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Nature Museums

New Orleans Nature Museums

It’s easy and fun to stay in tune with nature in New Orleans. Home to some of the largest recreational parks in the United States, a Zoo complex and Aquarium that’s on par with the best in the country, sculpture gardens, botanical gardens, historical mansions with elaborate courtyards, and even an award-winning museum, the largest in country, dedicated to insects! Begin your adventure with nature at these prime locations. 

New Orleans Nature Museums
Audubon Zoo
6500 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70118 [Map It]
(504) 581-4629, (800) 774-7394

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attraction Type/s: Museum, Zoo

Description: Audubon Zoo is a New Orleans landmark and a living museum filled with some of the rarest and most beautiful creatures of nature. There have been animals at this site since the 1884 World Exposition in Audubon Park. Today, Audubon Zoo is 58 acres of animals in their natural habitats. The Zoo consistently ranks among this country's best.
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
1 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70130 [Map It]
(504) 581-4629, (800) 774-7394

Neighborhood: French Quarter
Attraction Type/s: Museum, Aquarium

Description: Discover a world filled with 15,000 water-loving creatures, like graceful seahorses, neon-colored frogs and jaunty penguins. Come face to face with a white alligator. Pet a baby shark. And feel like an undersea explorer as you walk through the 30-foot-long Caribbean Reef tunnel. With so much to explore, you could spend all day at this amazing, state-of-the-art museum.
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
423 Canal St., Custom House, New Orleans, LA 70130 [Map It]
(504) 581-4629, (800) 774-7394

Neighborhood: Central Business District/Downtown
Attraction Type/s: Museum

Description: Dedicated to over 900,000 species of insects and their relatives, the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium gives you a glimpse into the beautiful, exciting world of these curious creatures. Inside you’ll find a Hall of Fame showcasing amazing specimens, a recreated swamp habitat, a café with insect-themed fare, and a Japanese garden with free-flying butterflies. Bring your camera for incredible photo-ops in this interactive, 23,000-square-foot space.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve Laura C. Hudson Visitor Center
419 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA 70130 [Map It]
(504) 589-3882

Neighborhood: French Quarter
Attraction Type/s: Museum

Description: The French Quarter retains much of its original character from the 18th and 19th centuries because it is among the oldest protected historic districts in the nation. The Laura C. Hudson Visitor Center on the eastern edge of the French Quarter features an extensive exhibition of the history and conflict that surrounded the founding and shaping of present-day New Orleans and the French Quarter. Life-sized murals transport the visitor into the swamps, rivers and bayous of southern Louisiana. Exhibits highlight the significance and importance of the Mississippi River to the city, alongside exhibits of native plants and wildlife. Interactive displays introduce guests to the beginnings of Louisiana food, folkways and festivals.
The Botanical Gardens
1 Palm Dr., City Park, New Orleans, LA 70124 [Map It]
(504) 483-9386

Neighborhood: Lakefront/Lakeview
Attraction Type/s: Museum, Garden

Description: The New Orleans Botanical Garden at City Park offers a serene retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Nature lovers of all ages wander around the lush foliage, play in the open gardens or relax near the tranquil fountains. Surrounded by the nation’s largest collection of mature live oaks, patrons enjoy a sensual walk past 2,000 varieties of plants. Most of the vegetation is native to Louisiana, but there are many other more exotic species.
Cool Zoo
6500 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70118 [Map It]
(504) 581-4629

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attraction Type/s: Specialty Experience, Amusement Park

Description: Cool Zoo, the wild and wet splash park, one of the top water parks of New Orleans. It is the hot spot for kids to cool down at Audubon Zoo. Highlights include jumping water spouts, a huge alligator water slide, a spider monkey soaker, water-spitting snakes and now featuring Gator Run, a lazy river. Make sure to pay a visit to the Roman Candy cart, to grab a stick or two of their famous, handmade taffy.

For after-hours fun, rent out the Cool Zoo for your own private party!

Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge
(985) 882-2000

Neighborhood: Gentilly/New Orleans East/Chalmette
Attraction Type/s: Fishing Charters

Description: The largest urban National Wildlife Refuge in the United States is located only 15 minutes from the French Quarter. Bayou Sauvage supports over 340 bird species, including wading and secretive marsh birds dependent on the refuge for survival. There are also healthy populations of alligators, turtles, otters, fish, and other wild animal species. Try your hand at canoeing, hiking, or birdwatching as you take in Lousiana's natural beauty.
Tulane Museum of Natural History
3705 Main St., Bldg. A-3, F. Edward Hebert Riverside Research Center, Belle Chasse, LA 70037 [Map It]
(504) 394-1711

Neighborhood: Algiers/Westbank
Attraction Type/s: Museum

Description: Located in Belle Chasse, just outside the official city limits of New Orleans, the Tulane Museum of Natural History is a private, non-profit research museum which houses extensive collections of amphibians, invertebrates, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and fossils, most of which are or were native species to the region. The Tulane Natural History Museum is not officially open to the public, but individual appointments for scholarly researchers and writers can be made, as well as arrangements for school tours of the facility.
The New Canal Lighthouse
8001 Lakeshore Dr., New Orleans, LA 70124 [Map It]
(504) 282-2134

Neighborhood: Lakefront/Lakeview
Attraction Type/s: Museum, Historic Building

Description: This famous NOLA landmark, first built in 1839, was rebuilt by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and is the fourth lighthouse on the site. Take a guided tour of the museum, visit the gift shop and hear about the history of a light, a lake and a coast. Or just take a cool stroll along the lake! Even cooler - the lighthouse beacon shines every night, to aid mariners as they navigate the basin!
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