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The Wife's Life: Best Things To Do in New Orleans With Kids

by Elizabeth Beller

New Orleans is a mystery. I’ve gone on ad nauseum about it’s smoke and mirrors deceptions, and it’s sudden reveals. Yes, it is a city that care forgot, and Bourbon Street is reknown for drunken debauchery and lascivious lewdness. Mardi Gras and Jazzfest all scream adult pleasure! Come get your rocks off!

But then the reveal. You leave Bourbon Street, or the Jazzfest fairgrounds (which also house the track that has ostrich and zebra racing in January) and explore. You start to see realize there are families, playgrounds, people who live here. It’s a sweet life. It must be to have diehards who stayed or even relocated here after devastation such as Hurricane Katrina.

Theories abound about the origins of the phrase “The Big Easy.” A sure sign that I’m now a native of Nola is the fact that I’m going to use the one I like the most over what is more likely to be accurate: Betty Guillard, a columnist for the old States-Item paper in the 70’s, made it a household phrase by using it to favorably compare the laid-back, meandering pace of New Orleans to New York. This is a Godsend with kids. And the city caters to them.

As one of the most culturally diverse cities in the United States, The Big Easy  has so much to offer for families, from museums to parks, and more. Finding the best things to do with kids can feel overwhelming, but I’ve narrowed it down to my favorites as a mom of two little ones. Scroll through the treasure trove of The Best Things to Do With Kids In New Orleans. Then come visit.


  • Audubon Zoo, Park and Stables 1 of 12
    Audubon Zoo, Park and Stables
    They don't just stop at exhilarating exhibits of white tigers, toddler orangutans and elephant shows. The zoo also has a playground for kids who need to shed some ants who won't get out of their pants with the ambling pace needed to take in all the sights. Plus a carousel! All right next to Cascade Stables where they can have a pony ride, or the stunning Audubon Park with it's 1.8 mile jogging and bike path through an allee of low hanging live oaks, golf course, tennis courts and 2 more playgrounds. **Photo courtesy of Audubon Nature Institute**
  • The French Quarter 2 of 12
    The French Quarter
    Check out Jackson Square with the little ones and where artists, street performers clowns entertain for both children and adults. Often a jazz trio or quartet will be playing the square as well, so take in some music before heading for strong chicory coffee, the best beignets and a view at Café du Monde. **Photo courtesy of Dreamstime**
  • New Orleans Museum of Art/NOMA 3 of 12
    New Orleans Museum of Art/NOMA
    A treasure is best known to locals. This gorgeous bastion of the arts hosts scads of kids events: Story Quest on Saturdays, Studio KIDS for ages 5-12, Summer Art Camps, Friday Nights at NOMA featuring live music, art activities, gallery talks, lectures, and films. And honestly, they put on the BEST EASTER EGG HUNT EVER!!! Located in their stunning Besthoff Sculpture Garden, the annual NOMA Faberge Easter Egg Hunt is like a sight out of Oz in it's beauty. Egg hunts, a petting zoo, spacewalks, face painting, balloon making, arts and crafts activities and, of course, a visit from the Elmer's Easter Bunny. **Photo courtesy of NOMA**
  • Steamboat Natchez 4 of 12
    Steamboat Natchez
    Take the family back in time with a cruise aboard this authentic steam powered sternwheeler. Visit the museum quality engine room and enjoy the serenade from the steam calliope as you head down the Mississippi River. **Photo courtesy of Dreamstime**
  • ManhattanJack/Creole Creamery/St James Cheese Company 5 of 12
    ManhattanJack/Creole Creamery/St James Cheese Company
    The trifecta in Prytania Village, Uptown. Hop around the shaded outdoor patio at St. James Cheese Company after a Beecher's Cheddar yummy Mini Moo on wild flour multigrain with fruit. Creole Creamery is the best ice cream in town with the widest array of flavors in town, we are fans of Cupcake Birthday and Cotton Candy. And the best and brightest new addition with ManhattanJack bakery/confectionary/coffeehouse. A New York transplant from my old ‘hood. But I'm not biased at all when say your mouth will water at this moveable feast: delectable chocolate cake, pistachio white chocolate, bananas foster truffles, apple fritters glazed to perfection, homemade jelly beans, fresh baked breads, soups and savory classics sandwiches like The Cuban and Monte Cristo. And much more. Not to be missed!! **Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Beller**
  • Longue Vue House and Gardens 6 of 12
    Longue Vue House and Gardens
    This stunning architectural gem is a Greek Revival house set on an 8-acre estate, and was constructed from 1939 to 1942 and included in the National Register of Historic Places. The tranquil Discovery Garden at Longue Vue has events for kids year round, with activities such as seed sorting, singing, painting with plants, craft-making and digging for worms! **Photo courtesy of Longue Vue House**
  • Audubon Aquarium 7 of 12
    Audubon Aquarium
    In this State of the Art Facility resting beside the Mississippi, you can find over 15,000 sea life creatures, representing nearly 600 species. Pet a baby shark (the full grown ones stay in their enormous tank), watch the playful penguins, and adorable sea otters. Gorgeous exotic birds, anaconda snakes and poisonous frogs make up the Aquarium's Amazon rain forest exhibit. And you have to check out the Seahorses Gallery where the little guys swim around their grassy home and the males give birth! **Photo courtesy of Audubon Nature Institute**
  • Friday Night Music Camp At The Big Top by 3 Ring Circus Productions 8 of 12
    Friday Night Music Camp At The Big Top by 3 Ring Circus Productions
    The kids can rock out to local bands, even jump on the stage, or do arts and crafts at this Clio Street club. How many bars do you know sell wine, beer, juice and kids chips and pretzels. This is definitely an "only in Nola" experience. **Photo courtesy of Audubon Nature Institute**
  • New Orleans Carousel Gardens Amusement Park and StoryLand in City Park 9 of 12
    New Orleans Carousel Gardens Amusement Park and StoryLand in City Park
    Kids have been riding City Park's antique carousel since 1906, which was made by famed carousel carvers Looff and Carmel. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places and its renovation garnered national praise from the National Historic Preservation Society. This incredible amusement park also has small- child-friendly rides like Musik Express, Rockin' Tug, Coney Tower, Ferris Wheel, Bumper Cars, Monkey Jump, Scrambler, Tilt-A-Whirl, 40-foot fun slide, and the miniature train ride that tours the park. Storyland, right next door, lets your child enter a real life wonderland of more than 25 larger-than-life storybook exhibits. New Orleans' finest Mardi Gras float makers sculpted characters like Captain Hook, Pinocchio, Jack and Jill, Cinderella and of course Alice herself in this charming fairytale playground. **Photo courtesy of New Orleans City Park Archives**
  • The Audubon Clubhouse Café 10 of 12
    The Audubon Clubhouse Café
    Located just off the golf course in Audubon Park, this bright, lovely café has a sweeping veranda which translates into kiddie heaven. They can frolic under the overhanging live oaks while waiting for their spicy Cajun hot dog or grilled cheese on whole wheat. Parents love the menu as well, with every kind of po'boy under the sun. Check out The Clubhouse Café's buffet brunch on Sunday where the kids eat at less than half price. **Photo courtesy of Audubon Nature Institute**
  • Global Wildlife Center 11 of 12
    Global Wildlife Center
    Off the beaten path, but well worth the 1 hour drive north to Folsom. "A place where children, adults, students, and teachers embrace the values of active conservation and wildlife preservation through hands-on education and first-person sensory experience. Get ready for a wild adventure at the largest totally free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the country!" Home to over 4,000 exotic, endangered, and threatened animals from all over the world. Another ‘not to be missed' destination, at The Global Wildlife Center kids gain both environmental awareness and the thrill of a lifetime feeding giraffes, zebra, camels, eland, and much more! **Photo courtesy of Global Wildlife Center**
  • Streetcar Rides 12 of 12
    Streetcar Rides
    Nothing beats the time-honored tradition of clanging your way from downtown New Orleans at Canal Street through the stunning Garden District, all the way to the Riverfront. Gape at the beautiful historic mansions and live oaks that overhang the line down St. Charles Avenue. The New Orleans Streetcar lines are over 175 years old, and the beautifully restored original streetcars offer the most popular and inexpensive tours of this magical city. **Photo courtesy of Thomas Beller**

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