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Beauregard-Keyes House

1113 Chartres Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-09-06 22:25:19.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

A great look at life in 1800's-era New Orleans

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If your family wants to get a little glimpse at 1800’s-era New Orleans life the Beauregard-Keyes House is a great place to start. Our family really enjoyed the tour of this historic home, which belonged to a Confederate General and later a famous author. Old features like the twin stone staircases and the beautiful ballroom are pretty fantastic, though younger kids might not be so impressed. However, along with lots of original furnishings, the home also features a large collection of vintage dolls and dollhouses which our daughter found pretty captivating. Apparently the collection numbers somewhere around 200. Many of them have intricate costumes accessories and are quite lovely. There is also a lush garden with fountains and hedges to wander through, and the home is located conveniently in the French Quarter, making it very easy to find. Plus the small gift shop is a nice place to grab a souvenir.

Tips for Families

Tours end at 3:00, so mornings and early afternoons are best for a visit. Also, the place is said to be haunted but the ghosts must have been busy the day we visited.

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City Putt

New Orleans, Louisiana

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-09-06 21:42:05.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Great mini golf course in NOLA's beautiful City Park

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On our most recent visit to New Orleans we decided to try out the new City Putt in City Park. This mini-golf attraction actually has two 18-hole courses that have some fun NOLA themes. It’s almost like taking a mini tour of the city while you putt. The course is also designed for families of all abilities and we saw a couple families maneuvering wheelchairs easily. City Putt is also a nice stop if you already plan to visit the Botanical Gardens, Storyland, or any other City Park attraction. The greens are open to players of all ages, but it seems like maybe three years and older would be best for actually playing. Some basic snacks like hotdogs and chips are available on site (but not allowed on the course), but we saved our appetites for some true New Orleans fare. There was also free parking in a couple nearby lots, which was a nice bonus.

Tips for Families

The City Putt course is open until 10, and seems like a nice evening activity for families.

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Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots

1751 Gentilly Blvd, New Orleans, Louisiana

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-09-06 21:37:16.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

A great way to satisfy both parents and kids

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My kiddo loves horses and her dad loves to place a harmless bet now and then, so a couple hours at the Fair Grounds Race Course was a perfect way to appease them both. The track itself is pretty lovely, and full of history. Apparently this place dates back to the late 1800’s and has seen it’s share of legends. Despite it’s age, the facility was pretty modern. The outdoor grandstand seats were pretty much what you expect, but the dining area was quite nice and the glass clubhouse looked pretty comfortable. We sampled both a po’ boy and some red beans and rice and both were surprisingly tasty. We also spent a couple races up against the rails cheering for our favorite horse; probably my daughter’s favorite part of the whole experience. We also made sure to head to the paddock to watch the horses being prepped for the race. We saw some families with younger kids, but I’m not sure children younger than 4 would be a good fit.

Tips for Families

Sadly we didn’t know this ahead of time, but reservations and proper attire is required for clubhouse seating.

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Audubon Insectarium

423 Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-09-05 02:03:56.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

A great rainy day activity for families

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We were lucky to visit the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium on a nice, quiet Wednesday afternoon, and would definitely recommend it. Apparently this attraction can get pretty crowded on the weekends, but even so it’s worth seeing. Honestly, I think it would appeal to just about everyone, and kids probably as young as two or three. The amount of interesting and exotic bugs and butterflies they have on hand is very impressive, and the exhibits range from funny and quirky to really natural and lovely. Personally I thought all the sensory exhibits and the exhibit which “shrinks” you to bug size were most interesting. When I asked my daughter, she said her favorite part of our visit was the Butterflies in Flight exhibit (a beautiful Asian-styled garden where the little guys can fly freely), and eating a chocolate chirp cookie - not a misspelling - at the Bug Appetit interactive experience. She talked about her cricket cookie for the entire trip, so I think this place made quite the impression. We would definitely check it out again.

Tips for Families

Don’t be confused, the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium actually is located inside the U.S. Custom House, so be prepared to deal with a metal detector and possible bag search.

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John Lafitte Swamp Boat Tours

Lafitte Larose Hwy, Marrero, Louisiana

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-09-03 22:11:03.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Amazing backwater experience!

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While we were visiting Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve we decided to do a proper swamp tour, and Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours came pretty highly recommended by our hotel staff. It was a great chance to go beyond the boardwalk and really be in the midst of the swamp. As promised, we all saw plenty of wildlife and exotic plants. The tour itself was around 90 minutes, and it felt like we saw all those iconic landmarks you’d expect of a southern swamp. The mossy trees and lush plants were pretty beautiful, and we heard and saw lots of interesting birds. Our guide grew up in the area and seemed genuinely pleased to share it with us. The company offers several options, and we picked the air boat. Our daughter loved it, but when she suddenly had to use the restroom an hour into the tour I wished we would have chosen the swamp boat instead. Despite that, it was amazing and definitely one to remember.

Tips for Families

The tour company offers hotel pick ups, but if you’re already planning to explore the Preserve it isn’t necessary. They also recommend that you book in advance.

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Running Of The Bulls

New Orleans, Louisiana

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-09-03 22:04:48.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

A cool and quirky NOLA event

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Sadly we didn't get in on the registration for the San Fermin en Nueva Orleans (New Orlean’s quirky answer to Spain’s Running of the Bulls), but we did get to watch. Firstly, there are no bulls in this more kid-friendly version. Instead, a dozen or so Big Easy Roller Girls in bull costumes race through the stampede “goring” runners with fake horns. A lot of the runners were dressed in traditional whites, but some gave their get ups a nice NOLA spin. The route itself was about 12 blocks long, and all we were able to see was about about three blocks. However, it was in the French Quarter, so after we got our fill, we just kept wandering around enjoying the lovely surroundings. Had we registered we would have had access to the AC, sangria, entertainment, etc., but I think our version of the San Fermin was a little more family-friendly.

Tips for Families

We did a little research after the fact, and kids as young as ten can take part in the San Fermin, but have to stay on the sidewalk.

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Hines Carousel Gardens Amusement Park

1 Palm Drive, New Orleans, Louisiana

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-08-27 21:14:28.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Classic amusement park in the middle of another great NOLA attraction

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The Carousel Garden Amusement Park is one place that is definitely friendly to families of all ages. It might be a little smaller than most amusement parks, but it has 15 different rides, including one lovely old wooden carousel. This treasure was actually damaged during Hurricane Katrina but luckily it was restored to perfection. My daughter fell in love with one horse in particular and rode three times. Plus she loved the Fun Slide, Bumper Cars, Ferris Wheel and train. The park itself is also more than 100 years old, and it’s nice that New Orleans has retained this part of it’s heritage. It’s also nice that the park is so geared toward younger families. Our daughter (who is ten) still found plenty to love about the park, but older kids might not have as much fun. This particular attraction is located in City Park, so after we were finished we strolled around for awhile admiring this lovely feature. We wish we would have brought a picnic or a frisbee!

Tips for Families

Carousel Gardens Amusement Park is only open seasonally, and visitors have to pay both for entrance and per ride.

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Jean Lafitte National Historical Park

419 Decatur St., New Orleans, Louisiana

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-08-27 21:06:32.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

A different world right outside of New Orleans

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The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve was simply beautiful. Having just spent four straight days in the city, it was really nice for our family to get a little fresh air. This is one attraction that probably requires a car, but it was worth it. My history buff father in law was excited to see the old battlefield and my daughter could not believe her eyes when she spotted her very first alligator just off the boardwalk. Honestly, I was pretty excited, too. We also had a nice time walking the trails (definitely more of a walk than a hike) and the visitors center had some interesting exhibits. We also saw some snakes, salamanders and herons. I would highly recommend taking the camera! Apparently this place is even more lovely when the irises are blooming, but sadly we missed them. There are also guided nature/historical tours, but we opted to explore independently and still had a great time.

Tips for Families

Be sure to grab the bug spray, there were plenty of annoying flying critters at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.

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French Quarter Phantoms Ghost Tour

625 Saint Philip Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-08-27 21:01:43.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

A creepy history lesson in the French Quarter

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Assured by my kiddo that she was no fraidy cat, our family spent an evening with French Quarter Phantoms for a surprisingly cool haunted New Orleans tour. Our guide was fantastic, and seemed more like a historian and storyteller than just some person in a costume reciting a script. Though there are several to choose from, we opted for the Ghost & Vampire in the French Quarter. According to the company all stories are taken from real NOLA history. Though there were a few times my daughter seemed a little spooked, she made it through all the stories about hauntings and alleged vampires pretty well. Some of the more murderous tales made me wish we had chosen a slightly more kid-friendly option, but in all it was pretty interesting -- and it was really nice to have such a small group. It was definitely a side of New Orleans we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.

Tips for Families

The French Quarter Phantoms Tour requires about a mile-long walk. It took us about an hour and a half, and we still had the evening to enjoy.

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Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World

233 Newton St, New Orleans, Louisiana

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-08-27 20:54:08.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

The whole of Mardi Gras all in one room!

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Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World is a little bit museum and a little bit working art studio. When Mardi Gras isn’t in full swing, this place is home to all the floats, props, etc. It’s also where many of them are built. My daughter lives for arts and crafts, and she was in heaven. Wandering through we saw everything from alligators to amazing flower displays. The place is also HUGE, somewhere around 400,000 square feet. Apparently around 80% of Mardi Gras floats and props end up here during the off season, so we were definitely glad we did the guided tour and saw the highlights. There was also a short video before the tour that explained the history of the company and offered some really interesting bits of New Orleans history. The warehouse itself is also in an interesting location, and it was nice to hang out along the water afterward.

Tips for Families

Visitors can even try on some of the Mardi Gras costumes. Definitely bring a camera!

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