“Here fishy, fishy, fishy..!” My trip to the aquarium in New Orleans!on November 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm
Nicki and I had planned on taking a cemetery tour one afternoon while celebrating our honeymoon in New Orleans. I mean, what better way to celebrate a new marriage than by visiting a graveyard, right?
Well, after hopping on a trolley at the hotel and going for what we thought would be a quick trolley ride on the St. Charles Line we ended up back at Canal Street with only about 20 minutes to get down to the French Quarter in time to sign up for the tour. We could probably make it, but didn’t want to push it. Our feet were still hurting from our excursion to the French Quarter on Halloween and the day before that (a story for another time).
We decided to visit the aquarium instead and headed down Canal Street towards the Mississippi River. Along the way we stopped in at a tourist info center and went ahead and purchased our aquarium tickets and reserved our places for a cemetery tour the next day- my birthday, which seemed appropriate. New Orleans has got the tourism thing down! Lots of info shops and booths around the city. If you want to see New Orleans, they’ve got a tour for you!
After purchasing our tickets we walked down to the Riverwalk and took a few pics. I really enjoyed their riverside area, and look forward to going back and ride the Algiers Ferry across the river or check out some of the shops we didn’t have time to go in this trip.
We were a bit hungry by this time. We’d missed breakfast since we slept in a bit. Halloween was the night before and we got in a wee bit late. We had a few wedding cupcakes with us on the trip and that was what we had before heading out that morning. We decided to have lunch by the river at Poppy’s The Crazy Lobster. We sat right down, but it did take a bit to get waited on. We kept ourselves entertained by watching the Algiers Ferry dock and then head back across the river for more passengers and cars (free for pedestrians and $1 for cars).
There were also a few barges and other boats traveling up and down the river, and several pigeons and some sea gulls flying around near the ferry landing. The weather was nice and there was also a guitar player outside on the patio area which went great with the river view. There was a pigeon who came over and enjoyed a few fries near our table who was fun to watch, too.
Our food finally arrived, and was very tasty, but we kind of had to hurry. We’d spent more time walking and waiting than we had planned on and needed to get a move on to have enough time to enjoy the aquarium.
The Aquarium of the Americas is located on the Riverwalk and near where we had lunch so it was just a walk up the ferry entrance, over the R/R tracks, and around the corner to the aquarium entrance. Since we had per-purchased our tickets earlier in the day we were able to walk right in.
The only aquarium I’ve been to before is the one at the Memphis Zoo. While the zoo itself is awesome, the aquarium is kinda lacking and tiny. They have piranhas, electric eels, and a few other cool fish, but they are all in pretty small tanks. This building didn’t look too big so I wasn’t really expecting a whole lot. I figured the IMAX probably took up most of it. Wrong!
As we entered to the right was the gift shop- which looked very inviting, and above our heads were several ginormous sharks hanging from the ceiling! Ok, so far so good- things look promising for seeing some real sharks here!
The first aquarium we encountered was very big and you could walk through the middle of it. I’m a bit claustrophobic but the walkway was wide enough and tall enough for me to not feel closed in, which was very nice. What was even cooler was that it had a bunch of stingrays swimming around in it!
I love stingrays and they seemed to be flying though the space- sometimes in formation. Things were looking up- and I had to several times to watch the fish swim from one side of the huge tank to the other.
Past that was a circular room which had several smaller tanks- some in the walls, and a couple in the middle of the room. You could also see through other sides of the large tank we had walked though.
After exploring that room for a bit, we entered a doorway which had an escalator leading up a floor or two. It was a bit warmer and muggier from the last room, but not uncomfortable.
At the top of the escalator was a few large tanks with giant catfish! There was also a few other tanks around, piranhas, a waterfall, lots of trees, some birds, plus what looked to be a tree hut.
We climbed the stairs up to the tree hut and explored the top area of this part of the aquarium across wooden bridges. We had a bird hop down in front of us which gave us a bit of a jolt. It was not what I was expecting to be in an aquarium, but a lot of fun.
The next section had penguins and we got there for feeding time, and apparently in time what comes after- poop time! Yep, got to witness what happens when a penguin goes in the water. It was pretty funny to watch the other penguins try to avoid the floating smoke cloud of crap. Each of the penguins had a color coded “arm band” with their names on them. There was a zoo keeper there to answer questions from the crowd. Nobody had to ask where/how does a penguin go to the bathroom.
Across from the penguin area was Shark Cove! I love sharks- have since I was a kid. Won’t go into the ocean or watch JAWS while in a swimming pool because of them, but I dig watching sharks…from a safe distance.
There was a tank about the size of our bedroom filled with sharks. Some were about a foot long, some 3-4 feet long.
We didn’t see any this big, but the ones we saw hanging at the front entrance were behind us, along with a shark size guide. There was also a face painter and a souvenir photo area nearby.
We walked a little further past the food court and saw the parakeet area. We bought a feed stick for a dollar and walked in I was immediately swarmed by a flock of colorful tiny birds! Good thing I don’t have Ornithophobia or get freaked out by Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds“. Getting the feeding stick was more than worth the $1 we spent on it. We watched as one little boy walked in, then screamed and dropped his stick as soon as a bird landed on it! Many of the birds were on it in an instant and a feathered feeding frenzy began. A few minutes later I found out how parakeets poop when some went splat on my ear! Luckily there were paper towels and hand sanitizer nearby.
After coming back inside we saw an incredible view of the Mississippi River from the food court windows. We took a few shots there and then proceeded around the corner where I saw more sharks! This time some really big ones in a tank under us.
Down that hall was a tank with some otters in it, more wall tanks with various fish, and a frog room. There was a large frog prince in the middle, a Kermit The Frog near the ceiling, some info about frogs on the walls, and some tiny colorful live frogs in terrariums. Nicki was fond of the frog prince- hope she’s not already having second thoughts about our marriage!
One of my favorite areas in the aquarium was the seahorse exhibit. They were pretty amazing. They had a few different species of seahorses and seadragons there. It was interesting to watch them use their tails to hold onto branches or intertwine with each other.
From what I read there, seahorses are very faithful mates. Nice to hear as a newlywed!
They had a lot of interactive and play areas for kids, and I was glad they let the big kids play, too!
The only time I got claustrophobic was when I went up a tube inside one of the round tanks. It was a bit snug and obviously built for smaller humans. I took a couple quick pics and made my escape.
One thing I did enjoy was Stingray Bay where I got to pet a couple live stingrays. They were a big slimy and rubbery feeling- but very cool!
We saw a few albino gators at the aquarium. This big boy was HUGE!
Apparently albino alligator births aren’t that rare, but them growing up and surviving in the wild without natural camouflage is. Just too easy for predators to pick them off while the gators are young.
As we passed the white alligator we walked past more tanks with big fish and some more large windows with another great view of the river.
There was also a shack with some kind of eagle or hawk above tethered to a perch. We weren’t sure he was alive until he stood up, flapped his wings, and let out a slight screech. That gave us a bit of a shock! Third time birds had scared us at the aquarium.
Next to him and the shack was the entrance for the jellyfish area of the aquarium. Down the stairs we went.
At the bottom of the stairs there were some smaller tanks with jellyfish in them, a large deep sea diving suit, and a humongous tank with large tuna and SHARKS!!! The tank was as big as the whole Memphis Zoo aquarium back home!
It was awesome to watch the sharks swim along the glass in front of us. Not sure how many different kinds of sharks were swimming around inside and I didn’t get a chance to ask, but I saw at least 3-4 different species. All were pretty good sized!
It was soon almost closing time so I made a quick pass through the main gift shop near the exit. Lots of cool items and fun displays. Nicki saw a “Harry Otter” shirt in one of the other gift shops upstairs that was cute. It was hard to believe we were at the aquarium for a little over 3hrs, and we could have stayed longer if the employees didn’t have to go home.
It was well worth checking out- hope you have or get to someday. More pics and stories from our New Orleans adventure to come!
Neighborhood: Central Business District/Downtown
Attraction Type/s: Museum, Aquarium
Description: Looming large against the Mississippi River is the extraordinary Audubon Aquarium of the Americas which houses 15,000 sea life creatures, representing nearly 600 species, living happily in a state-of-the-art facility.