Five Fantastic Free Things To Do in New Orleans with Kids (That Are Fun For Adults Too!)

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Disclosure: Hotels.com asked me to share my ideas on fun free things to do with kids in New Orleans.

The Big Easy can be easy on your wallet, too, even if you are on a family trip to New Orleans. There are plenty of things to do in New Orleans with kids but what if you want to save your money for the food and drink that the city is known for? Free things to do with kids in New Orleans include self-guided tours, visiting the urban parks, listening to live music and joining in street festivals. Here we show you how New Orleans with kids can be a hoot for the whole family and family fun in New Orleans need not be expensive.

Kid Friendly Hotels in New Orleans

What time of the year you visit New Orleans and which district you want to stay in will determine your choice of kid friendly hotels in New Orleans. We’ve partnered with Hotels.com to share a selection of family hotels in New Orleans where you can leave the raucous city party scene behind.

During Mardi Gras, if you really want to stay in the French Quarter with kids, we suggest a place like the Ritz Carlton which at least is on the edge of the district.

During the summer, we strongly suggest getting a hotel with a pool. The heat and humidity in the city will have people who aren’t used to it wilting like wildflowers.

Kid Friendly New Orleans Hotel in the Garden District

In terms of New Orleans family friendly hotels during Mardi Gras, our favourite is The Pontchartrain Hotel in the Garden District. Yes, you can go to New Orleans with kids for Mardi Gras! Just stay out of the French Quarter and stick to the Garden District for family-friendly vibes!

seating at The Pontchartrain hotel
A refuge from the crowds at the Pontchartrain Hotel, which has two bedroomed suites making it one of the more kid friendly hotels in New Orleans

Not only does this family friendly hotel in New Orleans have a great location on the main parade route, but you can also get a family suite that has two bedrooms. Moreover, Mardi Gras parades with the children can be long, tiring and sensory overload.  We were able to nip back into the Pontchartrain Hotel, either to our room or the cafe, for a rest in between Krewes. During Mardi Gras, only hotel residents are allowed inside so it really did feel like an oasis of calm.

Family Friendly Hotels New Orleans – French Quarter

Two family friendly hotels in New Orleans options that you may want to consider if you want to stay in the French Quarter are the Omni Royal and the Ritz Carlton.

Kids will love that rooftop pool at the Omni Royal especially in the summer when the temperatures soar in the city.

Omni Royal Hotel New Orleans pool
For kid friendly hotels New Orleans style, a hotel pool is a summer essential (Image credit: Omni Royal)

On a family trip to New Orleans, you can bring both kids and your small/midsize dog to the The Ritz Carlton which has child-friendly amenities like all day kids dining.

Family Friendly Hotels New Orleans – CBD

We have also enjoyed staying in the Central Business District as well because it is convenient for both the French Quarter and the Garden District. We have stayed at the Ace Hotel New Orleans which was perfect for my teens because they got to hang out by the rooftop pool and Instagram.

Two other kid friendly hotels in New Orleans in the Central Business District are the Drury Inn and the Loews. We have been fans of the Drury hotels since we tried out the Drury Inn Huntsville. The Drury Inn New Orleans has some great perks for a family trip to New Orleans such as an outdoor pool, free breakfast, free popcorn and free evening light fare at 5:30. With options like soup and baked potatoes, this evening light fare is great for kids who are fussy eaters or want to eat early.

At the Loews New Orleans, children under the age of 18 stay free. Moreover, you can bring your dog to stay on your family trip to New Orleans. Loews provides kid-friendly amenities like cribs for babies, an indoor pool for older children and a babysitting service if you want to go out in the evening without the children.

Free Things To Do in New Orleans With Kids

New Orleans is a great walking city and among the family activities in New Orleans is to take a stroll around some of the historic neighbourhoods. My children, for example, got a chuckle out of a street sign that advertised apartments for rent which included resident ghosts.

haunted condo sign
When you visit New Orleans with kids make sure to just walk around and observe the charm and wit of this city (like intros for sale sign!)

Other family friendly New Orleans activities include exploring many of the cities parks. For example, skip the expensive airboat tour and go spotting for alligators for yourself at the Jean Lafitte National Historical  park. The city’s many festivals also provide fun things to do in New Orleans with kids with music, food and entertainment for the whole family.

Family Attractions in New Orleans: French Quarter

Take a free self-guided tour of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Along the way do some window shopping on Royal Street with its art galleries and antique shops.  Stop by the New Orleans Historical Collection which is a free museum of the city’s past. Visit St. Louis Cathedral, built in 1724, and a landmark building in New Orleans.

St Louis Cathedral in New Orleans
Family activities in New Orleans include visiting beautiful St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest continuously running Catholic church in the USA

Visit the free Mardi Gras Museum at Arnaud’s Restaurant which has 20+ costumes and other memorabilia from the mid-20th century onwards.

Locations:

  • The Historic New Orleans Collection (533 Royal St 70130)
  • St Louis Cathedral `(615 Pere Antoine Alley)
  • Arnaud’s Restaurant (813 Rue Bienville)

Family Attractions in New Orleans: Garden District

Take a free self-guided tour of the Garden District in New Orleans. Ogle the beautiful mansions on St. Charles Avenue and go window-shopping along the galleries and stores of Magazine Street.

Local author of vampire and witchcraft books, Anne Rice, has owned several beautiful homes in the Garden District since the 1980’s. Her house on First Street was the setting for The Witching Hour and the other one on St. Charles Street has been rumoured to be haunted since the early 19th century which may be the reason it took 5 years to sell.

Go inside one of the stately mansions on St. Charles Street at the Latter Library.  The 1907 building was donated to the city by the Latter family to be a city library. Among its beautiful features are mahogany woodwork imported from South America and ceiling frescoes imported from France.

Did you know there’s a little bit of the Eiffel Tower located on St. Charles street? The Restaurant at the Eiffel Tower was replaced for a smaller lighter one in 1981. The original restaurant was taken apart carefully and the 11,000+ pieces shipped to New Orleans at a cost of $1.5 million. Now owned by the Eiffel Society, the steel structure is now the home to an events venue and New Orleans own version of Love Locks gates.

Love link locks in New Orleans at the Garden District
Free things to do in New Orleans for kids include checking out a piece of the Eiffel Tower in the Garden District (the gates of which have love locks!)

Walk far enough uptown on Magazine Street and you will reach the Audubon Zoo. Although it is considered one of the best zoos in the US, you don’t need to pay to enjoy some of its facilities. For example, the Audubon Zoo abuts onto Woldenberg Park. There is also a Wilderness Park and nature trails that range from approximately half mile to one mile long.

NB: There is a boardwalk trail which will be best for babies in strollers and toddlers. Whichever trail you take at the Audubon remember to bring your mosquito repellent!!
Audubon Park in New Orleans
When you are in New Orleans with kids check out a local’s favourite – Audubon Park

Locations: 

  • Anne Rice Houses (1239 First Street 70130 and 3711 St Charles Ave 70115)
  • Latter Library (5120 St Charles Avenue 70115)
  • Eiffel Society (2040 St Charles Avenue 70130)
  • Audubon Zoo (6500 Magazine Street 70118)

Family Attractions in New Orleans: City Parks

For outdoor family fun in New Orleans check out the city’s many urban parks which may contain such varied attractions from alligators to modern art!

  • Crescent Park runs about a mile and a half along the Mississippi River. It covers 20 acres in the French Market district of New Orleans.
  • Woldenberg Park is a 16 acre riverfront urban oasis that runs riverside to the Mississippi River between the French Quarter and Bywater. You may be treated to street performers and local musicians.
  • In the Barataria Preserve swamps which is part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park, you can see alligators! This park is part of the National Park Service.
  • Located outside of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Besthoff Sculpture Garden has more than 60 pieces of art from world-famous artists set on 11 acres of live Oaks. The Besthoff Sculpture is free to enter but there is an admission charge to the museum.
Instagram Tip!  Swing by Crescent Park for photos of the Mississippi with the New Orleans skyline. It’s also a hotspot for sunset lovers who want to get that perfect photo.
mississippi river in the fog
For family fun in New Orleans check out the view of the mighty Mississippi River ifrom Woldenberg Park

Locations: 

  • Crescent Park (1008 N. Peters St 70117)
  • Woldenberg Park (1 Canal Street 70130)
  • Jean Lafitte National Historical Park (419 Decatur St 70130)
  • Besthoff Sculpture Garden (1 Collins C. Diboll Circle 70124)

Family Attractions in New Orleans: Live Music

You can find street performers by Jackson Square, Washington Artillery Park, Royal Street or other parts of the French Quarter.

street musician in French Quarter New Orleans
Just because you are in New Orleans with kids doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on the city’s famed live music scene!

Swing by Frenchmen Street which is chock full of with music venues. The music just spills out into the street in the evenings.

During the Christmas season, there are free holiday concerts in St. Louis Cathedral that are free and open to the public.

Top Tip! If your kids are of an age/mind to appreciate jazz, visiting a live music destination is one of the great things to do in New Orleans with kids.

      • For a family-friendly vibe, check out The Maison (508 Frenchmen Street), three floors of music and food which allows under 21’s until 10 pm. The Maison was featured in 2017 comedy, Girls Trip.
      • Kids over the age of 13 are allowed into a local jazz institution, Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro (626 Frenchmen Street).
      • Located on St Peters Street in the French Quarter, Preservation Hall holds concerts most nights of the year to which families are welcome.

Family Attractions in New Orleans: NOLA Festivals

Mardi Gras in February is the best known of the New Orleans festivals but there are plenty of other festivals throughout the year as well.

Mardi Gras has plenty of family-friendly aspects and children are out in full force in the Garden District area. Organised parents bring ladders with seats bolted on top so that little children can sit on top and catch the swag thrown from the floats. The swag is out of control! It’s like the cheap tat you get in kids’ party bags but more of it, and flying through the air.  We are talking stuffed animals and toys as well as the usual beads. My son even caught a Mardi Gras spatula (?!?!).

Mardi Gras Swag
Family activities in New Orleans can include going to Mardi Gras, Here is only some of the swag my kids had thrown to them during the Mardi Gras festivities.

Besides Mardi Gras, here are some fun festivals you can enjoy in New Orleans with kids:

In April, there is the French Quarter Festival which is a firm local favourite. The main venue for this festival is Woldenberg Park. Started in 1984, the festival is a celebration of (what else?) local music and food.

The festival of San Fermin in Nueva Orleans in July brings the fun of the Running of the Bulls in Spain to the city.  In the NOLA version, women on roller skates hurtle through the streets.  Children under the age of 10 are required to stay on the sidewalk for their own safety!

Halloween in New Orleans brings a party atmosphere to the French Quarter. In a city with above-ground tombs, tales of haunted houses and voodoo priestesses, New Orleans is definitely got creepy atmosphere to spare. Note that some of the festivities may be too scary for younger kids.

Street Musician in Jackson Square
Free things to do with kids in New Orleans include listening to impromptu sidewalk sessions in this music-loving city.

November brings the Congo Square Rhythms Festival which is held in Armstrong Park. A celebration of music from the African diaspora, there will be live music, food courts and art markets as well as a whole kids’ activities area.

Christmas in New Orlean sees the city turned into a winter wonderland (irrespective of the actual weather). The Miracle on Fulton Street sees the street transformed with a light display and live music on the weekends. The Harrah’s Hotel Lobby even does hourly snowfall. Luna Fete is a light and music display held annually mid-December in Lafayette Square.

Map of Free Things To Do in New Orleans For Kids

For your convenience, here is a map of free things to do in New Orleans for kids which can help you orient yourself.

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Free Things To Do in New Orleans with Kids (That Are Fun For Adults Too!)
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This article has been done in collaboration with Hotels.com. As ever, all opinions remain my own. This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.

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