Around Town, Family Life, Museums & Attractions, Outdoor fun, Things To Do

Top 10 Must-Do Activities in NOLA

If you’re exploring New Orleans with your family, you’ll want to add these hot spots to your itinerary.

1. Cafe Du Monde. Who doesn’t love hot, sugary beignets and café au lait, milk, or orange juice? I can’t hype it up enough–this New Orleans classic should be the first place you visit when you swing into town. The cafe is open 24/7, giving you plenty of time to fill your belly before continuing on with your day or night.

2. Audubon Zoo and the Cool Zoo. Explore the globe by viewing creatures from every branch of the animal kingdom from some of the most endangered animals to the most commonly found at the Audubon Zoo, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. After exploring their award-winning exhibits, tackle the heat at the Cool Zoo! This on-site splash park features an impressively large lazy river with two sand beaches along with four water cannons, two water curtains, and jumping jets.

3. The Audubon Aquarium and Insectarium. The Aquarium recently underwent extensive renovations to make plenty of room for the Insectarium’s exhibits, but this exciting merge means this double-whammy of educational fun could pack a punch on any given weekend.

At the re-imagined Insectarium, find out what insects do for our ecosystems through over 50 displays with live bugs, then head over to Bug Appetit to bravely try edible insect cuisine before perusing through the butterfly garden that overlooks the Mississippi River.

If you’re more aquatically inclined, the Aquarium is the place to be. The state-of-the-art aquarium allows you to tour the world by meeting the species that live in our waters. Say hello to over 3,600 animals and over 250 species housed there with some of the most notable finned-to-four-legged tenants being sharks, sea horses, eels, jellyfish, penguins, and a family of mysterious white alligators.

4. Steamboat and Riverboat Tours. Do you dream of sailing the Mississippi River in leisure? New Orleans has several chances for you to do so. The Paddlewheeler Creole Queen hosts several riverboat cruises as well, including a historic cruise of New Orleans, a jazz cruise, and a jazz brunch cruise.

Similarly, the Steamboat Natchez offers daily two-hour-long Dinner Jazz and Daytime Jazz cruises stylized to be an authentic experience involving Steam Engine Room visitation, calliope, live jazz, and Creole-inspired meals paired with local beverages. Natchez’s sister ship, The Riverboat City of New Orleans, offers a similar variety of cruises including Jazz Lunch and Dinner Jazz Cruises followed by a Sunday Brunch Cruise.

5. Mid-City Carriage Rides. Trot on down to the French Quarter and hop on one of Mid-City Carriages’ many green carriages pulled by beautiful mules. Why mules? They tend to be sturdier and heartier than horses and are better able to handle the Louisiana heat. Your carriage ride allows you to explore and tour New Orleans in style and comfort, accompanied by your knowledgeable driver and their equally impressive mule.

6. National WWII Museum. If you have never been to this museum, it’s an absolute must-go experience. Its six-acre campus is divided into five pavilions with its own historical exhibits meant to pull you back and forth in time to explain why the war was fought and how it affects us today. The museum itself is designated by Congress as the official WWII museum of the United States, and you can easily tell why when viewing their on-site restoration work, watching a film or two at their period dinner theater, and having a meal at one of their impressive restaurants.

7. Preservation Hall. For the musically inclined, Preservation Hall (established in 1961) has everything you could want and more. During the Jim Crow era, the Hall served as a place where racially integrated bands and audiences could come together to enjoy and share music. Today, the Hall is the home of nightly acoustic jazz performances that showcase the traditional music of New Orleans with five shows a night.

8. Carousel Gardens Amusement Park and Storyland. This seasonal theme park is open from March to November and features thrills that the whole family can enjoy. The park is home to one of the oldest carousels in the United States but also features 18 exciting rides, including the classic ferris wheel, and two cafes with snacks and meals made fresh to serve.

9. Tours Galore! What better way to experience New Orleans than to take a tour or two? Grayline New Orleans offers a number of tours including swamp boat tours, airboat tours, and a combo tour of the Oak Alley Plantation and the Manchac Swamp. If you’re feeling brave, their ghosts and spirits take you on a tour of haunted spaces around New Orleans while their less-scary plantation tours allow you to explore your choice of historic antebellum plantations.

10. Aunt Sally’s Pralines. If you’re craving a sweet treat steeped in history (and maybe some reprieve from the hot summer Sun), you’re definitely going to want to pop into one of Aunt Sally’s two locations. Both locations sell their signature treat, Southern-style pralines, in three forms: original, creamy, and chewy. Along with pralines, you can shop for cookbooks, souvenirs and collectibles, locally-made goodies, and other bits to snack on.

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