A family that plays together, stays together. And what better place and time to play than summertime in New Orleans? The days are longer, work hours are shorter, classes are out, and the sun is up, so make the most of this spectacular season with a vacation fit for fun.
From the best waterpark slides to ice-cold sno-balls, there are endless options to keep the entire family happy. Whether you’re traveling with teens, tweens, or tots, here’s everything you need to plan the perfect summer family vacation to New Orleans.
There’s no better way to travel the Crescent City than aboard the historic streetcar. And this summer, you and up to three guests can ride for free when you book a hotel stay on NewOrleans.com between April 1 and September 4. Adored by young riders and adults alike, the streetcar makes stops near some of NOLA’s family-friendly favorites like the aforementioned Audubon Aquarium, the French Market, Audubon Park, and New Orleans City Park.
As a staple of the riverfront experience in New Orleans, it felt like there was a gaping, fish-sized hole in our hearts when the Aquarium announced they would be temporarily closing the beloved attraction in the fall of 2022 for major renovations. But anyone who has ever been knows that the aquarium really shines during the warmer months, when its air-conditioned corridors provide the perfect cooled oasis for education and entertainment, making its June 2023 re-opening date the ideal time to welcome the fish, sharks, alligators, penguins, and tropical birds back into our lives. And even better? The state-of-the-art facility will also now house the revamped Insectarium, which shuttered its original location a few blocks down Canal Street during covid. Anyone visiting this summer will want to take a peek at the stunning upgrades, but it’s an absolute MUST for those traveling with kids to New Orleans – no matter the time of year.
One of the best things about summertime is all the fun ways to keep cool and beat the heat. A favorite hotspot to cool off is Audubon Zoo’s Cool Zoo, a seasonal waterpark experience that operates each May-August. This outdoor oasis comes complete with a 750-foot lazy river with two sand beaches, an alligator water slide, spider monkey soakers, water-spitting snakes, and more splash-worthy activities.
Ice cream is fun and shakes are satisfying, but in New Orleans, the sno-ball reigns supreme. Treat your family to an icy summer treat at one of New Orleans’ many sno-ball stands across the city. Bumble gum, sour apple, rainbow, and cream of chocolate are just a few kid-friendly favorite flavors. Browse a few of our other icy summer treats fit for families. Take our sno-ball quiz and find out what flavor you are!
Sure, New Orleans is known for its late-night music venues, but that doesn’t mean that live music is off limits for families with kids under 21, or even under 18. The iconic Preservation Hall is perhaps one of the most popular options for music-loving families, since their shows are not only all ages, but they offer multiple shows nightly starting at bedtime friendly-hours like 5 and 6 p.m. Three Muses and Snug Harbor on Frenchmen Street are also both solid, family-friendly favorites. Looking for more ideas? See our guide for Where to See Live Music Under 21.
Between the Louisiana Children’s Museum, Storyland, and the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, New Orleans City Park is a stomping grounds for a family fun day. Make sure to fuel up with a bite from the casual kid’s cafe, Acorn, and top the meal off with sugary beignets from City Park’s own Cafe du Monde.
Festing is fun, and it’s even better with family. While New Orleans is filled with a lineup of amazing summer fests and events, there are a few standout events that are fit for families. The Creole Tomato Festival and Satchmo Summerfest are just a few to check out during your summer family vacation.
While a visit to the museum is always a good idea, it's especially opportune during August, which marks Museum Month. Museum hop with the whole family for one flat rate membership fee all month long. History buffs can take advantage of the World War II Museum, whereas art-lovers can make their way to the New Orleans Museum of Art or the Ogden.
Nobody does dining like New Orleans - even the kiddos can experience the full flavors of our cuisine. Family-friendly dining is about more than offering a kids menu. Barracuda, Dat Dog, Camellia Grill, The Blue Crab, and Port Orleans Brewing Co. are just a few places that go above and beyond to create a family-friendly atmosphere for their diners with children. Find even more kid-friendly dining picks here.
Carnival season may have passed, but Mardi Gras-inspired fun and history are available year-round at Mardi Gras World. Get a taste of Fat Tuesday with a tour of Kern Studios - where Mardi Gras is made. See the floats and costumes that are used for Mardi Gras, and you can even sample King Cake, a seasonal delicacy of Carnival.
A day of play paired with an afternoon of nibbles sounds like an ideal family outing. This summer, grab the gang for an unforgettable New Orleans-style picnic featuring po-boys, crawfish, sno-balls, and Zapps potato chips. Check out our favorite locations throughout the city perfect for picnicking.