Last updated on November 20th, 2018
Do you ever think, I went on vacation without the kids, yet I just ended at a kid’s attraction? Yeah, that’s what happened on our trip to NOLA. With so much history and partying in New Orleans, the Audubon Zoo often is overlooked. That is a big mistake. Here is why!
When I planned my trip, we had so many different attractions we wanted to visit. Like most people, the zoo was somewhere down at the bottom of the list. But a week before we were supposed to leave, we got word that a Hurricane was supposed to hit NOLA during our stay. We had to re-prioritize everything. All the must-see things would have to be done before the hurricane made landfall. We had no idea what the conditions were going to be afterward.
We got lucky, and the hurricane missed us completely. But because the town did a great job of preparing for it, most establishments close for the storm on Saturday night and remained closed the next morning. Sunday morning we were looking for something to keep us entertained. We had 6 hrs before our plane took off, so we walked over to the Visitors Center to see what was open. It turns out the Zoo was! My husband and I looked at each other and said, “To the ZOO!”.
What You Need to Know About the Audubon Zoo
Right away, we knew this zoo was going to be one of the great American Zoo’s. The zoo reminded me of a cross between a Disney Theme Park and a smaller version of the San Diego Zoo. Complete with little islands devoted to each world. They had Asia, the Avery, an African Savanna, Reptile House, Primates, the Louisiana Swamp and a Jaguar Jungle. Each ‘world’ is styled to make you feel as though you were dropped off in the jungles. They had a variety of different animal encounter stations and some of the best kid play sections that looked built into the exhibits. I had to do a double take when I saw a woman coming out of one stream. Turns out it was a play area for the kids.
The Reptile House
The reptile house at the Audubon Zoo is one of the latest I’ve come across on my travels. It went on forever covering more varieties of different lizards, snakes, and frogs than I never knew existed. From pythons to raddle snacks, to poison dart frogs, this place had everything.
The Louisana Swamp
The Louisiana Swamp is the heart of the zoo. From the exterior decor to the alligators covered in green algae creeping up on us, no detail was overlooked. They even have a very rare White Alligator. There are only 15 in the world. It suffers from a rare condition that affects its skin pigment.
One recommendation I have for visitors is to get a ticket for the Swamp Train. It’s $5 for unlimited rides. The train gives you a fully narrated tour of the enter zoo and has three different stops. By the time we had gotten to the Louisiana Swamp and had been walking all day in the heat, we would have paid anything to catch a ride on it. We found out that the only place to buy tickets at the time was at the entrance to the Audubon Zoo.
The Audubon Zoo has many different food options available throughout the park. In order to save a few dollars, I highly recommend that you bring some bottled water with you. The one thing that shocked me the most was how hot the zoo got during the day.
Inside the Audubon Zoo is a full-fledged water attraction, called Cool Zoo. More than just a splash pad, it is a full fleed water park. It includes water slides, soakers, and a Gator Run lazy river. They have sand beaches, water cannons, and lounge chairs. If I had brought my suite, I may have jumped right in.
This holiday season, the Zoo will be light up at night in a Winter Dreamland. This attraction does have an additional fee, but when it comes to Christmas Lights, it’s worth it.
Off Site Zoo Extras
As part of the Audubon Zoo, they host two additional attractions. they are the Audubon Aquarium, adjacent to the French Quarter. There you’ll see coral reefs coming alive in a walk-through tunnel. They also have a Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, on House and Canal Steet. It is North America’s largest museum devoted entirely to insects.
Getting to the Audubon Zoo
The zoo can be reached by the St. Charles Streetcar line. It will drop off passengers in front of Audubon Park. From there it’s a short walk towards the river to Mazagine Street. If you want to walk, there is a Audubon Zoo FREE shuttle from St Charles Ave. The Audubon Shuttle runs every 15 mins. You are also welcome to drive directly to the zoo.
There are a few discounts you should take to save a few dollars on your visit. The easiest one is to buy your tickets online to save $3. The other thing you can do is bundle your tickets with the other off-site attractions. They can be purchased online.
Traveling without the kids can be a lot of fun, but I kept thinking the whole time is, WOW the kids love this. It’s probably why I avoid these types of stop when they aren’t with me. To this day I’m wondering if I got my local zoo membership more for the kids or me. Have you ever had a similar experience with an Adult Only Trip?
More Info: Audubon Nature Institute
Directions: The Zoo
Recommended Guide: Smithsonian Handbook: Reptiles and Amphibians
Other Recommend Reading: Houmas House | A Haunting Tale
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