By Christie Crawford

St. Louis Cathedral with Andrew Jackson Statue. Courtesy Richard Nowitz. Photo courtesy New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau

Don’t let those crazy Mardi Gras stories overshadow the fact that New Orleans is packed with family-friendly activities and attractions. Here are my top 10 places to stay and play if you’re traveling with the kids to my hometown of NOLA:

1 New Orleans hotels: Find “Kids Eat Free/Kids Stay Free” packages and refreshing pools at Holiday Inn Chateau Lemoyne and Hotel St. Pierre, both located in family-friendly sections of the French Quarter.

2 The Audubon Insectarium: Visit the largest free-standing museum in the country dedicated to bugs, bugs, and more bugs.

3 The Audubon Zoo: Ride the famous streetcar down to the zoo to visit the alligators at the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit or one of the many hands-on animal encounters.

Louisiana Children's Museum. Photographer: Carl Purcell. Courtesy New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau

4 Aquarium of the Americas: Rated one of the top 5 aquariums in the nation, this air-conditioned aquarium is a great place to spend the afternoons.

5 The Louisiana Children’s Museum: Located in the historic Arts District, kids of all ages will find the pint-size grocery store, the lunch café, or the life-sized tugboat irresistible.

6 Preservation Hall: Enjoy world-famous New Orleans jazz in a family-friendly environment where no drinking or smoking is allowed.  Kids of all ages welcomed.

7 Jackson Square: Watch the street performers, musicians, and local artists at no cost. Take a French Quarter walking tour.

Aerial Moonwalk. Photographer: Richard Nowitz. Courtesy New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau

8-9 Moonwalk & Riverwalk: Across the street from Jackson Square is the beginning of the Moonwalk, a paved walkway along the Mississippi River that ends at the Riverwalk Marketplace Mall. Squeeze in some shopping and catch a ride on a riverboat.

10 Swamp & Bayou tour.  Enjoy the stunning and serene surroundings of the natural environments.  The guides live on the swamp and some even know the alligators by name.

Christie Crawford is a market manager for Orbitz, who loves sharing the history and culture of her hometown of New Orleans.

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Tagged: Family time, Top 10 Lists

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