Is your house decked out in purple, gold, and green? Have you pulled out your huge assortment of costumes and wigs? Is brass band music blasting in your car?
Yes, Carnival season is in full swing, y’all. Aren’t we lucky to get to share this fabulous tradition with our kids? From parade schedules to safety tips to camps, we’ve pulled together some helpful information to help you plan your family-friendly Mardi Gras festivities.
New Orleans, Northshore, West Bank… parades are happening everywhere! It’s time to start the difficult task of selecting which parades to attend on which days. Click here to start the selection process — get those calendars organized!
In case the name didn’t give it away, Family Gras is one of your best bets for guaranteed family-friendly Carnival fun. Taking place on February 17-19 in its usual spot on Veterans Memorial Boulevard near Causeway in Metairie, this event boasts concerts, parades, the Fabulous Flambeau Food Court & Beverage Zones, kid-friendly activities, an arts market, and more.
This year’s concert lineup includes Fifth Harmony, Imagination Movers, Tony Orlando, The Cowsills and The Association, among others. Click here for more information and a full schedule of events and performances.
Next to locating the nearest bathroom facilities and packing enough food and beverages, safety is the biggest concern of most parents parading with kids. The crowds can get pretty intense and chaotic, especially later in the day/evening, so here are a few safety tips to consider.
–Decide on a rendezvous spot, in case anyone gets separated
–Train your kid(s) find a police officer if they get lost and can’t find the rendezvous spot (many are on horseback — easy to spot!)
–Write your name and cellphone number on your kid’s arm with a bold marker
–Make sure your kids maintain a safe distance from marching bands, but especially float and tractor tires!
–Always designate an adult as ladder attendant anytime kids are in their perch
MARDI GRAS CAMPS
Most camps are closed on Mardi Gras day, but open on Lundi Gras, and Wednesday through Friday of that week. So, whether you want to reserve Lundi Gras (and the Lundi Gras Festival) as an adults-only day, or if you’re returning to work and need childcare for the days following Fat Tuesday, there are multiple camps taking place on both shores. Just click on the camp locations for links and registration information.
February 27, March 1-3, 7:30am-5:30pm
Cost: $50 a day. Additional Siblings $35/day; $60/$45 add’l siblings after 2/26/17
Overview: Excitement, adventure and celebration for ages 3-13. Campers will enjoy laser tag, bumper cars, mini golf, and the arcade every day, plus outdoor activities and other Kidcam-certified fun.
March 1-3; times vary according to age
Cost: $35 – $45
Overview: Ages 4-8th grade. An array of themed workshops has been planned for various age groups. Visit their website for specifics.
March 1 – 3, 9am-3pm
Cost: $35 per member; $45 per Non-member; Before care at 7:30am $7, after care until 5pm
Overview: Campers get close-up encounters with our animal ambassadors, tour behind the scenes and spend time outdoors in free play. Kindergarten to 4th Grade
February 27, March 1-3, 7am – 6pm. No early drop off/late pick-up available.
Cost: YMCA Members: $25/day or $90/full camp registration Non-Members: $40/day or $150/full camp registration; Single day rates available..
Overview: The kids play indoor and outdoors, weather permitting, throughout the day. There are also arts and crafts. They are separated by age groups depending on the number of kids registered. They have a snack twice a day as well as lunch. For kids age 3-14.
March 1, 2; 9am-noon, 12:30-3:30pm
Cost: First camp is $35 – 2 or more camps are $30 each
Overview: Ages 4-10. Each morning and afternoon camp will feature different Mardi Gras and Spring themed art projects in a variety of mediums. Sign up for any combination of camps. Supplies and snacks included in price. Pack a lunch if attending both morning and afternoon camps.
March 1-3; 9am-3pm (before and after care available from 8 am – 5 pm)
Cost:$75 per day plus tax, which comes to $82.69
Overview: Ages 5 -14. Along with the meals, dessert, crafts and games, they also do crazy, messy kitchen science experiments.
February 27, March 1-3, 7:30am – 3:30pm
Cost: YMCA Members: $25/day or $95/full camp registration Non-Members: $35.50/day or $140/full camp registration; Single day rates available. After care available for additional $5/day
Overview: Activities include themed stories, songs, crafts, and holiday decorations. For kids grades K-5.
March 1-3, 9am-3pm
Cost: Available by the day for $40 per day for members and $45 per day for non-members. Curbside drop-off is available from 8:45-9am, free of charge. Before care is available from 7:30-8:45 am for a fee of $8 per day. After care is available from 3-5:30pm for a fee of $15 per day.
Overview: Make it bubble, make it fizzle, make it turn blue. At this mad scientist-themed camp, campers will conducts safe, kid-friendly experiments done every day. Lab coats not required. Geared to children ages 5-8.
February 27 and March 1-3; 9am-3pm (before and after care available)
Cost: $30; Before care (7-9am) $10; After care (3-6pm) $10
Overview: Ages 4-12. Campers will enjoy fun activities, participate in group games, enjoy supervised free play & much more.
February 27, March 1-3 9am-1pm for ages 18 mos-4years; 9am-3pm for ages 5-13 – camp closes at 1pm on Monday, March 1. Before and aftercare available for additional fee.
Cost: $35/day for ages 18 mos-4 years; $48/day for ages 5-13
Overview: Activities include arts, gym, games, and indoor/outdoor play (depending on weather).
February 27, March 1-3, 9am-3pm; Early drop off/late pick-up available for additional fee 7:30am-5:30pm
Cost: $225/week if paid in advance; Single day rates available: $55/day, 2-4 days $50/day
Overview: For ages 4-12. They offer daily riding lessons for beginners and up, all sorts of horse and pony related activities and learning about them and caring for them. Other games, some crafts and activities. Meet and care for Molly the 3 legged pony.
March 1-3; 9am-12pm and 1-3pm
Cost: $65 and up
Overview: Campers will have fun doing crafts, canvas painting, clay building, pottery painting and more. All Materials, snacks and drinks are included. However, if you sign up for the afternoon session bring a bagged lunch for the break in between. All Materials, snacks and drinks are included.
February 27, March 1-3, 8am – 6pm (No early drop off/late pick-up available.)
Cost: YMCA Members: $35/day; Non-Members $45/day plus a one-time non-member registration fee that is good for the entire ’16-’17 holiday camp school year: $30/one child or $40/family. Single day rates available.
Overview: Kids ages 3-13 can enjoy indoor and outdoor play, weather permitting, throughout the day, as well as arts and crafts. Campers must bring two snacks (morning and afternoon), a bag lunch, and a water bottle for each kid.
March 2-3, 9am-4pm
Cost:$65/day, or $125 for both days.
Overview: Ages 5 – 12. Campers will repurpose parade throws into one-of-a-kind creations and choreograph original dances. Barman’s Fun will craft healthy drinks and share techniques for juicing, muddling, and artistic garnishes.
February 24, 27, March 1-3; 8am – 3pm (before and after care available)
Cost: Contact for rates
Overview: For ages 3 – 10, this is one of the only places offering camp on the Friday before Mardi Gras, Vamonos NOLA! offers days packed with art, games, music, carnival crafts, theater, soccer, exploring Audubon Park, and a Vamanos parade.
February 27, March 1-3; 7am-4pm (aftercare available)
Cost: Daily $35, 3 days $99, 5 days $135; After care from 4-6pm $10/day.
Overview: Ages 4 & up. Activities include obstacle course, zipline, group skill building, outdoor activities, arts & crafts, and more.
Here we go, folks. We’re heading into that dead zone between the holidays and Mardi Gras. It’s a pretty short interval, but it can feel like a lifetime after all the hustle and bustle of December. Plus, the post-holiday blues may be setting in, and the weather is probably going to fluctuate between super chilly and clammy, as it often does this time of year. Yuck!
The least we can do to help out is to provide this handy list of indoor activities in New Orleans and on the Northshore where the kids burn off energy. Many give you the option of joining in, or kicking back and relaxing while they go to town — your call!
Colonial Lanes (New Orleans)
6601 Jefferson Highway
(504) 517-9908; www.colonialbowlnola.com
AMF All Star Lanes (Kenner)
3640 Williams Blvd.
(504) 443-5353; www.amf.com/location/amf-all-star-lanes-la
Tiffany Lanes (Mandeville)
4400 Highway 22
(985) 626-4441; www.facebook.com/TiffanyLanesMandeville
Bowling USA (Slidell)
685 Brownswitch Road
(985) 649-4811; www.facebook.com/BowlUSASlidell
New Orleans Boulder Lounge (New Orleans)
1746 Tchoupitoulas Street
(504) 510-2990; climbnobl.com
Slidell Rocks Climbing Gym (Slidell)
39543 Hwy. 190 E.
(985) 646-1411; www.slidellrocks.com
FAMILY FITNESS & FUN CENTERS
Adventure Quest Laser Tag (Harahan)
1200 South Clearview Parkway
(504) 207-4444; www.lasertagnola.com
Ochsner Kidsports Elmwood (Harahan)
1200 S Clearview Pkwy
(504) 733-1600; www.ochsnerfitness.com
X Fusion Fitness Center (Covington)
1455 N Collins Blvd
(985) 705-2910; www.xfusionfitnesscenter.com
Mandeville Sports Complex (Mandeville)
(985) 727-7277; www.mandevillesportscomplex.com
Safari Quest Family Fun Center (Hammond)
200 Hewitt Road
(985) 340-5858; www.lasertaghammond.com
Alpha Baseball (Mandeville)
68598 Ambrosia Street
(231) 730-4579; Alpha-baseball.com
Big Easy Sportsplex (Jefferson)
800 Webb Street
(504) 733-0046; www.bigeasysportsplex.com
The Monkey Room (New Orleans)
1501 Religious Street
(504) 301-2695; monkeyroom.net
Bookoo Bounce (Elmwood)
5604 Blessey Street
(504) 835-6424; www.bookoobounce.com
The Little Gym (Covington)
51 Park Pacel Drive
(985) 871-8989; www.thelittlegym.com/thenorthshoreLA
Palm Tree Playground (Metairie)
3011 N Interstate 10 Service Rd E
(504) 828-8164; palmtreeplayground.com
Sector 6 Indoor Trampoline Park (New Orleans)
612 Distributors Row
(504) 539-4224; www.sector6.us
Kids Arena Inflatables (Mandeville)
813 Florida Street
(985) 626-1414; www.thekidsarena.com
Elevation Station Indoor Trampoline Park (Covington)
250 Northpointe Court
(985) 791-9838; www.elevationstation.com
Airline Skate Center (Metairie)
6711 Airline Dr, Metairie
(504) 733-2248; www.airlineskatecenternola.com
Skater’s Paradise (Slidell)
1421 Gause Blvd. West
(985) 643-0839; skateslidell.com
SPECIAL CATEGORY: ESCAPE ROOMS
Okay, this category is coloring outside the lines a bit, as it’s not exactly exercise, but it’s COOL! These facilities offer up themed, interactive mysteries or puzzles for groups to solve as a team in order to escape the room in which they’re “locked.” (You’re not actually locked in, by the way.) All offer kid-friendly options, but require parent supervision. Different, right?
Clue Carre (New Orleans)
830 Union Street
(504) 667-2583; cluecarre.com
Mystere Mansion Escape Rooms (New Orleans)
4800 Canal Street
(504) 483-2350; partyvenuesneworleans.com
Escape Room (Covington)
13433 Seymour Myers Blvd
(985) 373-5520; www.theescapecovington.com
It should come as no surprise that we are absolutely swamped with holiday fun in this region! From New Orleans to the Northshore to many points between and adjacent, we have mined for as many festive events as we could possibly pack into one big, fat post, and wound up topping EIGHTY, so far! We begin with a listing of mall Santas, then divide the rest of the happenings into two categories: ongoing/multi-day events and single day events — all of which are in chronological order and contain links to individual websites of origin. Browse through and start jam-packing those holiday calendars!
Now through December 24
Santa and the train are located at Center Court throughout the holiday season. North Pole Express train rides: $1.50 a ride or 10 tickets for $10, Monday – Saturday 10am – 8pm, Sundays 12pm-6pm. Santa Photos: Monday – Thursday, 10am-7pm. Go here for details.
Now through December 24
Santa will be available for pictures wiith multiple package options, as well as special gift offers. Also, on December 10 from 10:30-11:30am, kids can meet a live reindeer in the Clearview Room and earn their antlers. Limited tickets available. Go here for details.
Now through December 24
In addition to hosting Santa for photo ops with the kids, North Square also presents a Sights & Sounds of the Holidays program. Visit their website for dates and times.
Now through December 24
The Oakwood Mall in Gretna is hosting visits and photo ops with Jolly Old St. Nick. Special pet photos with Santa are also available on select dates. Go here for more info or to reserve at time.
December 4 from 9-11am
This subdued and welcoming environment exclusively for children with special needs and their families features lights and sounds that will be kept to a minimum. Sponsored by the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans. Click here for details.
ONGOING & MULTI-DAY EVENTS
Now – December 24
Merchants and shops throughout downtown Covington are participating in this old world shopping experience. Highlights include special shopping events, strolling musicians, carolers, beautiful decorations, refreshments, and door prizes. Most shops are open 9am-5pm, Monday – Saturday, some Sundays. Restaurant hours vary. Get details here.
Now through December 28 from 5:30pm – 8:30pm
The Kenner Christmas Village will light up the Rivertown historic district. Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays feature various festivities, including caroling, costumed holiday characters, and appearances by Santa, along with craft and food vendors and entertainment by local school and dance troops. The Planetarium will be open Fridays, December 2, 9, & 16 displaying holiday laser shows at 7pm. Details here.
December 1-18 from 6-7pm
The historic St. Louis Cathedral and Basilica plays host to an annual holiday tradition of staging free concerts throughout the month of December by prominent New Orleans musicians, church choirs and singers in the jazz, classical, gospel and pop genres. Concerts generally run for an hour and are open to the public. Donations are welcome to help fund the cost of the series. For dates, times, and other information about the St. Louis Cathedral Holiday Concerts call 504-522-5730 or visit the website.
A Creole tradition from the mid-1800s, dozens of New Orleans’ finest restaurants serve up decadent four-course holiday feasts with all the trimmings for the month of December. For details and menus, click here.
December 1 & 3 at 9am & 11am
Children’s Hospital, Touro, The Parenting Center, and Bakers Dozen donuts partnered with New Orleans Moms Blog for this event, which provides kids with fun festivities, including a personalized visit with Santa, donuts, sweet treats and more. Adults can enjoy food and beverage, the “build your own” swag bag bar and a chance to win some fabulous giveaways. Click here for details.
December 2 – January 1 on Sunday – Thursday : 6pm -10pm; Friday & Saturday: 6pm -11pm
This annual celebration is fun for all ages and has become a beloved holiday tradition. Highlights include dazzling light displays, walkways lined with dozens of Christmas trees decorated by local school groups, a festive two-mile train ride, the animated Cajun Night Before Christmas display, and of course, New Orleans’ iconic snowman Mr. Bingle. Celebration in the Oaks. Closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Click here for more information.
December 2-3, 9-10 from 6-9pm
This holiday celebration at Griffith Park in Olde Towne Slidell features thousands of twinkling lights, festive decorations, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Parade of Trees, and a life-sized Christmas Village. Admission is free. Go here for details.
This adults-only magnolia-scented Christmas show features Mrs. Sandy Claus doing hair and talking trash with Wheezy Grincheaux, Herbelle The Elf, Mrs. Scratchit, and Cherie Snowman. It stars the creators of Ditzyland, Ricky Graham, Varla Jean Merman, Sean Patterson and Jefferson Turner. For tickets and showtimes, click here.
December 2-26 (weekends and select weekdays)
The Stage Door Canteen is the site of these festive events where the Victory Belles will present holiday music favorites like Do You Hear What I Hear, The Christmas Song, and Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. Joined by Tom Hook as Burl Ives, this all-new production is sure to create a nostalgic, old fashioned experience. Go here for tickets, dates, and showtimes.
The annual exhibit features LED lights with fantastic displays such as a lighted 60-foot Sea Serpent in the lagoon, a princess and her magical castle & the gingerbread man. Plus, there’s a new Pokemon Go section and old favorites including holiday characters, the beloved Lombardi Trophy between two Saints Players, the Teddy Bear Factory, and Snowman Island. The children’s carousel will be open nightly, and there’s free Admission on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Hours are Sunday-Thursday: dusk til 9:45pm and Friday-Saturday: dusk til 11:45pm. Visit the website for more info.
December 2, 9 & 16 at 6:30pm
The Downtown Development District and The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk present three Fridays of free outdoor movie showings at Spanish Plaza. December 2: Home Alone; December 9: Frozen; December 16: Elf. Go here for more information.
December 2-4 from 10am to 5pm
This three-day show, held at the St. Tammany Parish Fairgrounds, features more than 500 artists and craftspersons, plus 20 food booths. Details here.
December 2 & 3, 9 & 10, 16 & 17 from 6-9 pm
For $10 per car, people can drive through Liuzza Farm and enjoy the festive holiday light displays. There are also drive-thru opportunities to purchase hot chocolate, t-shirts, gifts, and farmers market items. More info here.
December 2 & 3, 9 & 10 from 6-8:30 pm
This annual event on Koop Drive in Mandeville, behind the Tammany Trace Kids Konnection Playground, features live entertainment from local schools and area performance groups, trees donated by Winn Dixie and decorated by schools and other organizations, Santa Claus, and kiddie rides. Plus, pictures with Santa and refreshments will be available for purchase. New this year, Rudy the live Reindeer from Zoo to U will make a special guest appearance on Saturday, December 3rd at 7:30pm. Click here for more info.
December 3, 10, 17 at 10am
The National World War II Museum hosts this traditional holiday tea, featuring food and sweet treats, lively performance by the Victory Belles, a special visit from Santa, and a teddy bear souvenir. Go here for tickets and details.
December 3-4, 10-11, 17-24
Guests at the Roosevelt Hotel’s annual Teddy Bear Tea will be taken on Santa’s journey to the rooftops of New Orleans. Santa and Mrs. Claus will welcome everyone while they enjoy a presentation of delicious holiday food, specialty teas, and tasty pastries, as well as sparkling wine and mimosas for adults. For reservations and details on various packages and seating times, go here.
December 3-4, 19-24 at 11am & 2:30pm
This annual event allows children to enjoy cookie decorating, viewing The Ritz-Carlton’s one of a kind gingerbread display, an appearance by Papa Noel, and other holiday surprises in The Ritz-Carlton’s Davenport Lounge. Click here for details and reservations.
December 4 & 7 at 10am
The Prytania Theater in Uptown is showing this classic movie just in time for the holidays. Go here for more info.
December 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18 at 10am & 1:30pm
This annual celebration features a variety of specialty and traditional food stations, free-flowing mimosa and poinsettia cocktails for adults, special appearances by historic New Orleans characters, live musical entertainment by Nina Bubrig, and photos with Santa. Contact Mrs. Claus at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504-571-4672 for reservations. Click here for more details.
Visitors are invited to enjoy great food, live entertainment, crafts, Santa’s Very Merry Forest and carnival rides throughout the weekend. Plus, each night will be highlighted with a single bonfire lighting. Click here for schedule of events and other details.
The Orpheum Theater gets lit for the holidays with special help from the LPO and community guest artists. Travel the world to experience the holidays as seen through the eyes of different cultures. Get tickets and details here.
December 10 & 11, 17 & 18 at 9am
Deanie’s Seafood invites kids and families to enjoy this Christmas celebration featuring New Orlean’s entertainer Vince Vance, delicious treats, traditional Christmas caroling, pictures with Santa, a full buffet breakfast and more. Click here for details.
December 10, 11, 18-23 at 12pm & 3pm
Children of all ages are invited to build a festive gingerbread house at The Ritz-Carlton. Price includes one gingerbread house with all of the decorating essentials and holiday refreshments. Each house can accommodate up to four guests. Adult supervision and reservations are required. Click here for details and reservations.
Teddy Bear Tea at the Royal Sonesta (New Orleans)
December 11, 17-18 11am & 2:30pm; December 10, 21-23 at 11am
Little Princess & Princesses are crowned as they enter into the hotel’s Magical Royal Kingdom, and highlights include a storytimes and fun with Mrs. Claus, Santa, Rudolph, the Sugarplum Fairy, Marching Toy Soldiers and members of the New Orleans Saintsations. Photos with Santa will be available for purchase after each seating. Each child is invited to “share the magic” of the season by donating a small, unwrapped gift for the Children’s Hospital Toy Drop. Go here for reservations and details.
December 11 & 14 at 10am
The Prtyania Theater in Uptown is showing this classic movie just in time for the holidays. Go here for more info.
December 12-23 (Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays) at 2pm & 7pm
This magic workshop and tea party for all ages will feature dress-up fun, specially themed crafting, story-time, snacks, tea-time, a manners game, and more. Visit their website for details and reservations.
December 16 & 23 at 12pm & 4:30pm
La Petite Tea Room is hosting its annual holiday event, complete with dress-up, specially themed crafting, story-time, snacks, tea-time, a manners game, and more. Visit their website for details and reservations.
This popular event takes place at the Convention Center, where the facade facing Julia Street will be decorated in lights synchronized to Christmas music. Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph and all their friends will be onsite for photos, autographs and professional photo booth opportunities. Activities include an indoor ice skating rink, the Kringle Carousel, funhouse maze, carnival rides and inflatables. Hours are 10am-8pm daily. Christmas Eve hours are 10am-5pm and hours for Christmas Day are 2pm-8pm. Visit the website for more info.
December 17 & 18 at 10:30am & 2pm
The Paddlewheeler Creole Queen hosts this annual family event with Papa Noel, Mrs. Noel, Gaston the Gator and other jolly Cajun characters. Highlights include a classic holiday tea with tempting treats, storytelling, face painting, magic tricks, children’s activities and merriment while cruising the mighty Mississippi. Kids gets a special presents and can also hold a real live alligator. Go here for tickets and information.
December 19, 20 & 24 at 10am
The Prytania Theater in Uptown presents showings of holiday classics Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Also included are special treats, arts & crafts, and snow! Fun begins at 9am, movies being at 10am. For details, click here.
December 22 & 29 from 9:30am –12:30 pm
New Orleans Museum of Art offers 3 single-day Studio KIDS! Holiday Workshops to engage young artists in the creative process. Students will explore works of art in the museum galleries and get creative in the studio. Go here for details and registration.
SINGLE DAY EVENTS
December 1 at 7:30pm
The LPO’s annual holiday celebration returns to Jefferson Parish Performing Arts Center, featuring yuletide favorites perfect for the entire family. Bring your holiday spirit and caroling voice, as the LPO is led by guest conductor Julian Pellicano and joined by school choirs from across the greater New Orleans region. For details, go here.
December 2 at 7:30pm
The LPO’s annual holiday celebration returns to Hammond’s Columbia Theater, featuring yuletide favorites perfect for the entire family. Bring your holiday spirit and caroling voice, as the LPO is led by guest conductor Julian Pellicano and joined by school choirs from across the greater New Orleans region. For details, go here.
December 2 at 6pm
The Rotary Club of Hammond’s parade carries the theme “A Starry Christmas” this year, thanks to the Ciolino family of Star Equipment, a big supporter of the parade for 47 years. The parade, loaded with floats, high school marching bands, and of course, Santa, will take the same route as last year, beginning and ending on Tornado Drive. The Kid’s Zone will be staged at Southeastern Lab School on General Pershing Drive. Tyler Kinchen and the Right Pieces will lead the parade with Christmas music. For more info, click here.
December 2 from 6-9pm
This annual downtown Ponchatoula event promises lots of food, fun and hot chocolate. Plus, the mayor will be flipping the switch to light up the town, and Santa will be on the steps of Collinswood Museum with candy canes for the kids. Click here for details.
December 3 from 10am – noon
They craft; you shop. Kids 3 and up can enjoy a Sprout character felt stocking project. Sign up in-store, online or just drop in. $2 per project, supplies included. Parent or guardian must remain on premises during the event. Visit the website for details.
Lowe’s Build & Grow Holiday Workshop (Both Shores)
December 2 at 10am
Kids who register for these workshops build a wooden project and get a free apron, goggles, and patch. This week, they will make Christmas ornaments. Go here for info and to register.
December 3 at 8:30pm
This annual event in Algiers Point features the lighting of a massive levee bonfire, food vendors, live music from Bag of Donuts, and a second line with the Landry-Walker High School Marching Band. Click here for details and a schedule of events.
December 3 from 1-3pm
This special winter holiday tea features tasty tea sandwiches, a complimentary gift and discounts in The Shop at Longue Vue just in time for gift giving! Tour New Orleans’ most beautiful home decked in festive decor. Advance registration required. Click here for details and reservations, or call 504-293-4701.
December 3 from 9-11am
The Lakehouse Restaurant in Mandeville is hosting this popular event, which will feature breakfast and treats from Bakers Dozen, Whimsical Cake Designs and Cookies, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Panera Bread, and Orleans Coffee. Also included in the admission price is a picture with Santa, as well as create-your-own swag bags for children 6 months and older. For details, go here.
December 3 from 4-8pm
A grand parade kicks off this annual event, starting at the Maritime Museum and ending on the Riverfront in front of Town Hall. It is led by the mayor who is followed by the court of the Krewe of Tchefuncte, bands, dancers, classic cars, and more. Plus, there will be a Champagne toast to celebrate Santa and Mrs. Claus’ arrival by boat, as well as the lighting of the Christmas tree, caroling, and Santa’s Workshop. Go here for more info.
December 3 from 10am – Noon
If the mall Santa lines a little daunting, itsybitsyme in Metairie will have their very own Santa and photographer this Saturday. Visit their Facebook page for details.
December 3 from 10am-Noon
This free kid-friendly holiday event includes the Covington Trailhead lighting, pictures with Santa, and entertainment. Click here for details.
December 3 at 1pm
New Orleans’ official holiday parade, the “Krewe of Jingle,” features authentic parade floats, marching bands, stilt walkers, Christmas characters, and many more magical surprises. Click here for details and parade route.
December 3 from 7pm-Midnight
Everyone is invited to celebrate the Christmas season in a beautiful setting. Highlights include hor d’oeuvres, a Creole buffet, petite sweets, premium bar service, a bonfire on the levee, live entertainment under the oaks, and end the evening with hot chocolate, coffee, and beignets. Proceeds from this event go the preservation efforts of this historic landmark. Learn more here.
December 3 from 11am – 4pm
Pauline Books & Media in Metairie hosts this annual event that celebrates the real reason for the season. Highlights include the Nativity story, costumes, carols, and a birthday cake for baby Jesus. Click here for more info.
The Louisiana Children’s Museum celebrates the season with their annual whimsical display of trees decorated by local schools, artists and community partners. The day will begin with a Patron Brunch from 10am-noon, followed by Family Fun Day general admission from noon-4:30pm, featuring a special day of holiday performances, activities, crafts and more. Visit the museum’s website for details.
December 3 from 8:30-10:30am
This family event at The Esplanade Mall in Kenner allows children 10 and under to interact with Santa, and also features a light breakfast from Zea’s, Drama Kids performance and interaction, and a special surprise by the Great American Cookie Company. Click here for tickets and info.
December 3 at 7:30pm
This holiday season, experience Home Alone like never before with John Williams’ Academy Award®-winning score performed live by the LPO to the film, projected on a massive HD screen at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. For tickets and info, go here.
December 4 from 2-4pm
Everyone is invited to Michabelle Inn and Restaurant for this Hammond Ballet holiday family tradition with the Sugar Plum Fairy and her court from The Nutcracker. Guests will sample delicacies and sweet treats, and children’s activities include cookie decorating, performances from the ballet with costumed Hammond Ballet dancers, and more. Click here for tickets and info.
December 4 from 11am -5pm
At this special holiday event, participants will paint 2 ornaments, take a photograph with Santa and enjoy snacks and drink. An upgrade to a Cookies for Santa plate is available as well. Go here for details.
December 4 at 2:30pm
The LPO’s annual holiday celebration returns to Slidell Municipal Auditorium, featuring yuletide favorites perfect for the entire family. Bring your holiday spirit and caroling voice, as the LPO is led by guest conductor Julian Pellicano and joined by school choirs from across the greater New Orleans region. For details, go here.
December 4 at 4pm
The Fuhfrmann Auditorium is playing host to an original musical comedy that captures the holiday spirit. ELF University, the Musical takes a fun-filled look at Santa’s elves during the busy holiday season. The Crescent City Sound Chorus will be joined by local quartets, small a cappella groups, and the Chalmette High School Jazz Band. Click here for tickets and info.
December 4 at 3pm & 7pm
St. Timothy United Methodist Church’s annual concert features their award-winning choir, the Northshore Orchestra, the St. Timothy Youth Chorale, and several guest soloists. Concertgoers will be treated to a variety of well-loved Christmas favorites, as well as an audience sing-along. Each performance will last one hour and fifteen minutes.Though it’s a free event, it’s recommended that people obtain tickets in advance. For tickets and info, go here.
December 9 from 5-9pm
Everyone is invited to watch the lighting of the bonfires along the levee, enjoy music from local bands/choirs, dine under the oaks, and watch a fireworks display that will welcome the guest of honor, Santa. Click here for more info.
December 10 from 10am – noon
They craft; you shop! Kids 3 and up can enjoy a Clay Pot Elf project. Sign up in-store or just drop in. $2 per project, supplies included. Parent or guardian must remain on premises during the event. Visit the website for details.
December 10 at 10am
If you or someone you know could use a little extra help from Santa this year, Elmwood Self Storage is heading up this Toys for Tots Distribution Day in Harahan. Santa will be on hand for pictures, as well. Go here for registration and details.
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium celebrates the holidays with activities and treats for the entire family. Go here for details.
Family Play in Clay: Santa Ornament (New Orleans)
December 10 from 4 – 6pm
Posh Paint Pub is hosting a Family Play in Clay Session where participants will press their hands in clay to make a Santa Head Ornament. Go here for details.
December 10 at 7:30pm
For the second year in a row, The Marine Corps Reserve will partner with Chevron and the Saenger Theatre to present the Marine Corps Band New Orleans’ holiday concert production of “Santa Meets Sousa” at the Saenger Theatre. An event for all ages, the performance is open to the public, however, the donation of a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots is appreciated. While admission is free, all seating is reserved and requires an event ticket, which are given out on a first come first serve basis. Click here for details.
December 10 at 9am
The Downtown Development District and Entergy present this one mile fun run & 1/2 mile Eggnog Jog on Canal Street. Rudolph, Santa and friends will jingle their bells to signal the start of the race, which begins and ends at Riverwalk Spanish Plaza. Participants will receive antlers, a race t-shirt and a bag of holiday goodies. After the race, there will be healthy activities like yoga for kids & parents, pictures with Santa, music, games, crafts and more. Registration begins at 8am; race starts at 9am. Go here for details and to register.
December 10 from 10:30-11:30am
Kids ages 7-11 are invited to the National Food & Beverage Museum kitchen to learn how to make tasty holiday drinks to share with friends and family. Go here for details.
December 10 from 4:30 – 8pm
The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation will hold its annual Lights at the Lake holiday celebration at the New Canal Lighthouse. Visitors can partake in raffle drawings all evening long, hear school choirs, take pictures with Santa, enjoy refreshments from local eateries, and watch the boat parade. Click here for more info.
December 11 from 10:30am-12:30pm
Kids ages 7-15 are invited to the National Food & Beverage Museum kitchen to take part in multiple cookie mixing, baking, and decorating stations. They’ll include basic sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies, as well as holiday extras like chocolate eggnog and thumbprints cookies.Go here for details.
December 11 from 10am-1pm
The Covington bakery is hosting this event, which features photos with Santa Claus, cookie decorating assisted by Santa’s helpers, and face painting. Treats include coffee, hot cocoa, and donuts, plus holiday catering and dessert samples. Click here for details.
December 11 & 14 at 10am
The Prtyania Theater in Uptown is showing this classic movie just in time for the holidays. Go here for more info.
December 11 from 1-4pm
Audubon Zoo hosts this fun event, which includes holiday refreshments, unlimited carousel and train rides, a space walk, a holiday photo ornament, and a small stuffed animal. Click here for details.
December 15 from 7-11pm
This 3rd Annual community-wide celebration of the Festival of Lights features great music, drink specials, silent auction and a complimentary latke bar. Proceeds from the event will support the JCRS camp, college and special needs scholarships and outreach programs. Details here.
December 16 from 11am-noon
The Jewish Community Center Nursery School is performing all their favorite Chanukah songs. Click here for more info.
December 17 from 6:30-9:30pm
Ring in the Festival of Lights with JNOLA! This year’s Chanukah event is JNOLA’s big signature event for the year and celebrates the NextGen Jewish community in New Orleans. Eat, drink, and dance the night away with your friends as we rejoice in a successful year with JNOLA. For details, click here.
December 18 from 2-4pm
Six13, an award-winning Jewish a cappella group from New York will headline this annual Community Chanukah Celebration. In addition to the concert, there will be dinner and a community candle lighting to celebrate Chanukah. Click here for more info.
Jackson Square Caroling (New Orleans)
December 18 at 7pm
For this annual event, Jackson Square is illuminated by hundreds of candles held by both amateur and pro singers while crooning Christmas favorites. Candles and song sheets are provided. Gates to Jackson Square open at 6:30 p.m. and the caroling begins at 7:00. Those who plan to attend and participate are strongly advised to arrive early. For more information call 888-756-6250 or visit the Patio Planters website.
December 24 at dusk
These bonfires, erected on the river levees by the keepers of this old tradition, are intended to light the way for “Papa Noël,” the Cajun Santa Claus, on his airborne journey to the area. Or, according to some sources, the bonfires may have also been a way of lighting the path to the nearest Catholic church for Midnight Mass. More information here.
December 24 from 6:30-9:30pm
This festive Christmas Eve event on the river features a big holiday dinner buffet, a call brand open bar, and live music. Boarding will begin at 6:30pm, cruising from 7:30pm until 9:30pm. Reservations are required and holiday attire recommended. Click here to make reservations.
December 27 from 5 – 7pm
Hundreds of community members will gather for this celebration of Jewish pride on the Mississippi River and the lighting of Louisiana’s largest Menorah. There will aslo be food, music and much more. Click here for more info.
December 31 at 11pm
The Paddlewheeler Creole Queen will allow revelers to ring in the New Year with a front row seat to the fireworks extravaganza over the Mississippi River. Highlights include a variety of scrumptious hors d’oeuvres, call-brand drinks at the open bar, a DJ, and of course, a New Year’s toast with Champagne and festive party favors. For details and reservations, go here.
December 31 from 9:30am – 3pm
All are invited to ring in the New Year with the whole family at Louisiana Children’s Museum’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration, which culminates with a colorful confetti toss and balloon release. Guests can make their own noisemaker and a festive paper bag hat, enjoy the sounds of Blu Kru Brass Band, and ring in 2017 family-style. Special event ticketing applies. Pre-registration is strong recommended. For details and tickets, click here.
December 31 from 10:30am to 1:30pm
Audubon Zoo invites families and kids of all ages to celebrate the new year in style with music, games and prizes. Pick up a party hat and noise maker, grab a Pepsi drink for toasting, and countdown to Noon to ring in the New Year. (All items are while supplies last.) This event is free for Audubon members or included with Zoo admission. Go here for details.
December 31 from 9pm – 1am
Revelers are invited to swing in 2017 with dinner, dancing, the music of Frank Sinatra—featuring vocalists extraordinaire Spencer Rocca and Dody Piper—and the fabulous Victory Swing Orchestra at the World War II Museum. Other highlights include a welcome Bellini cocktail, a delicious four-course Italian dinner, big-band music and dancing, beer and wine, bubbly at midnight, and a chocolate buffet after ringing in the New Year. Go here for tickets and details.
As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, and we look forward to feasting and celebrating with loved ones, many of us feel compelled to take inventory of all the blessings we often take for granted, and share this spirit of gratitude with our children. Helping them to realize how lucky we are to have roofs over our heads, food in our bellies, and healthy bodies gives them the kind of perspective that sets the stage for sharing with those less fortunate.
There are plenty of local organizations on both shores that are in desperate need of your compassion and generosity to continue helping those in need. Please consider donating your time or resources, as a family, to celebrate to the true spirit of Thanksgiving.
In addition to their ongoing efforts to eradicate poverty in our region, United Way of Southeast Louisiana recognizes that recovery from the recent flooding requires a complex approach. They initially set up a Flood Relief and Recovery Fund to address immediate needs, but they have shifted to long-term recovery efforts to fill unmet needs, provide grants to community partners and other nonprofit organizations to assist with recovery, and support other response and recovery efforts.
Due to overwhelming generosity, their Southshore and Northshore drop off locations are now closed, but they still need funds to meet the changing needs of flood victims. Visit their website for information on how to contribute.
Second Harvest is launching their Holiday Meal Drive from November 1 – December 31. The goal is to collect 110,000 pounds of food and $50,000 to help ensure families across South Louisiana get the food they need during the holidays and throughout the year. For every dollar collected, Second Harvest can provide three meals. People can donate holiday meal items and/or funds to help ensure everyone has a place at the table. Itt also has links and tips to help people have an even greater impact by starting a team and holding an online fundraiser, or holding a food drive at their office, school, or other location. They’re looking for dry, non-perishable food items. For more information on starting a food drive or a list of suggested donation items, click here. For general information about Second Harvest, visit their website.
The Y’s Home for the Holidays program delivers meals to elderly and homebound people on Thanksgiving Day, supplementing the Meals on Wheels program sponsored by the Council on Aging. Starting at 5am Thanksgiving morning, volunteers begin cooking and preparing over 1,500 meals. Members of the YMCA and their families bake homemade desserts to include in each meal and local school children create handmade cards for each senior. Once the meals are packaged, over 200 volunteers deliver them to homebound seniors in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, and St. Tammany parishes. For information on how to donate and/or volunteer, visit their website.
Hotel Hope is working to renovate the former convent at Blessed Trinity Parish (formerly St. Mathias), located at 4222 S. Broad Street. Their mission will be to keep homeless families together and move them from homelessness to self-sufficiency through a three stage service model that involves providing crisis intervention services, residential stability, and help in achieving economic self-sufficiency. Go here to find out how to help make this happen.
Boys Hope Girls Hope is a nonprofit agency that helps children-in-need realize their full potential through education. It is the goal of this organization to help children and young people in their care to complete a college education, then put their education to work for the benefit of others, including their families and communities. This 100% privately funded organization’s annual fundraising events are critical to maintaining the housing and care that their scholars depend on for future success. New Orleans fundraisers include an annual gala, golf tournament, tennis tournament, and Crescent City Classic 10k run. They also welcome cash donations via their website.
This organization provides long-term residential, gender-specific treatment to help individuals who are dependent on drugs and/or alcohol lead sober and productive lives. They host three annual dinners at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Christmas in July. These three events provide a traditional holiday meal, toiletries, clothing, and fellowship to the homeless and indigent population of the Greater New Orleans Area. Plus, they help to raise awareness within the homeless and indigent population of services provided by Bridge House / Grace House. The volunteer slots are full for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you can donate cash or the aforementioned items. Contact Stephanie Clary at email@example.com or 504-821-7134 to learn more about the items needed to make this event a success. Click here for all the ways to contribute to this organization.
The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office hosts its annual Thanksgiving Dinner Celebration every Thanksgiving Day at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The event is for people from Orleans and the surrounding parishes to enjoy a great meal and entertainment. Volunteers will receive 4 hours of community service for their efforts, and they are asked to arrive at 9am. Be sure to visit the website as dates and details become available.
The largest shelter for homeless women and children in the metro area, New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter has served more than 750 women and children since 2007. A large majority of the children at the shelter are under the age of ten, and 80% of the families helped since 2007 have transitioned to sustainable, independent living. Volunteers can get involved with shift coverage, answering the door and receiving calls, donation organization, fundraising, office management, resident programing, and much more. Some NOWS volunteers have even launched programs about in-house garden management, art workshops, yoga lessons, and other areas of interest, so your hobby or profession could be exactly what their residents need. Go here for was to donate and volunteer.
Children’s Hospital is a 247-bed, not-for-profit pediatric medical center offering a complete range of healthcare services for children from birth to 21 years. With over 40 pediatric specialties and more than 400 physicians, it is the only full-service hospital exclusively for children in Louisiana and the Gulf South. The hospital is happy to receive in-kind or non-monetary donations throughout the year, and toys, clothing, toiletries and other appropriate items are greatly appreciated, as well. Due to infection control policies, all donated items should be brand new and in original packaging. There are also various ways you can volunteer your time for the hospital throughout the year, plus many events to benefit the hospital, including the Jazz Half Marathon in late October, the Marriott Golf Classic on November 7, and the Sugar Plum Ball coming up in March. Cash donations can be allocated to: The Cancer Program, The Critical Care Units, Kids Fund, The Leaman Family Fund, Hogs for the Cause Fund, Children’s Miracle Network Telethon, Child Life, The Guild or The Emergency Transport Helicopter.For details on fundraising events, donations, wish lists, and volunteering, click here or call (504) 896-9375.
VOA of Greater New Orleans has been serving the most vulnerable since the 1890s, when they started helping indigent women and children. Today, they sponsor a wide variety of programs that assist children, families, seniors, veterans and persons living with disabilities in 16 parishes in south Louisiana. Of course, they accept donations throughout the year, and there are always youth mentoring programs that are in need of volunteers, but they’re also currently gearing up for their 15th Annual Christmas Wish Project to spread some holiday cheer to those in need this season. If you let them know how many people you would like to adopt, they will send you wish lists. Gifts will need to be wrapped, labeled, and delivered to their office by Tuesday, December 6th. The public can also donate money to the Christmas Wish Project by Wednesday, November 30, via the website by selecting “Christmas Wish Project” in the gift designation menu.
The New Orleans Mission provides food, shelter, clothing and spiritual guidance to the city’s homeless, hurting and hungry. Their commitment to meet the physical, social and spiritual needs of the homeless community is backed by the financial support of generous local residents, churches, organizations and corporate donors, but they are always looking for volunteers to help in their efforts. Groups, families and individuals can bring food to impoverished areas or serve breakfast, lunch or dinner at the mission. There’s also a ministry team from that seeks out the homeless in our city, and they host a monthly Kidztown event, where they go to a local neighborhood to set up fun activities for the local community, plus they provide food, a live band, and a presentation of the Gospel. Coming up on November 4 from 6-10pm, they’re hosting a fundraising gala at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. For information on these and other opportunities to support the Mission, click here.
There are multiple ways to contribute to this organization, which provides food, clothing, shelter, and comprehensive services to youth who are among the most damaged in our community, most of whom are victims of physical and/or sexual abuse, domestic and/or street violence, and the resulting trauma that often leads to substance abuse, mental health issues, and more. In addition to providing for their residents on a regular basis, Covenant House typically provides Christmas gifts to their residents, so they look for brand new items for residents ages 16-22 (male and female) and their children (babies and toddlers). To watch for updates on holiday events and activities, to see the wish list or get a link to their Amazon wishlist, or to learn about service projects, volunteer opportunities, or to make a regular monetary donation or to learn more about Covenant House, click here.
This organization’s mission is “to provide needed services to at-risk children and youth, encouraging hope and creating opportunities for growth and independent lives.” In addition to their year-round efforts, this United Way partner agency holds an annual holiday toy drive for children in foster care and are they always looking for groups to participate. They provide a wishlist for each child, and the children range from infancy to 17 years old. For a lot of these children, it’s the first time they’ve ever had a holiday of any kind or had gifts under the tree, so it’s an extra special drive. To find out how to contribute, call 504-899-9045, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website.
The fourth annual event, held at Chappapeela Sports Park on November 19 is a great opportunity to burn some pre-holiday calories while supporting the Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center and Our Daily Bread food bank. The Mashed Potato Mile starts at 8am and the 5K run starts at 8:30am. Participants can pre-register at Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center at 113 N. Cypress Street in Hammond. Race day registration will start at 7:30am. For more details, or to find out about volunteer opportunities, visit their website.
Covington Food Bank provides food assistance to more than 375 individuals and families each week who have found themselves in need.The Food Bank is supported by local food drives held by individuals, schools, civic organizations and businesses, as well as monetary donations and Second Harvest donations. At this time of year, they are in need of basic food items, including cereal, canned tuna and chicken, dry beans, and rice. On November 11 at 6:30pm, they’re hosting their Pallet With a Purpose fundraiser in their warehouse, featuring live music, food, and a silent auction. They are also seeking volunteer groups in November and December to help sort food donations. Call (985) 893-3003 or visit their website for more information, or to learn about hosting a food drive.
This long-standing tradition, which benefits St. Tammany Hospital’s Hospice program for terminally ill patients and their families, takes place on Thursday, December 8 from 5:30pm-6:30pm in the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Lobby in Covington. People are invited to honor or memorialize a loved one with the purchase of an angel, which will adorn the Tree of Life. During the tree lighting ceremony, there will be refreshments, as well as live music. To purchase an angel or learn about other sponsorship opportunities, go here or call (985)-898-4141.
ACCESS, which stands for adapting and changing children’s environment with successful solutions, raises funds to provide financial grants to families of children Southeastern Louisiana and the Gulf South Region with disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, stroke, and autism.These grants are used to purchase adaptive equipment, assistive devices, home/car/van modifications, and other interventions that are not covered by private insurance and/or Medicaid. The organization’s annual fundraisers include BooFest at Halloween and Sweet Soiree in the spring, but they also accept individual donations and sponsorships. For ways to contribute, click here.
PRIDE stands for Parent’s Resource Institute for Drug Education, but it also has a teen component in which young leaders sign contracts promising to be drug-free and help their peers be drug-free as well. They hold multiple socials and community events assist in their efforts to promote the healthy, drug-free development of the youth and families within St. Tammany Parish. There are many ways to contribute to this organization, including donating silent auction items for Red Ribbon Gala each October, making a one-time or monthly donation, or shopping online through AmazonSmile. For more information about ways to contribute, call (985) 727-7710, email email@example.com, or visit their website.
Oh, man. As I write this, it is the perfect fall morning. Slightly cool temps, so I’m wearing a light jacket, and we’re just at the right distance from Christmas to feel a little giddy without worrying about to-do lists, just yet. As if all that weren’t great enough, we have that delightfully creepy, costume-driven holiday, Halloween, to whet our festive whistle in the meantime.
As with every other special occasion, south Louisiana does not shy away from any opportunity to party. As you’ll see below, there are plenty of opportunities (23, to be exact!) to celebrate in spooky style, whether you live in New Orleans or on the Northshore.
Lakeside Shopping Center invites everyone to take photos with the Great Pumpkin and ride the Goblin Express train throughout the month of October. On Halloween, trick or treating beings at 7pm. Hours for the train are Monday – Saturday 10am – 8pm, Sundays 12pm-6pm. Pumpkin Patch Photos: Monday – Thursday, 10am-7pm. Photos with the Great Pumpkin: Friday and Saturdays, 10am-8pm; Sundays, 12-6pm. Click here for more information.
Saturdays and Sundays, October 1-31 from 5-8pm
Visitors can get their pictures taken with Mr. Hal-O-Ween at Clearview Mall on Saturdays and Sundays in October. Then, on Halloween night from 5pm-8pm, they will have mall-wide trick or treating, pictures with Mr. Hal-O-Ween, face painters, and games. Click here for more information.
October 15 from 10am -5pm
This one-day kid-centric event occurs in Dutch Alley, between Dumaine and St. Phillip Streets, with trick-or-treating throughout the French Market District, from the Shops at the Upper Pontalba to the Open Air Market. Children in costume receive a complimentary trick or treating bag (while supplies last) with a list of participating vendors and visit shops along Decatur Street, at Jackson Square, and in the farmers market. The event, free and open to the public, also includes a petting zoo, interactive craft-making booths, a New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park scavenger hunt and Junior Ranger station, local children’s authors and book signings hosted by Tisket a Tasket book and gift shop, and live music. Click here for details.
Saturday, October 15 from10am–3pm
This large festival style event, held in Bogue Falaya Park in Covington, offers lots of activities, entertainment, and trick or treating for the kids, plus local area restaurants and vendors will be serving refreshments, snacks and treats for purchase. Costumes encouraged. Go here for tickets and details.
October 21 & 22, October 28 & 29 from 5pm-9pm
Audubon Zoo’s annual extravaganza is a safe, fun-filled Halloween event for children up to age 12, featuring trick-or-treat houses with candy, the Ghost Train (which can be scary for children and adults), a haunted house (scary and non-scary), games, entertainment and more. All games and treats, except concessions, are free with admission.This year, on Friday, October 21, It’s MARVEL Super-Hero Night with the Spider-Man, Captain America, and Iron Man. For tickets and more information, go here.
October 21-23 on Friday & Saturday: 6pm early admission, 7pm to 10pm general admission; Sunday: 4pm early admission, 5pm to 8pm general admission
The annual spook-tacular three-night Halloween fundraising event hosted by the Friends of City Park offers non-scary fun for the whole family, including unlimited rides in Carousel Gardens, trick-or-treating in Storyland, arts and crafts, a pumpkin patch, airbrush tattoos, balloon animals, music and more. All proceeds from Ghosts in the Oaks go toward capital improvements in Carousel Gardens and Storyland. For tickets, to purchase a Friends of City Park membership, or for additional information, visit the website.
October 22 at 11am
Barnes & Noble stores in Metairie and Mandeville are hosting fun-filled Halloween storytimes. Little Blue Truck is back and picking up his animal friends for a costume party, and in I Need My Monster, a unique under-the-bed story, Ethan checks under his bed for his monster Gabe and finds a note from him instead: “Gone fishing. Back in a week.” Click here for more information.
October 22 at 11am and 2pm
The Ritz-Carlton pastry chefs will provide the gingerbread, you provide the creativity at this new Halloween event where visitors can make and decorate their own haunted pumpkin creations. Parental supervision is required. Call (504) 262-5048 or go here for reservations and details.
October 22 at 11am and 2:30pm
Little ghouls and goblins are sure to have a scary good time as they enjoy festive holiday themed snacks in the Ritz-Carlton’s Davenport Lounge. Costumes are encouraged. Call (504) 262-5048 or go here for reservations and details.
October 22 at 6:30pm
Unlike any other parade in the world, this one includes beautifully horrific props and sculptures from the Kern Studios, and it rolls through the French Quarter and CBD, ending at Mardi Gras World, which will host an after party. For the parade route and other information, go here.
October 22-23 at 11am and 2pm
Costumed characters add to the spooky ambience of this Halloween tea at the Windsor Court Hotel’s Le Salon. Children of all ages are encouraged to wear costumes as they enjoy a delicate tea sandwiches and Halloween-themed treats. Call (504) 596-4773 or click here for reservations.
October 23 from 7am-2pm
Happening on the riverfront in front of Madisonville’s town hall on Water Street, this festive, Halloween-themed event will also include trick or treats for the children. Click here for more information.
October 28-30 on Friday, 5-8:30pm; Saturday, 1-8:30pm; Sunday, 1-5:30pm
This 3-day Halloween Festival is primarily for children under 13 years old to costume and participate in activities such as trick or treating at 11 “houses” on Treat Street, Boo House (their version of a not too scary haunted house) , face-painting, 12 games, the hay stack romp, animal balloons, a story telling tent, 16 free games with prizes, and an entertainment stage for the children. Visit their website for more information.
October 29 from 10am – 3pm
Lakeview Regional Medical Center in Covington invites children and families to wear costumes and come Trick or Treat at over 70 haunted houses on the Green outside their facility. Other highlights include pumpkin decorating at the pumpkin patch, face painting, all-abilities games, a complimentary photo booth, music and dancing, participation by State Police Troop L, costume contests, and more. All proceeds benefit children with disabilities and their families. Visit the website for more information.
October 29 & 30
Audubon Insectarium is celebrating Halloween with treats and close-up encounters with critters. A $3 admission discount will be given to adults and kids who wear costumes. Visitors will learn about the myths behind some “scary” critters, go trick-or-treating for bug-themed trinkets, enjoy halloween-themed cookies, check out pumpkins that double as animal exhibits, and more. Go here for more information.
October 29 at 2:30pm
In addition to their month-long pumpkin patch, First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans is once again hosting their annual costume contest and movie. The featured movie is “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,” starts at 2:30pm, while the costume contest starts at 4:30pm in the pumpkin patch. Small prizes will be awarded, and unlimited refreshments will be available for $5. Proceeds will benefit the Program of Hope homeless ministry and Christian Education. If you need more information, call (504) 866-7409 or click here.
October 29 at 2:30pm
Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual Halloween Family Concert returns featuring classical music’s delightfully spooky dance tunes. Come dressed in your favorite Halloween costume and be sure to arrive 45 minutes prior to the concert to interact with our ghoulish musicians and their instruments. Go here for details.
October 29 from 11am-3pm
The Louisiana Children’s Museum encourages visitors to wear costumes to their annual event, which will feature festive music, crafts, and activities. Kids can dig into a gooey bowl of slime and learn how to make their own at home, treat-or-treat, and bust a move at a dance party in the Atrium. In line with the Museum’s Health & Wellness Initiative, candy will not be distributed. For tickets and information, click here.
October 29 from 11am-2pm
The free event, hosted by TerraBella Village Square in Covington, features pumpkins, pumpkin painting, face painting, a jump house, hayride, crafts for the kids, refreshments for purchase, and more. Please bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Covington Food Bank. For details, click here.
October 29 from 11am-2pm
The Shops at Canal Place are hosting their annual family- oriented Halloween event. Complimentary candy totes will be distributed (while supplies last) to the kids for fun trick-or-treating at participating stores. Kids are also encouraged to come dressed to impress, with special prizes awarded for the best costumes. In addition, families can enjoy live entertainment, face painting, balloon sculptures, special store promotions, and giveaways throughout the event. Plus, RHINO Contemporary Crafts will offer kids the opportunity to create their own Halloween masks. To learn more, go here.
October 29 from10am-Noon
Held at the Covington Trailhead, this annual event provides festive family fun, featuring games, entertainment, and activities with a Halloween theme. Click here for details.
October 30 from noon-3pm
St. Anselm invites everyone to attend their 11am mass in their family-friendly costumes, then stick around for the festivities to begin. Activities include treat bag decorating, trick or treating, games, a costume contest, cookie and pumpkin decorating contests, and more. The Knights of Columbus will also have drinks and hot dogs. Call (985) 845-7342 or visit the website for more details.
October 31 from 5-9pm
Once again, the town of Abita Springs is hosting a big party on Halloween night. The town hall and around downtown will be filled with music, games, trick or treating, food, and fun. Click here for details.
Parenthood, in general, is a balancing act, isn’t it? From discipline to diet, screen time to structure, we’re always trying to measure out just the right ingredients — in the right amounts — to create a well-rounded childhood for our offspring. Extracurricular activities are no exception.
There are countless schools of thought on how much is too much, but most of us can agree that at least some form of after-school and/or weekend activity is good for kids. Why? It cuts down on electronics, builds confidence, relieves stress, teaches time management (where homework is concerned), and it expands their horizons by allowing them to explore various interests.
Many of us have at least introduced our kids to team sports as an easily accessible activity, with varying results. Some kids go on to have long, illustrious careers (at least in the youth sports arena), some kids do it just as a hobby, and some kids are just plain not interested. No matter where your kid falls on that spectrum, it’s not a bad idea to look beyond the standard sports paradigm for a little more variety.
Here are are whole bunch of options to explore on both shores. Categories are combo facilities (offering arts and sports), cooking, foreign languages, gymnastics/cheer, martial arts, performing arts, swimming, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and visual arts.
(Please note: many of these facilities offer holiday camps, so be sure to check into that if you’ll be in need in the coming months.)
COMBO FACILITIES (ARTS & SPORTS)
Lakeview Creative Arts (New Orleans)
http://www.lakeviewcreativearts.com/; (504) 288-3124
NORDC New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (Multiple Locations)
http://nordc.org/home/; (504) 658-3052
YMCA New Orleans (Belle Chasse, Metairie, Covington)
http://www.ymcaneworleans.org/; (504)392-9622 (Belle Chasse); (985)893-9622 (Covington); (504)888-9622 (Metairie)
National Food and Beverage Foundation (New Orleans)
http://natfab.org/kids-in-the-kitchen/; (504) 267-7490
Culinary Kids (Mandeville)
http://culinarykidsns.com/; (985) 727-5553
Alliance Française de La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans)
http://af-neworleans.org/; (504) 568-0770
Vamanos (New Orleans)
http://www.vamonosnola.com/; (504) 495-2345
Casa de Espana (New Orleans)
https://casanola.com; (985) 664-9793
Crescent City Gymnastics (New Orleans)
http://www.crescentcitygymnastics.com/; (504) 861-1740
Encore Studio of Dance, Tumbling, Music, and Theatre (Harahan)
http://www.dancetumblemusic.com; (504) 737-5977
Ivanovs Gymnastics (Metairie)
http://www.ivanovsgymnastics.com; (504) 889-9800
Mandeville Sports Complex (Mandeville)
http://mandevillesportscomplex.com; (985) 727-7277
New Orleans Cheer and Tumble Academy (Harahan)
http://ltcatigers.com/; (504) 733-7811
New Orleans Outlaws (Kenner)
http://www.neworleansoutlaws.com/; (504) 465-3311
NOLA Gymnastics (New Orleans)
http://www.nolagymnastics.com/; (504) 782-6462
North Shore Gymnastics (Mandeville)
http://www.northshoregymnastics.net/; (985) 624-8310
Ochsner Kidsports Elmwood (Harahan)
http://www.ochsnerfitness.com/; (504) 733-1200
Studio G Dance & Gymnastics (New Orleans)
http://www.studiogdanceandgymnastics.com/; (504) 994-8857
Spirit Professionals (Hammond)
http://www.spiritprofessionals.com/; (985) 345-4383
Tumblebus Big Easy (New Orleans)
http://www.tumblebusbigeasy.com/; (504) 891-9615
Anthony Bean Community Theater & Acting School (New Orleans)
http://anthonybeantheater.com/; (504) 862-7529
Ballet Paetrei (Mandeville)
http://balletapetrei.com/wordpress/; (985) 624-3622
Body Expressions Center of Performing Arts (Mandeville)
https://bodyexpressionsdance.com/; (985) 674-2174
Cindy Ory Dance (River Ridge)
https://www.facebook.com/Cindy-Ory-Dance-Studio-140707789283020/; (504) 737-3345
City Park Movement & Art (New Orleans)
http://www.cityparkmovementandart.com/; (504) 390-7482
Conservatory Ballet Aviv (Mandeville)
http://balletaviv.wix.com/balletaviv1; (985) 727-4445
Creative Arts of St. Tammany (Abita Springs)
http://www.dramaandmusic.com/; (985) 276-9727
Creative Dance & Music (Harvey)
http://www.creativedanceandmusic.com/; (504) 390-2552
Dance Company, Ltd (Metairie)
http://www.dancecoltd.com/; (504) 415-6943
Dance Consortium of Louisiana (Covington)
http://www.thedcla.com/; (985) 234-9451
Dancer’s Only Dance Studio (Metairie)
http://www.dancers-only.net/; (504) 304-4589
Dancer’s Pointe Dance Studio (Metairie)
http://dancers-pointe.com/; (504) 455-5975
Debby Dillehay Dancers (Kenner)
http://debbydillehaydance.com/; (504) 468-3368
Encore Studio of Dance, Tumbling, Music, and Theatre (Harahan)
http://www.dancetumblemusic.com/; (504) 737-5977
Fusion Dance Center (Metairie)
http://fusionpac.vpweb.com/; (504) 461-4757
Himel Dance Conservatory (Marrero)
https://himeldanceconservatory.com/; (504) 298-4743
Lafargue Pianos, Ltd. (Metairie)
http://lafarguepianos.com/; (504) 831-3008
Louisiana Academy of Performing Arts (Covington, Harahan, Mandeville)
http://www.laapa.com/; (985) 590-4545 (Covington); (985) 674-2992 (Mandeville); (504) 738-3050 (Harahan)
Maureen Bersuder Academy of Dance Arts (Slidell)
http://maureenbersuderdance.com/; (985) 863-7048
Mini Art Center (Algiers)
http://www.miniartcenter.com/; (504) 510-4747
New Orleans Ballet Association (New Orleans – Multiple Locations)
http://www.nobadance.com/; (504) 522-0996
Pembo Cieutat Academy of Dance (Mandeville)
http://www.pembocieutat.com/; (985) 778-6189
Studio Kids! At New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans)
https://noma.org/; (504) 658.4100
Tada! Young Actors & Artists Studio (Marrero)
http://www.tadastudionola.com/; (504) 319-5174
Talent-N-Training Dance Facility (New Orleans)
http://www.tntarts.com/; (504) 592-7877
Upturn Arts (New Orleans)
http://upturnarts.org/; (504) 390-8399
Art Monroe’s Taekwondo Plus (Mandeville)
http://trma282.tigerrockmartialarts.com/; (985) 624-3455
Church’s Karate Academy (New Orleans)
http://churchskarateacademy.com/; (504) 309-6138
Iron Bridge Martial Arts Academy (Mandeville, Covington)
http://karatecovington.com/; (985) 778-2181
Just for Kicks Martial Arts (Mandeville, Chalmette, Covington)
http://just4kicksata.com/; (985) 224-3815
Louisiana Karate Association (Metairie)
http://www.lkakarate.com/; (504) 835-6825
Mid-City Martial Arts & Fitness Academy (New Orleans)
http://www.midcitymma.com/; (504) 309-7018
Mike Storms Karate (Mandeville)
http://www.stormskarate.com/; (985) 674-7887
NOLA Aikido (New Orleans)
http://nolaaikido.com/; (504) 208-4861
Shogun Martial Arts (Metairie)
http://www.shogunnola.com/; (504) 982-1371
Stephanie Haydel’s Northshore Taekwondo (Mandeville)
http://www.northshoretkd.com/; (985) 778-0750
Tiger-Rock Martial Arts of New Orleans (Metairie)
http://trma340.tigerrockmartialarts.com/; (504) 831-1110
Tiger-Rock Martial Arts of the West Bank (Gretna)
http://www.westbanktigerrock.com/; (504) 394-0008
XS Martial Arts Dojo (New Orleans)
https://www.xsmad.com/; (504) 558-9850
Yonsei Martial Arts Academy (Kenner)
http://www.yonsei.us/; (504) 465-5353
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
Bricks for Kidz LEGO Activities (Various locations, both shores)
http://www.bricks4kidz.com/louisiana-covington-mandeville/; (985) 705-0805
Genesis Reading Center (Kenner)
http://www.genesisread.com/; (504) 463-5756
IDIYA (New Orleans)
http://myidiya.com/; (504) 252-9327
STEM NOLA (New Orleans)
http://www.stemnola.com/; (504) 391-0760
Sylvan Learning Centers (Mandeville)
http://www.sylvanlearning.com/; (985) 871-9771
Technology & Learning Center (Mandeville)
http://www.spidertechnologysolutions.com/; (985) 778-2828
Little Fins Swim Academy (Harahan)
http://www.littlefins.net/; (504) 416-0431
Love Swimming (New Orleans)
http://loveswimming.com/; (504) 891-4662
Mandeville Sports Complex (Mandeville)
http://mandevillesportscomplex.com; (985) 727-7277
Mr. Fish (Metairie)
http://www.mrfish.biz/general_information.html; (504) 455-4101
Northshore Swim (Mandeville)
http://www.northshoreswim.com/; (985) 626-9456
Ochsner Kidsports Elmwood (Harahan)
http://www.ochsnerfitness.com/; (504) 733-1200
Pelican Athletic Club (Mandeville)
http://www.thepac.com/; (985) 626-3706
Art Time (Mandeville)
http://www.arttime.biz/; (985) 674-2023
City Park Movement & Art (New Orleans)
http://www.cityparkmovementandart.com/; (504) 390-7482
Mini Art Center (Algiers)
http://www.miniartcenter.com/; (504) 510-4747
Posh Paint Pub (Metairie)
http://www.poshpaintpub.com/; (504) 835-4155
St. Tammany Art Association (Covington, Mandeville)
http://www.sttammanyartassociation.org/; (985) 892-8650
String A Bead (Metairie)
http://www.stringabead.com/; (504) 780-7575
Studio Kids! At New Orleans Museum of Art (New Oreans)
https://noma.org/; (504) 658-4100
Upturn Arts (New Orleans)
http://upturnarts.org/; (504) 390-8399
Can you believe summer is coming to a close? No more flip flops, snowballs, and trips to the pool. Time to dust off the backpacks, buy those school supplies, and set the alarm clocks for OMG o’clock! It’s a real bummer, but we’re all in this together. To help you get that school train rolling, we’ve put together a handy checklist, along with a list of businesses and retailers to get you and your family ready to kick off another great (let’s be optimistic) academic year!
First for the checklist…
— Are your kids properly registered? Be sure to check, especially if they’re changing schools.
— Start filling out paperwork, if it’s available online.
— Check orientation and first day of school dates. (May as well go ahead and mark your calendar with holidays and teacher work days, too.)
— Print out your school’s online supply lists, and go shopping!
— Review specific dress code rules, especially if there are uniforms involved.
— Organize that closet and see if any of last year’s school clothes and shoes still fit.
— Double-check school hours, and secure your before/after care arrangements.
— Look up bus stop locations and pick-up times.
— Make sure your kids meet school requirements on immunizations. (See if they’re due for their annual check-up and six-month dental cleanings, while you’re at it.)
— Locate and clean up, or buy new lunch kits and backpacks.
— Get all your personalization and monogramming done, if you’re in to such stuff.
— Start adjusting those sleeping schedules, if you and your kiddos have adopted a late to bed, late to rise schedule.
— Finish up any required summer reading.
— If you have high school kids, start marking down dates for ACT and SAT exams, test prep classes, college fairs, and application deadlines.
Okay, is your head spinning? No need to panic. Take it one item at a time, and peruse this list of stores to help you tackle that shopping list…
As much as we love to support local businesses, let’s be honest — sometimes busy parents need quick one-stop-shopping at a mall or megastore.
Stores include… Department stores: Dillards, JC Penney, Macy’s; Kids’ Fashions: Mimi’s, Jane & Jack, Gap Kids, Justice, Gymboree, Crewcuts; Teens’ Fashion: Abercrombie, Aeropostale, Hollister, American Eagle, Hot Topic, Jean Therapy; Shoes: Foot Locker, Striderite; Sports Equipment: Dick’s Sporting Goods, Champs Sports; plus, hair, vision, and dental services. Click here for a complete mall directory.
Stores include… Department: Sears, Target; Kids’ Fashion: Meme’s Children’s Wear; Shoes: Ponsetti’s, Shoe Dept; Hair, vision, and embroidery services. Click here for a complete mall directory.
Stores include… Department: Dillard, Macys, Target; Kids’ Fashion: Old Navy, The Children’s Place, Gymboree, and others; Teen Fashion: Hot Topic, Fashion Corner; Shoes: Kids’ Foot Locker, Journeys Kidz; Hair and dental services. Click here for a complete mall directory.
The Supercenter locations have hair salons, vision centers, and tons of sports equipment and accessories, school supplies and super inexpensive kids’ clothes and uniform options.
In addition to uniforms, kids’ fashion, sports stuff, shoes, and school supplies, their $1 and discount bins often have cool back-to-school accessories.
Like Target and Wal-Mart, Kmart stocks plenty of inexpensive uniforms and kids’ fashion, as well as sports equipment and accessories, shoes, and school supplies.
Veteran children’s clothing boutique featuring special-occasion outfits with monogramming services. 4408 Shores Dr, Metairie; (504) 888-3313
Quaint store that sells clothing for children and newborns plus shoes and stuffed animals. 100 Atherton Dr, Metairie; (504) 837-0447
This locally owned boutique for tween girls, ages 7-14, stocks stylish clothes and accessories, plus they do custom monogramming. 1281 N Causeway Blvd; (985) 626-6280
Their clothing sizes go from baby to kids’ size 16. They also have shoes and accessories.
A children’s consignment store, their clothing starts at newborn and goes up to size 10. 813 Florida Street; (985) 951-7660
They offer up styles for newborns up to boys’ size 7 and girls’ size 14. 1868 North Causeway Boulevard; (985) 626-4848
Did you know they had super hip kids’ clothes? Sizes go from 5/6 to 13/14.
Gap Kids carries kids’ fashion and uniforms. Sizes range from baby to kids’ XXL. Premier Center, Mandeville; (985) 727-2686 — Lakeside, Metairie; (504) 835-3807–Riverwalk, New Orleans; (504) 558-9912
They offer clothing, shoes, and accessories for tween girls, with sizes ranging from 5 to 20. 69258 LA-21, Covington; (985) 875-7923 — Lakeside Mall, Metairie; (504) 834-7460
This consignment store offers a range of used apparel, shoes, gear and toys for babies and children. Pontchartrain Place Shopping Center, 3501 Severn Ave; (504) 455-5865
This boutique features casual and special-occasion clothing for babies and children. Lakeside Mall, Metairie; (504) 454-2333
This locally owned mall store focuses on children’s clothing, but also sells some toys and accessories. Lakeside Shopping Center; (504) 833-6100
They buy and sell gently used clothing, sizes preemie to youth 20. 4240 Highway 22, Mandeville; 985-792-7512 — 3122 Severn Ave; (504) 281-4996
They carry sizes that range from baby to size 16 for girls and size 18 for boys. In addition to regular clothing, they usually have tons of super inexpensive uniform pieces. Premier Center, Mandeville; (985) 674-9225 — Esplanade Mall, Kenner; (504) 441-8788 — Elmwood, Harahan; (504) 729-6170
In business since 1852, this shop offers a variety of school uniforms and shoes, plus embroidery services. 3601 Hessmer Ave; (504) 454-0427
They carry public and private school uniforms and shoes for New Orleans, Metairie, Kenner, Lakeview and Harahan. 5008 W. Esplanade Ave.; (504) 885-2993
This store has a handy online feature — you can enter the city or zip code where your school is located, and it will pull up a list of schools for which they carry uniforms. #12 St. Ann St., Mandeville; (985) 626-7335 — 163 Gause Blvd W., Slidell; (985) 649-2145
Unassuming corner shop specializing in school uniforms for children, as well as accessories. 7103 Veterans Memorial Blvd, Metairie; (504) 888-4840
“Unfussy” store, featuring boys’ and girls’ school uniforms, plus logos, alteration services and more. 5700 Crowder Blvd; (504) 841-0377
This tutoring service a team of child education professionals, each with decades of experience offers extra help on all school subjects, especially reading, spelling, handwriting, and math. 3901 Williams Blvd, Kenner; (504) 463-575
Uses a personal approach and interactive technology to help kids learn math, reading, writing and more. 69156 Hwy 190 Service Rd, Covington; (985) 871-4050 — 1291 N. Causeway, Mandeville; (985) 641-0343 — 1525 Lapalco Blvd Ste 14, Harvey; (504) 361-4712 — 4449 N I 10 Service Rd W, Metairie; (504) 885-5327
Helping kids develop a skill set that goes beyond short-term goals, we build academic confidence that will be applicable to students’ future tasks, assignments, and, more importantly, their life experiences. 4437 Jefferson Hwy, Jefferson; (504) 881-1788
They offer rigorous, individualized curriculum, with one-on-one instruction to accommodate all learning styles, and all subjects and levels, plus ACT prep. 2055 Bonn St, Harvey; (504) 328-5535
This fun high-tech center offers homework study, affordable tutoring, ACT prep, homeschool computer classes, technology training, drama classes, summer programs, and more. 3701 Hwy. 59, Mandeville; (985) 778-2828
SCHOOL & OFFICE SUPPLIES
Retail toy chain stocking playthings and games, with a focus on education and creativity. 2885 US-190, Mandeville; (985) 231-7780 — 3300 Severn Ave., Metairie; (504) 883-8697
They’ve got the latest in technology gear and accessories, uniforms, and backpacks, not to mention pens, pencils, note pads, scissors, construction paper, and other basics.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the pinnacle of summer. It’s that point where the mercury really means business, everyone has settled into a school-free routine, snoballs and lemonade have earned their own food group category, and the urge to squeeze every last bit of fun out life before school starts back next month has ramped up to a fever pitch!
(Seriously, I went to Target to look at patio furniture the third week of June, and they’d already swapped it all out for school supplies! Noooo!)
Whether you’re between vacations, or looking for some local staycation ideas, we have you covered. Here is a handy master list of both indoor and outdoor activities and attractions to get as much bang from your remaining summer buck as possible.
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 brand new outdoor Climbing Challenge and 5,000-square-foot, two-level Adventure Maze, where maze runners compete to beat friends, family, and the clock in a dash through the hidden check-points of confusion. 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 16,500 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 two big screen televisions, and walk-in play is available on weekdays and weekends.
This indoor trampoline facility boasts over 30,000 square feet of indoor sports and family entertainment. Highlights include giant jump areas, an obstacle course, gladiator pits, and dodgeball and basketball courts. There’s a even a Kid Zone with a host of options for jumpers ages six and under, and six spacious private event rooms to host special events. Plus, family and friends can view the entire facility from a second-floor viewing tower, which has comfortable lounge areas and big-screen TVs.
This family-owned and operated business houses 15,000 square feet of fun, which is always open for drop-in play, but also hosts 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.
This gym for little ones offers age-appropriate classes for kids ages 12 and under. They range from parent/child development classes for infants and toddlers to gymnastics and sports skills classes to the WonderKids Club, an enrichment program that features arts & crafts projects, story time, and creative play with LEGO DUPLO bricks. The facility is also equipped to handle birthday parties, and they host parents’ night out and camps during the summer and other school breaks.
Their huge, custom designed play structure is for children of all ages. It features slides, climbs, obstacles, and other fun elements to explore. An adjacent toddler area for younger children includes play equipment sized just for the youngest monkeys. Light snacks are available at their snack bar, and there are plenty of tables where parents and caregivers can relax, read, and visit with one another while the children play. They also offer wireless internet access and may show special events on our television.
Made by the industry leader in safety and design, Palm Tree’s indoor playground structure encourages whole body engagement and is specially designed for the children to not run into each other. It’s divided into three zones for different age groups. The area for big kids (ages 4-10) features four levels of physical challenges and fun, including two intertwining spiral slides, kid conveyor, wobble hopper, and wackyball arena. For toddlers (ages 1-3) there’s a playhouse, rainbow climber, shape pit, small slide, giant caterpillar tunnel and much more. The zone for babies (ages 6 months – 1 year) features softly designed play centers perfect for curious babies who are learning to crawl.
This mostly 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 human hamster balls, coconut climbing trees, an arcade with the latest video games, and probably their coolest feature — a ropes course, which is suspended high above the floor (they have safety harnesses, so it’s totally safe and fun to watch!). Thatched tiki huts and jungle gardens play into the safari motif, and there are four party rooms available to rent for special occasions.
LEISURELY FUN IN THE A/C
You truly owe it to yourself to experience this must-see collection of bizarre curiosities, 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 like stepping into another weird dimension, filled with odd collections, memorabilia, strange contraptions, random objects, old arcade machines, and crazy hybrid taxidermy pieces, like Bufford the Bassigator.
Perched on the Mississippi River adjacent to the French Quarter, the aquarium is an excellent escape to another world. 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.
It’s located so close to the Aquarium that we seldom visit one without visiting the other. North America’s largest museum devoted to insects and their relatives, this place is full of fun, creepy-crawly interactive exhibits. There’s also a big-screen, high definition film, multi-sensory show, the Bug Apetit Cafe, where you can test your courage by tasting some chocolate chirp (as in cricket) cookies and other insect delicacies, and, of course, there’s the peaceful, Japanese-themed butterfly garden, complete with tons of colorful butterflies, koi fish, turtles and birds.
If you’re interested in turning your ids 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.
Designed for kids ages seven and under, this educational children’s play and discovery center offers both free play times and classes in a developmentally appropriate environment. Classes include art, child development, dramatic play, mommy & me, and music & movement. The infant and toddler play area offers a soft play station, complete with balance bar, mirrored wall, and sensory and exploration activities, plus lounge seating for adults. For children three and older, there are six amazing interactive play stations that focus on building foundational academic, social, physical and emotional skills. Other highlights include a parent friendly café, free wifi, camps, and events & birthday packages.
Boasting 30,000-square-feet of space, this museum has tons of cool exhibits and programs for kids, plus a diverse set of activities that promote learning across many disciplines – from reading and math skills to architectural ideas and the nuances of grocery shopping – through interactive play. Children can take an active role in their own learning as they can test their strength with a cantilever, inclines, and ramps, learn what bones they use to ride a bike alongside Mr. Bones, or load up a cargo ship in the Little Port of New Orleans exhibit, among lots of other activities. The museum also offers regular storytimes and plenty of special events.
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.
Mississippi River Boats (French Quarter)
A combination of indoor and outdoor attractions, New Orleans’ riverboats — both of which dock in the French Quarter — allow riders to pick their preferred climate zone from which to enjoy a beautiful view of the city and learn about its history. They both offer fun and festive special cruises for various holidays and special events year-round. The Creole Queen is powered by a 24 foot diameter paddlewheel, is adorned with authentically patterned wrought iron trim, and features dinner jazz cruises and historical river cruises. The Steamboat Natchez is a steam-power vessel that features steam engine room visitations, a calliope that can be heard throughout the Quarter, live jazz, and optional Creole food and local beverages in its dinner jazz, harbor jazz, and Sunday jazz brunch cruises.
The Grand Theatres in Kenner and Slidell are doing their annual summer movie deals on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am. They’re not new releases, but they’re good, kid-friendly, and did I mention the discounts? For only $4, you get admission, plus popcorn and soda. The remaining schedule is: July 5, 6 – Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Road Chip; July 12, 13 – Penguins of Madagascar; July 19, 20 – Happy Feet Two; July 26, 27 – Hotel Transylvania 2.
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. They always select great new and classic movies for their kids’ series. Coming up: July 1, 2 – The Goonies; July 8, 9 – ET: The Extra-terrestrial. July 15, 16 – The Wizard of Oz; July 22, 23 – Charlotte’s Web; July 29, 30 – The Sound of Music; August 5, 6 – Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10am through August 3, Regal Covington Stadium 14 is hosting its Summer Movie Express, where admission is only $1. The remaining schedule: July 5 & 6 — Minions and The Peanuts Movie; July 12 & 13 — Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Road Chip and Curious George; July 19 & 20 — The Book of Life and Hotel Transylvania 2; July 26 & 27 — Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 and Shaun The Sheep; August 2 & 3 — The Croods and Dr. Suess’ The Lorax.
With a staggering 220,500 square feet of exhibits, multimedia experiences, and a huge collection of artifacts and first-person oral histories, the museum, currently ranked #11 by TripAdvisor among museums worldwide, requires at least a full day to tour it all. Other highlights include live shows at the Stage Door Cantina, dining at the American Sector and Soda Shop, 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’ 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 five-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA is one of the most important sculpture installations in the United States, with over 60 sculptures situated on a beautifully landscaped site amongst meandering footpaths, reflecting lagoons, Spanish moss-laden 200-year-old live oaks, mature pines, magnolias, camellias, and pedestrian bridges. In addition to their popular summer camps, regular programming highlights include StoryQuest family storytime and activity), StudioKids art workshops, and Baby Arts Play.
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.
This fun pottery shop offers painting activities for all ages, including birthday parties and art camps. Participants can choose a piece from their huge selection, pick paint colors, create a masterpiece, then leave it to be glazed and fired, and pick it up on a guaranteed date. You can bring your own snacks or order in pizza for the complete experience.
Kenner’s 16-block cool little historic district offers a bunch of cultural and family attractions. 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 (staging productions of The Wizard of Oz and Rumpelstiltskin in July), the Castle Theater, and LaSalle’s Landing. From lasershows to live theater to outdoor movies and concerts, there’s always something to do. In addition, visitors can shop and dine in restaurants and gift shops in and around the area.
This full service jewelry and bead supply store offers New Orleans-themed customizable jewelry, pendants, and charms. They also host classes and workshops for adults and kids alike, to teach the art of beading and jewelry-making. Participants are invited to bring their own snacks, drinks, or adult beverages to make it a real party.
In addition to having a truly picturesque setting and a super cool collection of animals, Audubon’s Cool Zoo and Gator Run make for a delightful summertime outing. An extension of the Cool Zoo splash park (which features a colorful splash structure, complete with slides, sprayers, ropes, tunnels, buckets), the adjacent, year-old Gator Run park is a delightful oasis with its own dining facility and both concrete and sandy lounging areas, which is centered around a three-foot-deep lazy river. Other highlights include Kamba Kourse, a four-story adventure ropes course, and the Friday night Dinner & a ZOOvie series from June 10-August 19. Its expanded movie lineup will include such blockbusters as Jurassic World, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and Zootopia.
In addition to the gorgeous, lush grounds, peppered with playgrounds and ponds, City Park has lots of fun features to enjoy this summer. Highlights include: Carousel Gardens, a 16-ride amusement park with its famous 100-year-old wooden carousel; City Putt, a 36-hole miniature golf complex with two courses, Storyland, an adorable fairytale playground/garden filled with 20 larger-than-life storybook sculptures; boat, bike, and surrey rentals at the Big Lake; beignets, coffee, and ice cream at Morning Call; the Botanical Gardens; and much more. They’ll also be breaking ground soon on City Splash, a four-acre water park.
Super mellow waves and absence of traffic congestion make Fontainebleu State Park’s white sandy beach a delightful little oasis. Picnic tables and public restrooms are a short walk away, but no concessions are available, so you need to come fully equipped. Also adjacent to the beach is a fun little splash pad with water cannons, a spray tunnel, and overhead water-dumping buckets. Access to the beach and splash pad are free with park admission.
America’s oldest continually operating public market is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, including major holidays. The French Market District encompasses six blocks from the Upper Pontalba on Jackson Square to the Flea Market on Barracks and N. Peters Street, including all the riverside retail stores (and cool book, candy, and toy stores!) and restaurants on Decatur Street from Café du Monde to the Gazebo Café. It’s the site of multiple popular festivals and holiday/speical events throughout the year, daily farmers market and flea market vendors, weekly farm and artisan markets, award-winning children’s musician and author Johnette Downing performs regularly, plus there are tours and yoga classes.
Home to over 4,000 exotic, endangered, and threatened animals from all over the world, this is the largest free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the country. Visitors can choose from two different tours. The standard, one-and-a-half-hour guided Safari Wagon tour traverses over 900 acres of beautiful Louisiana countryside, complete with 12 ponds and a lake. During the tour, you’ll see and be able to feed the menagerie of bison, giraffe, zebra, camels, eland, and other animals. The Private Pinz tours can accommodate up to nine people in 4×4 vehicles that can go places that are inaccessible to the safari wagons, plus they allow for more one-on-one time and photo opportunities with the animals.
These two-hour swamp tours give you a slower-paced, in-depth, fully narrated experience that transports visitors deep into the swamp. Conducted by knowledgeable locals who are able to point out all the cool wildlife and plants, and discuss local history and lore, they also provide alligator encounters (as well as snake, turtle, and waterfowl sightings), and the use of smaller boats allows access to the pristine, eerily quiet, otherworldly backwater areas where an entire platoon of feral hogs comes a-running/swimming alarmingly close to the boat when your guide whistles for them. Cool, or what?
In addition to providing tons of fun trivia and fascinating info on the the facility’s conservation efforts (which involve collecting and protecting vulnerable eggs and newly hatched babies, and releasing 12% of the reptiles back into the wild), the basic tour involves petting a newly hatched baby, getting a close-up look at an aggressive Nile Crocodile, feeding marshmallows to a whole bunch of alligators in the barn facility, watching the guide catch and secure one of those gators, and then getting to pet it. For an additional fee, you can catch and hold your own young gators in a little pool area. A separate ticket, available only during hatching season (mid-August -early-September), allows you to witness actual hatching and to play with the babies. Be sure to reserve your spot ahead of time.
Visitors can choose from two distinct options for a trip through Southern Louisiana’s swamplands in the protected Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve’s Barataria Preserve south of New Orleans — low and slow, or fast and loud! If you’re looking for a leisurely pace that allows you to actually converse with your fellow tourists, the Cajun-style swamp tour quietyly meanders through the bayous for a glimpse into the past. If your historical touring has left you a little lethargic, you might want to opt for a serious pick-me-up. The airboats are equipped with 450 horsepower engines for a high-octane thrill ride. Either way, you’ll come face to face with alligators, snakes and other native creatures of the wetlands.
This cool attraction provides paths and a raised boardwalk that allow visitors to traverse three different ecosystems: hardwood forest, pine-hardwood forest and pond-swamp, which features beaver dams and a beaver lodge. In addition to the natural features, it’s also the site of an archaeological survey showing evidence of a 700-year-old Acolapissa Native American population, and the ruins of a clubhouse for an unfinished golf course that was commissioned by a disgraced former governor. It also offers tons of activities and educational programs tailor-made for various seasons, age groups, artistic interests, and athletic ability, such as their Children’s Walk, Moonlight Hike and Marshmallow Melt, and Life on Paper Creative Workshop.
The Tammany Trace is a 27.5-mile former railroad corridor (soon to be 31 miles long, once construction is done) that has become a hugely popular hiking and biking trail that stretches from downtown Covington, through Abita Springs, Mandeville and Lacombe, and ends in Slidell. The only rails-to-trails conversion in Louisiana, the Trace highlights the region’s natural beauty as it winds through woods and wetlands. It is also interspersed with Trailheads at each town along the way, each of which has its own distinct personality, features, and special events schedules. Another highlight is the Kid’s Konnection playground at Koop Drive, just off the Abita Springs exit on I-12, and adjacent to the Tammany Trace Trailhead Headquarters’ green caboose, which serves as information center and ranger station. This easily accessible facility also features picnic tables, water fountains, restrooms, and plenty of parking.
The New Orleans Zephyrs have lots of home games in this last month of the season, which also means lots of fun giveaways and theme nights. including a big Independence Day celebration, free baseball clinics, Family Funday Sundays, Friday Fireworks, Zooperstar appearances, and more. As a cool bonus, the ballpark has a swimming pool, which is its most popular private party area. It has to be reserved and rented in advance, but what a chill way to take in a ballgame!
There are so many reasons to love summer, right? The laid-back pace, flip-flops and shorts, trips to the beach or pool, snowballs and watermelon. But as a rabid fan of the silver screen, it’s the summer movies I love most. I’m raising a kid who shares my affinity, so we spend lots and lots of time in darkened theaters this time of year!
We’ve had some lackluster summers over the past few years, but this year, there are a lot of releases to get excited about. Even if you and your kids aren’t enormous movie fans, on those oppressively hot days — or rainy days when outdoor activities are not an option — catching a summer flick is an excellent fall-back plan. Below is an overview of some of the most anticipated movies. We’ve also included info on some cool discount kids’ summer movie deals from Regal Covington and The Grand Theatres on both shores, and the Dinner & a ZOOvie series at Audubon Zoo.
It’s tough to gauge movies just by their ratings these days, so be sure to click on the links to watch trailers or read more in-depth synopses, or consider checking in with parental review sites, like Common Sense Media or Kids In Mind. Fandango is a good site to check for movie times in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, or just check in with your favorite theater. Then, grab some overpriced treats, and sit back and enjoy the mercifully air-conditioned show!
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) slips back through the mirror and finds herself united with her friends the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, Tweedledee, and Tweedledum in Underland. When they tell her that the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is depressed over the death of his family, she steals the Chronosphere from Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) to travel into the past, where she meets the younger Hatter and the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). It’s certainly not getting great reviews, but the cast and visual effects look so cool, it still may be worth a shot!
When the original mutant, ApocaIypse, awakens from a long hibernation, he recruits a bunch of mutants to help him destroy civilization and rebuild a better one. Naturally, the X-Men have to try to stop him. It’s not the best installment of the X-Men series, but it’s still fun to watch, thanks to the cool special effects and a cast that includes James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Oscar Isaac, and Jennifer Lawrence.
You either like these silly movies, or you don’t. The last TMNT was not exactly great, but honestly, you can’t overthink them! In this installment, the turtles spring into action to battle new and old foes, and to save New York and the whole world from an alien invasion. Mayhem and martial arts ensue. Megan Fox is back to star as April, and other stars include Will Arnett, Laura Linney, and Fred Armisen.
As the peaceful realm of Azeroth braces for a brutal race of invaders, a portal opens a passage between two worlds, setting two heroes on a collision course that will decide the fate of both worlds. Based on the popular video game of the same name, this movie promises massive armies, monsters, sword fights, and thundering, rumbling sounds to accompany all the action and visual effects. It’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea (including mine), but it’ll certainly appeal to the video game fanatics, and it’s something to do on a super hot or rainy day!
Ellen DeGeneres is back as Dory in this much anticipated sequel to Finding Nemo. The forgetful fish enlists the help of Nemo and Marlin (Albert Brooks) to help her find her parents (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy). Spoiler alert: Dory does, indeed, reunite with her loved ones, and everyone learns important lessons about family. I’m not sure why it was given a PG rating, while Finding Nemo was rated G, but it seems unlikely that it contains anything too inappropriate.
It’s been twenty years since that original invasion, and the aliens are returning with even more force. Faced with annihilation, the nations of Earth and a handful of brave men and women must use recovered extraterrestrial technology and good ol’ ingenuity to save the planet. It’s sort of a bummer that Will Smith won’t be back (he was allegedly too expensive), but at least Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, and Vivica Fox are returning. It should be exciting!
This enigmatic sounding movie is based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name, about a ten-year-old girl and a “big, friendly giant.” The publisher’s description of the book reads: “When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!” I have no idea what that means, but the trailers look fun, and it’s brought to us by the team who gave us E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (director Steven Spielberg and writer Melissa Mathison). I have high hopes for this one.
This version of the classic tale takes place many years after Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) has left Africa and become a civilized gentleman in London. He goes back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary, only to discover he’s being used as a pawn in a Belgian captain’s (Christoph Waltz) deadly plot. Other stars include Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, and Djimon Hounsou. The trailers for this action-adventure look super cool, which makes sense, considering it was directed by David Yates, who helmed the last four Harry Potter movies.
It seems like we’ve been watching previews of this movie forever! It’s an animated comedy about the hilarious lives pets lead after their owners leave the house. Maybe you’ve seen the French poodle head-banging to thrash metal music? Quite funny. It’s made by the team who made the Despicable Me movies, and it stars lots of comedians and funny actors, including Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, and Albert Brooks. Lots of cuteness potential — if they didn’t show us all the best parts already!
Who you gonna call to do a remake of Ghostbusters 30 years after its original release? A bunch of funny women (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones) plus, hottie Chris Hemsworth! I adore all of these actresses, so here’s hoping it’s well-written and directed. Not just because Ghostbusters is so iconic, but because we need to encourage lots more roles for women!
Although the talk on the internet regarding this movie doesn’t sound very encouraging, it certainly won’t stop hardcore Trekkies from seeing it. In this installment, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the Enterprise crew is stranded on a remote planet and facing an alien threat. Yep, sounds like a typical Star Trek premise. The trailer doesn’t look great, but there’s Beastie Boys music involved, and the cast is cool, so maybe it’ll surprise everyone.
In case you’re counting, this is Ice Age 5. Holy smokes. I usually quit watching sequels somewhere around three, but the fact that the entire original cast is back seems like a good sign. In this installment, Scrat the squirrel chases that elusive acorn into space where he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that threaten the Ice Age world. Naturally, Sid, Manny, Diego, and the rest of the herd set off on a new adventure to save themselves, all the while encountering some new, colorful characters. I’m not totally sold, but I’m guessing late July heat will send us scurrying to the theater, nonetheless!
What a great excuse for a mom’s night out! Mila Kunis stars as a young mother who seems to have it all, but suddenly snaps when she realizes she’s overworked, overwhelmed, and exhausted. She and two other stressed-out moms (Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn) decide to take a break from their responsibilities to have a little fun, and wind up having a showdown with the perfect-mom clique, headed up by a snooty queen bee (Christina Applegate). It looks silly and ridiculous — sort of like The Hangover for us maternal types. Fun!
In this edgy (the title sort of gives that away), comic book-based movie, a secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute a dangerous black ops missions to save the world. I have to admit, I might be as excited, if not moreso, about this movie than my son is! After having to break it to him when Deadpool received an R rating, it was nice to tell him that this one got a PG-13. The cast includes Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne, Viola Davis, and Scott Eastwood, among others. If it’s half as cool as the trailers, we’re in for a treat!
SPECIAL SUMMER MOVIE DEALS
If you’re looking for discount movies, both Regal Covington Stadium 14 and The Grand Theatres in Kenner and Slidell are doing their annual summer movie deals on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am. They’re not new releases, but they’re good, kid-friendly, and did I mention the discounts? Click here for the full schedule of The Grand’s Summer Kids’ Flicks series, in which $4 gets you admission, plus popcorn and soda. Click here for Regal Cinema’s Summer Movies Express $1 movie schedule.
Audubon Zoo’s annual Dinner & a ZOOvie series is back on Fridays this summer, from June 10-August 19. Its expanded movie lineup will include such blockbusters as Inside Out on June 10, Star Wars: The Force Awakens on June 17, Avengers: Age of Ultron on June 24, and Jurassic World on July 8. Visitors are invited to bring chairs and blankets, as well as dinner, or you can dine at one of the food trucks that will be onsite. Gates open at 6pm. Cool Zoo/Gator Run will be open from 6-8pm, and movie will start at 8pm. Movie admission is $6 per person (under two years of age free). Add Cool Zoo/Gator Run admission for an additional $6 per person. Go here for more details and a complete movie schedule.