16 Best Things to do in New Orleans with teenager in tow
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New Orleans is not very well-known for being a family-friendly city. However, the Big Easy is perfect for vacationing families and families with teenagers. Are you looking for the best things to do in New Orleans with teenagers in tow? You have come to the right place. It’s never easy to please teenage travelers on family vacations. They think they are too big for half the planned things, and the things that they want to do – land you into an epic shouting match with them! New Orleans is an especially tricky city to navigate with a teenager in tow. For adults, the city is made for fine-dining, sipping cocktails, and listening to jazz (think quality time) while your teenager wants high energy outdoor activities. The city has a splendid hop on-hop off tour with an open top bus that will cheer all teenagers. New Orleans also has 2 special kids tours – Cajun Kids tour is family friendly while the New Orleans kids walking tour is for kids only and ends with beignets! But if you are looking for other meaningful ways to explore the city – once you know where to look – there are plenty of things to do in New Orleans with teenagers. Here are some of the very best teenager friendly activities and points of attraction in New Orleans.
- Visit the French Quarter
- Cruise down the Mississippi River
- Search for haunted sites in the Voodoo city
- Find an alligator on the Swamp Tours
- Experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans
- Introduce them to Jazz music
- Get down and dirty at a crawfish boil
- Give them a taste of Cajun cuisine
- Beignets from Café Du Monde
- Visit the WWII Museum
- Go shopping at the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk Mall
- Visit the zoo or the Aquarium
- Visit the above ground cemeteries
- New Orleans City Park
- Visit an Antebellum Plantation
- Tour the Big Easy in a Helicopter Ride
Visit the French Quarter
The French Quarter is beautiful and very family-friendly when visited at the right time. Avoid the French Quarter during Mardi Gras and late at night, especially the Bourbon Street area. You can easily take a family stroll through the French Quarter at other times. The French Quarter has impressive architecture, quirky shops, and lots of history and is a great place to visit. Teenagers will love exploring the shops especially voodoo, souvenirs, and galleries. If your teenager isn’t up for the walking, you can also take a horse-drawn carriage tour through the French Quarter. These tours start opposite Jackson Square and give you a brief history of the French Quarter. Or you can opt for bike tours, that will give the teenagers something to look forward to. A great alternative that will go down well is Segway Tours of the French Quarter. Tweens and teenagers love traveling on Segways, and the tour is a perfect way to plan the trip keeping their interests in mind.
Cruise down the Mississippi River
New Orleans is located on the banks of the Mississippi River. Many cruises leave from the port and take visitors down the river. Families with teenagers will enjoy these cruises; many of them also provide meals including the dinner cruises, lunch cruises, and brunch cruises. These cruises offer great views of the New Orleans skyline and are one of the popular things to do in New Orleans with a teenager. Steamboat Natchez is known as New Orleans only authentic steamboat and is a beautiful, big boat. You can book a day river cruise in Steamboat Natchez; the tour is very interesting for tweens and teenagers. The Creole Queen is a beautiful historic Paddlewheeler with a 24-foot diameter paddlewheel that churns the water. If you don’t want to spend money on a cruise, another way to experience the mighty Mississippi river is through the Algiers ferry. The ferry is free for pedestrians and you can return from Algiers Point to New Orleans side the same way.
Search for haunted sites in the Voodoo city
New Orleans is famous for its many ghost stories, ghost tours, and ghost sagas. Book a 2 hr ghosts and vampires walking tour for your entire family and enjoy the paranormal world of New Orleans with your teenagers. Teenagers will enjoy listening about the ghouls, history, ghosts, and the macabre details and will love to brag about their haunted tour post-trip. Ghost tours are also a great way to visit New Orleans many neighborhoods.
Find an alligator on the Swamp Tours
Your budding scientists will love the lively swamp tours through the swamps, marshes, and bayous. Besides alligators, the tours are excellent to get acquainted with Louisiana wildlife including egrets, snakes, turtles, eagles, hawks, and deer. Different types of swamp tours are available including unique airboats tours and kayaks. Airboat tours are assured hits with teens – everything from the giant fan powered boats to the loud noise and noise-protection headphones screams super cool. Most trip durations are for 2 hrs – perfect to keep your fidgety teenagers interested. If you would rather see alligators while hiking, visit the Barataria Preserve at the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park.
Experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Your teenager will love Mardi Gras. Compared to what you hear, New Orleans is extremely family-friendly Mardi Gras destination. Just skip the French Quarter (see #1 above) and you will enjoy the biggest free show on earth. Teenagers will love catching throws, beads, waving at the krewes and dressing up in masks and costumes. (Pssst… Are you traveling to Mardi Gras? Check out our big guide to everything Mardi gras in New Orleans.) If you can’t make it during the Carnival season, you can still enjoy Mardi Gras at Mardi Gras World throughout the year. Mardi Gras World is a massive warehouse where the Mardi Gras floats are built, assembled, and masks and costumes designed. Book your tickets for a tour and enjoy this best New Orleans attraction for teenagers. Another place to understand Mardi Gras history is the Louisiana State Museum at the Presbytere. The museum itself is a National Historic Landmark located at Jackson Square. Their Mardi Gras section has floats, dramatic parade costumes, and other exhibits.
Introduce them to Jazz music
It’s never too early to introduce your children to the finer things in life. Use your New Orleans trip to introduce your teenagers to the jazz blues, jazz history, and famous jazz musicians. You can go to the Preservation Hall and listen to traditional jazz music every night. The atmosphere is friendly and alcohol-free and the venue is open to all. The best way is to take them to a jazz brunch – let your teenagers fill themselves up at brunch while they learn to appreciate jazz music.
Get down and dirty at a crawfish boil
Crawfish boils are teenager style meals. They are boisterous, informal affairs and crawfish are eaten on newspapers – everything a teenager will enjoy. Let them take their crawfish apart and suck the meat from the head and enjoy this Louisiana’s greatest gastronomic tradition.
Give them a taste of Cajun cuisine
New Orleans is famous for its Cajun/Creole cuisine. Teenagers will love to experiment and try a different cuisine with iconic dishes and different ingredients. New Orleans best foods include gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, and Po’Boy sandwiches. Po’Boy sandwiches, a tasty flavorful sandwich, on the crumbly Po’Boy bread are especially popular with teens and can be eaten on the go. Crawfish etouffee is New Orleans signature dish and must be tried by everyone. Or you can simply take the celebrated 3 hr food history tour and sample all of New Orlean’s best foods. If your teens are vegans or have food allergies, read our guide to the best Vegan restaurants in the French Quarter.
Beignets from Café Du Monde
Where do you take your famished teenagers after they have spent hours walking in the French Quarter? Eating beignets at Café Du Monde is a New Orleans tradition as old as the city. Families with teenagers will enjoy these sumptuous treats – fried French doughnuts dusted liberally with powdered sugar. Your teenagers will also love the iced coffee with chicory. That doesn’t mean these treats are for teenagers only – you will see adults everywhere eating the same beignets and chicory coffee with the same enthusiasm as your hungry teenagers. We love going for a stroll in Jackson Square after finishing our beignets.
Visit the WWII Museum
New Orleans World War II Museum is big, super cool and the perfect place to take your war-hungry teenager. There are many interactive exhibits, restored pieces, and real bomber planes. The museum offers a super interesting educational experience that will satisfy even the most demanding teenagers.
Go shopping at the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk Mall
If your teenager loves shopping, you will love the Riverwalk mall. Outlet Collection at Riverwalk Mall is the only urban outlet mall in the US. The mall has all teenager friendly brands including Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Gap Factory Store, Skechers, and more. The mall food court is big and nice and sells daiquiri for adults to enjoy.
Visit the zoo or the Aquarium
If your teenager is still into zoos or aquarium – and we know the chances of that happening – or if you also have tweens and younger kids with you, then a visit to the Audubon Zoo or the Aquarium of the Americas is in order. Audubon Zoo is located uptown and is surrounded by the Audubon Park – a large 340-acre park with trees, play areas and lots of space to run wild. The zoo has tigers, rhinos, monkeys, and other animals. The Aquarium is located near the Riverwalk at the edge of the French Quarter. It is one of the best 5 aquariums in the country. We especially love the 400,000 gallon Gulf of Mexico tank with its sharks, turtles, and stingrays and the 30 foot long through the tunnel. Audubon Insectarium is also located near to the aquarium and has many bug exhibits that will delight the children. It also has a colorful, whimsical Japanese Butterfly garden and scorpion pits.
Visit the above ground cemeteries
New Orleans cemeteries are one of its most popular tourist attractions. All the cemeteries have high above the ground vaults because the water table is close to the surface. Walking among the towering tombstones and reading inscriptions are a great way to experience New Orleans cemeteries. The cemeteries are called the ‘City of the Dead’ and are beautiful reminders of the Crescent City’s past. New Orleans has numerous cemeteries for exploration and they definitely add to New Orleans’ spooky reputation. If your teenagers love the spooky, eerie, and gory details then they will love visiting the cemeteries. St Louis Cemetary #1 is the most popular one and has the tomb of Marie Laveau, New Orleans infamous ‘Voodoo Queen”. Lafayette Cemetery is the city’s oldest cemetery and has been a setting for many movies.
New Orleans City Park
New Orleans City Park is a place unlike any other. This 1300-acre large outdoor urban oasis will delight even the most tired and boisterous teenagers. The City Park is one of the oldest parks in the country and has many live oak trees with pretty Spanish moss canopies. The park has many miles of walking and hiking trails and plenty of other attractions including the Carousel Gardens, Storyland, alligators, birds and botanical gardens among other things. Storyland is interesting and fun for younger children and has fairytale characters popping out at every turn. The park also has a miniature of New Orleans streets and neighborhoods complete with streetcars and trains. Kayaks and paddleboats are available for rental at the lake inside the City Park.
Visit an Antebellum Plantation
South Louisiana has many beautiful antebellum-style plantations. Many of these are within a short hour’s drive from the city of New Orleans. Plantation tours are a great way to understand the history of the area, view the stunning architecture, oak-lined walkways and the plantation fields. Most tours provide a chance to view the grand mansions from within; many others combine swamp tours with plantation tours for a full day of activities. Some of the famous plantations include Oak Alley Plantation, Whitney Plantation, Josephine plantation and Laura Plantation. Oak Alley Plantation is without a doubt the most popular plantation tour and takes visitors on a journey into the past (pre-Civil war era). Visitors can see the very well-preserved Greek revival style antebellum mansion and its opulent rooms, walk around the estate and sugarcane fields and learn the fascinating history of the plantation. Laura Plantation is a Creole plantation with outhouses and slave quarters, all available to view on a tour. Destrehan Plantation, the oldest plantation in the area, has a Slave Revolt museum on its premises. Whitney plantation’s Louisiana Museum of Slavery has many exhibits, an interactive video, and history of slavery in the South.
Tour the Big Easy in a Helicopter Ride
A helicopter ride is guaranteed to excite the kids and is easily one of the best things to do in New Orleans with a teenager. New Orleans has many helicopter tours – the New Orleans sightseeing flight is a popular one with great guides and aerial views. Big Easy Helicopter tours are another great tour. Their Downtown tours offer a one of a kind experience and amazing views of the city. Crescent City Helicopter tours allow passengers to take control of the helicopter and fly the machine. Their sunset tours and bird’s eye view of the city make these tours extremely popular.
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I’m Ketki Sharangpani, an Indian living in the United States. I'm a Travel Writer / Blogger & Photographer.
I travel to see striking buildings, people and cultures, and experience profound sunrises, shadows, and rituals.