On the edge of both the French Quarter and the Mississippi River rests one of the nation’s top aquariums in the United States. One of four different Audubon attractions in New Orleans, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas offers samples of nearly 600 species of sea life in a state-of-the-art museum, and is a popular spot for guests of our New Orleans bed and breakfast to visit during their stay.
While underwater life is the main feature of NOLA’s Aquarium of the Americas, you won’t only see water exhibits when you visit the Aquarium. Many of the 15,000 individual creatures who call the Aquarium their home are highlighted in a number of exhibits showing both different underwater habitats throughout North and South America, and others that feature full natural environmental simulations. Some of the favorites include:
- The Mississippi River Gallery features views of the Mississippi River both inside and out. Set above the river itself, the habitat features species commonly found in and along the river including catfish, sturgeon, paddlefish, and a leucistic white alligator.
- The Gulf of Mexico Exhibit is the largest in the museum. The 400,000-gallon saltwater tank simulates ocean life under an oil rig (in quarter-scale) – something that will make you really think, in light of the recent oil spill in the Gulf. Schools of fish, sting rays, sharks, and sea turtles swim among the barnacled decorations.
- An Amazon Rain Forest exhibit in a round glass greenhouse gives you insight into the rainforest from both above and below. See exotic fish like piranha, pacu fish, and freshwater stingrays that live under the water, and enjoy the macaws, snakes, and other life that live out of the water.
- The Caribbean Reef exhibit features a tunnel through a 132,000-gallon tank where you can watch tarpon and angelfish among moray eels, stingrays, and other sea creatures. You may even get to see the diver feed the rays! This exhibit also features the Flower Garden Banks Coral Garden with many species of coral, and the fish who call that coral their home.
And those are only the larger displays. You’ll also see a Seahorse Gallery, amphibian exhibit, an exotic bird area, jellyfish, sea otters, kids’ hand’s on exhibits, penguins, and much, much more. The Aquarium of the Americas is a place where you can easily lose yourself for much of the day. Be sure to visit the on-site cafe if you get hungry! And if you get really tired of live displays, the Entergy IMAX theater is located onsite to offer large-scale movie entertainment.
When you visit the Aquarium, you are not only supporting the upkeep of the facility, but you are also supporting the many great programs there. The Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program brings rescued animals to the Aquarium for rehabilitation and preparation for re-release to the wild. When wildlife is brought to the Aquariums, they are brought to the Labs where they are assessed and treated for their particular problem. Once the animal’s health has stabilized, they are introduced to an appropriate exhibit where they live until the appropriate time for their return to the wild.
The NOLA Aquarium of the Americas is a great place to plan a full-day visit, or even stop by for just an hour or two after walking the French Quarter. Located at 1 Canal Street near the Algiers Ferry Dock, the Aquarium is open daily from 10am to 5pm from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Check with your Innkeeper for fall and winter schedules. Tickets are currently $21 for adults, $14 for children 2-12 years of age (free for newborn to 1 year), and $17 for seniors. Discounts are offered for high school and college students with valid school IDs.
Discount tickets are also offered for visiting other New Orleans Audubon attractions, which will be open seven days a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day! Besides the Aquarium, you can visit the onsite IMAX® Theater, the Zoo, and Butterfly Garden and Insectarium every day from May 28 through September 3, 2012!
While the Aquarium does have automobile parking, you can simply catch a streetcar outside our New Orleans inn for a quick ride over to Canal Street, making for a perfect stress-free Aquarium visit!