New Orleans’ Audubon Zoo/Two-Fer
As I mentioned earlier, we’ve had the most amazing spring weather this year. It’s been unusually glorious, and I’ve not taken it for granted. We took advantage of yesterday’s perfect weather to do a full day at the Audubon Zoo. I was especially motivated to go since our membership is expiring soon and I won’t renew it until next year. (This is no reflection on how much we love the Audubon Zoo! I just usually alternate memberships between it and our Children’s Museum, so as to maximize our membership value. Expect a post on the Children’s Museum soon…) The Audubon Zoo is one of our favorite spots to visit around New Orleans; it’s lush and lovely, and the exhibits have really been expanding and upgrading lately. We’ve visited it many times and never tire of it.
There is obviously plenty of wildlife to see– elephants, lions (new!), bats, reptiles, large cats, rhinos, etc. There’s an African section, an Asian one, a Mayan jungle one, and a primate section. It is probably unique in its swamp exhibit, which showcases all things swamp and deep Louisiana (many gators!). You’ll definitely feel the swamp vibe walking through it. The kids (and this mama!) appreciate the number of hands-on sort of play scattered throughout; there are a couple of different playgrounds, a petting zoo, a carousel, an archeological “dig”, and Monkey Hill.
Monkey Hill is a unique little section of the zoo that locals know to bring your bathing suit for. In addition to being something of a New Orleans institution that generations of New Orwillians have enjoyed (unless you want to be mocked, please please don’t actually use that term, but please do watch this and laugh). There is some debate as to whether or not it’s the highest point in the area. There is no debate on how much fun it is to roll down. Yes, it’s really that flat down here.
Besides the hill and water, there’s a little suspension bridge that leads to a slide. Be prepared to park for a while (benches provided!) and let the kids roam up, down, and around the hill.
In my opinion the Audubon Zoo is just pretty to walk around, never mind the animals; in addition to lovely landscaping, it has several old structures and fountains that give it a lot of character. I hope you get to visit it and love it, too.
If all this talk of this much activity is making you tired, French Truck Coffee has a location on Dryades St. not too far from the Audubon Zoo…just saying…I personally suggest swinging by on your way in. It’s delicious.
Tips: Audubon Zoo is most crowded in the morning, so if you can time an afternoon visit do so. Wear sunblock! Even on cool days the sun can get you. Parking is free and plentiful.
Food: There are numerous cafes and food vendors around the zoo (you can peruse them here), but picnic lunches are very welcomed. You can tote any sort of cooler/picnic basket in, and there are numerous benches and tables available throughout the zoo, not to mention lawns shaded by oaks! We always pack a lunch, and sometimes we’ll get Roman Candy as a treat for dessert (family tradition…my husband grew up eating it every trip to the zoo!). The stand only accept cash, so bring a few dollars to indulge.
Strollers: The entire zoo is very accessible via stroller. If you forgot yours, there are strollers available for rental near the front ($11 single/$13 double).
Ticket info: It goes without saying that if you’re visiting more than once, membership is best option. If you’re not local and membership doesn’t make sense, there’s a combo ticket you can read about here that looks to be a good value! I personally would do the Aquarium/Zoo combo, and not bother with the Insectarium. The Insectarium was interesting enough, but on the small side. I think the Zoo and Aquarium are much better! Especially if you’re just in town for a while. Buy tickets online ahead of time to save both time and a little money. Present the tickets on your phone.