Taking the family away on holidays is an opportunity to make wonderful memories that last a lifetime. New Orleans isn’t only about Mardi Gras, Jazz and Speakeasies. It is, in fact, a delightful place to take children, where there is plenty on offer to amuse and enchant them.
We’ve come up with a list of 4 family things to do in New Orleans and the first one may surprise you.
No. 1 St Louis Cathedral, New Orleans
As the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the U.S.A., St Louis Cathedral is also one of the city’s most recognised landmarks. It is perched, overlooking Jackson Square and features three sky grazing steeples atop its magnificent white façade that is exceptionally pleasing in its symmetry.
The cathedral was built in the Renaissance Spanish Colonial style and took five years to complete. It is said to be haunted by Father Antonio de Sedella whose body is interred in the church. Reports have it that he walks his namesake alley beside the cathedral in the early mornings and apparitions of him are noticed during Christmas Midnight Mass.
Lovers of religious artworks will appreciate the stained glass windows, statues, murals and paintings, as well as the skilled craftsmanship that features throughout the building. Visitors have called it “awe inspiring” and “breathtaking and full of history”. It was the site of the speech by President George W. Bush following the devastating Hurricane Katrina and has been visited by two Popes in its time.
Visitors of all denominations are welcomed to participate in the Catholic Cultural Heritage Centre tour which includes two of the most historic buildings in New Orleans. You can also visit the Cathedral itself for Daily Mass at 12.05pm or at any time between 8.30am and 4pm.
Learn more from the self-guided brochures available for a $1 donation at the entrance. Additionally, you can tour the Old Ursuline Convent which happens to be the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley. Adding this treasured old attraction to your list of family things to do in New Orleans will give you all valuable time out to reflect and relax together, while learning about history in a gorgeous environment.
No. 2 Louisiana Children’s Museum
Take the kids along to the Louisiana Children’s Museum for a day out of play and education. With nearly 2,800 square metres of interactive and hands-on exhibits, you’ll wonder where the time went! Engaging activities involving music, science, maths, art and health will keep the kids fascinated and having a fabulous time.
The Safety Zone encourages children to explore matters of personal safety and shows them what is safe and unsafe in the home, how to drop and roll in a fire, how to dial and talk to the emergency operator and they can even get into an emergency vehicle.
Learning about the body is fun at Body Works where visitors get the opportunity to balance, flex, weigh and measure as well as climb the faux rock wall. At the kid-sized Little Winn Dixie Grocery Store, they will get to know the food pyramid in order to plan a healthy meal, and then ‘shop’ for groceries. There’s also the Little Port of New Orleans, a First Adventures toddler play area, a Simple Machines educational exhibit and so, so much more.
Put this on your list of family things to do in New Orleans because even Mums and Dads will find plenty to enjoy, and you won’t feel like you’re dragging the kids around. They’ll be buzzed all day long! The Museum suggests allowing at least two hours for a good visit but with over 100 hands-on exhibits, you’ll probably find you can spend an entire day there.
No. 3 Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
A ‘zoo’ by any other name, the Audubon Nature Institute administers the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium on Canal Street that encourages visitors to use all five of their senses to explore this intriguing facility. Learn why insects are so important to the earth and discover just how destructive termites can be!
The ‘Underground’ exhibit helps visitors understand how it feels to be the size of a tiny ant in a man-made underground environment where giant animatronic bugs make appearances and surprises are all over the place. You can even enter the Metamorphosis Gallery to witness the life cycle of insects with exhibits including chrysalises and cocoons. Check out the Butterfly Garden where free-flying butterflies may land on your shoulder or float right past your eyes in the Asian-style garden.
You and your busy little bees can do a spot of shopping in the Flea Market gift shop, adopt an animal and even have a bite to eat at the Tiny Termite Café where real insects live inside the glass-top ‘living tables’. Open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Sunday, the Insectarium and Butterfly Garden must definitely be added to your list of family things to do in New Orleans.
No. 4 City Park
Set on 1,300 acres, City Park offers a world of fun and amusement for all ages. Millions of visitors and locals go there annually to attend events, relax on the manicured lawns or visit the attractions. From the Botanical Garden, golf course, Big Lake and putt putt to the New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden, there’s something to appeal to everyone.
Promising a total of 16 “rides for everyone of any age”, Carousel Gardens Amusement Park is loads of fun for all. The major attraction here is the antique wooden carousel which has been delighting kids and kids at heart for over a century with its ‘flying horses’ all maintained in wonderful condition. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the carousel is one of just one hundred of these playground gems left in the United States.
The entry fee is a low four dollars and then you can pay another four dollars each time you go on a ride. Alternatively, save money by purchasing a $22 wristband that covers the entry fee and you can go on unlimited rides!
Little ones will adore Storyland where they can climb Jack and Jill’s hill and board Captain Hook’s pirate ship. Everywhere you turn, there is a colourful character sculpture to greet you, such as The Three Pigs, dragons, dinosaurs and even a life size Cinderella pumpkin carriage. No self-respecting list of family things to do in New Orleans would be complete without a day – or three – at City Park.
Protecting your Family on Holidays
Never underestimate the value of a good family travel insurance* policy. You never know what you might need, or when you might need it, so be prepared. Family coverage will ensure that losses or theft won’t diminish your enjoyment while in New Orleans. One call to Allianz will get the ball rolling to make a claim so you can get back to having fun with your family!