As the days get cooler in New Orleans, some visitors may seek fun and adventure indoors. During the late fall and winter months (and any other part of the year), you and your family can visit the Audubon Institute’s Aquarium of the Americas or the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium to get out of the cold and into exhibits displaying the wild, beautiful, and even unusual aspects of nature from around the world.
The city’s state-of-the-art aquarium is home to 15,000 creatures of the sea, representing nearly 600 species. The moment you walk in, you’re greeted by a mammoth whale shark hanging above the lobby, followed by the Caribbean Reef tunnel with fish and cownose rays on both sides and overhead as you pass through it. From there you’ll walk through dozens of exhibits featuring fish and underwater life from all corners of the globe, plus interactive and multimedia setups to enrich what you see and learn. There is also an IMAX 3D theatre where you can experience some of this underwater life in movie-form as you’re enveloped by the sounds and screens of IMAX projections.
At Parakeet Pointe, you and your children will delight in feeding the hundreds of colorful parakeets using a stick of bird seed—especially when they land on it for you to hold. The Amazon Rain Forest has many different types of fish, sea, and land creatures plus a tree-top loop where you can catch glimpses of macaws as well as the fish and other animals from above. There is a stingray touchpool, a penguin habitat, and a jellyfish exhibit that are some of visitors’ favorite attractions.
The Insectarium, which is the largest free-standing museum dedicated to insects in the US, has 23,000 square feet comprised of 13 galleries with more than 70 live exhibits throughout the museum. There are also many interactive multimedia elements to fully emerge you into a bug’s eye view of these creatures’ lives. You can meet an entomologist and touch live bugs, sample exotic insect cuisine, and watch the amazing flight and metamorphosis of butterflies right in front of your eyes in the butterfly garden.
All attractions are open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets for the Aquarium of the Americas are $21.00 for adults, $14.00 for children 2-12 years old, and $17.00 for seniors and students. Tickets for the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium are $16.00 for adults, $11.00 for children 2-12 years old, and $13.00 for seniors and students.