On the surface, New Orleans doesn’t seem like a place that families would want to vacation in since it is known as a party town, but I’ve found that there’s plenty to do with kids around the city.
For starters, a variety of swamp tours, about a 40-50 minute drive outside of the city, are a great way to get acclimated with the landscape of swampy Louisiana. These tours take you on special boats throughout the bayou, equally riveting for adults and kids exploring the area’s wildlife, finding wild pigs, raccoons, hawks, and if it’s warm enough, alligators. The tour itself is fun and entertaining. I recommend bringing an extra jacket or sweatshirt (if traveling during the colder months) as the boat can go quickly and the added wind chill can be biting. We went with Cajun Encounters, but there are others that do similar things.
One of the musts to check out in NOLA is Mardi Gras World, with or without kids. To really understand the allure and history of the city and mardi gras, this tour showcases the designers and manufacturers of the props and floats that get made every year for the parades. It’s a fun and interesting experience, and completely unique to New Orleans.
With a city as old as NOLA is, it’s no wonder that they still operate super old street cars in much of the city. St. Charles Streetcar is merely a commuter streetcar that stops every other block through the Uptown and Garden Districts through beautiful residential neighborhoods and near a number of university campuses. Rides are cash only (no big bills) and $1.25 per person each way. There’s a stop not far from the Tulane Hillel if you’re heading to Rimon.
While we didn’t get to spend time in Audubon Park, it’s a massive and beautiful space, perfect to enjoy the weather, bike, jog, or throw some frisbee. The south side of the park has the Audubon Zoo.
NOMA (New Orleans Museum of Art), inside City Park, is a nice modern art museum that can be enjoyed by art enthusiasts and kids alike (assuming you can keep their little hands off the art)! Its location inside City Park which is a large area to roam around in if the weather is nice for a stroll, jog, and other activities, makes for a great place to spend the afternoon when the weather is nice.
The French Quarter is what most tourists come to New Orleans for. The city’s history, music, and (non-kosher) food scene revolves around this area downtown, off of the Mississippi River. While a lot of the attractions here are related to drinking or drinking or drinking (or other forms of non-kosher debauchery, if that’s your thing), there are some interesting spots to explore including Conservation Hall which is a family-friendly old school location showcasing original New Orleans style blues and jazz. They run multiple shows throughout the week, which last for about an hour, and are completely kid-friendly. If you don’t get a seat, you can sit on the floor mats up front, or stand in the back.
The French Market inside the French Quarter is an outdoor covered flea market with vendors selling handmade wares,
New Orleans’s Audobon Aquarium near the French Quarter, and on the riverfront, is a beautiful, modern attraction for both kids and adults. We were able to spend hours here with the kids who enjoyed the exhibits, the parakeet room where the beautiful tiny birds can eat off of your hand or fly into your purse, the aquarium tunnel, and the large theater showcasing animals of the ice age time period. Inside the Aquarium, next to the parakeet room, there’s a Haägen Dazs ice cream shop with a kosher certification from the OU detailing the kosher flavors.
The Audobon Butterfly Garden & Insectarium is not far from the Aquarium (and you can buy a single ticket that covers both attractions) is an interesting exhibit, especially for curious kids, who want to learn more about the bugs that inhabit our world, and the other creatures found in the Louisiana swamps. Avoid the “BUG Cafe” as they will try and serve you actual bugs to eat. Definitely not kosher. The Butterfly Garden at the end is definitely the main attraction.
While we didn’t get a chance to try it, Mississippi River Cruises are popular with travelers to the region as they offer some history, including visits to classic antebellum homes and renowned plantations, a meal, and a view. The meal is surely not kosher, but the time spent will be relaxing and educational. The main ones seem to be Steamboat Natchez and Creole Queen.
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