Have you ever been someplace and wished that you’d discovered it sooner? That’s how I felt when I stepped inside the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans.
I instantly wished that I’d known of its existence on my first trip to the city several years ago when I visited with my family. My kids would have loved it then. Especially my boys. My daughter? Hmmm….not so much.
Joshua would have loved that the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is housed in a federal building, the U.S. Custom House. That means to enter the museum you must first make your way through a security checkpoint where you empty your pockets and walk through a metal detector. The process was simple enough, although if Josh would have been with me, he’d have been trying to figure out where to ditch his pocket knives. Yes, that is plural.
If insects creep you out, you’re really in the wrong place. But then, you should have figured that out by the name, “Insectarium”.
The Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium allows visitors to experience the wonderful world of insects through sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Yep. There is even a cafe where you can participate in daily cooking shows where insects are transformed into *ahem* delectable treats.
Throughout the museum, you’ll find friendly volunteers and guides eager to help you increase your knowledge of the insect world.
You’ll even have the opportunity to touch a bug, like this millipede…if you so desire.
There are places for the younger crowd to play and crawl around like the underground exhibit which has a small play area, cushioned floor and everything is giant sized so you feel as though you’ve been transformed to the size of an insect.
There are interactive exhibits, like the Love Bug that doubles as a mini movie theater. You can learn about the pesky little “Love Bugs” that seemed to have invaded the South right about the time of my trip at the end of August.
The larger than life bugs and hands-on exhibits, games and displays are sure to grab your child’s attention while teaching the whole family a thing of two.
Did you know that flies feed by barfing digestive acids into solid foods? This dissolves the food into a liquid so they can absorb it through the proboscis.
Trust me, the world of bugs has never been more fascinating.
Don’t leave without making sure you see the very rare, pink katydids. They are beautiful.
The small butterfly exhibit is set up like a Japanese garden and only takes a few minutes to walk through which allows plenty of time to thoroughly explore the rest of the museum.
Unfortunately, my time at the museum was very limited. I’d suggest that you allow a minimum of 1 1/2 to 2 hours to walk through and read the exhibits, experience the hands-on games, like Build-a-Bug, and watch the Awards Night film that showcases the achievements of superstar bugs.
Tips for visiting the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectatium:
1. Remember, this is a federal building. Keep that security check point in mind and don’t take unnecessary bags with you.
2. This is a popular museum. I’d arrive early in the day, or as the museum suggests, visit on a weekday afternoon when the crowds are lighter.
3. The main hall of the museum can be especially crowded and I imagine at times it could be a bit difficult to push a stroller through. An umbrella stroller may be a great option because you could fold it up and carry your child through this part, saving the stroller for the wider rooms and exhibits.
4. The museum is located on Canal Street and near a Canal Street Trolley Stop, in easy walking distance of the aquarium.
5. The museum does offer a cafe (you don’t have to eat bugs) or if you want to try an authentic New Orleans specialty, you’ll find Johnny’s Po-Boys a few short blocks away.
Location: U.S. Custom House 423 Canal St (at N. Peters Street) New Orleans
Hours: Tuesday- Sunday 10 am- 5 pm
Admission: $16 for adults, $11 for child (2-12) and $13 for senior (65+) and students
Discounted packages are also available which will allow admission to the Audubon Aquarium and Audubon Zoo.
Parking: There is an additional charge for parking and off street parking will be hard to find. Plan to park in one of the area parking lots.
Have you been to the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans? What tips would you add?
Disclaimer: I received media passes for the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium as an attendee of the Niche Mommy Conference without expectation. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.