Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
New Orleans LA 70130
- Tue: 10am-4pm
- Wed: 10am-4pm
- Thu: 10am-4pm
- Fri: 10am-4pm
- Sat: 10am-5pm
- Sun: 10am-5pm
The Audubon Gardens and Insectarium is not for the squeamish. Fat cockroaches, squirmy centipedes and slimy worms are a few of the insects on display in what was once the U.S. Customs House in New Orleans. But there's an upside -- you'll also witness amazingly beautiful butterflies in a serene free-flight setting and if you're lucky you may get a chance to see an insect undergo metamorphosis before your very eyes. There's lots of preserved and live bugs for your viewing pleasure and experts are on hand to offer facts and information to inquisitive visitors. It's not all about bugs though, be sure to stop by the Louisiana Swamp Gallery, a recreated wetlands habitat ... but watch the 'gators.
Parking and Public Transportation at the Audubon Butterfly Gardens and Insectarium
If you're staying in the French Quarter/Downtown area, you can easily walk to the Insectarium (we locals drop the full name). The Riverfront, St. Charles and Canal streetcar lines, as well as numerous direct and connecting buses provide service to the Insectarium. Metered and public parking lots abound and a few offer discounts with validation. A good option is the Jax Brewery parking lot; you'll pay about $5 with a validated ticket.
Best and worst time to go to the Audubon Butterfly Gardens and Insectarium
This popular attraction is a favorite destination for school field trips, so avoid mornings during the school year. You'll also want to steer clear during major events in the area like the French Quarter Festival -- unless you like long lines and sweaty crowds. For a better experience, try weekday afternoons, when the crowds tend to be thinner.
Admission to the Audubon Butterfly Gardens and Insectarium
You may be able to find printable discount tickets online or check your hotel for a travel guide which often has discount tickets or codes. Otherwise, expect to pay about $20 for adult admission, with discounts for children and seniors. Children under 2 get in free.
Must see/do at the Audubon Butterfly Gardens and Insectarium
If you dare, stop by Bug Appétit for a cooking demonstration unlike any you have ever seen and sample critter comfort food like chocolate chirp cookies and salsa with a little something extra added (hint: think six legs). Yes, the demonstrations include recipes with real bugs. Another favorite spot is the Terminix Immersion Theater, featuring a celebrity-voiced film, Awards Night, which pays homage to a host of superstar bugs. There's limited seating so you may have to wait but it's well worth it. Just prepare yourself for a few unbelievable and fun sensory surprises.
Other places to visit near the Audubon Butterfly Gardens and Insectarium
You can't turn around in this area without bumping into another great place to visit. After your trip, consider taking a ferry ride to the Westbank of New Orleans (Algiers) or stroll along Woldenberg Park and marvel at the muddy Mississippi. If you're up for a little shopping, try the newly renovated Outlet Collection at Riverwalk (formerly Riverwalk Marketplace), featuring over 70 stores offering deep discounts on many national brands
Insider tip for visitors to the Audubon Butterfly Gardens and Insectarium
Because the Insectarium is located in a federal building, visitors must go through a metal detector and have their purses and bags scanned. Check the website for a list of items you can't bring inside, including sharp items you might forget to remove from your purse, like a fingernail file.
Author's bio: Myra Faye Turner lives and writes from New Orleans. She has visited the Insectarium on many occasions and unlike her son Tyler, she has never tried the bug treats.