Audobon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium (Photo: Joshua Brasted)
New Orleans is known for its oppressive humidity and rainy climate, but you don’t have to let unpredictable New Orleans weather ruin your fun — there’s still plenty to do with antsy little ones when the skies open up. These family-friendly destinations will keep your kids more entertained than a hotel TV binge. And, shhh — they might even learn something along the way!
Explore Nature … Indoors
At the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, kids can explore the fascinating and diverse world of all things creepy-crawly. With activities from the “Family Bug Hunt” to “Bug Appetit” — in which chefs incorporate insects into delectable dishes from around the world — boredom is simply not an option here.
Not into six-legged critters? Check out the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas next door instead.
Go Retro, Get Competitive
Rock ‘n’ Bowl is a throwback to the golden age of bowling, featuring vintage lanes straight out of the 1950s. Monday through Thursday afternoons are officially Family Bowling time, which means shoes are free! Weekends, on the other hand, are prime people watching hours: if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a birthday serenade by a Dixieland jazz band or a juggling clown in the adjacent lane.
New Orleans Museum of Art isn’t just for grownups with a sophisticated appreciation of contemporary works by renowned artists. NOMA offers a revolving Saturday schedule of craft workshops just for kids, with themes like African face masks and Monet’s Garden. Saturdays are also the time to catch StoryQuest, a weekly performance in which professional writers and actors make children’s’ stories come alive. On Tuesday afternoons, even babies can get in on the action with Baby Arts Play!, a music and movement class.
Leap, Climb and Slide
Indoor playgrounds are the perfect way for little ones to get their wiggles out when the weather isn’t cooperating, and New Orleans offers several fun options. Closest to the French Quarter, you’ll find The Monkey Room, a padded, multilevel play structure with slides and tunnels, plus a separate area just for toddlers. Safety monitors are always on duty to make sure play remains safe. In Metairie, a 15 minute drive from Downtown, Palm Tree Playground offers a similar set up, with three separate areas for older kids, toddlers and babies. Parents will appreciate the onsite café, which offers snacks and drinks and still allows you to BYO in case of food allergies or picky eaters. For older kids, try Party Planet Extreme in Elmwood — they’ll love the obstacle tower, arcade and black light ropes course.