3 Days in New Orleans with Kids
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New Orleans has always been on my travel bucket list. The city has such an amazing vibe, is full of rich culture, and has an awesome foodie scene. But is it a good place to bring kids? Most definitely YES! We did some research before venturing out on a road trip to Louisiana with our 2 younger children in tow. And if you are thinking about planning your own family trip to NOLA, you will want to read all about our amazing 3 days in New Orleans with kids!
How to Get to New Orleans
New Orleans is located along the Mississippi River, in the southeastern region of the state of Louisiana. Known for its phenomenal jazz music, delicious Creole cuisine, distinct dialects, and of course, its Mardi Gras celebrations, New Orleans is considered one of the most unique cities in the US.
If you decide to fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, it is less than a half-hour drive into downtown New Orleans. But once you are in the city, there really is no need for a car.
New Orleans is made up of several small compact neighbourhoods, making it extremely walkable. In fact, our car remained parked at our AirBnB for pretty much our entire stay.
Getting Around New Orleans
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) operates both the busses and the streetcars in the city. They are a great option for getting around once you become too tired to walk! In fact, nearly all of the city’s top attractions, such as the Garden District, City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art, can be reached via streetcar or bus.
If you’re planning to use public transportation more than once during your visit, your best bet would be to purchase a Jazzy Pass. The pass offers you unlimited rides on both buses and streetcars for one, three, five or 31 days. Jazzy Pass rates range from $3 to $55, depending on the length of its validity.
You can purchase a Jazzy Pass online on the RTA website, or you can buy your pass at several retail locations, such as Walgreens.
Of course, taxis and rideshare programs, like Uber and Lyft, are also available options for getting around the city.
The first of our 3 days in New Orleans was spent walking and exploring the downtown area. We had made a list of places we wanted to see, that were in and around the French Quarter so that we could experience as much as possible.
Café Du Monde
As requested by the kids, our first stop was Café Du Monde. You really cannot visit New Orleans without stopping in for coffee (or hot chocolate) and their signature beignets. The line for the café was pretty long, so we decided to get our goodies to go.
And let me tell you, the beignets were AWESOME! Right there and then, we knew we would be coming back!
We sat in the nearby park to enjoy our treat on that first visit, but on subsequent visits (yes… we went back SEVERAL more times!), we sat inside the café. The place was always busy, but we found the lines moved well.
Just a heads up, the icing sugar is messy, and the kids were covered in it by the third bite!
St Louis Cathedral
A short walk from Café Du Monde, the St. Louis Cathedral is one of New Orleans’ most recognizable landmarks. Overlooking Jackson Square, it is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States.
The original St. Louis Cathedral was built in 1727 but soon suffered a few major calamities. A fire burned the church to the ground in 1788 and was later rebuilt in 1793. Then, in 1849, the bell tower collapsed during renovations of the cathedral.
The Cathedral is open daily from 8:30 am until 4:00 pm, with Daily Mass being at 12:05 pm. There is no cost to enter the Cathedral, however, self-guided brochures are available at the entrance for only a $1.00 donation.
Visitors may also be able to get an impromptu tour from a volunteer docent when available. However, guided tours for larger groups are only available with prior reservations.
Located right off Jackson Square, the French Market is within walking distance of any location in the French Quarter. Very similar to some of the markets we have seen in Europe, the French Market includes five blocks of open-air shopping, dining, music and local tradition.
During the 3 days in New Orleans, we came back to the Market several times! This is where we spent some time browsing for souvenirs and grabbing a bite for lunch.
A Gator Bite, that is! That’s right! The kids decided that they wanted to try alligator! The ‘World Famous N’awlins Cafe & Spice Emporium’, was a stand in the Market that served Cajun-spiced Gator Bites.
They were a little on the spicy side (I’m not good with spice), but the kids devoured them! After all… gator does taste like chicken! LOL
Gator wasn’t the only thing we sampled in the French Market. The sweet aroma of freshly made Pralines enticed us into several shops.
This traditional southern treat is made from almonds and caramelized sugar, and is Deeelicious! I won’t say how many packages we left with… but it was a lot (so many types after all)!
And the last treat that the kids talked us into trying while in the French Market, was Snowballs. A Snowball is a cool treat made with a mound of shaved ice, flavoured with sweet syrups and topped or stuffed with a number of mix-ins and add-ons.
Not to be confused with Snow Cones, the ice of a Snowball is fine and fluffy; while a snow cone’s ice is coarse and granular. As a result, the flavoured syrup in a snow cone sinks to the bottom of the cup; while in a Snowball, the ice absorbs the syrup.
The Snowballs were nice on a hot day, but we didn’t find them to be spectacular. And to be quite honest, they were far too sweet to be very refreshing. When the kids don’t finish a treat, it usually means it’s not a winner.
🦀 Interested in doing a New Orleans food tour? We have put together a list of the 8 best tours in the city here.
Jackson Square is located in the French Quarter, overlooking the Mississippi River. It occupies 2.5 acres and sees over 2 million tourists and locals each year. One of New Orleans’ most recognizable landmarks,
Not only did Jackson Square receive National Landmark status in 1960, but it has also been the backdrop to many movies and television shows.
We loved sitting in the park, people-watching while enjoying a beignet little break from sightseeing. Just outside the square, you can catch a horse-drawn carriage or listen to some wonderful music from street performers.
Jackson Square is also the location of an open-air artist colony, where artists display their work on the outside of the iron fence.
Deanie’s Seafood Restaurant
Our first of 3 days in New Orleans ended with a delicious dinner at Deanie’s Seafood. The place was pretty busy, which meant a bit of a wait. But it was definitely worth it! Deanie’s Seafood is located in the French Quarter and is considered by the locals to be one of the best restaurants in New Orleans for seafood.
Deanie’s menu includes fried seafood, charbroiled oysters, raw oysters, boiled crawfish, shrimp gumbo and more. Their claim to fame, however, is their Giant Seafood Platter! This is a huge amount of food!
We definitely enjoyed our meal at Deanie’s. I had the Crab Quartet which gave me my first-ever experience with soft-shell crab. Everything was delicious, including my appetizer of charbroiled oysters.
The kid’s menu had the usual items (burgers, hot dogs, mac and cheese), but also included some seafood (incredibly, a kid’s portion of fried oysters!).
The food, staff and ambiance of the restaurant were awesome and family-friendly. With several locations to choose from, we would definitely recommend Deanie’s if you are in New Orleans with kids.
St. Charles Streetcar
Our second of 3 days in New Orleans started out with a ride on one of Louisiana’s famous trolleys.
Fun Fact: Did you know that much of the fame of the New Orleans streetcar, comes from its association with the 1947 Tennessee Williams play, A Streetcar Named Desire?
The real Desire Streetcar used to run through the French Quarter, making its way in and out of the now Bywater neighbourhood. The line has since been replaced by buses, however.
Today, the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar is the oldest continuously operated streetcar line in the world. You instantly feel the old-world charm and nostalgia, when sitting on the mahogany seats. It is definitely like taking a ride in a history museum on wheels.
With several lines to choose from, you can get to many of the popular attractions, restaurants, shops and neighbourhoods onboard the streetcar. In our case, we were headed to the Garden District for a walking tour.
The Garden District, or ‘Lafayette City’, as it was once known, is one of the US’s most beautifully preserved city districts. It was an absolutely gorgeous neighbourhood to walk through. We chose to go the guided tour route, with Free Tours By Foot.
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the neighbourhood; regaling us with stories of several homes, their owners, and their colourful pasts.
Located just a short distance from the French Quarter, the Garden District could not be more different! This quaint neighbourhood is filled with an amazing mix of homes, ranging from cute little cottages to grand mansions with sprawling gardens.
Along with the gorgeous homes, you can also find trendy boutiques, antique shops, little cafes, restaurants, bars, and Lafayette Cemetery 1.
Lafayette Cemetery 1
I love visiting old cemeteries, so I could not pass up the opportunity to see the infamous Lafayette Cemetery 1 while in New Orleans. Fortunately, the tour of the cemetery was included in our Free Tours By Foot walking tour of the Garden District.
Opened in 1833, many of the people who have been laid to rest in Lafayette Cemetery 1, either fought in the Civil War or succumbed to the 1852 yellow fever epidemic. The plaques and headstones that detail their death, are absolutely fascinating to read.
Unfortunately, the effects of time, as well as the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, have left much of this cemetery in disrepair. But because the cemetery has been included in the National Register of Historic Places, several non-profit groups have been working hard to repair tombs, and restore the cemetery’s landscape.
In the past, visitors were only allowed to enter the Cemetery with a licensed tour guide. However, a quick look at the website, shows that the City of New Orleans closed the cemetery in September 2019 to visitors. There is no date available for when it will reopen.
Fun Fact: Several popular movies such as Interview with the Vampire and Double Jeopardy have been filmed here.
Emeril’s Delmonico Restaurant
We happened to be in New Orleans over the Father’s Day weekend, so I thought I would surprise Hubby with some fine dining. The reservations were made ahead of time, and he had no idea where we were going until we pulled up to the restaurant!
Hubby and I have been to several of Emeril’s restaurants both in Las Vegas as well as Orlando, so I was looking forward to trying out a New Orleans location. Of course, this restaurant is not budget-friendly and was a definite splurge for a special occasion.
We were not disappointed. Not only was the restaurant itself elegant, but the food and the service were impeccable! It was also a nice experience for the kids. They had the opportunity to get dressed up, use their best manners, and eat a wonderfully prepared meal.
We started out with Baked Oysters (my fave). We then each had a different main course, which made it easy to try several different tasty items. The kids finished off with warm cookies and milk, while I sampled the house-made beignets, and Hubby tried the gelato.
Everything was delicious! Definitely an exceptional way to end our day!
Cajun Encounters Swamp Tour
The final day of our 3 days in New Orleans was spent just outside of the city, visiting the Louisiana Bayou. Cajun Encounters Swamp Tours takes you on a two-hour boat ride through the Honey Island Swamp, which is one of America’s most unique ecosystems.
We learned all about the swamp and its natural inhabitants from our local expert captain while riding onboard a 22-passenger flat-bottomed boat. Not only did we get to hear all about what plants and animals call the Bayou home, but we got to meet many of them up close and personal!
We got to see several alligators, including “Brutus” who is extremely large, and apparently quite old. We also came across a raccoon, exotic birds, and several turtles, before meeting a family of wild boars. The kids were fascinated! Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable, interesting, and personable.
Aside from the plants and animals, we also passed many homes along the waterway. Our guide talked about some of the families that not only make their home along the Bayou but make a living there.
All in all, this tour was an awesome experience. It was a great way to learn a lot about Louisiana’s Bayou while having a pretty relaxing afternoon. It was a nice change after the hustle and bustle of the previous couple of days. We would definitely recommend this excursion for families.
The cost for the tour is $30.50 per adult and $20.50 per child. They also offer a shuttle service from several spots in the French Quarter. This makes it extremely convenient for people who may not have access to a car. The cost with pick-up is $57.50 per adult and $37.50 per child.
We had our own vehicle, so we did not make use of this service. There is also plenty of free parking on site.
🐊 Interested in booking a swamp tour? We have a list of the best airboat swamp tour in New Orleans here.
Where We Stayed
Although there are tons of great hotels throughout New Orleans, we chose to spend our 3 days in New Orleans at an Airbnb. We like the added space, the flexibility of having our own kitchen, and the ambiance that staying in a house provides.
Our Airbnb was located in the Treme neighbourhood, which was approximately a 25-minute walk from the French Quarter. The beautiful pied-a-terre apartment, complete with a balcony, was in a gorgeous historic mansion. We absolutely loved it!
Enjoying a Louisiana Crawfish Boil with the Locals
Our last meal in New Orleans was a wonderful surprise. It was Father’s Day weekend, and our amazing hosts at our AirBnB invited us to their backyard party. We were treated to a traditional Louisiana Crawfish Boil! Was it ever wonderful!
We were not only treated to a wonderful meal of Oysters Rockefeller and several pots of crawfish cooked with varying amounts of spice but we were treated like family. Nothing beats southern hospitality!
The kids were even taught how to peel and eat their own crawfish, which they loved. We all had the best night ever!
Final Thoughts About Our 3 Days in New Orleans
Our 3 days in New Orleans ended up being one of the most memorable family vacations. Considering this was a bucket list location for me, I had a lot of high expectations before we left home. And let me tell you… New Orleans surpassed them all.
We were impressed with the beauty of the city, the warmth and resilience of the people, and of course, the incredible meals we had! We would definitely recommend New Orleans as a family-friendly destination, and a wonderful experience to have with kids.
Have you ever been to New Orleans? Tell us what your favourite experience was!
What a fantastic trip! Now I want to go!
We really wanted to do a ghost tour as well… had one scheduled… but we got rained out and were leaving the next morning. Next time!!
Such a beautiful city…and one of my favorites in the US. I love exploring the French Quarter, especially. I’ve done ghost and vampire tours and those are so fun.
New Orleans is near the top of my must see list. My youngest kid has been there twice when he visited his birth mom. I’m jealous!
I look forward to visiting New Orleans one day soon! Especially for the food and the music!
This is a great resource! I’ll have to refer back to this for when my teenager heads to New Orleans with his Jazz band this summer.
What a fun packed trip – and a belly packing trip. I think I would not be able to move with all that amazing food!
Wow! Those pictures of the Cathedral were incredible! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. We may need to add New Orleans as an upcoming adventure! Thank you for sharing.
Looks like a lot of fun! New Orleans is on our bucket list! Thanks for all the great information!
Wow nice!!!!!! I haven’t been to New Orleans in so long! Wow I miss it!!!! Thanks for sharing your lovely experience.
What great tips! I’ve not gotten to New Orleans yet and would love to get there someday!
Would love to take my kids to New Orleans. So much history and great food. Two things we love.
This totally makes me want to go. It looks like you had an amazing time. I’ve had beignets, but not from New Orleans. It’s on our bucket list.
# awesome days in New Orleans indeed. I cannot wait to take my kids to new Orleans whenever this pandemic decides to go away,
You all can pack a lot in in 3 days! And it looked like you ate well!! I have always had New Orleans on my list, but now I want to take my kids!
I absolutely love New Orleans. I never realized that it could be so family friendly.
I am so happy to read this, I have been wanting to go to New Orleans but wasn’t sure if it would be fun for kids! There’s so much they would enjoy as well!!
I wouldn’t have thought of taking kids to New Orleans (I always associate it with Mardi Gras), but it looks like you found tons of fun stuff to do with them!
I love NOLA! And love your post as New Orleans is a great place to visit with kids. Great itinerary!
Yum, yum, and oh, yum. I definitely would gain 12 lbs eating beignets. I have a cousin who lives in the city and she always says there is live music going on. I love that.
Haven’t been since I was a kid! Reading this makes me want to go right now! Love that you had a local crawfish boil experience via the hosts of your gorgeous AirBnB!!
Looks like you had so much fun exploring on your adventure! That’s awesome!
I was lucky enough to visit New Orleans in 2017 for a work conference. I loved it so much. I hope to be back.
I love New Orleans, especially the food! I agree that it can be a great family destination, there is so much more than bourbon street!
Love the culture and food of Louisiana. I only traveled for business so my touring was limited. However, with all the business meetings I got to dine in some of their best restaurants. Thanks for sharing all the other wonderful attractions. One day I will go back for pleasure.
I love it when people share their travel itineraries and lodging info! It makes planning family vacays so much easier. Thank you! Loved your photos, too.
I love finding things to do with kids on trips! It looks like there was plenty for the whole family to enjoy! How cool that you could eat a Emril’s restaurant, and that swamp tour looks super fun!
I’ve only been during Mardi Gras but would love to go back and see more!
Thanks so much for sharing! We learned a lot and will take these options in when visiting the city!
So much fun! I experienced New Orleans when it was abnormally cold for them so not a lot was open. The cemetery looks like a cool experience. I agree that you don’t really need a car there, the street car does the trick.
Love this post! NOLA is at the very top of my US travel bucket list!!
What an amazing experience! New Orleans has so many fun and educational experiences for the whole family!
What a great trip! I normally think of NOLA as a party spot so I would have not thought of taking kids there.
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