A brief tour of the French Quarter at New Orleans could easily convince you that the city was not made for families with young children. As beautifully historic as the area may be, it’s difficult to get past the avid drinkers living it up at 11 o’clock in the morning on a weekday. NOLA’s reputation for impropriety might shun families away, but defining NOLA through just this one part is really the misdemeanor. The city is more than just its parts, after all. And while the French Quarter may be the best place to imbibe the days away, there are plenty of other places in the city where you can have a really great time.
Take the Louisiana Children’s Museum as an example. I’ve learned throughout my travels that any city that has a great children’s museum is worth visiting. While I do travel with kids majority of the time, I’ve seen that children’s museums attract children of all ages—including many young at heart adult travelers. If you’re ever in New Orleans and have a weekday afternoon to spare, I highly suggest going to the Louisiana Children’s Museum. It doesn’t matter whether you have a baby carriage in tow, a toddler in hand, a teen following behind, or have no little ones at all; you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how cool this little place is.
I recommend specifically traveling there during the weekday to avoid large crowds. You’ll likely still come across a handful of tourist crowds, but the place is big enough to accommodate plenty. There are two floors to this museum. It’s housed in pretty cool industrial building that has large windows on the outside. Walking in, you’ll see different learning stations straight away. There’s an area where you can make bubbles that can cover up the height of a grown-up. There’s another area where you can find out how simple machines work. It’s a good reminder how fun pulling on things could be—kids already know this. Of course, there’s also a Picayune Theater where you can probably participate in a yoga class if you happen to be there at the right time. The exhibits on the first floor change occasionally, so there’s always something new and exciting to see.
The second floor is the best part, I believe. The Merieult House of the Historic New Orleans Collection is something that anyone can enjoy. It’s a recreation of one of the city’s oldest buildings, and it’s definitely a trip back in time. Then you’ve got all the miniature establishments that will entertain you and your little ones for hours. It’s basically a tiny town inside this museum, and the entertainment can go on for hours. You can start off getting your eyes checked at the miniature eye doctor’s office. They even have an optometrist chair and all. You can also stand behind a giant eyeball to see what it’s like being inside an eye. You’ve probably never thought of it before, but being inside an eye is quite interesting. You can then proceed to the kid’s café where you can make the meals or be served the meals. Kid servers could be quite ruthless, so be patient. One of my favorite parts is the tiny grocery store that’s sponsored by Winn-Dixie. You can don the red apron or be a shopper. It’s fun either way. There’s also a miniature New Orleans port, an area specifically designed for the crawling visitors aka babies, and a play center that’s designed as if you were hanging out in the bayou.
You might think you’re coming in just for a quick second here at the Louisiana Children’s Museum, but you’ll find that time just passes quickly here. It’s a great place to experience a different side of New Orleans, one that’s made for families, for learning history and the culture of the bayou. It’s a good way to spend an afternoon getting to know the city in a miniature way. It isn’t always about going big or going home. Sometimes, the best parts of a city come in the smallest places. This is definitely a gem in a city full of action. If you’re feeling like entertaining the child within, the Louisiana Children’s Museum is the place to be.