You could visit New Orleans one hundred times and not repeat the same trip. This Ultimate New Orleans Travel Guide will help you get the most out of your next trip to New Orleans with a baby or toddler.
New Orleans, Louisiana is an incredible city and definitely deserves a space on anyone’s bucket list. When most people think of New Orleans they think of the nightlife or over-the-top Mardi Gras season but there is so much more to this historic city. The food, the music, the history, and the arts are all so deeply enveloped in who this city is.
I grew up in South Louisiana so weekend trips to New Orleans were a staple in my childhood. I knew I wanted to bring my girls to experience the richness of this city as well. New Orleans is divided into neighborhoods, each is a very unique experience and has its own flare.
The Port of New Orleans is a popular port for cruise ships, including the Disney cruise line. It is located on the Mississippi River with quick access to the Gulf of Mexico offering several different cruise line options to travelers. If you are planning a cruise with your family I encourage you to extend your stay and get a taste of the city affectionately known as “The Big Easy”.
While I am hoping a Disney Cruise is in our future, our New Orleans itinerary focuses on experiencing the City with Kids over a long weekend. This travel guide will cover everything you need to know about traveling to New Orleans with babies and toddlers including kid-friendly hotels and lodging (and where to avoid). I will walk you through what you need to know about getting to New Orleans and how to safely travel around the city with babies and toddlers. We will review the major New Orleans neighborhoods and outline where to eat, where to stay, and what to do all around the city with babies and toddlers.
At the end of this New Orleans travel guide, I will provide a sample 3-day itinerary for Traveling with Babies and Toddlers to New Orleans.
New Orleans with Babies or Toddlers – Table of Contents
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Getting Around New Orleans
As I mentioned, I am originally from South Louisiana, about 2 hours from New Orleans, and still have family in the area as well. My Dad’s 70th Birthday made the perfect excuse to get everyone together for a long weekend.
I drove from our current town in North Mississippi to New Orleans with my two toddlers, ages 1 and 3. The drive for us typically takes a total of 5 hours and 30 minutes, not including stops. Driving into New Orleans is fairly easy, as a large interstate system runs directly through the center of the city.
Though, it is important to note, traffic is typically heavy the closer into the city you get so plan ahead and stop for the bathroom/diaper changes and snacks before you get too far into the city center. I also advise AVOIDING the Lake Pontchartrain bridge on your route, it is not uncommon for traffic to get very backed up here, and being stuck on a bridge with babies in the car can be a nightmare.
You will want to plan ahead and make sure to have your favorite toys for toddlers in the car with you.
I had the luck of having my car break down when heading into town on our most recent trip. Thankfully I have family in the area that could help and we are all okay! This did give me some good first-hand experience with getting around New Orleans with babies and toddlers without a car though. We opted for an Airbnb in MidCity which was within walking distance of City Park, more on that detailed below.
If traveling from further away, Louise Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is located just outside of the city. You definitely do not need a car in New Orleans, as most of the tourist destination parts of the city are very walkable. I do recommend opting for a private shuttle or ride-share service when leaving the Airport.
The New Orleans bus system has a reputation for being unreliable and not the safest choice. Hotel shuttles from the airport typically cost around $44 / person though some area hotels do offer shuttle services so be sure to check with your concierge. Once you are in the city, ride share apps such as Uber or Lyft, making getting a ride fairly easy.
Read more on Uber with a Baby or Toddler
New Orleans Streetcars
I highly recommend everyone give the famous New Orleans Street Cars a try as well. They connect all major areas of the city, are affordable, and children love the experience.
Streetcars are the easiest and least expensive option for getting around New Orleans, as long as you are comfortable walking a little bit. The Streetcar fare is $1.25 per person, and they do require exact change. If you plan to utilize the streetcar frequently during your trip, multi-day passes are available. The easiest way to pay for fares I have found is with the RTA Le Pass app.
The New Orleans streetcar system consists of 4 separate lines all of which converge in Downtown New Orleans.
The most famous, and photo-worthy, of which is the Saint Charles street car. The Saint Charles Line runs from Carondelet + Canal Street in the French Quarter through the Garden District, Uptown, and past Audubon Park. The ride on this street car could be an attraction in and of itself. St. Charles Ave is a beautiful street lined with drooping Live Oaks and classic antebellum mansions. Pay special attention to the power lines and trees where Mardi Gras beads decorate the highest branches with evidence of the carnival seasons come and gone
The Canal Street Line runs from The French Quarter near Jackson Square and the Audubon Aquarium into Mid City. This line will take you to City Park.
City Park is one of the best areas to visit when traveling to New Orleans with babies or toddlers. The park is 1400 acres and offers endless activities, most of which are free, or at least very affordable.
The Riverfront Line runs along the Mississippi River through the French Quarter and up into the Warehouse District. This line does have the Riverfront Mall and Shops at Canal Place along it. However, I recommend avoiding these areas. The shops are not unique and are filled with either big box stores you can find anywhere or overpriced souvenirs.
You can see the full loop of the streetcar lines and schedules on the app as well.
Now that you have a general idea of how to navigate the streetcar system I will go into more detail about alternative ways to travel around the city and discuss the best attractions to stop at with a baby and toddler.
Don’t forget to bring your best travel stroller for toddlers so they have a place to rest when they are tired.
Do I Need To Bring A Car Seat To New Orleans?
I do recommend bringing car seats with you when traveling to New Orleans. Rentals are available through BabyQuip if you dread the thought of flying with car seats. If you are flying with your own car seat, you will want to make sure you also bring a car seat travel bag.
While walking and street cars are available in most major tourist areas, the difficult part to navigate is transportation to and from the airport, which involves busy highway systems. Bringing a car seat also allows you much more flexibility, which is key when traveling with a baby or toddler.
Hotels are plentiful throughout the City, simply drop the car seat off with any bellhop for the day, with a small tip they are often happy to store the car seats while you explore.
Rental cars are also an option for families traveling with babies and toddlers. A rental car will allow for the most flexibility, though it is important to note that driving in New Orleans can be tough. Many streets are older and famous for large potholes. Also, parking is limited in the city, and hotel valet tends to be expensive.
If you are traveling to New Orleans for a cruise, the Port of New Orleans does offer multi-day parking passes at $90 for a 4-day pass up to $150 + for full 7 days pass.
New Orleans Neighborhoods
It is very easy to move between neighborhoods of New Orleans so when choosing a home base for your trip you do not need to feel like you will be stuck in that one area. I do recommend sticking to one of the main tourist neighborhoods, whether opting for vacation home rental or hotel, as some parts of the city are not safe for families.
The French Quarter
What to do in the French Quarter with Babies and Toddlers
New Orleans’s most famous neighborhood is the French Quarter, it is home to the infamous Bourbon Street. When traveling to New Orleans with kids I recommend steering clear of bourbon street.
Instead, opt for Jackson Square which is home to the St. Louis Cathedral and the famous Café Du Monde. Visitors are welcome to tour the Cathedral as long as mass or a church function is not going on. Grab a cup of coffee and beignets from Café Du Monde and stroll around the square. Here you will find local artists set up painting, drawing, and selling art. If you are up for it you can even have your fortune read.
Local street musicians are also frequently playing around the square. Opposite The St. Louise Cathedral you will find mule and horse-drawn carriages offering historic tours of The French Quarter. This is a great way to see the architecture of the city. Make sure to negotiate the price before getting on.
The Aquarium of the Americas is also found on Canal Street within The French Quarter. It is recommended that you purchase tickets ahead of time online. The aquarium opens at 10 am (though it is closed Mondays) and will typically be busier in the afternoon. You are welcome to use your stroller inside the aquarium as well so this can be a great activity if little ones are starting to get tired of walking.
Where To Eat In The French Quarter With Babies And Toddlers
Some of New Orleans’s most famous restaurants are located within the French Quarter. It is important to note that many of these are more upscale, have a dress code, and might not be the best place to dine with little ones.
You still have plenty of great dining options that are family-friendly
Court Of Two Sisters, 613 Royal Street
Located a short walk from Jackson Square, Court of Two Sisters offers a live Jazz brunch buffet 7 days a week. The restaurant has a great atmosphere, and the live music means that kids can talk and laugh as loud as they want without disturbing anyone. The space is very large however reservations are still recommended. The food is delicious and affordable (Adults are $33, and Kids are $14).
Domenica, 123 Barronne Street
Across Canal Street located next to the Roosevelt Hotel, you will find this more upscale Italian restaurant. Entrées range mostly from $20-$40. For more budget-friendly options opt to share one of the pizzas. Even better you can head here for an early dinner during Happy Hour (3- 5 pm every day) for half-priced pizza and drinks!
95 French Market Place
While I normally steer clear of chain restaurants, sometimes when traveling with kids it’s your best bet. Louisiana Pizza Kitchen is a local chain and has plenty of great options for the family. It is casual dining and usually not too crowded. Located near the French market you won’t have to wander far to find this easily family-friendly environment. The restaurant offers dine-in, take-out, and delivery so also a great option if staying nearby and the kids are already exhausted from the day.
Where To Stay In The French Quarter With Babies And Toddlers
There is a hotel for every budget in the French Quarter, though given its popularity among tourists these hotels tend to be more expensive, especially at high travel times. I recommend steering clear of Bourbon Street and Royal Street when traveling with babies and toddlers. The partying goes on all night in New Orleans and these streets typically draw a larger crowd therefore tend to be very noisy late into the night.
If planning to stay in the French Quarter I also recommend a hotel over AirBnB, parts of the Quarter are not as well-lit at night, and you may feel safer in a hotel. Here are my top hotel choices in the French Quarter:
The Roosevelt New Orleans, 130 Roosevelt Way
On the more expensive side The Roosevelt is a 5-star Waldorf Astoria hotel that offers luxury rooms and, though pricey, also has multi-room suites available. The lobby of the hotel is gorgeous and puts on a beautiful, photo-worthy Christmas display. If you happen to be in New Orleans around Christmas time, I highly recommend stopping by for the photo opportunity alone. The hotel offers valet parking at an additional cost and there are multiple parking garages within a short walk.
Holiday Inn French Quarter, 301 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112
Another option for those looking to stay in the French Quarter is the Holiday Inn. The hotel offers suites with separate living areas, which can give some more flexibility for family travel and a pool. The best part is that when dining at the onsite restaurant kids eat free!
Uptown And The Garden District
What to do in Uptown & the Garden District with Babies and Toddlers
Uptown and The Garden District are great neighborhoods for families visiting New Orleans with babies and toddlers. Best accessed by the scenic St. Charles Streetcar, these neighborhoods are great for sightseeing with large homes and sprawling live oaks.
Magazine Street is filled with colorful homes and shops adorned with beautiful trees and gardens. While strolling magazine street stop at Magic Box Toys where the kids can play and get a special treat.
Audobon Park and Audobon Zoo can be found uptown. The Audobon Zoo ticket prices vary based on the day you go, they do offer plan-ahead pricing on their website so check there prior to visiting. Generally, expect to pay around $20-25 per ticket.
If you are planning to travel to New Orleans for Mardi Gras with children, I absolutely recommend Uptown and Garden District as the home base of your stay. This will be a more appropriate place for kids to enjoy parades, though keep in mind it is still Mardi Gras and very unpredictable.
Where To Eat In Uptown And The Garden District With Babies And Toddlers
Molly’s Rise and Shine, 2368 Magazine Street
For breakfast or lunch check out Molly’s Rise and Shine. This nostalgia-filled diner takes on all your favorite breakfast classics in a new way. The kids will love the brightly colored casual atmosphere.
Barracuda, 3984 Tchoupitoulas Street
When the weather is nice I highly recommend checking out this great neighborhood taco stand. The street-style tacos are delicious, as are the margaritas. There is ample outdoor dining space which means the kids have a chance to get a few more wiggles out as well.
High Hat Café, 4500 Freret Street
For a bit more traditional fare try out High Hat Café. This option is about an 8 blocks stroll from the street car line. Stroll down Napoleon and stop at Samuel Square along the way to give the kids a chance to play on the playground.
William’s Plum Street Snowballs, Corner of Burdette Street and Plum Street
No trip to Uptown New Orleans is complete without stopping for a Plum St. Snowball. This famous New Orleans icon serves snowballs up in Chinese takeout boxes.
“Why?”, you might ask.
“That’s just how we do it.”
It’s ridiculous and delicious and well worth the stroll.
Where To Stay In Uptown And Garden District With Babies And Toddlers
There are plenty of adorable AirBnBs available within the Garden District and nearby Irish Channel. Many even offer pools. It’s hard to go wrong in this neighborhood.
The Ponchartrain Hotel
If you want a more luxurious stay, The Ponchartrain Hotel is beautiful and has a rooftop bar with amazing views. For families, the hotel also offers two rooms and family suites.
The Marigny And Bywater
What To Do In The Marigny And Bywater With Babies And Toddlers
Known for its bright and lively art scene and jazz-filled streets these neighborhoods offer a more “hipster” vibe to the city. I highly recommend checking out Frenchmen Street while you are in the city, this artsy street with ample live music and local art is located between the Marigny and French Quarter.
Where To Eat In The Marigny And Bywater With Babies And Toddlers
Galaxie Tacos, 3060 St. Claude Ave
Galaxie Tacos is worth the drive into the Bywater. This filling station turned outdoor taco spot is one of my favorite baby-friendly destinations in the city. When we dined here for dinner I was one of at least 5 breastfeeding mothers. The laid-back boho vibe of the neighborhood is perfectly represented at Galaxie. The food and margaritas are delicious.
St. Roch Food Market, Corner of St. Roch Avenue and St Claude Avenue
A former open-air market turned private seafood market now back into a food market. The St. Roch Market has plenty of history in New Orleans. There are 13 vendors within the market offering a little something for everyone. If you happen to be in town on a Sunday stop by the Market for lunch and enjoy live music.
Where To Stay With Babies And Toddlers In The Marigyn and Bywater
Hotel Peter and Paul, 2317 Burgundy Street
Hotel Peter and Paul is my absolute top choice for a luxury hotel in New Orleans. This hotel is definitely one of the more expensive options. The décor and rooms are stunning in this historic Catholic church, schoolhouse, rectory, and convent all of which have been converted into the immaculate hotel. No two rooms are alike, the hotel is worth visiting even if you are not checking in as a guest.
Mid City And Bayou St. John
What To Do In Bayou St. John With Babies And Toddlers:
Mid City and Bayou St. John are perhaps my favorite parts of the city to visit with babies and toddlers. Mostly due to City Park. City Park is an impressive 1400 acres with a seemingly endless list of activities. Everything from boating, hiking, amusement parks, fine art, and horseback riding can all be found within the park.
For the youngest babies and toddlers, I recommend Story Land, located within the park this Fairytale themed playground was a blast for my 1 and 3-year-olds. Admission to Storyland is $6 per person or included with your admission to Carousel Gardens Amusement Park ($25).
For the older toddler, Carousel Gardens is a bit like stepping back into a classic County fair with many similar rides. Most of the rides have a minimum height requirement of at least 36” though smaller children can ride the Train, and experience the construction zone and Slime buckets when accompanied by an adult.
If the weather isn’t participating or you need a break from the Louisiana heat, stop by the Louisiana Children’s Museum and let the kids go wild.
For an “off the beaten path” experience elect to blaze one of the short nature trails available in the park. The Courier Forest Perimeter Trail is a 1 mile mostly mulch-covered trail rolling through this urban forest. All are very easy relatively flat hikes.
Depending on the time of year you may encounter the children of the local nature school. My children loved discovering these nature trails. Note that trails are well cleared but this is a natural forest and poison ivy is native to the area so if you visit in the summertime you may want to keep children in cleared areas to avoid this.
Where To Eat In Bayou St John With Babies And Toddlers
Lola’s, 3312 Esplanade Avenue
Lola’s is an adorable little restaurant with great outdoor seating. The menu offers Spanish-style tapas as well as full-size entrees all reasonably priced. I highly recommend the paella, but note it is made fresh to order so can take some time longer than other entrees, be sure to order as soon as you sit down. There is a fair amount of outdoor seating, which I prefer when dining with little ones. This neighborhood is very walkable so take an evening stroll down Esplanade to this cozy spot.
Parkway Bakery and Tavern, 538 Hagan Avenue
Parkway is home to one of my absolute favorite Po’boys and as a Louisiana native that’s saying something. Parkway is a casual bar and restaurant with ample seating. It is important to note that this is a very popular lunch spot so wait times get long and there is not a great waiting area. I recommend grabbing Po’Boys to go and walking over to City Park for a picnic.
Acorn Café, 15 Henry Thomas Drive
Located inside the Louisiana Children’s Museum, Acorn café by the famed Dickie Brennen restaurant group is geared completely towards children while still having some delicious simple lunch options. Acorn is more than just kid-friendly and the entire atmosphere is geared towards children. If you are nervous to dine out with your kids rest assured, they will be right at home at Acorn.
Where To Stay In Mid-City / Bayou St. John
We have stayed in some great AirBnB in this part of the city and have always been pleased and felt safe. There are not many hotels nearby aside from hostels more geared towards young solo travelers. If you prefer a hotel over AirBnB I would opt for one of the options in the nearby neighborhoods listed above. The streetcar provides easy access to Mid-City and Bayou St. John.
Sample Itinerary for New Orleans with a Baby or Toddler
- City Park
- Breakfast at Café DeMonde City Park – beignets and coffee
- Storyland (great for all ages) $6
- Carousel Gardens – most rides have a height min of at least 36”
- Lunch Pick up Poboy’s from Parkway Tavern and picnic near the Bayou.
- Afternoon Naps and a leisurely stroll through the park grounds.
- Dinner- Check out Lola’s restaurant and people-watch along Esplanade.
- Grab a coffee and hop on the famous St. Charles Streetcar to sightsee as you make your way to Audubon Park.
- After strolling Park head over to Audobon Zoo. The Audobon Zoo was nominated by Travelers Worldwide as one of the 14 best Zoos in America.
- After a full day at the Zoo hop back on the street car but make sure to stop at Plum Street Snowballs to get the children a sweet treat to cool down.
- Head to the French Quarter for a Jazz Brunch at Court of Two Sisters.
- Afterwards, stroll around Jackson Square and find local art to bring home as a souvenir. I recommend popping into the St, Louise Cathedral if services are not going on.
- Take a carriage ride around the quarter and grab a quick treat with coffee and beignets at Café DuMonde.
- Spend the heat of the day in the Aquarium of the Americas.
- The perfect wrap-up to a day in the French Quarter is Happy Hours at Domenica’s. Even better if you are staying at The Roosevelt next door, allow the kids an early night and enjoy some much-deserved adult time at the Sazerac Bar.
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