While the kids may be excited to be out of school, the break in routine can be a hassle for parents who must scramble to keep the hours filled and the young minds occupied. Fortunately, New Orleans is a great place to live in the summer and is full of opportunities for family-friendly fun and programs for children. If you’re looking for a place to take the kids – be it for a few hours or a few weeks – you’re in luck. From educational activities to entertainment and sweet excursions, local businesses and organizations offer a variety of ways to spend the summer months.
The Louisiana Children’s Museum is a gem for local parents and families, and while they offer plenty of special events and programs, they also provide daily activities all summer long. Parents looking to fill a few hours here and there can stop in for any number of activities including Toddler Time at 10 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, Storytime at 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, STEM Lab at 11 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and Wellness Wednesdays and Fitness Fridays, both at 11:30 a.m.
Special June programming includes the Storytelling Festival (June 10-11), which features storytelling, theatre, music, art, puppetry and books. On Saturday, June 24, the museum hosts Kids Food Festival To-Go, where young foodies will learn about achieving balance in food choices through fun activities and sampling family-friendly foods. In advance of the July 4 holiday, the museum will become the “U.S. of Play” with a week-long patriotic celebration running Monday, June 26 through Monday, July 3, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The museum will also host several camps for kids this summer.
Summer camps are an obvious choice for entertaining children June through August, and while some programs require several weeks of commitment, others offer parents flexible schedules that don’t interfere with family vacations. McGehee School’s Summer at McGehee offers a variety of one-week programs for girls in grades (rising) Kindergarten through seventh. Split into two groups of younger and older students, the camps offer a chance for girls to explore areas of interest while also homing in on their favorite subjects.
McGehee’s one-week sessions begin June 19 and run through August 4, and their weekly enrollment means parents can enroll their child for one week up to six. Each week offers its own theme, which is then incorporated into the day’s classes in performance, sports, games, arts, crafts, science and other subjects. Examples of 2017 themes include Galactic Adventures, Depths of the Sea and Sleep-Away-at-School.
“In general, we try to make camp a mini McGehee experience and maintain the culture of the school. If parents are interested in testing the waters of the all-girls experience, Summer at McGehee is a great place to start,” says teacher and Summer Program Director Julee LaPorte.
Boys and girls ages seven (or rising second grade) through 14 are welcome at Metairie Park Country Day’s intensive arts-focused summer camp, Country Day Creative Arts, which runs June 12 through July 14. Students select five classes from a list of more than 30 in visual arts, performing arts and sports.
In the past, classes to choose from have included music, acting, juggling arts, comics, robotics, yoga and drawing and painting. The camp runs Mondays through Thursdays, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., and Fridays, 8:30 a.m.-1:20 p.m., and After Care is available for an additional cost.
The French Library
“At the end of the program, young artists celebrate all they have accomplished with a magnificent Arts Festival for family, friends, and the greater community,” says Director of Marketing and Public Relations Julie Bordes. The Arts Festival takes place during the early evening of Friday, July 14.
While it might resemble a school, a library and a cafe, The French Library on Magazine Street is a children’s lifestyle shop that Owner and Director Katrina Greer founded based on a need for French books for the growing French immersion and expat population in New Orleans. With children and families in mind, Greer designed the boutique to also operate as a community center of sorts with activities, events, classes, projects and other programs. The French Library continuously receives new titles from France and has expanded its inventory to include French toys, games, periodicals, cookbooks, accessories and gifts.
“We will have an interim program offered for French Immersion students who would like to keep learning over the course of the summer,” says Greer. The program will include reading lists, book clubs, movie nights and more. Storytime and Étude (French tutoring and homework help) will also continue over the summer. The French Library will celebrate its one-year anniversary with cake, mimosas and treats for adults and children all day Sunday, June 4.
New Orleans is very much a sports-crazed city, especially regarding the Saints, the Pelicans and local university sports teams. The summer is prime baseball season, and New Orleans is home to the newly named Baby Cakes, the Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
“With tickets starting at just $5, the Baby Cakes provide affordable family entertainment and a chance to watch the Major League stars of tomorrow,” says Director of Public Relations Dave Sachs. Baby Cakes games are also great for fun summer birthday parties – there’s even an outfield swimming pool that can be reserved for private gatherings.
Games at the “Shrine on Airline” feature daily promotions, which provide discounts on tickets and concessions as well as special activities and entertainment. On “Funday Sundays,” for example, kids can play catch on the field before the game and run the bases afterwards. Special events include giveaways, such as a baseball card set on June 16 or a trip to Miami on June 23 that comes with Marlins tickets. Theme nights include Star Wars Night on June 24, the July 4 Independence Day celebration with fireworks and Purple & Gold Night on July 8.
Options for indoor summer fun are a must in a city as hot as ours, and the one-year-old Broad Theater will play host to several family friendly Hollywood titles this summer. Located near the Whole Foods on North Broad Street, the theater offers box office hits alongside classics and art films, giving New Orleans moviegoers a silver screen close to home. According to owner Brian Knighten, the theater will show a weekly classic children’s film plus its regular lineup of blockbusters. The Broad Theater features the expected concession-stand fare and also has a bar with beer, wine and cocktails.
“And, we will of course continue to offer our ‘BYO Baby’ event, where parents with newborns can come see a grown-up film with the lights up a little and volume down and enjoy sushi from Asuka Sushi. We are happy to be working with The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital to promote this event to new parents,” says Knighten.
An indoor option for fun that doesn’t require the kids to sit still is Palm Tree Playground, a beach-themed indoor playground that provides the best of both worlds – a “beach” atmosphere for active play located indoors and out of the elements.
Plum Street Snoballs
“We believe in quality, family fun. We support the community with a safe, exciting and clean environment where children laugh, play, develop, explore and socialize. Happy children equal happy parents, and our focus on customer service is directly related to the adults’ experience at Palm Tree Playground as well,” says Founder Heather Hays.
Typically, kids who play at Palm Tree Playground are between the ages of 9 months and 7 years. The destination offers weekday walk-in play and fun-filled birthday parties on the weekends. Choose from three party arrangements (Fun Party, Private Fun Party and Big Kahuna) and eight different party themes if you don’t want to bring your own decorations.
Kids adore sweet treats, and in summer in New Orleans there’s no treat sweeter than a cold, colorful snow ball. Plum Street Snoballs has been a New Orleans icon since its inception in 1945. For generations, parents and grandparents have taken their children by the famous stand located at 1300 Burdette St. Owners Donna and Claude Black have retained many of the founder’s original recipes while creating new and exciting flavors such as King Cake and Roasted Marshmallow.
You don’t always have to stroll to Carrollton to enjoy Plum Street Snoballs, who often set up a stand and dole out the juicy, icy treats at festivals and events all over town, including the Arts Market of New Orleans. The company also caters private events and birthday parties with a portable stand that makes fresh snow balls on-site.
New Orleans City Park has its own stand for sweet treats, but instead of icy snow balls, people flock to Morning Call in City Park for its hot, sugar-coated beignets and café au lait, which also notably comes in a frozen form for those hot summer days. Snacks aside, City Park is full of opportunities for kids – from the amusement of Storyland and Carousel Gardens to City Putt and boat and bike rentals. With 1,300 acres of park land, families can enjoy everything from picnics and strolls to playground fun, tennis, golf, soccer and more.
On June 9, 10 and 11, City Putt hosts its Summer Nights Party 6-10 p.m. each night. Tickets run $10 per person and are good for play on one course, sweet treats, a free raffle ticket one cocktail or soft drink and giveaways, too. Tickets can be purchased day-of at City Putt.
Louisiana Children’s Museum
420 Julia St.
Country Day Creative Arts at Metairie Park Country Day School
300 Park Road, Metairie
The French Library
3811 Magazine St.
Baby Cakes Baseball
6000 Airline Drive, Metairie
636 N. Broad St.
Palm Tree Playground
3011 N. I-10 Service Road, East
Plum Street Snoballs
1300 Burdette St.
New Orleans City Park
1 Palm Drive