New Orleans: Zoo, Aquarium and Butterfly Garden
While visiting New Orleans, Katie and I visited the Audubon Zoo, Aquarium, Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. We were given guest passes in exchange for sharing our zoorific experience with you! The aquarium, butterfly garden and insectarium are located in downtown New Orleans on Canal Street, while the Zoo is located across town on Magazine Street.
While visiting New Orleans and aside from the zoo, aquarium and butterfly garden, we were fortunate enough to do a bunch of other fun stuff. We went on a swamp tour, explored the French Quarter and of course we had some amazing New Orleans cuisine!
We explored the aquarium, butterfly garden and insectarium one day, and went to the zoo on a different day. The Audubon zoo was a really fun experience. We don’t have a zoo near us, and in the 12 years Katie and I have been together, we’ve never been to a zoo together! I know, crazy – right?
Audubon Zoo – New Orleans
We blocked off the whole day for the zoo because we wanted to make sure we had enough time and didn’t feel rushed, but of course it wasn’t a whole day experience. We did spend about 3 hours at the zoo. We took our time, stopped to watch the animals play, took a ton of pictures and even had lunch at the Cyprus Knee Cafe, located in the Louisiana Swamp exhibit at the zoo.
Getting to the Zoo
There are several ways to get to the Audubon Zoo. Of course you can drive yourself to the zoo, you can ride the St. Charles Streetcar to the walking park outside of the zoo (where you can walk or catch the zoo shuttle) or you can grab a cab and head over to the zoo. We debated on taking the St. Charles Streetcar, which had a stop about a block from our hotel. Ultimately, we ended up taking a taxi because the streetcar was so full.
The cab ride was about $20-$25 each way from downtown New Orleans. We did ask the driver to take St. Charles Street so we could see all the historic buildings and trees overhanging the street and such – it’s a nice drive!
Animals at the Audubon Zoo
I’m not going to spoil the zoo for you here, but I will share a couple of pictures we snapped of the animals! I will tell you, we had a blast watching all the different animals in their habitats. We visited the New Orleans zoo early in the day, so some of the animals were snoozing – but that’s okay. It was a Monday, and we all know that Monday feeling!
A sun bear relaxing…
This too-cool gorilla was just chillin’ over in the corner and chowing down on some leaves.
I hear this Elephant enclosure is fairly new, there were a couple of elephants, one was tossing sand on it’s back with it’s trunk. I think that’s their form of suntan lotion?!
Okay, I told you I wouldn’t spoil your experience. So I won’t show you all the animals, you’ll have to go to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans to see all the big cats, rhinos, birds, reptiles, all the primates and loads of other animals you don’t want to miss. But, I’ll leave you with these few final pictures…
Keep your eyes peeled, this guy was just sitting in a tree along one of the pathways!
The rest of the monkeys were sitting in the windows of the building to the right, this one was quite playful while we were there – swinging from the ropes and walking around.
He even got up and walked on his legs!
Apparently you can feed the giraffes at the zoo at specified times. I think the sign said Saturday at 2:30!
Okay, I said I wouldn’t spoil the zoo for you so I’ll stop here.
More at the Zoo
There are plenty of places to stop and grab a snack or drink at the zoo. There are frozen banana carts and other treat carts located throughout the park, don’t forget to stay hydrated. There are also a few restaurants located in the zoo which provide some relief from the sun and great food, too!
Are you looking for another way to cool off? Stop by the Cool Zoo splash park where there are plenty of ways to cool off on a hot summer day! The zoo’s water park is one of the best places to cool off in New Orleans!
Feeling a little adventurous? Try the Kamba Kourse on for size. Climb high and release your inner primate!
With all the goings on — don’t forget to stop, relax and enjoy the park! There are beautiful shade trees and winding walkways which lead past some beautiful fountains and grassy areas. Relax, stay a while…
Now let’s talk about the Audubon Aquarium, Butterfly Garden and Insectarium!
Aquarium of the Americas – New Orleans
The Audubon Aquarium, or the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans is located right along side the Mississippi River. It’s super easy to find and get to, just follow Canal Street to the Mississippi and you can’t miss it!
Getting to the Audubon Aquarium
I think all in all we spent about 4 or 5 hours exploring the aquarium and the butterfly garden and insectarium. You may want to block off a day and what ever time you have left, explore the French Quarter!
To begin our day we worked our way down to Cafe Du Monde for breakfast – I mean, who can go to New Orleans without having Cafe Du Monde beignets?!
We then walked over to the Dumaine streetcar stop, which is basically behind Cafe Du Monde, and hopped on the riverfront streetcar which took us straight to the Audubon Aquarium – at the Canal St. stop.
The aquarium entrance is awesome. Katie really hadn’t experienced palm trees before, so that was exciting to see the whole walkway lined with tropical palm trees. There are also plenty of benches to sit, relax and people watch.
Once inside, there’s a lot of stuff to see at the aquarium. We were lucky enough to be there while they were feeding the stingrays in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit.
It was also feeding time for the penguins, too! If you’re feeling like you need a little extra adventure at the aquarium, you can book backstage passes for a special penguin experience. Learn more about that here.
Much like the zoo, I’ll try not to spoil all the fun by posting an abundance of photos.
There are a couple of gift shops and a food court available. There’s also a play area for the little kids, photo opp areas and a sting ray petting and feeding tank, too! A few things we loved, and watched for more time than I care to admit, were the sea otters, penguins and seahorses.
The tanks throughout the aquarium not only hold amazing fish, but also hold fun and creative sculptures like this one!
This eel was giving Katie the stink-eye! (lol)
There are an endless amount of sea creatures to see while at the aquarium, but one thing I think was really cool was the Amazon Rainforest exhibit and the treetop loop. Climb your way up for a great overview of the entire exhibit!
Once you have the chance to explore the aquarium, it’s time to head over to the butterfly garden and insectarium!
Butterfly Garden & Insectarium
The butterfly garden and insectarium are a fun and unique experience!
Getting to the Butterfly Garden
From the aquarium, it’s very easy to find – just a few blocks up canal street and you’re there. Leaving the aquarium, make your way across the streetcar tracks and onto Canal Street. Take a nice leisurely stroll up Canal Street to the insectarium and butterfly garden, which will be on your right hand side.
Once inside, you’ll have to pass through a metal detector because the building is a federal building – don’t worry, it goes quick and you don’t need to take every piece of jewelry or your belt and shoes off like at the airport.
Once inside you’ll be able to venture down the great hall of insects! There’s a lot of fun displays and a vast amount of information to soak in. Don’t be afraid to stop in for a crunchy bite to eat. Don’t worry, they have something for everyone – not just the ones who wish to try something a little off the wall!
There are a few side hallways where you can find more creepy crawlies and if you’re lucky, you may even be able to handle a few of them!
After passing the roach motel…
…and working your way through the Louisiana Swamp exhibit…
You’ll make your way to the butterfly garden!
We had to make sure to watch our step as there were butterflies everywhere! They were on the ground, on the railing, on the seats and even landing on you! Here’s a butterfly landing on Katie… I think this is her “I’m so proud of myself for not swatting it like a mosquito face!”
Be sure not to touch them, even if they do land on you! Also, be sure you check yourselves before leaving the exhibit to make sure you don’t have any hitchhikers! While we were visiting, there was a lady near the exit to help with any hitchhiking butterflies trying to make an escape!
New Orleans Zoo, Aquarium, Butterfly Garden & Insectarium
As I said, it may be easiest to break these into two days. We visited the Zoo on one day and the Aquarium, Butterfly Garden and Insectarium on another. They were all a lot of fun.
We spent the least amount of time at the insectarium and butterfly garden, simply because it’s the smallest venue. We spent the most time at the zoo. I would say to allow several hours for the zoo and even more time if you plan to play in the Cool Zoo or do the Kamba Kourse. It’s a day trip and well worth it. For the a couple of hours at the aquarium and an hour or so for the insectarium and butterfly garden.
All in all, these were a great relaxing way to spend a couple of days in New Orleans. Once we were finished each day we still had plenty of time to explore New Orleans!
Where is your favorite zoo & what’s your favorite animal?