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New Orleans Activities for Kids 

Activities to keep you and your child busy and happy

There is no excuse for boredom in New Orleans; there is almost always something going on — a parade, street party or outdoor concert. For those days when there isn't something special, here are some options for keeping kids amused, active and interested in the world around them.

Art/ History/ Music

Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World
1380 Port of New Orleans Place, (504) 361-7821; www.mardigrasworld.com
All ages
See Mardi Gras floats up close on a tour of the legendary float-making business 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 and students with college ID, $12.95 children ages 2-11, children 2 and younger free.

The Cabildo, Louisiana State Museum
701 Chartres St., (504) 568-6968; www.crt.state.la.us/museum/properties/cabildo.aspx
All ages
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. 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
(504) 975-5355; www.frenchquartourkids.com
Ages 6-17
The company provides hourlong walking tours in the French Quarter designed for kids. The Port, the Pirates & All the Rest! tour retraces Louisiana's history — and the role its location and geography played. The Creole Kids Tour explores 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) 589-2636; www.nps.gov All ages The visitor center in the French Quarter houses exhibits and murals illustrating the importance waterways like the Mississippi River have played in the formation of Louisiana and its culture. Other exhibits and interactive displays focus on plants and animals in the area, food, culture and festivals. Ranger-led walking tours of the French Quarter start at 9:30 a.m. Children's author and musician Johnette Downing performs at the visitor center once a month. 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; www.nationalww2museum.org
All ages
The renowned museum has everything children love: tanks, planes, guns, love stories, movies, fashions, video-taped stories, the themed American Sector restaurant, the Stage Door Canteen's song and dance venue, movies and more. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission $22 adults; $19 seniors 65 and older; $13 children kindergarten-12th grade, students with college ID and active military with ID; children 5 and younger free.

New Orleans Museum of Art
City Park, 1 Collins C. Diboll Circle, (504) 658-4100; www.noma.org
All ages
Admission is free for Louisiana residents on Wednesdays. 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 art classes for children ages 5-12 and Where Y'Art Fridays (5 p.m. to 9 p.m.), which features 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; children 6 and younger free.

Old U.S. Mint
400 Esplanade Ave., (504) 568-6993; www.crt.state.la.us/museum/properties/usmint
All ages
This building began producing coins in 1838 and continued (with some lapses) until 1909. It now houses the Louisiana State Museum's 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, frequent music offerings and the free Satchmo Summer Fest. Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed holidays. Admission $6 adults; $5 seniors, students and active military personnel; children 12 and younger free.

The Presbytere, Louisiana State Museum
Jackson Square, 751 Chartres St., (504) 568-6968; www.crt.state.la.us/museum/properties/presbytere
All ages 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.

Preservation Hall
726 St. Peter St., (504) 522-2841; www.preservationhall.com
All ages Policies barring drinking and smoking make this legendary traditional jazz club kid-friendly and gives youngsters a rare chance to hear jazz being performed as it was in its early decades. The intimate nature of the club gives the audience a close-up of performing jazz musicians. 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; www.noma.org
All ages
Stroll through a 5-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
All ages
Home to one of only 100 wooden carousels remaining in the U.S., the amusement park is open seasonally, starting with weekends in March. It has rides, a 40-foot slide, a Ferris wheel, Tilt-A-Whirl and kiddie rides. Minimum height for rides is 3 feet. The park just added a third miniature train — the Black and Gold — to take passengers on a 2-mile ride through City Park. Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. From May 28-Aug. 11, hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission $3, children under 3 feet free; ride tickets are $3 each or $17 per person for unlimited rides. Check website for dates and times.

NOLA Motorsports
11075 Nicolle Blvd., Avondale, (504) 302-4875; www.nolamotor.com
Minors must be accompanied by an adult
This large 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 vehicle rentals. Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call for costs and track availability.

 

 

Horseback riding

Equest Farm
1001 Filmore Ave., (504) 483-9398; www.equestfarm.com
Ages 4 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
1 Canal St., (504) 581-4629; www.auduboninstitute.org
All ages
This state-of-the-art indoor aquarium includes a walk-through arch aquarium and houses about 600 species of sea creatures, including sharks, penguins, alligators, frogs, fish and a special parakeet exhibit. The aquarium also has a petting tank, demonstrations, hands-on activities and play spaces. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission $22.50 adults, $17 seniors, $16 ages 2-12, children under 2 free.

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
U.S. Custom House, 423 Canal St., (504) 581-4629; www.auduboninstitute.org
All ages
The intriguing world of butterflies and insects is explored through bigger-than-life displays and interactive exhibits housed in the U.S. Customs House. There's also a restaurant featuring tasty treats made with bugs and an enclosed walk-through butterfly garden. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission $16.50, $13 seniors 65 and older, $12 children ages 2-12, children under 2 free

Bookoo Bounce
5604 Blessey St., Harahan, (504) 835-6424; www.bookoobounce.com
Ages 2-11
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 often is booked for special events so call for walk-in availability, but generally it is available 10 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.

Entergy IMAX Theater
1 Canal St., (504) 581-4629; www.auduboninstitute.org
All ages
Adjacent to Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the theater 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. Tuesday through Sunday, with films starting every hour. Admission $10.50 adults, $9.50 seniors, $8 children ages 2-12, $5 Audubon members, children under 2 free.

Louisiana Children's Museum
420Julia St., (504) 523-1357; www.lcm.org
All ages
This fun-filled educational facility features interactive exhibits that turn learning into playtime. Some attractions in the 30,000-square-foot facility include a bubble station, miniature grocery store, transportation display, exhibits about the body, a literacy project and more. Summer hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call for schedule. Admission $8 per person, children under 1 and Louisiana Children's Museum members free.

The Monkey Room Indoor Playground
1501 Religious St., Suite C, (504) 301-2695; www.monkeyroom.net
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. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Monday, unless a special event is scheduled (check the calendar on the website). Admission $9 general, $7 toddlers area only, adults free.

Palm Tree Playground
3011 N. I-10 Service Road, Metairie, (504) 828-8164; www.palmtreeplayground.com
Toddlers to pre-teens
The beach-themed indoor playground offers a fully enclosed, 500-square-foot toddlers' area with soft play equipment; for older kids there's a large structure with spiral slides, a mini basketball arena, wave decks, an obstacle course and more. There's also a cafe with a coffee bar for adults. Call before you go; the playground sometimes is closed for parties, but it's generally open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission $8 ages 4 and older, $6 ages 3 and younger, adults and babies under 6 months old free.

Playmakers Indoor Sports
800 Windward Drive, Covington, (985) 898-2809; 6124 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan, (504) 305-6078; www.playmakersindoor.com
All ages
The facility organizes leagues in soccer, lacrosse, flag football and more and the teams play on indoor turf. Playmakers also offers developmental sports programs for children as young as 18 months. Call for a schedule. Annual memberships are $25 family, $20 adults, $15 youth.

R/C Racing Station
1401 Fulton St., Kenner, (504) 305-4551; www.rcracingstation.com
The indoor racetrack for radio-controlled cars has mostly carpet racing, off-road racing for short-course trucks and a variety of classes. Call for hours and admission.

 

 

Outdoor Parks & Activities

Audubon Zoo
6500 Magazine St., (800) 774-7394; www.auduboninstitute.org
All ages
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 property, 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 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission $17.50 adults, $13 seniors 65 and older, $12 children ages 2-12, children under 2 free.

Bayou Kayaks
(504) 814-0551; www.bayoukayaks.com
Ages depend on skills
This kayak rental company is operated by avid and experienced kayakers. It 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 March 10 through Sept. 31, with sessions starting at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Rates $10 per hour. Call for rental information.

Botanical Gardens
City Park, 1 Palm Terrace, (504) 483-9386; www.neworleanscitypark.com
All ages
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 Sunday. Admission $6 adults, $3 children ages 5-12, children 4 and under free.

Cool Zoo
Audubon Zoo, 6500 Magazine St., (800) 774-7394; www.auduboninstitute.org
Toddlers through pre-teens
The splash park opens March 30 and offers waterspouts, an alligator water slide, a spider monkey soaker and more in three splash zones and an area just for toddlers. Admission $8, $6 Audubon members. Splash park tickets are not included in regular zoo admission.

Disc Golf at City Park
City Park, 1 Palm Drive, (504) 482-4888; www.neworleanscitypark.com
All ages
The 18-hole disc golf course opened in 2010 and is open to the public and fun for all ages. 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; www.jeffparish.net or www.lafrenierepark.org
All ages
There are 24 holes on the disc golf course on the north and east sides of Lafreniere 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; www.globalwildlife.com
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 all year around. Tours generally begin at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., but schedules can change due to private events, so call first. Admission $17 adults, $15 seniors 63 and older, $11 children ages 2-11, children ages 2 and under free. Private tours are available.

Jean Lafitte Swamp and Airboat Tours
6601 Leo Kerner Lafitte Pkwy., Marrero, (504) 689-4186; www.jeanlafitteswamptour.com
All ages
Tour a swamp in a Cajun-style flat boat or on an airboat and see the Spanish moss and other flora native to south Louisiana swamps as well as wildlife including alligators, snakes, egrets, deer, mink, nutria and more. Tour times change seasonally but for the spring are 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. Admission $25 adults, $12 children ages 3-12. Airboat tour times (ages 9 and older only) are 9:45 a.m. and 2 p.m., and rentals start at $54 per person.

Kayak-Iti-Yat
3840 Bienville St., (985) 778-5034; www.kayakitiyat.com
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 Big Easy Bayou Tour is $40 per person.

Lagoon, Lafreniere Park
Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie, (504) 838-4389; www.jeffparish.net or www.lafrenierepark.org
All ages
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; www.longuevue.com
All ages
Children can roam through the 8 acres of gardens designed by 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. House tours start every hour until 4 p.m. 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 $10 adults ($7 gardens only), $9 seniors 65 and older and military personnel, $5 children 3 and older ($4 gardens only), children 2 and younger free.

Marsh Island
Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie; www.jeffparish.net or www.lafrenierepark.org
All ages
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
Riverwalk Marketplace, 1 Poydras St., (504) 529-4567; www.creolequeen.com
All ages
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 ages 6-12, children 5 and younger free. Jazz cruise tickets start at $40 adults, $20 children ages 6-12, $10 children 3-5 years (dinner included), children 3 and younger free.

Picnic Island & Waterfall
Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie, (504) 838-4389; www.jeffparish.net or www.lafrenierepark.org
All ages
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.

Spray Park
Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie, (504) 838-4389; www.jeffparish.net or www.lafrenierepark.org
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.

Steamboat Natchez
1 Toulouse St., (504) 586-8777; www.steamboatnatchez.com
All ages
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 $27.50 adults, $12.25 children ages 6-12, children five and younger free.

Storyland
City Park, 1 Palm Drive, (504) 483-9383; www.neworleanscitypark.com
Toddlers-pre-teens
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 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission $3.

Zephyrs Baseball
6000 Airline Drive, Metairie, (504) 734-5155; www.zephyrsbaseball.com
All ages
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 and special promotions. Admissions starts at $9.

 

 

Special Programs/ Classes

City Park Movement & Art
4300 Dumaine St., 390-7482 (movement), 333-3449 (art); www.cityparkmovement-andart.com
Movement classes include ballet, yoga, acrobatics, creative movement, jazz, tap and more. Children also can take art classes, have parties or attend kids' night at the studio.

Gymboree Play & Music
1876 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, (985) 773-3992; www.gymboreeclasses.com
Ages birth-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.

RHINO Contemporary Crafts Co.
The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St., Second level, (504) 523-7945; www.rhinocrafts.com
All ages
The artist co-op holds monthly arts workshops for children. The workshops are taught by the artists who create items sold in the Right Here In New Orleans Gallery. The workshops are free. Visit the website for dates, times and topics.

Southern Food & Beverage Museum
Riverwalk Marketplace, 500 Port of Orleans Place, Suite 169, (504) 569-0405; www.southernfood.org
Ages: varies
One Saturday every month, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum holds a kids' culinary camp in which children learn cooking and food handling through hands-on activites. Children get to eat the lunch they prepare. Look for the museum to move to a new location this year. Check website for dates and availability.

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