New Orleans is the perfect place to take your summer vacation, with special events at the Audobon Zoo, unique swamplands to explore and delicious Creole cuisine to sample. Your New Orleans vacation will be a wholly immersive cultural experience.
The Audobon Zoo, Aquarium and Insectarium offer several activities that both you and your kids will love. At the Aquarium, feel the smooth, slick skin of a stingray as it sails through Stingray Bay. At certain times, you can even feed the stingrays, or watch the other aquarium animals during feeding time. In the zoo, watch the fuzzy otters get their afternoon snack, see the penguins gulp down their fish or watch the gorillas munch on a whole head of cabbage.
If the animals’ mealtime displays make you hungry, you can always head to the Insectarium for Bug Apetit Insect Cooking and Tasting Demonstrations. There, you’ll learn about Entomophagy (the eating of insects) all over the world. You’ll sample some of the exotic tastes put together by bug chefs, like chocolate “chirp” cookies and six-legged salsa. If you’d rather study your bugs than taste them, check out Insect Encounters in Metamorphosis, where butterflies will be emerging from their chrysalises.
Be sure to visit Animal Grossology, the aquarium’s newest exhibit. The exhibit celebrates the stickiest, yuckiest and most disgusting creatures on earth. Here, you’ll learn about how animals as nasty as leeches can assist surgeons, how dung beetles are the world’s natural pooper scoopers and how cows are the gassiest animals on the planet. There are several interactive activities, fun tunnels and learning opportunities that your kids will love.
Though a full day could easily be spent at one of the Audobon Institute’s attractions, no trip to New Orleans is complete without a visit to the swamplands. On the Swamp and Bayou Tour, you can actually experience the natural Louisiana bayou in all of its muddy splendor. Learn about the unfortunate disappearance of the wetlands and about the surrounding wildlife on this tour, which begins with a motorcoach ride through Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and then progresses through the wetlands on a custom swamp boat.
If you didn’t have an appetite for Bug Apetit, visit the Court of Two Sisters Restaurant, which features authentic Creole cuisine. Directly in the heart of the French Quarter, the first-class eatery has been around for over two centuries. The menu includes New Orleans favorites like shrimp and grits, chicken oscar and crème brulee. If you arrive early enough, you can enjoy the Live Jazz Brunch Buffet, which features treats like duck a l’orange, jambalaya, fresh-boiled gulf shrimp and more, all accentuated by the smooth rhythms of a live jazz band.
If you’re interested in lodging close to the action, try the Iberville Suites New Orleans, which boasts a lobby full of antiques, fresh flowers and original art. For a truly unique stay, book the St. James Hotel, which originally opened its doors in 1859. The St. James features rooftop terraces, a lounging pool and distinctive architectural features that are evident in the “French Quarter-style” rooms. For the comfort of a mainstream hotel, stay at the Holiday Inn Downtown/Superdome, where you’ll get all of the amenities of home on your New Orleans vacation.