We recently visited one of my husband’s favorite places…New Orleans, Louisiana. For years he’s told me and our children stories of his family vacations there. He had so many special memories and always hoped to one day go visiting New Orleans with kids. Me on the other hand, I had zero desire to visit New Orleans, let alone take my kids.
I always had this impression of New Orleans being this big party town, (and it is) but what could it offer a family? I trusted my husband and decided to head to New Orleans with my kids and give it a real chance. I’m not too proud to admit it, I was dead wrong about this amazing city. Now there are some things that do still make it “not so kid friendly”, but overall I fell in the love with this vibrant city.
In this post I am going to outline all my best tips for visiting New Orleans with your kids. Use the resources I share here and you will be sure to have the best family vacation ever and learn so much about the history that New Orleans has to offer your family.
Most of the time, when you go on vacation, you’ll have to get yourself *to* the destination first. Let’s take a look at your options for getting to New Orleans.
Flying into New Orleans
The Louis Armstrong International Airport is about 15 miles from downtown New Orleans, which is approximately a 25 minute drive depending on the traffic. There are several major airlines that fly into MSY, you can get up to date information on flights and airport HERE.
Here’s a list of the most popular airlines at MSY:
Transportation to your hotel
A private car or Uber can get you there the quickest, which is why we took one ourselves. Be sure to meet your ride at the correct side of the airport that is marked designated for taxi pickup, as it can be a little confusing.
New Orleans is also accessible by train or bus. For instance, Amtrak has daily service from Chicago and Memphis directly into New Orleans’ Union Passenger Terminal.
Where to Stay with your kids while in New Orleans
If you’ve never been to New Orleans before, and you’re worried about finding an area of town that the family can come and go safely, there are plenty. We did some extensive research on what parts of New Orleans we wanted to stay, which is why we felt we could freely walk everywhere without having to feel unsafe.
For our trip to New Orleans, we looked at rooms at five different hotels:
Hotel Monteleone is a unique hotel offers a classic French flair and is beautiful inside. Besides its charm, it is home to the world famous Carousel Bar. The bar (actually a real carousel) slowly turns around as people sit and chat. The food at the hotel is wonderful and the people were great, so we said longer than we planned. This was definitely a highlight of our 3 days in New Orleans.
The Jung Hotel is modern luxury and is very close to the French Quarter. They have a new pool and some of the best suites in town! Grab a coffee at the Daily Grind and head out to enjoy the city, day or night.
Fairfield Inn & Suites combines modern design with old-fashioned elegance and is right in the center of New Orleans. Walking distance from historic venues, live music, iconic bars, and creole cuisine, making it easy to see why our guests love our hotel and our premium location.
Royal Sonesta New Orleans is the Hotel we ended up choosing, mostly for its location, and we were so glad we did! We ended up really enjoying everything that the hotel had to offer. There was a Jazz Club inside, an Oyster Bar connected, a Coffee Shop in the lobby, an exercise facility and a courtyard pool on the interior! The girls enjoyed all of the ammenities and we all appreciated being right in the middle of the action whenever we wanted. Music Legends Park was right across the street with live misic and very good food. Highly recommend the hotel and the park!
All five hotels are kid-friendly, so no matter which one suits your needs or best fits your budget you’ll certainly have a good time with your family too!
What to Eat in New Orleans with your kids
There are some amazing places to eat in New Orleans, and is why we ate at as many as possible. Because it was such a big part of us enjoying our trip, I will go into more detail below on some of the ones we liked the most. While there, we picked a variety of places, some more affordable and easy to walk right up, and some that we needed reservations for and had a little pricier menu. No matter the prices or the wait, they were all very enjoyable!
It was really important to us to experience the true New Orleans cuisine, while adding in things we knew our kids would love. Some of the more popular New Orleans dishes:
jambalaya (creole dish made with fish, shrimp and crab meat)
red beans and rice
muffuletta (which has a yummy olive flavor)
and of course beignets! (we will talk about that a bit later)
We challenged our girls to try a little bit of everything and they were pleasantly surprised by most!
We heard so much about the brunch at Brennan’s we just had to take the kids. It was voted one of the top 100 best brunch restaurants in America and since brunch is my favorite meal we made sure to get a reservation before our trip. We were nervous it wouldn’t be the best place for kids but actually they had a kids menu with coloring sheets and the staff was so great.
The breakfast menu is large and has all of the classic items that you’d expect from a New Orleans restaurant, including beignets, French toast, benedicts, omelets, and more.
We started with the baked apple which is a Brennan’s original – oatmeal pecan raisin crumble, brown sugar glaze, and sweetened crème fraîche. This was so delicious the girls were fighting over the last bite.
The Oysters J’aime were equally amazing. Even our 9 year old tried and loved it. They had a Creole Tomato Gravy with a Cornbread Crumble on top. Such a unique flavor!
The kids breakfast came with fruit cups with homemade whipped cream which they devoured. Two kids enjoyed eggs and bacon and one of my kids got the brioche French toast. Each of them had clean plates which is a good sign.
Eggs Hussard & Croque Madame
My husband and I split the Eggs Hussard and Croque Madame. We love ordering two dishes and sharing half. Helps with my FOMO. Both were absolutely delish. I will say the eggs hussard was the winner with its unique flavors. Its made with a housemade english muffin, coffee-cured canadian bacon, hollandaise, and a marchand de vin sauce.
Now the dessert is really what makes a meal at Brennans with kids so special. we knew we had to have the WORLD FAMOUS BANANAS FOSTER. Did you know that Bananas foster first started at Brennans? Our waiter told us the story of the owner wanting to find something to do with overly ripe bananas and she was inspired by baked Alaska. Our waiter prepared the Bananas foster table side and when the girls saw him flambé the bananas, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and rum they thought it was the best thing ever! They served it over New Orleans Ice Cream Co. Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and we all swooned over the perfect end to our perfect meal.
We do recommend making a reservation for Brennans as it is a popular place. They are also open for dinner, you can check out that menu here.
The Court of Two Sisters
I was really wanting to experience jazz with the kids and a jazz brunch is a great option.
red beans and rice
The Court of Two Sisters is a great place to take your family. The restaurant has excellent service and a large menu, which means you’ll be able to find something you can all enjoy. You won’t have any trouble reserving a table here, and the portions are big enough to split between two (or three) kids.
While it’s on the pricier side for a meal out with the whole family, most of the food is prepared well, and if you visit at lunchtime or during brunch hours on weekends, you’ll be able to get some pretty good deals.
Parking is abundant too; this area of New Orleans has plenty of lots where you can park an SUV or minivan without risking dings and scratches from other drivers who may have had one too many Hurricanes while they were in town.
Cleanliness is another thing they do well. There aren’t too many child-friendly places in New Orleans that don’t require cleaning up after yourself when you’re done eating, but this restaurant does it all for you!
If you want a relaxing meal out with your kids that doesn’t involve sticky floors and bad service, try visiting The Court of Two Sisters sometime soon!
Dat Dog is a very casual and lively place to eat in New Orleans. It has a children’s menu, and the staff is used to serving families with kids. The famous Crawfish Etoufee Dog is made with crawfish sausage, sour cream, onions, tomato’s and creole mustard. Very tasty!
Things to know before you visit Dat Dog:
Dat Dog has locations all over the city, including one on Frenchmen Street in the Marigny neighborhood and one on Freret Street Uptown. The Freret location also features live music that plays every day except Sunday.
This restaurant features hot dogs as well as sausages, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Kids can choose from chicken fingers or hot dogs for their meals.
They’re open till midnight most nights of the week (except Sunday), so you can take the kids for dinner any night except Saturday—or take them for dinner and dessert if you’re looking for late-night eats on Fridays or Saturdays!
Best tips for eating at Dat Dog with kids:
If your kids love spicy food, this restaurant is a must-visit. With toppings ranging from “not spicy” to “very spicy,” there’s something for everyone here—and even non-spicy options will have some kick to them!
For a casual and affordable meal in the heart of New Orleans, Cafe Beignet is a great place for families. Cafe Beignet has an atmosphere for any age and lots of views of the buzzing street performers.
Cafe Beignet has several locations on Royal Street, Decatur Street, and Bourbon Street (right across from St. Louis Cathedral). Each of them he with vibrant decor and outdoor seating, where guests can enjoy their beignets with coffee or hot tea. The original is on Royal Street, which we visited on our trip.
Additional Menu Items
In addition to their signature beignets (square pieces of dough deep-fried in oil and dusted with powdered sugar), they serve eggs Benedict, omelettes, waffles with fruit toppings, salads, sandwiches, soups, gumbos, creole entrees like jambalaya or red beans & rice. They even have burgers for those who aren’t quite ready for authentic New Orleans cuisine.
Cafe Beignet also offers a kids’ menu with smaller portions at lower prices.
The Napoleon House has been in the French Quarter for almost 200 years and is a great dinner option for tasting New Orleans’ favorites with the family. The Napoleon House is a more affordable dining option and the food is great! Our girls loved everything we tried, especially the muffuletta.
Menu Items we Loved
Red Beans & rice
The unique story of the Napoleon House
“The building’s first occupant, Nicholas Girod, was mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. He offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile.
Napoleon never made it, but the name stuck, and since then, the Napoleon House has become one of the most famous bars in America, a haunt for artists and writers throughout most of the 20th century.”
As small and simple as it is, this will forever be one of our favorites. There’s something about their beignets and coffee that is so special. We first visited the location in the French Quarter, which is very historical and brimming with life. There’s not many things more New Orleans than sitting there and listening to love jazz.
City Park Location
We also visited the location in City Park after our fun-filled day at Storyland Park. This location was very similar to the one at the French Quarter, but much less crowded. Not sure why, but the beignets seemed do be better here as well, as they stayed warm and fluffy longer.
Of course, in 3 days we couldn’t get to everything. Here’s some other highly recommended places rot try:
Willie Mae’s Scotch House – ‘America’s Best Fried Chicken’
Po-boy – Parkway Bakery and Tavern Surf & Turf Po-Boy’s
Drago’s Seafood Restaurant – Oysters Voison
Luke – French and German inspired cuisine with a Louisiana twist – Try Blue Crab Gratin plate
District Donuts Sliders Brew. – Try The Croque Madame
What to do in New Orleans with Kids
Take the Streetcar
You can get a 24-hour pass on the New Orleans streetcars and costs just $3. You can pay with cash or you can download the RTAGoMobile app, create and account and put in your payment. This is what we did and it was super easy. We had such a fun time riding the streetcar, great for kids!!
Mardi Gras World is a very kid-friendly attraction located near the Convention Center of New Orleans. You can tour the 300,000 square foot working warehouse where floats are made for Mardi Gras parades. The floats are so vibrant and full of color, there’s lots to see. They also give a great history lesson and offer a tasty snack. Book Here
Taking a royal carriage tour is a lot of fun for all ages. They have several themes to select from that focus on different locations or history of the French Quarter. You can choose a neighborhood tour or just a private tour of your choosing. Book Here
Preservation Hall offers several 45-minute shows every night. The earliest starts at 5 pm. Although alcohol is not served on premises, you can bring your own. The venue is non-profit and supports local musicians and youth. You can also take a Music Heritage Tour and enjoy learning about the last 300 years of music including the Preservation Jazz Hall. Book Here
The Natchez is an old-fashioned steamboat that offers cruises along the Mississippi Rover with buffet dining, including brunch, and jazz music. Enjoyable for the whole family, but maybe more for older children. Book Here
Storyland at City Park
Take a streetcar from the city. It’s the cheapest option $3 for a 24hr pass which gives unlimited rides. $1 for youth. The park is a little bit of a walk to get to from the stop, but well worth it. The park costs $6 per person and is adorable!
Walk the French Market
The French Market is a marketplace in a series of commercial buildings spanning about six blocks in the French Quarter. It was once a Native American trading post and is the oldest market of its kind in the United States. It’s fun to walk through during the day, grab a snack and a drink and check out the local merch.
Saint Louis Cathedral
This is the oldest cathedral in the United States and it is stunning. Many people stand outside for their pictures, but the inside is very traditional and beautiful as well. It’s worth the trip inside when you’re there.
Swamp Tours were one of our favorites of the trip. Tours depart several times daily and most will pick you up at your hotel in town for an additional fee. Tickets start around $25 for adults and $15 for kids and totally worth it! We had a great experience, saw so many gators, and even the spot that inspired the swamp scene in Princess and the Frog.
The French Quarter has many stories about ghosts that haunt the city. You can take a family-friendly ghost tour that is packed with historical facts and just scary enough for most kids to handle. Book Here
Frenchmen street is typically crowded, buzzing and full of music. Many live performances ranging from traditional jazz to blues and reggae. Though the streets were a bit more quiet on our trip in April, there were still many places that were catching some crowds.
The Spotted Cat Music Club
This is best to be explored during the day when you are with children. There is lots to see and do on Borubon, but the nightime gets a little rowdy! Make sure to grab a souvenir or two and a hand grenade from Tropical Isle!
Photo Spots in New Orleans
The best views of Jackson Square are from across the street. When you leave Jackson Square, cross Decatur Street to the Washington Artillery Park. Climb up the stairs and then turn back around and look at Jackson Square. This is a wonderful photo spot and allows you to have a bird’s eye view of this central area!
Walking down Canal street there are so many beautiful buildings with gorgeous balconies.
If you are walking along the river near the steamboats, you will find the Lovers Lock Wall.
Music and History of New Orleans
Kids will love the food, music and history of New Orleans. There’s so much to take in and learn.
Kids will Love the Jazz in New Orleans
Musical Legends Park – outdoors, cafe beignet there
Just walking around the streets (young and old street performers)
Kids will Love the Food in New Orleans
Creole cuisine, as my kids loved the jambalaya and gumbo
Ice cream shops (heard great things about Creole Creamery)
Pralines and other Candies
Kids will love the History in New Orleans
Historic architecture and landmarks like St. Louis Cathedral
Fun tours around the city, in the swamps and in haunted buidlings
entertainment in the streets
Weather in New Orleans
The weather in New Orleans can be unpredictable. NOLA can be very hot in the summer and there’s normally a lot of humidity and heavy rainfall.
If you are visiting New Orleans at any point between April and October, it’s important to keep an eye on the forecas so you can prepare accordingly. Always check the forecast before you pack your bags, and make sure that everyone has ponchos. I would also bring hats, sunglasses, towels, and water with you while you are out to make it more comfortable.
What to Pack when visiting New Orleans
When packing for a trip to New Orleans with your kids, be sure to bring the following items:
Bring an extra set of clothes for a couple of days in case of rain, mud, or spilled drinks.
Sunscreen and bug spray. The sun in New Orleans can get intense, and mosquitoes thrive in the bayou.
Umbrella, poncho and rain boots are good, as it can rain anytime during the year in New Orleans.
Backpack to carry everything on your daily adventurs and gathering souvenirs.
Have some cash on hand for street vendors and tipping on tours and rides.
Is New Orleans child friendly?
New Orleans is very kid-friendly and has many activities for kids of all ages. Many parks, historical sites, restaurants, outdoor entertainment, tours, and festivals to take them to, just make sure you take safety precautions like anywhere else.
Can kids walk down Bourbon Street?
Bourbon Street is considered to be adults-only, especially at night. We did walk Bourbon Street many times during the morning and early afternoon hours ansd found it to be fun for the kids, as it was not at all busy and the establishments were resettig for the eveneing. We did however see many homeless and over spirited individuals still lingereing during the day, but did not seem to pose any threats. Be careful, but you can certainly visit.
What should I avoid when visiting New Orleans with Kids?
Visiting during Mardi Gras or other large festivals.
Picking up beads off the street.
Monday sightseeing tours as they tend to be closed.
Voodoo giftshops in general.
Walking the streets at night.
Trying to pet the alligators.
Does New Orleans smell terrible?
Downtown New Orleans can often have a miriad of unpleasant smells. The good news is, that they do street cleaning on certain days of the week. The establishment owners seemed to make great effort to clean the sidewalks and curbsides along with the city cleaning trucks.
Diana Blinkhorn is a professional content creator, social media strategist, and owner of TheGrayRuby.com. Her site caters to the everyday mother, sharing the real and raw side of motherhood. She loves to write about trave,l with a focus on cruising and Disney, and sharing her everyday life raising 3 young girls. With over 6 years of experience in social media marketing, Diana has built a business in this ever-evolving industry. She has been featured in publications such as Tampa Bay Parenting, HGTV.com, and HuffPost Parents.
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