New Orleans With Kids

Insider tips on tackling the Big Easy with Half Pints in tow.

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My friends over at Condé Nast Traveler recently published my guide to New Orleans with kids, and I have a few more favorite spots to share. Now I know what you’re thinking, the Big Easy with kids? While you might not be hitting up the bars on Bourbon Street (not exactly my cup of Long Island Ice Tea, anyway), a trip to NOLA with kiddos is still crazy fun. Along with other popular spots, kids inspire you to explore lesser-known NOLA areas like City Park, the Algiers Ferry, and National Jazz Park.
You can read my Condé Nast story, which includes trips on the St. Charles Street car, Audubon Park, the city’s insectarium, and the forthcoming Louisiana Children’s Museum, here. Below, a few more family friendly pit stops.

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Easy Dining in the Big Easy

As a parent, I always find it useful to have a list of family friendly restaurants at the ready. Keep in mind that my definition of family friendly means restaurants keep kids and parents in mind. You’re not going to get dirty looks for rolling in with a stroller or a hungry tot, but you can also count on delicious bites in a well designed space. This is a challenge in some cities, but New Orleans delivers with ease. Café Au Play is a spacious new coffee shop that keeps families in mind with a toy-loaded play corner. Dat Dog is a locally loved joint for hot dogs, and is located in the super hip Bywater. Sylvain's, where crawfish risotto and a roasted half chicken with fingerlings make the menu, is more formal, but since it’s family owned, it’s also family welcoming, especially on the early side. Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar is another option for an evening dinner. And as covered in CNT, I love St. Roch Market for its indoor and outdoor seating and vendors ranging from Gulf oysters to Vietnamese-style Po-Boys, as well as kid options like gourmet grilled cheeses and fruit smoothies.

Say “Street Car!”  But seriously. Don’t call this a trolley. Do take it downtown to explore the French Quarter.

Say “Street Car!” But seriously. Don’t call this a trolley. Do take it downtown to explore the French Quarter.

Gallery Hop

New Orleans resident Robert LeBlanc of LeBLANC+SMITH, a hospitality firm with several restaurants and an Uptown hotel in the works, suggests exploring the French Quarter’s gallery scene with kids, especially if you’re traveling with half pints older than five. “We love gallery hopping in the French Quarter, particularly the places with bright pop art such as the David Harouni GalleryFrank Relle Photography, and the George Rodrigue studio. Afterward, we either go to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and hot chocolate or Sucre for gelato.”

National Parks Service National Jazz Park

Yes, NOLA has a National Park dedicated to jazz. Its calendar of events has regular programming in a few venues throughout town, most of which keep families in mind. Along with mid-morning ranger talks on jazz (rangers here know their way around a trumpet) and jazz yoga, there are educational performances throughout the day and early evening. Kids can also download an activity book to guide them through the park here.

Quack, Quack  Magazine Street dead ends into Audubon Park, where you can visit the Audubon Zoo, or stroll the urban green space and feed the ducks.

Quack, Quack Magazine Street dead ends into Audubon Park, where you can visit the Audubon Zoo, or stroll the urban green space and feed the ducks.

Splish, Splash  The Caribbean reef tunnel at the  Audubon Aquarium of the Americas .

Splish, Splash The Caribbean reef tunnel at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.

Magazine Street

This shop and café-lined street is a great place to stroll for kids and adults alike. Stop for a sweet treat (and for parents, a much needed espresso) at District Donuts. Heading East, you’ll pass locally owned Magic Box Toys, which is full of new and nostalgia-inducing toys like Big Wheels and Lite-Brites. Head for lunch at Guy’s Po-Boys or, just south, Domilise’s, both of which have a cult following for their classic New Orleans sandwich.

Ogden Museum of Southern Art

This brilliant museum—which has a permanent collection representing works from 15 states, including pieces by William Dunlap and George Ohr—inspires budding artists. Thursday nights are dedicated to children's activities during Ogden After Hours, a weekly concert series. Activities are also posted online, so you can also enjoy them before and after your visit.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Kids of all ages (seriously, we took an 18-month-old) will be wowed by this aquarium’s 30-foot Caribbean reef tunnel, swap exhibit, and baby shark and ray petting tanks.

For more on my New Orleans favorites with kids, click here.

Mission Accomplished  The best thing about traveling with kids? Spot a firetruck, and you can consider your vacation a success (in their eyes, at least).

Mission Accomplished The best thing about traveling with kids? Spot a firetruck, and you can consider your vacation a success (in their eyes, at least).