Storyland in City Park (Photo: Joshua Brasted)
Playgrounds are especially precious commodities when traveling with little ones. They have a magical ability to stave off meltdowns and catastrophe. Luckily, New Orleans has no shortage of awesome play spots. Here are seven of the best the city has to offer.
- 9th Ward Playground. There is a park with no official name that happens to be the best kept secret in the city. The neighborhood is a little dicey and was among the hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. The playground itself is nothing short of amazing. Its wooden network of planks, tunnels and towers span an extensive area. Plus, it’s located on one side of the levee. A short walk to the top of the levee reveals picturesque views of the Mighty Mississippi. One thing to keep in mind for little ones is the park’s lack of viable bathrooms.
- Cabrini Playground. This playground is a lifesaver for families staying in or traveling through the French Quarter. It’s large enough for a rowdy session of play, and accessible on foot, so you can’t beat the convenience.
- Audubon Park. Audubon Park is a large green space that’s on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line and near the Zoo. Here you’ll find live oak trees that are made for climbing plus two playgrounds: A larger one right on St. Charles Avenue, which features areas for younger and older children, and a smaller one that offers a little more shade for spectators. Also located in the park: A 1.7-mile paved track for runners, walkers, skaters and bikers; a gorgeous golf course and a lagoon at the center of the park where hungry ducks are always waiting to be fed by friendly visitors.
- Audubon Zoo Playgrounds. The zoo offers no shortage of entertainment for children. Access to one of its playgrounds is included in the admission price. Kamba Kourse is the newest addition to the zoo and is available at an additional charge. It’s open to both kids and adults and is a 44-foot high ropes course designed to test agility, balance and strength. Admission gets you 30 minutes of playtime and a 360-degree view of the city. There is also a scaled-down version of the ropes course called “Sky Tykes” for children who are shorter than 48 inches. If you’re visiting in summer, don’t miss Cool Zoo, a splash park with an awesome array of wet and wild fun. Admission is extra, but very worth it on a hot day. Adults will appreciate shaded areas with misters to help cool off.
- City Park. The Canal Street streetcar line will get you to City Park, which has so much to offer families. There are two public playgrounds. The smaller one on the City Park Avenue side of the park is ideal for avid climbers. The larger one near Popp Fountain has areas suitable for both younger and older children. Its views of the lagoon are lovely, plus it’s adjacent to Morning Call, a great place to stop in for a snack of café au lait and beignets. There are also bathrooms in the same building. Another option is Storyland, a fairytale-themed playground with a very affordable admission. Complete with a pirate ship, Cinderalla’s pumpkin carriage, a NASA space shuttle, and more, this park has something for everyone. But beware of the Dragon Slide. It’s not for the faint of heart. If your little ones aren’t worn out after all this activity, they can take their pick of any number of live oak trees to climb, fun courtesy of Mother Nature.
- Daneel Park. All hail New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees! He was the main backer and a big player in giving Daneel Plaground a much needed facelift. Its broken down walkways and scorching hot metal slides have been replaced with a bright, dazzling play structure in heart of Uptown. It’s easily accessible by streetcar beneath a canopy of oaks on picturesque St. Charles Avenue.
- Palmer Park. Located at the Uptown end of the St. Charles streetcar line, it’s accessible even if you don’t have a car. Plus, an impressive art market with art, crafts, live music, food and kids’ tent is held in this same park on the last Saturday of each month. The best part about this playground — the large cover that shades the play space. It provides welcome relief in the city heat.