NatureSwamps Audubon Park Zoo Aquarium City Park
Nature Center Longue Vue House & Gardens Botanical Gardens
Chalmette Battlefield/Jean Lafitte National Historic Park & Preserve
surrounds New Orleans, creating countless bayous, wetlands and waterways.
From a rustic canoe for two to a fancy schooner for 50, there are swamp
jaunts to float everybody's boat. Visit our Tours page for more on
Slither like a gator down slow-moving waterways. Feel the Spanish moss stroke your neck and the refreshing flick of water from your paddle. At Earl's Bar you can rent a canoe and explore nine miles of waterways in the Barataria Preserve, part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (the largest wetland national park in the U.S.). Preserve maps lay out lazy paddles through water tupelo and frog-hunting heron. Located in Marrero just minutes from downtown New Orleans
504-689-3271. Barataria Preserve, 504-589-2330 guided tours available.
Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge . two-hour canoe trips, led by a nature interpreter, are a good introduction to paddling. Float through tall grasses, rippling with up to 50,000 waterfowl. Run your fingers through the silky, green fronds, and listen to their whispers as you search for pelicans, falcons and eagles. Deep canals almost guarantee a gator-spotting. 16 miles from New Orleans
weekends only - reservations required by noon Friday; 504-882-3881
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Across from Loyola and Tulane universities, Audubon Park and the adjacent Audubon Zoo sprawl over 340 acres, extending from St. Charles Avenue all the way to the Mississippi River. Although John James Audubon, the country's best-known ornithologist, lived only briefly in New Orleans (in a cottage on Dauphine St. in the French Quarter), the city has honored him by naming both the park and the zoo after him. The huge trees with black bark are live oaks, some going back to plantation days and more than 200 recently planted there. The most utilized feature of the park is the 1 3/4-mile paved traffic-free road that loops around the lagoon and golf course. Numerous joggers, cyclists, walkers, and in-line skaters use the park daily. Along the track are 18 exercise stations. Tennis courts and horseback riding facilities can be found elsewhere in the park and the pavilion on the riverbank has one of the most pleasant views of the Mississippi. The Audubon Zoo is toward the back of the park, across Magazine Street. Horseback rides are available (organized, with a guide) from Cascade Stables, 700 East Dr.
directly next to the zoo; tel. 504/891-2246.
Here, in a setting of subtropical plants, waterfalls, and lagoons, some 1,800 animals (including rare and endangered species) live in natural habitats rather than cages. Don't miss the replica of a Louisiana swamp (complete with a rare white gator) or the "Butterflies in Flight" exhibit, where more than 1,000 butterflies live among lush, colorful vegetation. A memorable way to visit the zoo is to arrive on the sternwheeler John James Audubon and depart on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar. You can reach the streetcar by walking through Audubon Park or by taking the free shuttle bus.
An Inn The Quarter favorite!!!!! 504-581-4629
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The Aquarium is on the bank of the Mississippi River, in the French Quarter. Five major exhibit areas and dozens of smaller aquariums hold a veritable ocean of aquatic life native to the region (especially the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico) and to North, Central, and South America. You can walk through the underwater tunnel in the Caribbean Reef exhibit and wave to finny friends swimming all around you, view a shark-filled re-creation of the Gulf of Mexico, or drop in to see the penguin exhibit. Then take the walk-through Waters of the Americas, where you wander in rain forests (complete with birds and piranhas) and see what goes on below the surface of swamps. Not to be missed is a riveting exhibit on jellyfish, the impossibly cute giant sea otters, and the sea-horse exhibit.
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—Audubon Louisiana Nature Center—
Part of the Audubon Institute, Joe Brown Park is an 86-acre tract of Louisiana forest in the far eastern part of the city where guided walks are given daily (except Mon). A nature film is shown on weekdays, and weekends offer additional activities (canoeing, bird-watching, arts and crafts workshops, and others). Three miles of trails are available for public use. There is a wheelchair-accessible raised wooden walkway for shorter excursions. The Louisiana Nature Center offers changing exhibits and hands-on activities. It has a planetarium offering shows on Saturday and Sunday
(laser rock shows on Fri and Sat nights).
Call tel. 504-246-STAR for the current planetarium schedule.
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Once part of the Louis Allard plantation, City Park has been here a long time and has seen it all--including that favorite pastime among 18th-century New Orleans gentry: dueling. The extensive, beautifully landscaped grounds hold botanical gardens and a conservatory, four golf courses, picnic areas, a restaurant, lagoons for boating and fishing, tennis courts, horses for hire and lovely trails to ride them on, a bandstand, two miniature trains, and an amusement area with a carousel ride for children. At Christmastime, the mighty oaks, already dripping with Spanish moss, are strung with lights--quite a magical sight--and during Halloween, there is a fabulous haunted house. You'll also find the New Orleans Museum of Art at Collins Diboll Circle, on Lelong Avenue, in a building that is itself a work of art.
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—New Orleans Botanical Garden—
The Botanical Garden has in interesting history. First started during the Great Depression as a project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), it was originally known as the City Park Rose Garden, and was opened in 1936 to immediate public delight. Since its inception the Garden has grown tremendously - there're now 2,000 varieties of plants - but has retained much of its original Art Deco flourishes. Currently, the featured exhibit is Plants of the Louisiana Purchase, a horticultural showcase of plants and growing techniques of the Jefferson's gardens at Montecello, Chateau de Malmaison, the home of Napoleon and Josephine and New Orleans during the late Colonial and early American periods. This special exhibit ends August 31, 2003.
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—Longue Vue House & Gardens—
The Longue Vue mansion is a unique expression of Greek Revival architecture set on an 8-acre estate. It was constructed from 1939 to 1942. Longue Vue House and Gardens is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is accredited by the American Association of Museums.
in the manner of an English country house, the mansion was designed
to foster a close rapport between indoors and outdoors, with vistas
of formal terraces and pastoral woods. Some parts of the enchanting
gardens were inspired by those of Generalife, the former summerhouse
of the sultans in Granada, Spain. Besides the colorful flowering plants,
there are formal boxwood parterres, fountains, and a colonnaded loggia.
Highlights are the Canal Garden, the Walled Garden, the Wild Garden
(which features native irises), and the Spanish Court with its pebbled
and changing horticultural displays.
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—Chalmette Battlefield/Jean Lafitte National Park & Preserve—
On the grounds of what is now Chalmette National Historical Park, the bloody Battle of New Orleans was waged on January 14, 1815. To reach the park, take St. Claude Avenue southeast from the French Quarter until it becomes St. Bernard Highway, approximately 7 miles. You can visit the battleground and see markers that allow you to follow the course of the battle. The Beauregard plantation house on the grounds contains exhibits on the battle, and the Visitor Center presents a film and other exhibits. There's a National Cemetery in the park, established in 1864. It holds only two American veterans from the Battle of New Orleans, but some 14,000 Union soldiers who fell in the Civil War are buried here. For a terrific view of the Mississippi River, climb the levee in back of the Beauregard House.
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