Feeling overscheduled? Looking for stay-cation fun with the kids?
Take a fun day off to play on the water! Nothing beats summer water fun for recharging the batteries and creating memories to last a lifetime.
For a quick reset, look no further than City Park or Audubon Park – our proverbial backyards – or take a hop, skip, and a jump across the lake or to the Gulf Coast for tubing, canoeing, fishing, and other water activities.
With its 1,300 acres, New Orleans City Park is the closest go-to for water fun. While most of us think of the park for the Louisiana Children’s Museum, NOMA, and Storyland, bass, catfish, perch, and other varieties can be found in the park’s 11+ miles of lagoons. Anglers 16 years and up need to have a valid Louisiana fishing license. This is a great way to teach the kids how to cast and bait a hook, and get in some practice for a bigger expedition elsewhere. Keep in mind that there is no fishing along the Golf Course waterways.
See “Inside Guide to City Park Fishing” at neworleanscitypark.com.
Not into fishing but want a water adventure? Canoes, kayaks, and paddle swan boats are available for rent on City Park’s Big Lake from their licensee Wheel Fun Rentals. They even have evening rentals with LED swan boats. For all information, see wheelfunrentals.com.
Audubon Cool Zoo is another great in-town option for cooling the kids down this summer, with its 750-foot lazy river, water slide, and much more. Advance reservations are required even for members, and non-members must purchase an advance Zoo admission as well. Open weekdays from June through August 1, and weekends only from August 7 through September 5. Details and purchase information can be found at coolzoo.audubonnatureinstitute.org.
Whether in City Park or off Shell Beach, a recreational fishing license is required for anglers ages 16+. Purchase your license online at wlf.louisiana.gov.
A quick drive across Lake Pontchartrain will open up endless possibilities for water fun. Get an early start to beat the crowds.
In business for over 30 years, Bogue Chitto Tubing is open at 8 am daily in the summer with lazy 2- and 4-hour tubing, canoeing, and kayaking trips down the Bogue Chitto River. Children must be a minimum of 5 years, and all participants must sign a release form before being shuttled from the office by bus to begin their river trips. Required life jackets are provided to all boaters. 10237 South Choctaw Rd., Bogalusa, LA 70427. 985.735.1173. boguechitto.com.
Also offering canoeing, tubing, and kayaking trips along the scenic Bogue Chitto River is Louisiana River Adventures in Franklinton. Advance tickets available online, but are not required. Lifejackets are provided for boaters. Open daily from 9 am. 12409 Camp Circle Rd., Franklinton, LA 70438. 985.795.2004. louisianariveradventures.com.
Just north of Folsom is White Sands Lake Day Beach, a family-oriented, recreational facility on a cool, clear, spring-fed lake. The water park includes inflatable water slides, trampolines, floating mats, and more. Life jackets are encouraged and available for rent. Open this summer until Labor Day, on Tuesdays through Sundays, from 11 am, 52129 Sandstone Blvd., Franklinton, LA 70438. 985.515.0114. whitesandslake.com.
Further afield and perfect for an overnight get-away is Gulf Island Water Park in Gulfport. Here you’ll find the largest water park on the Gulf Coast, with multiple slides and chutes, water roller coaster, wave pool, and so much more. Pack your own lunch or take advantage of the food options. Advance tickets are available online and multiple seating options, including cabanas, by reservation. The best value is the Summer Pass for less than the price of two full-day tickets. 17200 16th St., Gulfport, MS 39503. 228.328.1266. gulfislandswaterpark.com.
DON’T FORGET THE BASICS FOR ALL WATER ACTIVITIES
- Water and other beverages
- Lunch and snacks
- Ice chest and ice
- Extra t-shirts and dry clothes
- Waterproof cases for phones
- Establish a buddy system in advance, where each child is paired with another.
- Check in on everyone at set intervals appropriate to their age.
- If tubing, tie younger children’s inner tubes to your own to prevent their drifting away.
- Also ensure that every child has a well-fitting life jacket before getting in the water.