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Louisiana Family Trips

- New Orleans plus Acadiana (Cajun Country)

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--combine New Orleans with a driving trip to "Acadiana" (Cajun Country)

Start with utterly unique New Orleans, where fun for families includes an Audubon Zoo, Aquarium, and Insectarium. Then take a side trip west to French Louisiana: "Acadiana", or Cajun Country, with its own fascinating history, fab music, and delish eats.

If you leave New Orleans on Friday (watch out for rush hour), and stay in Lafayette or the smaller towns of Eunice or Washington, you'll be a good position to catch live music in Eunice Saturday evening. Lafayette has a Comfort Inn and similar choices; Eunice has hotels as well; or try a B&B.

Top Things To Do in New Orleans With Kids

Top Things to do in Louisiana - New Orleans - Photo ©  Teresa Plowright
Utterly unique, New Orleans is famed for its historic districts, fab food, Creole culture, music traditions from zydeco to blues, not to mention Mardi Gras. The good times in NOLA include plenty for kids - such as the Zoo, Aquarium, and Insectarium, for starters. Family-friendly Jazz Fest has a staggering lineup of talent and is huge fun, on two weekends in April. And even Mardi Gras can be great for families.

Mardi Gras - Other Towns in Louisiana

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Tourism
As noted about, Mardi Gras in New Orleans can be great for visiting families-- but travelers have other Mardi Gras choices, too. The town of Mamou is famous for Cajun Mardi Gras, and especially for its "Courir de Mardi Gras": in a revived tradition that dates back centuries, costumed horse-riders go from house to house, singing, dancing, and begging for ingredients to make a meal. Eunice has a very family-friendly Courir de Mardi Gras. Lake Charles, in Southwest Louisiana, has a Courir de Mardi Gras (aka a chicken run), Children's Parade, and New Orleans-style Mardi Gras parade with krewes and floats.

Riverboat Cruise

Things to do in Louisiana - Steamboat Natchez - photo Courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Steamboat Natchez - photo Courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Billed as New Orlean's only authentic steamboat, the Steamboat Natchez takes visitors out on the Mississippi River for various types of cruises: harbor cruises, dinner cruises... Check for the return of the Aquarium Zoo Cruise; and at Christmas-time, families can take a Caroling Cruise.

Lafayette - Free Music Festival

Things to do in Louisiana - Lafayette - free international music festival
Photo © Teresa Plowright.
A great time to visit Lafayette is during the Festival Internationale de Louisiane in April: the entire center of the town is like a festival grounds, with several music venues, and handy food stands that serve up etouffees, crawfish, and other good eats. Fun for all ages, from kids in strollers on up. Other fun in Lafayette includes a Childrens Museum.

Acadian Village - Lafayette

things to do in Louisiana with kids - Acadian Village - photo Louisiana Office of Tourism
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.
This small "folklife museum" lets visitors step into the Cajun Country of the 19th century, with period homes on a bayou, dance hall, Cajun furnishings, self-guided tours, festivals. Open January to October (check site for updates) and at Christmas; visitor comments praise the Christmas "Noel Acadien au Village" which has holiday lights, music, dance performances, photo op with Santa, carnival rides.

Vermilionville - Cajun Heritage Village

Things to do in Louisiana - visit Vermilionville Cajun heritage village (Acadian)
Iron-worker reenactor, at Vermilionville. Photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Just a short drive south of Lafayette, Vermilion Parish bills itself as "The Most Cajun Place on Earth": a number of towns are linked by the Jean Lafitte Scenic Byway, which passes marshes, prairies, bayous sugarcane farms. Vermilionville is a Cajun/Creole heritage and colklife park that recreates the era from 1765 to 1890: with historic village, including restored original homes and costumed interpreters. Free admission on Acadian Culture Day.

Eunice - Legendary Live Music Radio Show

Liberty Theater, Eunice - Photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Liberty Theater, Eunice - Photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Try to schedule a Saturday in the pretty town of Eunice, so you can go to the historic Liberty Theater for Saturday night "Rendezvous des Cajun" music shows, broadcast live on radio (tix $5). Before the show, explore the Jean Lafitte Prairie Acadian Cultural Center, right across from the Liberty Theater: a great little place to learn about the Cajun way of life. (Learn, for instance, about "fais do-do's: Cajun dance parties where kids would nap --have a "doh-doh"-- while the dancing went on.) Kids can do a Junior Ranger program, as this is a National Park site.

Swamp Tours

Things do to in Louisiana - Honey Island Swamp Tour - photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Honey Island Swamp Tour - photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Visitors have several choices for getting out into a Louisiana swamp and seeing 'gators. A family could, for instance, take a nature tour in the 250 sq. mile Honey Island Swamp, less than an hour from New Orleans. Or take a high-speed airboat trip-- lots of fun, but be prepared for LOUD. The Atchafalaya Swamp Experience Tour, below, is another option.

Atchafalaya Basin Visitors Center

Things to do in Louisiana - Atchafalaya Basin Visitors Center
Photo © Teresa Plowright.
This (aaahh, air-conditioned) small museum is a convenient stop on Interstate 10 and a fun visit for families, with a short movie and displays about swamp ecology. Learn about the largest river swamp in the US: the Atchafalaya Basic has swamps, bayous, backwater lakes and woods on almost one million acres; it's larger than the Florida Everglades.

Atchafalaya Experience Swamp Tour

top things to do in Louisiana - Atchafalaya Experience swamp tour
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Get out into the Atchafalaya Swamp via this personal tour:guests praise their guide's entertaining stories, and the tour's immersion in the "beauty and magic found only deep in this wilderness area". Visitors may see beaver, nutria, snakes, turtles, alligators, and many birds including owls, egrets, herons, ducks, osprey, bald eagles.

Baton Rouge

Top things to do in Louisiana - walk along the Mississippi in Baton Rouge
Photo © Teresa Plowright

The State Capital Building has wonderful art deco features - not that your kids may care about that; what they'll like is riding the elevator up to the top, for a super view of the Mississippi. Just a stroll away is the Louisiana State Museum: a great museum for kids, with colorful presentations and fun interactive features. Baton Rouge has the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, bayou boat tours, and other family-friendly attractions, and more than one free music festivals. Also free: walk for miles along the levy (photo, left.) The Sheraton Baton Rouge has a great location just steps from the Mississippi River and from the USS KIDD Naval Museum, the Planetarium, and other museums.

Festivals

Crawfish Fesetival - photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Crawfish Festival - photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Apparently families in this state like to party: Louisiana has a full slate of festivals, always with music, often with crawfish. For instance: the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, in early May (expect awesome zydeco bands and Cajun bands, and dance contests). Mudbug Madness in Shreveport, with crawfish-eating contests; Jambalaya Festival in Gonzales on Memorial Day Weekend... plus festivals in New Orleans, of course, including Jazz Fest where kids are welcome guests.

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