What to do with 24 Hours in New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA)

Introducing guest blogger Marquita from The Traveling Twin Mama

For many, when they think of New Orleans, LA (NOLA) the thought of beads flying through the air, debauchery, and inappropriate adult behavior comes to mind.  Consequently, many parents second guess if they should bring their kids along on their NOLA vacation.  Contrary to popular belief, New Orleans is very family-friendly, offering numerous activities that everyone in the family would enjoy. 

As a transplant who has lived in New Orleans for almost a decade and a mom of twin three-year-old boys, I love the variety of family-friendly activities and restaurants that this city has to offer. The culture, beauty, and history of the city alone makes it a wonderful place for a family vacation. In fact, this is the type of city where you can find kids in tow at more or less any restaurant or venue, especially outside of the French Quarter. 

If your time is limited and your family unfortunately only has 24 hours in the beautiful and historical city of New Orleans, these are the must-do’s:

This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of locals

New Orleans Family-Friendly Activities

New Orleans City Park

If you could only squeeze in one attraction in New Orleans with your kids, hands down, City Park is the place. This park is the 20th most-visited park in the United States, being approximately 50% larger than Central Park in New York. There are literally days worth of activities:

  • 5 Playgrounds, including Storyland- a playground based on popular children’s books that features over 25 structures for children to interact with, including Gingerbread Man’s, Candy Lane, Old Woman Who Lived In a Shoe, and Pinocchio and the Whale, for example
  • Miniature Golf
  • Paddleboat, shared bikes
  • Train rides
  • Louisiana Children’s Museum
  • Sculpture garden
  • New Orleans Museum of Art

I would recommend visiting Louisiana Children’s Museum first as it relocated to City Park about two years ago, making it a state of the art Children’s Museum. The best part is the museum embodies the culture of New Orleans from “making groceries” at the local grocery store to learning about animals that can be found in the local bayous. Additionally, the in-house restaurant, Acorn, offers kid cooking classes.

With all that City Park has to offer, it will be a challenge to leave after visiting only one attraction. The next activity would be a toss up between Storyland or a paddle boat ride. I personally would vote for Storyland as it’s such a unique playground. The way it embodies some of the most popular children’s books is very impressive. It makes you feel as if you are in the home of the old woman who lived in the shoe. Plus there are activities for children of various ages. 

A paddleboat ride is a nice family activity as well. The family can test their fitness level as they paddle the swan-inspired paddle boat across City Park’s Big Lake. This is a beautiful way to enjoy the beauty of the park, while hopefully catching a slight breeze from the city’s humidity.

New Orleans StreetCar

Did you even visit New Orleans if you didn’t take the emphamis streetcar?  Luckily, there is a streetcar stop right outside of City Park. This will lead you directly to the French Quarter. En route, you will witness the culture of New Orleans as it transports you through Mid-City, a lively neighborhood lined with delicious restaurants and the emphasis “Canal Street”. 

If you fall in love with the New Orleans StreetCar,  don’t hesitate to take the St. Charles StreetCar Line. Your eyes will be wowed by the large antique homes that line the street. Additionally, you can stop at Audubon Park, which is home to New Orleans Audubon Zoo.

New Orleans French Quarter

Honestly, you can’t say that you visited New Orleans without visiting the French Quarter. It’s paramount that you visit during the day as it’s not the best place for children to visit at night- and that’s mainly due to tourists who attempt to have New Orleans live up to its mischievous reputation. 

During the day you can still enjoy the French Quarter- people-watching, stopping at some of the boutiques, and even learning about the Slave Trade that took place within that part of town. For the most part, it’s very family-friendly and you don’t have to worry about folks “throwing beads”.

World War II Museum

Believe it or not, The World War II Museum is the most visited attraction in New Orleans. After visiting, you will understand why. Upon entering the museum, there is an enormous plane which covers most of the ceiling, suspended in the air. In addition to various war vehicles that line the floor underneath the plane. These unique wartime memorabilias will immediately grab the attention of both the young and mature at heart.

This excitement will continue throughout the visit. From the interactive train which you could board and learn about the various soldiers, to the 4D Beyond All Boundaries Film which will make you feel like you were on the battlefield, to the various interactive exhibits that bring history and learning to life.  Everyone in the family will leave feeling both entertained and enlightened by all of the new facts that they have learned.

But warning to the wise, don’t try to visit all five buildings in one visit- prioritize the buildings with the planes and other interactive memorabilia and exhibits first.

New Orleans Family-Friendly Restaurants

You can’t visit New Orleans without experiencing the deliciousness of the local cuisine. Trust me. You won’t leave the same (and bring your stretchy pants).

Breakfast in NOLA: Ruby Slipper Cafe

Ruby Slipper is a local staple in New Orleans which offers a range of breakfast food from eggs benedicts to banana foster french toast, and everything in between (including delicious cocktails). Luckily there are multiple locations throughout the city. Unfortunately, it can still be a challenge to find a seat- especially on Saturday and Sunday. However, The Broad Street location has a large outdoor area, giving the kiddos plenty of space to burn a bit of energy before breakfast.

Lunch in NOLA: Cochon Butcher

Located a few blocks from the World War II Museum, Cochon Butcher offers an array of tenderly cooked meats, flavorful sides, and delicious drinks.  Along with it’s delicious food, the restaurant embodies a fun and laid back ambiance, making it a great place for kids to enjoy a meal. Plus, they have amazing mac n’ cheese- what kiddo doesn’t like mac? And if brussels sprouts are your thing, do yourself a favor, and get them!

Dinner in NOLA: Acme Oyster House

Some of the quintessential New Orleans’ meals are gumbo, poboys, and charbroiled oysters. Yes, oysters that are cooked on an open fire and dressed with the most amazing garlic butter cheese sauce. Luckily, Acme Oyster House is home to all three meals, plus so many more! Similar to Ruby Slipper, there’s more than one location but there is always a wait. But don’t worry, the food is always worth the wait.

Desserts in NOLA: Cafe Du Monde

You can’t visit New Orleans without trying a beignet- a deep-fried pastry topped with powdered sugar. Cafe Du Monde is the legendary home of the classic beignet. With multiple locations, you can satisfy your sweet tooth at the location within City Park or the French Quarter. 

Spending twenty-four hours in New Orleans, will whet your appetite for the city and have you looking forward to your next family trip to the Big Easy. You can get more ideas of things to do in New Orleans, on my blog.

About the Blogger

Hi, I’m Marquita, The Traveling Twin Mama, traveling the world with my husband and twin three-year-old boys. I am a lover of all things family and female travel.  The goal of Marquita’s Travels, my blog and Instagram page, is to provide tips and inspiration to help women and families travel smarter. The world is our oyster, let’s explore it- especially with our kiddos!


With thanks to Marquita for her contribution to our guest series.  You may also like to read about weekend activities in Sarasota, Florida, or exploring Havana, Cuba.  

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