It’s so nice to be able to get out and about this summer after a crazy covid year! If you and the kiddos are getting stir crazy, we’ve got super fun options to suit any mood, energy level, or weather conditions. Whether you want want outdoor water fun, indoor leisurely fun, or indoor high-octane fun — here is a fab list of family-friendly summer activities and attractions on both shores, and beyond!
NOTE: Be sure to check each website for special pandemic rules, like masking and advanced timed ticketing.
WET & WILD: OUTDOOR WATER FUN
Audubon Cool Zoo & Gator Run (Uptown)
Audubon Zoo’s water park is back in action! The Cool Zoo features three different splash zones to satisfy kids of all different ages, highlighted by a huge, colorful center structure, complete with slides, sprayers, ropes, tunnels, water-dumping buckets, and a massive white gator that dumps the biggest water bucket of all. It also has a tree-shaded deck filled with tables and chairs, plus umbrella tables and cabanas along the periphery. Gator Run is a 750-foot lazy river with two sand beaches, lounge chairs, water cannons, water curtains and jumping jets. It’s three feet deep and takes approximately seven minutes to make a round trip. Concessions and summertime necessities are available in both areas.
Blue Bayou Water Park (Baton Rouge)
Half of the tandem amusement park, Blue Bayou & Dixie Landin’, this water park features over 20 attractions, including the Mambo — billed as the world’s largest upside down water slide. Other features include racing and plunging slides, a lazy river, a children’s play area, and tons of concessions. Access to both parks is included in the admission price.
Fontainebleau State Park Beach & Splash Pad (Mandeville)
After paying $3 per person (free for seniors 63 and older, and children 3 and under) to enter the park, those seeking relief from the heat can enjoy one of the few white sand beaches along Lake Pontchartrain and its adjacent splash pad. There are nearby picnic tables and public restrooms, but no concessions or other amenities are available, so visitors need to come fully equipped. Visit the website for park and splash pad hours.
Gulf Islands Waterpark (Gulfport, MS)
In addition to a wave pool, tube rides, miles of slides, a lazy river, an area for the younger kids, cabanas and pavilions to rent, and other cool attractions — this park also boasts celebrity meet-and-greets with Nickelodeon and Disney Channel stars, live bands, sea lion shows, frisbee dog shows, plenty of concessions, and more. Visit the website for upcoming shows and special events.
COOL & MILD: LEISURELY INDOOR FUN
Abita Mystery House Museum (Abita Springs)
This must-see collection of bizarre curiosities is located just a block or two outside the little village of Abita Springs. Also known as the UCM Museum, this roadside attraction, which used to be an old gas station, is filled with odd collections, memorabilia, strange contraptions, random objects, old arcade machines, and crazy hybrid taxidermy pieces, like Bufford the Bassigator.
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (French Quarter)
After walking through a tunnel that reveals the colors of a Caribbean reef, visitors can walk through a rainforest, check out some penguins and otters, feed parakeets, touch stingrays, visit the swamp, and marvel at sharks, sea turtles and lots of other animals in the 400,000 gallon Gulf of Mexico Exhibit — plus Shark Discovery, the brand new 13,000-gallon shark and ray touchpool,
Children’s Museum of St. Tammany (Mandeville)
Located at the (Koop Drive Trailhead in Mandeville), this facility has multiple themed exhibit galleries that provide kids with an interactive learning environment that focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and encourages imagination and creativity through the power of play and the arts. Check the website for special events and activities.
If you’re interested in turning your kids into little foodies (or maybe just expanding the horizons of picky eaters), this is a great way to start. They offer cooking classes, camps, and a variety of other programs designed to give kids and teens some control over their meals, challenge their palates, and learn to make healthy choices. They also raise awareness of childhood obesity and food allergens, offer programs for special needs kids, and host Parents’ Nights Out.
Infinity at Stennis Space Center (Mississippi)
Located on the Louisiana-Mississippi border, the complex is literally its own little town (it even has its own zip code!), complete with a visitor’s center that houses tons of interactive exhibits delving into space, the Earth, and the ocean. Some of the many highlights include Neil Armstrong’s test space suit, multiple simulators, and a spacious Kidz Zone with climbing apparatus, reading area, and play areas. Be sure to get there early and sign up for the first first-come, first-served bus tour around the expansive site and actual test areas.
Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum (Madisonville)
Louisiana’s extensive bayous, rivers, and lakes served as the pathways of survival for Native Americans, European explorers, and early settlers. This maritime history comes to life through this museum’s artifacts, photographs, documents, and oral histories. One of the very coolest features is the Civil War submarine. Special programs include boat-building, hands-on field trips, constructing underwater robots, restoration of the Tchefuncte River Lighthouse, and other exciting educational opportunities for people of all ages. There’s also its Wooden Boat Festival, held every October on the Tchefuncte River, featuring over 100 wooden and classic boats.
Louisiana Children’s Museum (City Park)
Indoors and out, this beautifully designed, two-year-old facility offers tons of hands-on ways to learn literacy, health and wellness, arts and culture, environmental education, and STEM. It features 8.5 acres for kids to explore, two floors of new interactive exhibits and old favorites re-imagined, plus outdoor adventures on the water, in the garden, and more.
Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center (Hammond)
Located in historic downtown Hammond, this facility is designed for kids 10 and under, offering over 30 different hands-on, interactive exhibits and programs. Some of the many highlights include bubble stations, a versatile art center, a construction zone, and an area that challenges balance and dexterity, plus addresses nutrition. There are also special events, educational activities, and extracurricular programs that offer an even wider array of activities to engage older kids and teens, as well.
Movies for Kids: The Grand Theatre Summer Kids’ Flicks Series (Slidell)
The Grand Theatre Slidell is doing its annual summer kids’ movie deals on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am. For only $4, you get admission, plus kids’ popcorn and soda. Visit the website for full schedule.
Movies for Kids: Movie Tavern Summer Kids’ Flicks (Covington)
Movie Tavern Covington is offering $2 family-friendly movies on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursday this summer, through Aug 19. Visit website for full movie schedule.
Movies for Kids: Prytania Theater (Uptown)
Ah, New Orleans’ beloved historic movie theater, built circa 1914. It’s got great ambience for classic, arthouse, and mainstream movies, but they’re also sure to remember the kids during holidays and the summer. This summer, shows are every Friday and Saturday at 10am. $10 admission includes a family-friendly classic movie, plus popcorn and a drink. Visit the website for the schedule.
Movies for Kids: Regal Summer Movies Express (Covington, Kenner)
Every Tuesday and Wednesday this summer, Regal Covington Stadium 14 and The Grand Esplanade 14 & GPX are hosting their Summer Movie Express, where admission to lots of kid-friendly movies is only $1. Visit website for full movie schedule.
National World War II Museum (Warehouse District)
This enormous, ever-expanding campus of exhibits, multimedia experiences, and a huge collection of artifacts and first-person oral histories, requires at least a full day to tour it all. Other highlights include live shows at the Stage Door Cantina, dining, and “Beyond Boundaries” in the Solomon Victory Theater. This 4-D movie, narrated and executive produced by Tom Hanks, is an absolute must-see.
New Orleans Museum of Art (City Park)
New Orleans’ oldest fine arts institution hosts an impressive permanent collection of almost 40,000 objects, including French and American art, photography, glass, and African and Japanese works. Just outside, the newly expanded, 11-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is one of the most important sculpture installations in the United States, with over 90 sculptures situated on a beautifully landscaped site. Check the museum’s website for special kids’ events and activities.
Ogden Museum of Southern Art (Warehouse District)
This museum proudly houses what is touted as the largest and most comprehensive collection of Southern art in the world. It represents the visual arts and culture of the American South from 1733 to the present through its events, permanent collections, changing exhibitions, educational programs, publications, and research. In addition to some seriously cool and sought-after summer camps, they host multiple kid and family-friendly events throughout the year.
Kenner’s 16-block, cool little historic district offers a bunch of cultural and family attractions — many of which are indoors. The complex includes museums, Heritage Park (a quaint replica of an old village that includes a turn-of-the-century packing shed, ice house, a traditional blacksmith shop, and a 1930’s era gas station), MegaDome Cinema, Kenner Planetarium, Rivertown Space Science Complex, the Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts, the Castle Theater, and LaSalle’s Landing. Visit the website for upcoming special events and planetarium schedule.
A/C BUT ACTIVE: ENERGETIC INDOOR FUN
Adventure Quest Laser Tag (Elmwood)
This family fun center is jam-packed full of cool activities, like mini-golf, an arcade, bumper cars, a 6,000-square-foot laser-tag arena, plus their Climbing Challenge and 5,000-square-foot, two-level Adventure Maze. They also have party rooms for birthday parties and special events, and a snack bar that includes pizza, salads, tons of other snacks, and even adult beverages.
This year-round indoor inflatable playground and party place is locally owned and operated. With over 17,00 square feet of safe, clean, award-winning fun, it’s not only perfect for entertaining bored kids, but it’s also great for children’s parties and special celebrations of all kinds. They also have arcade games, they broadcast major network sporting events (including the Saints, LSU and Pelicans games) on their big screen televisions, and walk-in play is available on weekdays and weekends.
Kids & Family Arena (Mandeville)
This family-owned and operated business houses 15,000 square feet of fun for drop-in play, birthday parties, and other celebrations. The huge space contains 13 inflatables that allow kids up to about sixth grade to jump, slide, and play football and basketball to their hearts’ content. There’s also a ball pit and small play area for the smaller kids and toddlers. Up front, there’s a large arcade play center with over a dozen games for when the kids need a breather. Admission is good for the whole day, so visitors can leave and return, as needed.
Mandeville Sports Complex offers the residents of Mandeville and the surrounding communities affordable fitness and fun programs for children and adults of all ages. This one-stop club for the entire family features a fitness center, competitive and recreational gymnastics and cheerleading, summer & holiday camps, after school care, birthday parties, swim lessons, kids fun nights, and more.
Ochsner Kidsports Elmwood (Harahan)
This facility offers an array of programs that combine fun and fitness for children ages 6 weeks to 13 years. One highlight is their Adventure Challenge. Designed for ages 6-13 years, this two-story, indoor maze features 100 yards of slides, tunnels, ropes, balls and more. Parents can take advantage of the childcare program for kids ages 6 weeks to 5 years while they work out. Camp participants get to enjoy fun and games, an obstacle course, Spacewalk, arts and crafts, our outdoor pirate ship playground, snacks and the Adventure Challenge.
Safari Quest Family Fun Center (Hammond)
This indoor adventure facility’s main draw is its 3,000-square-foot, multi-level, neon-lit laser tag arena with an observation deck for spectators. They’ve also got coconut climbing trees, an arcade with the latest video games, and a really cool ropes course, which is suspended high above the floor. Thatched tiki huts and jungle gardens play into the safari motif, and there are four party rooms available to rent for special occasions.
Sky Zone Trampoline Park (Metairie)
A high octane alternative to standard exercise, this all-walled trampoline playing court offers wall-to-wall aerial action. Highlights include freestyle jump, skyslam, ultimate dodgeball, skyhoops, lasertag, a toddler zone, and much much more.