The Big Easy - for Families

For most people, New Orleans conjures up images of boozy Bourbon Street, voodoo priestesses and smoke-filled jazz clubs.

But should this one-of-a-kind American classic be left to the adults only? The Big Easy can be a great destination for families if you know where to go -- and which spots to avoid. Here's our guide to the best attractions New Orleans has to offer kids:

This new theme park on the outskirts of town gives the Disney treatment to New Orleans. Broken into theme areas like Cajun Country, Gospel Garden and Mardi Gras, the park features 31 rides -- a 4,000-foot wooden roller coaster among them. There is also a special area for younger kids, featuring gentler attractions like a mini ferris wheel and a kids' car wash.

French Quarter
Although its many antique stores may fail to impress the kids, they will be fascinated by the transportive quality of this European-style neighborhood. Tour the narrow streets lined with lacy cast-iron balconies as part of a walking tour (504-523-3939) or on a horse-drawn carriage.

French Market
This open-air market is a great spot to let your kids pick out trinket souvenirs like T-shirts or inexpensive jewelry. You'll also find Cajun spices, we-dare-you-to-try hot sauces, jambalaya mix and chicory coffee. Make a stop at nearby Café du Monde so the kids can sample a beignet (fried dough covered in powdered sugar).

Swamp Tours
The eerie beauty of the swamp will delight your kids. Their eyes will really pop when alligators swim right up to the boat to snack on marshmallows thrown by the guides. If you're lucky, you may also see wild hogs, egrets and herons among the moss-covered cypress trees. Try Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours (504-587-1790) or Dr. Paul Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tours (504-641-1769).

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