We’ve visited New Orleans dozens of times, but have never had a chance to visit the aquarium. We spent an extra day in New Orleans on our last trip to do just that and it was a very enjoyable experience for us all. There’s really something for everyone here.
When you first enter the aquarium there’s a large wall waterfall with a shark and ray hanging from the ceiling. You then enter an aquarium tunnel that features a variety of saltwater fish, small sharks and rays. It’s easy to linger here for a long time just watching all of the different types of fish as they swim all around you. The next couple of rooms feature additional saltwater tanks as well. One exhibit here that I found to be particularly interesting was a tank display showing how light filters through the ocean. The exhibit had buttons allowing you to see what different colors of fish look like the deeper you go in the water and as light becomes less available.
The next room we entered was the jungle. This room had numerous tanks featuring South American tropical and freshwater fish. It was interesting to see that these tanks held many of the same fish you would buy for your own freshwater aquarium at home. They also had a tank of piranha and a tank with an anaconda. This area also featured large Macaws, including two rare Blue Macaws. I’m not sure how we missed it, but one exhibit we didn’t see was Parakeet Point. Someone had mentioned it to us, but we never saw signs or anything for it and only noticed the parakeets after our visit while we were outside and saw them on the second floor of the museum in an outdoor enclosure.
We then moved on to an exhibit that featured the penguins and the river otters. Both were popular attractions with our son. The penguins were very neat and would come up to the glass to see you. The river otters were also cute, but were too busy eating their lunch, which appeared to be oysters. A shark exhibit was also in this area as well as a seahorse exhibit and frog exhibit.
From there we went to the stingray touch tank. These were small rays and you could stick your arm down in the water and feel them as they slide beneath your hand. There was also an indoor playground area here. There was a slide and swing set as well as another area where you could take pictures and sit on a killer whale or oyster shell. This is an excellent area for toddlers.
The Mississippi River exhibit housed the alligators. There were two small albino alligators in one tank here as well as exhibits on native birds in the area. There was also another exhibit that had a very large albino alligator. I’m guessing he was 16 foot long. He was huge and just hanging out on a deck they had built in the enclosure.
The Gulf of Mexico exhibit features a 400,000 gallon tank that houses several large tarpon, rays and sharks. This tank was so large you it had an upstairs and downstairs viewing area. All of the animals in this tank were incredibly large and it was cool to be able to see them so close up. If you’re visiting the French Quarter, the aquarium is easy to find. It’s technically located on Magazine Street, but it sits at the end of Canal Street on the Mississippi River. It’s right behind the Westin Hotel on the river, which has a public parking lot next to it where you can park. You can also take the train to the museum, as there is a stop right outside the museum steps.
The aquarium is part of the other Audubon attractions in the area. You can actually save yourself a little money, if you intend to visit the Audubon Zoo and Insectatarium as well. The Insectatarium is within walking distance of the aquarium, but the zoo is a short drive away or you can take the river boat shuttle. We will most likely try to see the zoo the next time we visit New Orleans, but the aquarium is a great option if you don’t have a lot of time to visit all of the attractions.