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1st Timer’s Guide to the New Orleans Aquarium

Guide to the New Orleans Aquarium

New Orleans might be best known for its cuisine and culture, but did you know that it also boasts one of the top-rated aquariums in the country? Located near the French Quarter, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is consistently listed as one of the Top 10 U.S. Aquariums for its expansive collection of more than 250 animal species.

As one of NOLA’s most beloved family-friendly attractions, the Audubon Aquarium offers visitors a front-row seat to marine life through interactive exhibits and a diverse collection of species. If you are staying at a Book NOLA vacation home and planning a trip to this New Orleans aquarium, here’s everything you need to know to make it a memorable experience.

About the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Photo Credit: Louisiana Travel via Flickr CC 2.0

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas first opened in 1990 along the banks of the Mississippi River. It was only the second institution of its kind in the U.S., and 18,000 visitors flocked to its doors on opening day.

Founded by the Audubon Nature Institute, the aquarium was designed to offer visitors an engaging, educational way to experience natural wildlife. To this day, the aquarium is known for its active participation in conservation and research initiatives around the world. Beyond the aquarium, Audubon Nature Institute also opened the Audubon Zoo and Audubon Insectarium over the years, inviting locals and tourists to interact with all varieties of animal species.

After undergoing a major renovation, Audubon Aquarium reopened in the summer of 2023, better than ever. It now features new exhibits, an expanded list of educational opportunities, a larger volume of animal species, and even the insectarium right next door. This reopening makes it easier than ever to explore the Audubon Aquarium and Insectarium all in one!

Getting There

The Audubon Aquarium is located on the riverfront at the edge of the French Quarter and Warehouse District on Canal Street, both great neighborhoods to stay in!

The aquarium does not have its own parking area, but multiple public parking lots can be found nearby. They also offer a parking discount at designated public parking spots. You can find more parking information here.

There are designated handicapped parking spots at the entrance of the aquarium that are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The entrance provides a ramp for accessibility.

What to Do at the Audubon Aquarium

Experience the Gulf of Mexico Exhibit

Photo Credit: Kevin O’Mara via Flickr CC 2.0

While the New Orleans aquarium is home to a diverse array of species, it might be best known for its expansive Gulf Coast collection. The Gulf of Mexico Exhibit contains 400,000 gallons of seawater and is 17 feet deep, making it the largest exhibit at the aquarium. This exhibit features a replica of an off-shore oil rig and is home to an array of sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, and fish.

This is the perfect first stop for tourists to get a taste of Louisiana wildlife during their Audubon Aquarium tour.

Pro Tip: If you want another look at native species, head to the Bayou Exhibit next, where you’ll glimpse frogs, turtles, minnows, and even the infamous white alligator.

Explore a Variety of International Species

Photo Credit: Richard Hitt via Google Images CCL

Beyond the Gulf of Mexico, Audubon Aquarium transports visitors to species all over the world. Make your way to the Amazon Rainforest Exhibit, where you’ll discover lush greenery, 15 different tropical bird species, freshwater stingrays, piranhas, and even a two-toed sloth!

Next, head to the Caribbean Reef Exhibit, one of the most popular exhibits. Also known as the Great Maya Reef exhibit features a 30-foot-long tunnel that invites guests to feel fully immersed in Caribbean sea life. While there, you’ll discover tropical species like parrotfish, eels, angelfish, and more.

Continue on to the Jelly Gallery, where you’ll have the chance to explore a variety of jellyfish species right in front of your eyes. Finally, you can’t miss the Seahorse Gallery, where you’ll get an up-close look at the only male creatures that give birth!

For a full list of exhibits and experiences, click here.

Interact with African Penguins

Photo Credit: Gary J. Wood via Flickr CC 2.0

Is there anything cuter than watching penguins play? We didn’t think so. At Audubon Aquarium, there is a whole breeding program designed to protect African Penguins, an endangered species. The warm climate of South Louisiana mimics their African roots, allowing an optimal environment to thrive. As a bonus, visitors get the chance to play with and feed these lovable creatures!

Visit the Audubon Insectarium

Photo Credit: Kit Leong

After closing its doors during the pandemic, the Audubon Insectarium reopened right next door to the aquarium in 2023. The Insectarium invites guests to explore the insects that make up the largest group of animals on the planet. It is known for its enchanting Butterfly Garden, where hundreds of butterflies freely fly among lush plants overlooking the riverfront.

Finish your tour at Bug Appetite, where you get a front row seat to chefs serving up delicious edible insect dishes! And don’t forget to grab a Cricket King Cake on your way out.

What to Know Before You Go

How can I purchase tickets?

You can purchase tickets to visit the aquarium online. Visitors can choose between a single admission ticket to visit the aquarium or purchase a ticket that also gives them access to the Audubon Insectarium and Audubon Zoo. The more attractions you choose, the more the discount.

  • Single admission tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for kids.
  • Two-attraction tickets are $50 for adults and $45 for kids.
  • Three-attraction tickets are $60 for adults and $55 for kids.

*Prices at the time of writing. Prices are subject to change.

Is there a gift shop?

Yes! The Audubon Aquarium features the Treasure Chest Gift Shop on the second floor. Here, you’ll find all sorts of souvenirs to remember your adventures at the aquarium.

Are there events I can attend at the aquarium?

Yes! Between the aquarium, insectarium, and zoo, Audubon Nature Institute regularly hosts events for the whole family to enjoy. You can head here to check out the list of upcoming events and purchase tickets.

Have a Fun-Filled Day at the Audubon Aquarium

Thousands of visitors flock here every year to get a personal look at the large collection of diverse species. No matter what sea creatures pique your interest, you are sure to find them here. From the Amazon Rainforest to the Cajun Bayou, the Audubon Aquarium has gathered a wide array of animals from around the world.

We recommend giving yourself plenty of time to wander the aquarium, as there are endless exhibits to discover. Don’t forget to make your way to the Audubon Insectarium and Audubon Zoo next to get a full tour of all types of insects, sea creatures, and animals.

Book your New Orleans vacation home today!

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