After my post Le Vieux Carre: An afternoon in the French Quarter, I felt obliged to point out there is so much more to the Crescent City! I mentioned the Aquarium of the Americas in that post, which is part of Audubon Nature Institute, a trifecta for nature lovers.
The Aquarium of the Americas, on the banks of the Mississippi River in the French Quarter, has land and sea creatures from around the world. Among the highlights are a 400,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico exhibit, and a walk-through tunnel beneath a Caribbean reef. There’s a sting ray touch pool, a rainforest environment, and even parakeets and penguins. The Aquarium is also part of the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program, preparing turtles to return to the wild. Many times you can see some of the turtles on display. Two hands-down favorites, though, are the Sea Otters and the Penguins!
After seeing the Aquarium, you can walk up Iberville or Canal Street to the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, on the other side of the Westin hotel in the old Customs House. You’d better be a big fan of the creepy-crawlies, though: it is North America’s largest museum devoted to insects.
The incredible Audubon Zoo ranks among America’s best zoos, especially for entertainment with a variety of demonstrations and hands-on encounters. You can learn about the areas outside of New Orleans in the award winning Louisiana Swamp exhibit, and enjoy special presentations with elephants, sea lions, great apes and more. Kids love the Dinosaur Adventure with giant moving, roaring dinosaurs in environments that resemble natural habitats from millions of years ago. And, since New Orleans can get hot and sticky in the summer, the zoo has its own splash park called Cool Zoo! (Note: Additional charge for Cool Zoo.) Popular areas of the zoo recreate ecosystems in Asia, Africa, and South America.
And everything in-between
Audubon Park is absolutely beautiful with century old oak trees, a calm lagoon, picnic areas, playgrounds and expansive green spaces. One way to enjoy the park is on horseback with trail rides available from the Audubon Park Stables. There is also a jogging path, golf course, and several tennis courts at the park, which surrounds the zoo and reaches from the Uptown district down to the Mississippi River.
You can learn more about the Aquarium, Zoo, Butterfly Garden, Park and more at AudubonInstitute.org. Together, they are some of the best family attractions in New Orleans! If you’d like to go, the Audubon facilities are open every day from Mardi Gras until Labor Day, and closed on Mondays for the rest of the year. Cool Zoo is open daily from (generally) Memorial Day until Labor Day, and weekends only in April and September.
More posts and photos from New Orleans:
#FriFotos – New Orleans, baby!
#FriFotos – Homes (in New Orleans)
Photo: Streetlamp in New Orleans French Quarter
Photo: Decorative finials in the Garden District
Our New Orleans Photo Gallery
Photos courtesy of Audubon Nature Institute