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Exploring New Orleans: 5 fun ideas for families

Hop aboard the historic Steamboat Natchez for a

Hop aboard the historic Steamboat Natchez for a two-hour ride up and down the Mississippi River, leaving from New Orleans' French Quarter. Credit: iStock / Renee Keith

It may have a party-hearty reputation, but locals say the real New Orleans is a city that prioritizes family life at every turn. Here are some easy ideas for big family fun in the Big Easy.

1. HOP ABOARD A STEAMBOAT The historic Steamboat Natchez offers two-hour rides up and down the Mississippi River. As the boat pulls away from the dock on Toulouse Street, in the French Quarter, with a 32-note calliope playing, it truly feels like a step back in time. From the deck, you get an expansive view of the skyline and the Quarter.


2. NOSH LIKE A NATIVE Pick up a bag of beignets — the blissful marriage of fried dough topped with powdered sugar — at the 154-year-old Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter. Later on, head to St. Roch Market, which boasts 16 stalls full of New Orleans comfort food, including in-season seafood and shellfish, chicken and crepes.


3. BIDE TIME ON THE BAYOU Take a quick drive north of Lake Ponchartrain to Slidell and hop on a flat-bottomed boat with Honey Island Swamp Tours. You’ll head straight into the murky waters of the bayou, where you’re likely to see herons, egrets, turtles and alligators.


4. SPEND A DAY IN THE PARK With pedal boats, botanical gardens, tennis courts and golf courses, there is no shortage of activities at City Park, a 1,300-acre retreat in the heart of New Orleans. Kids may head straight for Storyland, a larger-than-life storybook-themed playground where they can slide down the back of a fire-breathing dragon or play among statues of the Three Little Pigs.


5. LISTEN TO THE MUSIC Families can catch great live music al fresco by heading to Jackson Square in front of the nearly 300-year-old St. Louis Cathedral. Crowds gather — some dancing, some sprawling on the cathedral steps — as street musicians play jazz, classical, soul, New Orleans’ traditional zydeco and more. Jackson Square is also home to a wide range of local artists who set up shop along the sidewalk outside the gates.

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