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New Orleans Kids Activity Guide 2013 

click to enlarge The new City Putt at City Park has two miniature golf courses featuring the culture of the 
city and state.

The new City Putt at City Park has two miniature golf courses featuring the culture of the city and state.

August is one of the hottest months of the year, but it ironically also marks the end of summer, vacations and free time. But in New Orleans there are lots of activities inside and outdoors to keep families entertained all year-round. You can kayak on Bayou St. John, play miniature golf in City Park, climb rock walls indoors, take a swamp tour in Bayou Segnette or any of the dozens of other diversions listed here.

There's always something to do in New Orleans

Art/ History/ Music

Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World
All ages
Tour the 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 5:30 p.m. daily (last tour starts at 4:30 p.m.). (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, free for children 2 and younger. 1380 Port of New Orleans Place, (504) 361-7821; www.mardigrasworld.com

The Cabildo, Louisiana State Museum
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, housed the Louisiana Supreme Court when it issued the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision and 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 $6 adults; $5 seniors, students and active military personnel; free for children 12 and younger. 701 Chartres St., (504) 568-6968; www.crt.state.la.us/museum/properties/cabildo.aspx

French QuarTour Kids
Ages 6-17
The company provides hourlong walking tours of the French Quarter designed for kids. The Creole Kids Tour explores 1830s New Orleans, including how children lived, what people wore, chores, etiquette and more. Morning and evening tours are offered daily. Admission is $15 per person (cash only), free for children 5 and younger. Children must be accompanied by an adult (one per four kids). (504) 975-5355; www.frenchquartourkids.com

Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve Laura C. Hudson Visitor Center
All ages
The visitor center in the French Quarter houses exhibits illustrating the importance the Mississippi River and other waterways have played in the formation of Louisiana and its culture. Other exhibits and interactive displays focus on native plants and animals, 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. 419 Decatur St., (504) 589-2636, ext. 1; www.nps.gov

National World War II Museum
All ages
The museum has lots for children of all ages to love: tanks, planes, guns, love stories, movies, fashions, video-taped stories, the American Sector restaurant, Stage Door Canteen's song and dance revues 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. 945 Magazine St., (504) 528-1944; www.nationalww2museum.org

New Orleans Museum of Art
All ages
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 kids ages 5-12 and Where Y'Art Fridays (5 p.m. to 9 p.m.), featuring performances, art activities and more. The programs are free with regular museum admission. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Museum admission is free on Wednesday. Other days, admission is $10 adults; $8 seniors, active military personnel, university students with ID; $6 children 7-17; free children 6 and younger. City Park, 1 Collins C. Diboll Circle, (504) 658-4100; www.noma.org

Old U.S. Mint
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, music performances and other programs. Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed holidays. Admission $6 adults; $5 seniors, students and active military personnel; free children 12 and younger. 400 Esplanade Ave., (504) 568-6993; www.crt.state.la.us/museum/properties/usmint

The Presbytere, Louisiana State Museum
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. Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed holidays. Admission $6 adults; $5 seniors, students and active military personnel; free children 12 and younger. Admission includes other exhibits in the museum. Jackson Square, 751 Chartres St., (504) 568-6968; www.crt.state.la.us/museum/properties/presbytere

Preservation Hall
All ages
This legendary traditional jazz club is kid-friendly — no smoking is allowed and there is no bar — and gives youngsters a rare chance to hear jazz performed as it was in its early years. The setting is intimate, giving the audience a good view of performing musicians. Guests can bring in beverages in plastic cups only. Open 8 p.m. daily, with shows starting at 8:15 p.m., 9:15 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Admission $15, $10 for students with school ID. 726 St. Peter St., (504) 522-2841; www.preservationhall.com

Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
All ages
Stroll through the 5-acre garden along walking paths, pedestrian bridges and reflecting pools arranged around 60 sculptures by European, American, Israeli and Japanese artists. A free audio tour is available. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free admission. City Park, 1 Colins C. Diboll Circle; www.noma.org

Amusements/ Rides/ Games

Carousel Gardens Amusement Park
All ages
Home to one of only 100 wooden carousels remaining in the U.S., the amusement park is open from March to November. It has a dozen rides including a 40-foot slide, a Ferris wheel, Tilt-A-Whirl and kiddie rides (it is undergoing some renovation this year). Minimum height for rides is 3 feet (taller for some rides). Season passes are available (the season ends Nov. 10). Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, through Aug. 11 (hours are reduced when schools start). Admission $3, children under 3 feet free; ride tickets are $3 each, or $12 per person for unlimited rides (during park renovations). Check website for dates and times. City Park, 1 Palm Drive, (504) 483-9402; www.neworleanscitypark.com

NOLA Motorsports
Pre-teens and older
The 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. Minors must be accompanied by an adult, and children must be 52 inches tall to ride the go-carts. 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. 11075 Nicolle Blvd., Avondale, (504) 302-4875; www.nolamotor.com

Horseback riding

Equest Farm
Ages 4 and older
The equestrian center at City Park offers riding lessons, camps and field trips (it also hosts birthday parties). Horse show riders train at Equest, which also boards privately owned horses. Group rides are available by appointment. Open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Contact the stables for prices. 1001 Filmore Ave., (504) 483-9398; www.equestfarm.com

Indoor Playgrounds/ Attractions

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
All ages
This state-of-the-art attraction on the Mississippi River includes a walk-through arch aquarium and houses a host of exhibits featuring about 600 species of sea creatures, including sharks, fish, penguins, alligators and frogs. There's also a parakeet exhibit, an interactive Gulf Coast fish exhibit, a petting tank, demonstrations, hands-on activities and play spaces. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission $22.50 adults, $17 seniors, $16 ages 2-12, children under 2 free. 1 Canal St., (504) 581-4629; www.auduboninstitute.org

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

Bookoo Bounce
Ages 2-11
This 8,300-square-foot indoor playground filled with inflatable equipment, obstacle courses, bouncing rooms, slides and more has lots of options for children ages 2 to 11. The facility often is booked for special events, so call for walk-in availability. Generally, however, it's open to the public 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. There's a concession area and high-definition TVs broadcasting sports events for adults who accompany children. Admission is $8 for 90 minutes. 5604 Blessey St., Harahan, (504) 835-6424; www.bookoobounce.com

Entergy IMAX Theater
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. daily, with films starting every hour. Admission $10.50 adults, $9.50 seniors, $8 children ages 2-12, $5 Audubon members, children under 2 free. 1 Canal St., (504) 581-4629; www.auduboninstitute.org

Louisiana Children's Museum
All ages
This fun-filled educational facility features interactive exhibits, including the new Louisiana Hospitality Foundation Kids' Cafe where children can choose to be a cook, server or guest. Other attractions at the 30,000-square-foot facility include a bubble station, kids' grocery store, art area, a little Port of New Orleans and more. Summer hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, through Aug. 12. The museum closes a half-hour early every day during fall hours. Admission $8 per person, children under 1 and Louisiana Children's Museum members free. 420 Julia St., (504) 523-1357; www.lcm.org

The Monkey Room Indoor Playground
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. 1501 Religious St., Suite C, (504) 301-2695; www.monkeyroom.net

Palm Tree Playground
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. daily. Admission $8 ages 4 and older, $6 ages 3 and younger, adults and babies under 9 months old free. 3011 N. I-10 Service Road, Metairie, (504) 828-8164; www.palmtreeplayground.com

Party Planet Xtreme
Ages 5, or 42 inches tall, and up
The new interactive and competitive activities complex opened in July in Elmwood with six play zones. It has a vertical wall challenge, arcade games, a rope gauntlet and a glow-in-the-dark arena with black-light volleyball, dodgeball and basketball. There's also a competition zone with a jump-shot challenge on trampolines, a wrecking ball, air bungies and more. Open noon to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. Admission $21.99. 5015 Bloomfield St., Jefferson, (504) 309-8622; www.partyplanetxtreme.com

Playmakers Indoor Sports
All agesThe 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. 800 Windward Drive, Covington, (985) 898-2809; 6124 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan, (504) 305-6078; www.playmakersindoor.com

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

Slidell Rocks Climbing Gym
All ages
There are 16 "top-rope" climbing walls, a "bouldering" cave and training room, peg board climbing walls and rope climbing for strength-building — all under one roof. You must rent a harness ($2), and shoe and chalk bag rentals are also available. Open 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission $9 for limited areas, $12 access to entire gym. 39543 Hwy. 190 E., Slidell, (985) 646-1411; www.slidellrocks.com

 

Outdoor Parks & Activities

Audubon Zoo
All ages
Children can see (and sometimes touch) animals indigenous to Louisiana as well as exotic breeds 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, 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. 6500 Magazine St., (800) 774-7394; www.auduboninstitute.org

Bayou Kayaks
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. Kayak rentals are available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Monday 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. (504) 444-8869; www.bayoukayaks.com

Bayou Segnette Wave Pool
All ages
There is a wave pool at this state park on the West Bank (about 20 to 30 minutes from downtown New Orleans) and a water play area for younger kids. The park offers lots of other amenities, including playgrounds, picnic areas, fishing (both freshwater and saltwater), a boat launch and a nature trail. Park admission (for the day) $1 per person, adults 62 and older, and children 3 and under are free. Wave pool admission (per day) $10 (visitors 4 feet and taller), $8 children under 4 feet. Tip: The number of people allowed in the wave pool can be limited to 100 people, depending on lifeguard staffing, and admission is first-come, first-served. 7777 Westbank Expressway, Westwego, (504) 736-7140; www.bayousegnettestatepark.com

Botanical GardensCity Park
All ages
Visitors can take walking paths through lush gardens of flowers, trees, indigenous plants and other foliage as well as fountains, sculptures, benches and a pond. There's also 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. City Park, 1 Palm Terrace, (504) 483-9386; www.neworleanscitypark.com

City Putt
All ages
The new miniature golf complex at City Park has two courses and 36 holes of golfing — with cultural lagniappe. The New Orleans course features representations of iconic city places and things, including white-and-blue street tiles on walkays, and signs at each hole detailing historic sites. The Louisiana course features cultural themes and cities around the state. Open year-round. Admission $8 for one game on one course, $6 ages 4-12, children under 4 free. City Park members get a $2 discount, and all ages can play a second game on the other course (same visit) for $4 per person. City Park, 1 Palm Drive, (504) 483-9385; www.neworleanscitypark.com

Cool ZooAudubon Zoo
Toddlers through pre-teens
The splash park inside the zoo offers waterspouts, an alligator water slide, a spider monkey soaker and more. There's also an area just for toddlers. Admission $8. Splash park tickets are not included in regular zoo admission. Open 10 am. To 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Audubon Zoo, 6500 Magazine St., (504) 581-4629; www.auduboninstitute.org

Disc Golf at City Park
All ages
The 18-hole flying disc golf course is open to the public and built around lagoons and oak groves. Every hole is a par 3. Tee times aren't normally required (unless there's a tournament). Open daily. Free admission. City Park, 1 Palm Drive, (504) 482-4888; www.neworleanscitypark.com

Disc Golf at Lafreniere Park
All ages
There are 24 holes on the flying disc golf course on the north and east sides of Lafreniere Park. The course is open to the public. Park gates are open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission free. Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie, (504) 895-7512 or (504) 456-1851; www.lafrenierepark.org

Global Wildlife Center
All ages
More than 4,000 exotic, threatened and endangered animals from around the world roam freely on the wildlife preserve. The preserve is open daily year-round. Tours generally begin at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., but call first, as schedules can change due to private events. Admission $17 adults, $15 seniors 63 and older, $11 children ages 2-11, children ages 2 and under free. Private tours are available. 26389 Hwy. 40, Folsom, (985) 796-3585; www.globalwildlife.com

Jean Lafitte Swamp and Airboat Tours
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 and currently are 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. daily. Admission $25 adults, $12 children. Airboat tour times (ages 9 and older only) are 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. daily, and rentals start at $54 per person. 6601 Leo Kerner Lafitte Parkway, Marrero, (504) 689-4186; www.jeanlafitteswamptour.com

Kayak-Iti-Yat
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. 3840 Bienville St., (985) 778-5034; www.kayakitiyat.com

Lagoon
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. Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie, (504) 838-4389; www.lafrenierepark.org

Longue Vue House and Gardens
All ages
Children can roam through the 8 acres of gardens designed by 20th-century landscape architects. The Classical Revival-style mansion is open for tours and reveals life as it was long ago. Special programs are available, so check the website for a calendar. 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. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the gardens only $7 adults, $4 students with ID and children 3 and older. Admission to house and gardens $10 adults, $9 seniors 65 and older and military personnel, $5 children 3 and older, free children 2 and younger. 7 Bamboo Road, (504) 488-5488; www.longuevue.com

Marsh Island
All ages
All of Lafreniere Park is a dedicated bird sanctuary and Marsh Island abounds in lots of other Louisiana vegetation and animal life. It's a favorite spot for feeding resident swans, ducks and geese. An elevated walkway leads to a gazebo. Admission free. Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie; www.lafrenierepark.org

Paddlewheeler Creole Queen
All ages
The Paddlewheeler 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. Several different tours of varying lengths are offered daily, including Chalmette Battlefield, jazz cruise, Mississippi River cruise and a plantation cruise. Check the website for cruise schedules and ticket prices. Riverwalk Marketplace, 1 Poydras St., (504) 529-4567; www.creolequeen.com

Spray Park
Ages 10 and younger
The 4,000-square-foot Spray Park opened last year and features more than a dozen in-ground and above-ground water attractions, including three water cannons. There's a 75-person capacity, and play sessions are 90 minutes. Open noon to 7 p.m. daily, through Aug. 9, and weekends only Aug. 10 through Sept. 2. Admission $5 per person per play session (exact cash only). Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie, (504) 838-4389; www.lafrenierepark.org

Steamboat Natchez
All ages
The Mississippi River steamboat offers daytime jazz tours leaving from the French Quarter daily for a two-hour cruise around the Port of New Orleans. 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 5 and younger free. An two-hour evening jazz cruise boards daily at 6 p.m. Admission $43 adults, $21.50 children 6-12, free children 5 and younger. 1 Toulouse St., (504) 586-8777; www.steamboatnatchez.com

Storyland
Toddlers to pre-teens
Children will see their favorite fairy tales represented in bright sculptures designed for whimsical play, climbing and exploring. There are 25 sculptures, including Captain Hook's pirate ship from Peter Pan, the three pigs, Pinocchio, Jack and Jill, Little Miss Muffet, Cinderella and more. Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission $3. City Park, 1 Palm Drive, (504) 483-9402; www.neworleanscitypark.com

Zephyrs Baseball
All ages
This family-friendly baseball club's facility includes a swimming pool, lots of dining choices and there are special activities for children at halftime, fireworks displays and more. Check website for schedule and special promotions. Admissions starts at $10 adults, $6 children. 6000 Airline Drive, Metairie, (504) 734-5155; www.zephyrsbaseball.com

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