New Orleans has a notorious reputation as a place where people come to drink, eat, party, and let loose. However, the city is very family friendly, and will entertain its youngest visitors with plenty to do and see outside and inside. Nature exploration, animal visits, and hands-on learning are plentiful in the Big Easy.
Parks, sculpture gardens, and aquariums are all museums, but far away from traditional often stuffy places. Something like the Mardi Gras World will be anything but boring - imagine all the selfies you and your children can take of marvelous floats and movie characters riding on them. The magic NO trio - the Audubon Zoo, Aquarium, and Insectarium is available for one economic price and will amaze your little explorers for days.
We created a list of ten family-orientated places to prove once and for all that New Orleans is a family destination just as much as it is a party scene.
The park is located outside of the city on a 900-acre property on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. This sanctuary can be compared to Disney's Animal Kingdom. There are about 40 different species of non-predatory animals, 2,700 individuals in total. Visitors can view them all on a 90-minute covered wagon rides. Kids are in heaven here observing exotic African animals and feeding little curious critters.
This side of the lake is definitely relaxing and has a lot to offer for families, tired from the bustle of the city.
This lighthouse is the only working lighthouse in the entire state of Louisiana and is definitely worth a visit. You will get to take a break from the city here, on the shore of the Lake Pontchartrain. The museum and education center are located on the first floor and offer an abundance of information about the history of the lighthouse and its significance to the area.
The lighthouse keepers care about the surrounding waters and their quality, participate in clean up and restoration efforts after natural disasters that are not uncommon here. Visitors also have plenty of photo opportunities on the beautiful South Shore. See New Canal Lighthouse website.
The museum is located in a beautiful Italian warehouse-style building, adorned with arched windows. The expositions are always interactive and offer visitors a chance to learn something while playing. You and your kids can immerse yourselves in a giant bubble or get on bicycle ride and learn how your skeleton works.
The museum occupies an impressive 30,000 sq. feet of space and houses a great number of exhibits for every taste - from climbing walls to emergency education zones.
The zoo is conveniently located right in the city and offers a great piece of nature for kids and adults alike. This museum is regarded as one of the best in the nation. 2,000 animals call this zoo home and can be visited 6 days a week all year round, 7 in the summer.
Louisiana sun can be relentless, so summer visitors are invited to splash around in a Cool Zoo for a small extra fee. How many zoos offer that?
Another unique experience here is newly opened Bambu Village Asian Discovery Trail. Guests can meet some animals personally and touch them while learning about their habitats and survival instincts.
This museum is located in the French Quarter right by the Mississippi River, so no trip out of the city is required. Visitors can enjoy close-up animal encounters, observe shark behavior, and learn what life is like under an oil rig. Gul of Mexico exposition offers a look at local native marine species, but there are other expositions showcasing animals from all over the U.S.
The aquarium has experienced some significant damage during the Hurricane Katrina in 2005, lost majority of its fish, but was able to save many other animals and rebuild to now house 10,000 various inhabitants.
Movies in the IMAX Theater are very popular among kids and adults alike and are a great way to conclude the visit.
This is a fantastic creature land for sure and will open the Mardi Gras gates for you any time of the year. Visitors here can really understand what this festival is all about and where did it come from. Behind the scenes look is very authentic because this is the place where most of the floats are made and prepared for the parade.
Knowledgeable guides will tell stories of each of those breath-taking floats, the ideas and technologies behind them. Visitors can book parties, weddings, and even mask making classes here. There is definitely something to see for all.
This is one of the newer museums in New Orleans, but has already been voted the 11th best in the world. Higgins Industries were building the landing gear for WWII aircraft here, so it is very befitting to have such a museum in New Orleans.
Visiting kids should be older, as the smallest history buffs might find some expositions a bit disturbing. The war effort, losses, and implications are connected here through technology, pictures, and recorded veterans' memories.
One of the main attractions in the museum is 4D "Beyond all Boundaries" movie, produced and narrated by Tom Hanks.
Besides permanent memorabilia here, the museum offers family nights, overnight stay activities for older kids, and some hands-on learning opportunities. See The National WWII Museum website.
This museum is located very close to the downtown, on Canal Street. This is the largest facility dedicated to insects in North America. The expositions and displays are very informative and teach about the place insects occupy in our ecosystems and the role they play.
Butterfly lovers can enjoy thousands of butterflies all around them in a relatively small closed territory. This is a nice place to spend a couple of hours and learn why various smallest creatures are so important for the health of our planet.
This museum is a very small establishment on the famed French Quarter, but packed with wonders. The expositions are mainly dedicated to the 19th century local Voodoo queen Marie Laveau. She was the most famous priestess and left many stories behind. Visitors can marvel at various voodoo charms on the walls, potions, and other spiritual occult memorabilia. This religion is still alive underground in Louisiana and came from Africa with the first slaves. The museum offers scheduled rituals and tours to the most haunted places to enhance the experience even more. Voodoo dolls and spells are available at the gift store.
This museum might not be of great interest to the youngest visitors, but will mesmerize older explorers. It is located in the beautiful City Park and houses an impressive collection of 40,000 objects. NOMA focuses mainly on French and American period art. There are some activities designated to encourage the youngest kids to start developing interest in various art forms. One of the programs, Baby Arts Play connects music, art, and movement during a playtime. The museum is very engaging with families and offers unique ways to create art, learn about art history though scavenger hunts, and finally offers classes to unite different cultures through art.