If you’re thinking of loading up the little ones and heading out on a family vacation, then look no further than the Bayou State of Louisiana. Louisiana has a vibrant culture unlike no other, amazing events all year long, and unique activities that you and your kids will enjoy. Navigating the spicy foods and gigantic events can be daunting, but we’ve created the ultimate guide to exploring this great state with the whole family.
Kid Centric Destinations:
There are a couple of activities that are an absolute must for any kid, or child at heart. You can go to several zoos, visit any of the playgrounds, or hang out on the miles and miles of beaches in the state, but if you want a truly unique Louisiana experience that you just can’t find anywhere else, head to these awesome attractions.
Louisiana Children’s Museum: The Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans is opening a new location in City Park on August 31 and is expected to be one of the most innovative, hands-on, and kid-centric museums in the nation. With both inside and outside interactive exhibits meant to boost early childhood education through play, your children will be learning in a fun environment. This museum is basically an educational theme park for kids.
State Parks: Louisiana has 18 different state parks with tons of fun and unique activities at each. Located in all corners of the state, you can find one near you and spend some time outside with your kids. We recently created a list of our 5 favorite state parks and outlined the unique activities to do at each. Go horseback riding, play at the lake, or canoe down a bayou all while enjoying Louisiana’s natural playground.
Gators and Friends: If you’re not from the south, you may be a little nervous about running into an alligator. Curb those fears and go to the Gators & Friends exotic animal petting zoo and adventure park. This park outside of Shreveport has enough activities to pack a whole day full of fun. Feed their 150 alligators, pet exotic animals from around the world, zipline over an alligator lake, and race on their raceway. This is a fun and educational stop that will be a blast for the whole family.
Take a Paddleboat Ride: Hop on a paddlewheel boat for an afternoon ride, or a sunset-dinner. While there are several in New Orleans, we love the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen. Listen to jazz music and dine on a meal fit for royalty while you learn about the history of New Orleans and the creation of the iconic paddlewheel boats you see roaming the rivers.
Louisiana is known for its vibrant festivals celebrating everything from Jazz music to Cajun food, and everything else that makes the Bayou State so special. While you may be enticed by the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival and New Orleans legendary French Quarter Festival, your kids may not be as enthralled. Luckily, the party doesn’t stop there and there are great family-friendly festivals all over the state. We picked out 3 of our favorite family-friendly festivals that you and your kiddos will love.
Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival: This free family-friendly outdoor festival is an annual event each spring that takes over downtown Ponchatoula and turns the town into a sweet dream. As the “Strawberry Capital of the World”, Ponchatoula is the perfect place to host a multi-day strawberry-themed event. Find a carnival with rides and live music all night, and fun events all day long. Try strawberry dishes from the local vendors, or see how fast you can eat a pint at the berry-eating contest. Your kids will have a blast and come out berry-stained with lifelong memories.
Mardi Gras: New Orleans is the Mardi Gras capital, but if you want a family-friendly festival, then look to the quaint communities all over Louisiana. Each town hosts their own parades and are the extravagant and colorful celebrations that the kids will love. Dress the family up in colorful costumes, facepaint, and beads and dance to jazz music all day long!
Christmas Festival of Lights in Natchitoches: Natchitoches, LA is a magical place to be around Christmas time. The entire town gets into the holiday spirit and the river and downtown are entirely illuminated by Christmas lights. Carriage tours meander through the historic downtown, fireworks light up the sky each Saturday night, and holiday events are spread out through the entire month of December. The main festival date is December 7th with a light parade, music and entertainment all day, and holiday vendors across the town. This event will awaken the inner child in you, and thrill your young ones.
Cajun Children’s Food:
If it isn’t chicken nuggets or mac & cheese, then the kids just won’t eat it right? You and I both know how delicious crawfish etouffee is and that alligator is pretty similar to chicken, but the kids will not believe you. The biggest challenge is finding some classic Cajun-inspired food that your kids will devour with you, so we’ve picked out some of the most kid-friendly Creole foods to give your kids a little taste of Louisiana.
Fried Chicken: There will be no crumbs left on the plate after your kids get their first taste of southern fried chicken. Moist in the center with a crispy perfectly seasoned batter, there’s nothing like it! Pair it with classic southern sides for the perfect meal.
Beignet: These little powdered-sugar covered pastries are a staple of Louisiana life. Often served for breakfast, you and your kids will devour these sweet little slices of heaven. Taste them for breakfast, or save them for a perfect hot dessert after the day cools off a little.
Red Beans and Rice: If your kids like chili, they will love the classic Creole dish of red beans and rice. Simple as it is, these red beans have been slow-simmered for hours with vegetables and pork to the point where they are full of flavor then served over fluffy rice. Encourage your kids to try this classic cuisine and they’ll be asking for it even after you’ve left the Bayou State.
With a little bit of planning, a family vacation to Louisiana may just be one of the most exciting and memorable trips for your kids. Spend time learning about New Orleans’ rich history, try new foods, and attend fun unique events that celebrate Louisiana’s rich heritage. Just watch out, after a great vacation like this, your kids may want to watch Disney’s The Princess and the Frog on repeat for years to come!
Planning a trip to one of Louisiana’ with the little ones? The Louisiana Bed & Breakfast Association boasts several one-of-a-kind inns, bed & breakfasts, and historic homes located in all corners of the state.