding the swans, ducks and geese that live there. An elevated walkway leads to a gazebo. Free admission.
The Paddlewheeler Creole Queen
An authentic paddlewheeler, the Creole Queen offers the nostalgia of times past and the comforts of the modern world, featuring a climate-controlled interior with plush decor and outer decks clad with wrought-iron trims. There's a dance floor, music, private rooms, dining options and more. Tours include the Chalmette Battlefield cruise from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily and a three-hour dinner jazz cruise from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. (check for cruise dates). Chalmette Battlefield cruise tickets $25 adults, $13 children 6-12 years old, children 5 and younger are free. Jazz cruise tickets start at $40 adults, $20 children 6 to 12 years old, $10 children 3-5 years (with dinner), and children 3 and younger are free.
Picnic Island & Waterfall
Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie, (504) 838-4389;
Take a lunch or snack to Picnic Island and eat with a backdrop of a lovely man-made waterfall. There are picnic tables, and shelters can be reserved.
Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie, (504) 838-4389;
Ages 10 and younger
Opened July 13, the new Spray Park adjacent to the carousel features in-ground and above-ground water spray attractions and three water cannons in about 4,000 square feet of space. The water park is open noon to 7 p.m. daily. Admission is $5 per person (exact cash only) for 45 minutes, with sessions starting on the hour. There is a 75-person capacity.
1 Toulouse St., (504) 586-8777;
A classic Mississippi River steamboat, the Natchez offers daytime jazz tours, leaving from the French Quarter daily for a two-hour cruise around the port. Most cruises include a calliope concert or jazz music, and Creole lunch fare is available. Boarding is 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets $25 adults, $12.25 children 6 to 12 years old, children five and younger free.
City Park, 1 Palm Drive, (504) 483-9383;
Toddler to pre-teen
Children will see their favorite fairy tales represented in brightly colored sculptures designed for whimsical play, climbing and exploring. There are more than 26 storybook exhibits including Captain Hook's pirate ship from Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Jack and Jill, Little Miss Muffet, Cinderella and more. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission $3 per person, children under 3 feet tall are free.
6000 Airline Drive, Metairie, (504) 734-5155;
This family-friendly baseball club's facility includes a swimming pool for fans to stay cool during hot games, lots of dining choices and a host of special activities for children at halftime, fireworks displays and more. Check website for scheduled dates. Admissions starts at $6.
SPECIAL PROGRAMS / CLASSES
Age groups range from 3-18 years old
Emily Post Institute etiquette classes and seminars are available for age groups 3-6, 7-11, 12-15 and 16-18. The classes use fun techniques to teach boys and girls manners and instill confidence and leadership and social skills.
City Park Movement & Art
4300 Dumaine St., 390-7482 (movement), 333-3449 (art);
Movement classes include ballet, yoga, acrobatics, creative movement, jazz, tap and more. Children also can take art classes, have art parties, attend kids' night at the studio or have a birthday party there.
Gymboree Play & Music
1876 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, (985) 773-3992;
Ages birth to 5 years
Classes are offered in music, play, art, sports, school skills and more. Curricula are created by national experts to help children hone cognitive, physical and social skills as they play. Call for schedules and prices.