An excellent day, or three, for a family or anyone who loves wildlife and nature.
Enjoy Audobon Park, a key feature of uptown New Orleans. Find it along St. Charles Ave, across from Tulane, or on Magazine where Uptown hits the Riverbend. Great place to picnic, play with the kids, take a romantic walk, run a few miles, golf (what I'm told is a decent public course) or play frisbee. Hit the fly if someone will tell you what that is. Bonus if they can tell you why. Great place to watch the Mississippi go by; very different from the downtown riverfront. Fun to watch the boats go by or bring your dog.
The Zoo is not cheap, nor exceptional, but it is nice. They often host fun events for kids of all ages, espically around holidays or as fundraisers.
After seeing Park and/or the Zoo take the ferry along the Mississippi to the Aquarium / IMAX.
Or park near The River in the lots lining the French Quarter between Canal St and the market.
The Aquarium is fantastic
Find the Park along St Charles, across from Tulane University, where Uptown meets the Riverbend.
The Park and Golf Course (public), are across Magazine St. from the Zoo, the Tea Room, the Fly, the Tree, and practice fields between Children's Hospital and where Broadway meets The River, River Road turns into Leake Ave near Cooter Brown's (po'boys, beer & sports).
The Aquarium & IMAX are on The River where Canal begins, seperating the French Quarter from the CBD. Park in the lots along N Peter St. near Canal Place (upscale shopping, Starbucks), and Jax Brewery (kitchy shops, cheap eats and beer).
This is also a good place to park if you're spending the day in the Quarter and don't want to worry about having your car towed or broken into or if you have strollers, walkers, or just lots of bags with you. Under $10 a day.
If you find Aububon Park, you might as well pay a visit to the excellent zoo, 58 acres of realistic habitats and more than 1500 animals (so says my AAA guide). We got lucky, and on a morning with almost no humidity and mild temperatures in mid-May, and with about three hours before we needed to get to the airport, we decided to stop in. For just a little more than a movie, you can explore habitats like the African Savanna, the Australian Outback, the Asian Domain, and (my personal favorite) the Louisiana Swamp, which recreates the culture and wildlife of a 1930s Cajun settlement -- in case you're wondering about that bathtub on the dock! You can take a ride on the Swamp Train (an extra $5.00) to get your bearings before you stroll the grounds. For kids, there is a marvelous waterpark and a hill, I kid you not, where little ones can frolic.
Admission is $13.50 (children 2-12 pay $8.50), but there is a combination ticket which combines the aquarium, insectarium, theater and zoo which might be a better bet if you plan to go to at least three of these attractions within a five day period.
The Audubon Zoo is one of the best we've been to! It is very kid-friendly. There is a lot to see and do at this zoo. They have a jungle themed wading pool for the kids, a "spider's web" play area, a train that takes you on a tour through Louisiana's swamps and a carousel. My daughter also loved seeing the komodo dragons, the albino crocodile and the white tigers.
The Aquarium of the Americas was really neat, as well. Slightly smaller than what I'm used to. I'd rank it 3rd (with Okinawa Ochuri Aquarium being 1st and Baltimore Natl Aquarium being 2nd).
Besides the animal exhibits, the one thing I remember about my trip to the Zoo was that it was HOT. Hot, hot, hot. I sweated from the time I got there until the time I left and there was not a whole lot I could do about it. Was this a reflection on the Zoo? No. I happened to visit the zoo in the dead heat of the month of July in 2001! My bad. haha. Seriously though, I had a great time here and took some wonderful photographs of the resident animals.
Of particular note is the exhibits featuring local wildlife. I ask you, have you ever been to a zoo where the feature RECIPES in which to cook the animals you are viewing?? Probably not. Well, welcome to the uniquness that is the New Orleans Aududon Zoo. It goes something like this:
"Hey kids look, there are some catfish. Catfish are a local water creature that can be found in Louisiana. What's that you say? How would one cook a catfish? Well, right here next to the TANK THAT HOLDS THE CATFISH IN THE ZOO is a very good recipe for how to cook the suckers up and eat them for dinner."
Serioulsy people, they have recipes featured next to the habitats of animals found in the local Louisana Bayou. This is the ONLY ZOO I have ever been to that featured recipes on how to cook the animals that it held on display.
Audubon Zoo is worth visiting. It has a beautifully recreated Louisiana swamp, an African savannah, an Asia area and a jungle with Mayan ruins.
Don't forget to visit the white alligators and tigers, and Komodo dragons.
It's a great place to go with kids.
YOU CAN NOT GO TO THE ZOO BY BOAT SINCE KATRINA
You used to be able to go to the zoo by riding the John James Audubon up the river 7 miles from the Aquarium. But by the time we had toured walked to Bourbon Street, walked through the French Market, toured the City, taken a boat trip to Chalmette, and taken the combined Swamp and Plantation Tour, it was way too cold to do this.
You can still get to the zoo on the St. Charles trolley line and there is a shuttle to the zoo from where you get off the trolley, and you can get a combination ticket for the zoo and aquarium. You just can't go by boat.
Both the zoo and the aquarium have a white aligator.
There are various combined tickets. The Aquarium and the IMAX, and the Complete Audubon Experience.
One of the combined tickets is zoo, insectarium and the aquarium.
Ticket Prices: Zoo only --- Aquarium , Insectarium + Zoo
Adult: $14.95 $38
Child (2-12): $9.95 $23
Senior (65+): $11.95 $30
The Zoo opens 7 days a week at 9:30 am except for:
Mardi Gras day, the first Friday in May, Thanksgiving day and Christmas day.
Summer Hours: (April 2 to November 5, 2005)
weekdays — 9:30 am to 5:00 pm (last ticket sold at 4:00 pm)
weekends — 9:30 am to 6:00 pm (last ticket sold at 5:00 pm)
Winter Hours: (November 6, 2004 to April 1, 2005)
Monday thru Sunday— 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
(last ticket sold at 4:00 pm)
The Audubon Zoo is a fun place -- take the St. Charles streetcar or John James Audubon and make a whole afternoon of it. Examples of the wildlife there: an Asian elephant who does tricks, a black bear who goes up and down tower stairs, and a cougar who evinced some interest in having me for lunch. The Louisiana Bayou section, home of the famed white alligators, was especially interesting.
There's a "please touch the animals" area that's very educational. I (gingerly) touched a hedgehog, held by a gloved zoo docent, who told us a bit about the animal. Its spines were sturdier than I expected, like toothpicks.
In the gift shop I found some inexpensive souvenirs: colorful Louisiana bookmarks for only $1 each.
Take the zoo cruise to the Audobon Zoo. It's a paddle steamboat ride down the Mississippi. Leaves from Canal St. Check out the zoo, cross through it and come back down St. Charles St. on the trolley. It's also a convenient time to visit Commander's Palace for a meal.
To get here, you can take the John James Audubon cruise up to the zoo if you want, instead of driving. The Audubon Zoo houses a reconsruction of a Louisiana swamp, complete with Cajun houseboats, alligators, and trees coming out of the green water. There are several other recreated habitats, such as African savannah and the Mayan Ruins with a Jaguar jungle. White tigers, white alligators, and Komodo dragons are some of the other interesting exhibits here. Have you ever been to a zoo where the featured recipes involve cooking the animals you are viewing? Right next to the tank that holds the catfish in the zoo is a very good recipe for how to cook them up and eat them for dinner. After the zoo, the park nearby is a cool place to hang out and read or eat a picnic lunch.
New Orleans has a top rated Zoo. I think its one of the better zoos around but the admission is a bit steep - 12 dollars. Most other zoos in the South are less than half that price. But, some of the proceeds go to the Audubon Institute. The zoo is medium sized and takes about 2-3 hours to see. Highlights include the Reptile House, Asian Domain, Monkey Hill, Louisiana Swamp, and the walk-through Aviary. There is also a "River Cruise" and a train.
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