Things to do in New Orleans for Kids: Audubon Aquarium
The Aquarium was already on our list of must-see places, but we actually stumbled upon the entrance while we were wrapping up a tour of the French Quarter. It’s conveniently located at the end of Canal Street closest to the water. I was surprised by how inconspicuous it looks from the street, but thrilled at it’s easy access.
As soon as we entered the Aquarium, I knew our 2-year old was going to love it. The entrance is decorated with 3 life size sharks; including a Whale Shark! After a quick stop in the lobby for a preemptive potty break, we make our way around to walk through the Great Maya Reef. I LOVE WALK-THROUGH AQUARIUMS. This surrounding view of the sharks, sting rays and fish is impressive. We walked through as three scuba divers were cleaning, feeding the fish and one was carving a pumpkin!! Yes, he was IN THE TANK carving his Halloween pumpkin! It was humorous and impressive as he had to fend off several curious sting rays!
**After this we made our way upstairs and this is where I will say LOOK AT YOUR MAP!! We completely missed the Amazon Rainforest Exhibit AND the Parakeet Pointe (which I was looking forward to!). We used the elevator since our son was sleeping in it (side note: he slept through the ENTIRE Aquarium visit – go hard or go home in New Orleans ;) ) The elevator exit is located just outside the Amazon Rain Forest, so when the doors opened Charletta bolted straight out and we followed which made us completely miss the exhibit to the right. Don’t make that mistake!!**
Once upstairs, we melded into a group of families with similar aged kids and all kind of flowed through the Penguins, Living In Water, Seahorse and Frog Exhibits. I was really impressed at how young-kid friendly the aquarium exhibits were; even a toddler could interact and learn instead of only looking. We stopped for a second potty break just before we enjoyed the “cats” in the Sea Otter Exhibit. To be fair, the Otters do resemble cats, but our daughter actually believes they are elongated cats. (Maybe we can have a house otter?)
The next stop was the touch pool. THIS was a highlight for SURE! Our normally shy and skiddish toddler was putting her hands in the water, talking up a storm and actually REACHING for the Stingrays!! I don’t know if she ever made contact, but we stayed at this exhibit for an extended time while she squealed and we watched a woman get splashed REALLY good by one. **We were later told that the barbs on these Stingrays are made safe so that kids and patrons can’t be stung in case anyone was worried.
From there we pushed the sleeping baby through an amazing Mississippi River Gallery that houses an all white alligator that was so still he looked fake. His head and eyes sat on top of the water, but his bod dangled down into the depths and when you realize how big these guys get, it makes you a little scared to venture into wild waters. At least it does for me. Cause no one wants to be surprised by a “log” turned alligator. There were many other animals in this exhibit that surprised me including a large owl that is not behind any enclosure! I still don’t know if that thing could have swooped down and stolen our baby, but all I could think about was the Napoleon Dynamite quote “Do the Chickens have large Talons?” except sub Owl for Chicken. I’m still wondering this.
We then made our way down via the elevator and entered into the Jelly Fish exhibit. Normally, I would take a look and keep on moving, BUT one of the tanks caught my eye. The jelly fish had recently been fed and I could actually see the food inside their clear jelly bodies! It was awesome! Science makes me so happy.
Watching food be digested by jellyfish can only be followed up by a HUGE (400,000 gallon) tank dedicated to the sea life of the Gulf of Mexico. This is their premier exhibit. It’s pretty impressive in size and has a nice area to sit and take it all in.
While Jimmy had Charletta over view the fish, I found and info booth manned by two young boys who were volunteering with the Aquarium. They had a couple different artifacts spread on a table and I asked them to tell me about them. One was a giant piece of plexi glass; the thickness of the tank used in this very room. They told me the aquarium uses this instead of glass to keep the fish’s size from being distorted. Interesting. Next up, the hide of an alligator. The kid’s explained that the hide is most impenetrable and as a gator grows, it gets stronger and stronger. Eventually they can be big enough for their hide to be BULLET PROOF. Ummmm, yea. That’s impressive. They also informed that American Indians used to use alligator hide as armor in battle. Genius. Anyway, these kids were really smart, so if you see them standing there at their info booth, go over and let them make you feel like you should read more books.
Overall, the aquarium was pretty impressive for it’s size and location. I didn’t expect much to be honest, but it turned out to be a really fun visit and is making it’s name on our New Orleans must see list!
Cost per adult: $29.95 Cost per child: $21.95 More options HERE.
Food & Beverage:
We didn’t buy any food or drink on our tour, but I did see a variety of food and beverage choices on the second floor!
The bathrooms are located in the lobby on the first floor, directly next to the frog exhibit on the second floor, and one in the theater.
-Nursing Room: The Aquarium has a dedicated nursing room located on the first floor just after you come down from touring the second floor.
-Accessible: The entire Aquarium is accessible with wide walk ways and elevators to gain access to all of the exhibits.
TIP: If you’re planning on visiting more than one of the Audubon experiences, I HIGHLY recommend purchasing the Audubon Experience tickets which will save you over $30. Find out more HERE.
Have you visited the Audubon Aquarium? Let us know what you thought in the comments!
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Click below to see our post about the Audubon Zoo and where we stayed!!