The New Orleans area is a great location for travel and sporting activities as well as hosting a wealth of popular tourist centers. The exciting French Quarter, first class museums, the Audobon Zoo and Audobon Aquarium, historic plantations, professional sporting facilities, and unparalleled special events and festivals make New Orleans one of the country’s favorite vacation destinations and a great place to live.
New Orleans Air Show
NAS JRB New Orleans and the Morale Welfare and Recreation Department sponsor the New Orleans Air Show in the spring. The 2017 featured the Navy's Blue Angels and was a huge success. The show highlighted aerobatic and military acts from across the country including: precision flight teams, solo planes, static displays, parachuting teams, pyrotechnic displays, rescue demonstrations, jet cars, and of course lots of food and fun on the concourse.
The next air show at NAS JRB New Orleans will be Nov. 7-8, 2020 and will featue the USAF Thunderbirds. For up-to-date information visit New Orleans Air Show.
With more than 40 museums in the greater New Orleans area, there are sites that will appeal to every visitor. Whether you enjoy art, history, or nature there is a museum to pique your interest. A few are listed below, but check out http://www.neworleansmuseums.com/ for the full list.
One of the country’s top-ranked zoos, Audubon Zoo blends the exotic excitement of animals from around the globe with the serenity of its lush gardens. With innovative natural habitat exhibits and an animal collection ranging from extraordinary white alligators to majestic Bengal Tigers, Audubon Zoo has become one of the Gulf South’s favorite family gathering spots.
Some of the Zoo’s most action-packed exhibits include: Asian elephants, Malayan sun bears and Bengal Tigers at the Asian Domain; gorillas, orangutans, siamangs, golden lion tamarins and Diana monkeys at the World of Primates; and false gharials, Chinese alligators, copperheads and rattlesnakes at the Reptile Encounter. Other highlights of the Audubon Zoo visitors may experience are the Embraceable Zoo, where guests can touch endangered domestic animals, and the daily animal presentations, including shows from the multi-talented sea lions and elephants.
6500 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas/Entergy IMAX® Theatre
Recognized as one of the nation’s leading aquariums, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is located along the banks of the Mississippi River in the historic French Quarter. A visit to the Aquarium spans the underwater world of the Caribbean Sea, the mysterious Amazon Rainforest and the waters that give New Orleans its lifeblood: the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.
With 10,000 animals representing 530 species, come see some of our all-time favorite exhibits including the Mississippi River gallery featuring catfish, paddlefish and alligators; the Caribbean Reef exhibit featuring a clear, 30-foot-long tunnel surrounded by aquatic creatures; and the Gulf of Mexico exhibit featuring sharks, sea turtles and stingrays. And make sure you get a peek at our animal presentations and feedings, in exciting spots as the Touch Pool, where visitors can touch a baby shark.
The wonders of nature are magnified at Entergy IMAX® Theatre, where larger-than-life adventures explode with the help of the world’s most advanced motion picture technology. Entergy IMAX® Theatre is located next door to Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, and is one of only six in the world with its spectacular flat screen, single projection, IMAX® 3D and high-definition capabilities.
1 Canal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
New Orleans Museum of Art
Louisiana’s culture often seems to have sprung from its fertile soil. Out of the rich Louisiana sugar fields, New Orleans received a gift of lasting culture in early 1910, when sugar broker Isaac Delgado offered the city $150,000 to build a “temple of art for rich and poor alike” in City Park. The neo-classical, Beaux Arts-style Isaac Delgado Museum of Art opened in December 1911, and the 25,000-square-foot “temple” remains his legacy today.
The Museum ranks among the top 25 percent of the nation’s largest and most significant museums, and is the premier art museum in the Mississippi Gulf region. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have passed through its doors to see landmark international exhibitions and the Museum's $200 million collection of European painting and sculpture from the 16th through 20th centuries; American painting and sculpture from the 18th and 19th centuries; European and American prints and drawings; Asian, African, Oceanic, Pre-Columbian, and Native American art; photography; and European and American decorative arts.
The Museum's operating hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; 12:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. on Thurdays; and closed Mondays and legal holidays. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors 65 and older and full-time students with ID, $4 for children. Museum members and children younger than 3 get in free.
The World War II Museum
Since its opening day in June 2000, more than one million visitors have toured the National World War II Museum. This four-story, 75,000-square-foot facility houses some of the most important artifacts relating to World War II and some of the war’s most haunting images. This museum is a must-see for history lovers.
From the 1930s to the Normandy Invasion, this museum traces America’s role in the war. The 22,500-square-foot Louisiana Memorial Pavilion houses the Museum’s reproduction of the LCVP (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel) or Higgins boat, reproduced from original WWII plans by more than 100 volunteers, many former employees of Higgins, a New Orleans-based company. The Pavilion also boasts the Museum’s Spitfire and Avenger airplanes, German staff cars, and sentry boxes from the Atlantic Wall.
The museum is located at 945 Magazine Street, across the street from the Ogden Museum of Art and next to the Contemporary Arts Center. It is open seven days a week, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed New Year’s Day, Mardi Gras, Thanksgiving and Christmas). Admission is $10 for adults; $6 for seniors ages 65 and up and students; and $5 for children ages 5-17. Museum members and military in uniform are admitted free. For more information, call (504) 528-1944 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve consists of six sites in Louisiana, and three of them are in the metropolitan New Orleans area: the historic French Quarter’s Laura C. Hudson Visitor Center, the Barataria Preserve, and the Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery.
The Laura C. Hudson Visitor Center, located at 419 Decatur Street, features an extensive exhibition of the history and conflict that surrounded the founding and shaping of present- day New Orleans and the French Quarter. Life-sized murals put the visitor right into the swamps, rivers and bayous of Louisiana. Exhibits feature the significance and importance of the Mississippi River, and native plant and wildlife. Interactive displays bring guests into the beginnings of Louisiana food, folkways and festivals.
The Barataria Preserve is a 20,000 acre park with natural levees, forests, swamps and marsh. The preserve features wooden walkways and bridges, canoe trails and a picnic area. There are also ranger-guided tours and a visitors’ center with exhibits and films, as well as an environmental education center.
The Barataria Preserve is about a 30-minute drive from the Central Business District.
The Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery marks the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. In this famous cemetery, the visitor can walk among the graves of American veterans who fought in conflicts from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. There are also ranger presentations, exhibits and films that interpret this historic site.
The Chalmette Battlefield is about a 20-minute drive from the French Quarter.
For more information about the specific sites of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, please visit the Park headquarters at 419 Decatur Street or call (504) 589-3882. Additional information is available at www.nps.gov/jela.
Old U.S. Mint
Built in 1835, the Old U.S. Mint is the only building in America to have served both as a United States and a Confederate Mint. President Andrew Jackson advocated the Mint’s establishment in order to help finance development of the nation’s western frontier.
Today's visitor finds a number of stunning permanent exhibits in the Old U.S. Mint. Three of the major exhibits are; the “New Orleans Jazz” exhibit, which features instruments, sheet music and memorabilia chronicling the toe-tapping tale of Jazz from its humble beginnings on the streets of New Orleans; the Newcomb Pottery and crafts exhibit featuring many of the objects d’art created by students at H. Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University; and “The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation”, which is based on National Geographic’s 2002 book of the same name by historians Douglas Brinkley and the late Stephen Ambrose.
In addition to these exhibits, the Old U.S. Mint hosts rotating displays and houses a Historical Center, which features an archive of maps and documents.
Louisiana is a treasure trove for nature lovers as well as a sportsman's paradise. Natural beauty abounds and wildlife is plentiful just a short drive from downtown New Orleans. Many state parks preserve the natural beauty of Louisiana for all and here are a few of the closest to New Orleans. Visit http://www.lastateparks.com/ for the complete list.
Fontainebleau State Park
The 2,800-acre park, named after a beautiful forest near Paris by Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, founder of the nearby town of Mandeville, is located on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Numerous picnic sites, complete with tables and grills, and an adjacent pavilion are nestled under the oak trees in sight of the lake. On a clear day, visitors can see the lake dotted with multi-colored sailboats of all sizes and types. Fontainebleau contains an area accessible to Lake Pontchartrain from where wind surfers and small non-motorized boats may be launched.
The sandy beach is a delight for sunbathers, while the nearby swimming pool offers refreshment from the summer heat. Two pavilions are located along both sides of the pool's bathhouse. The pool is open six days a week during the summer. It is closed on Mondays, except on holidays.
Large cleared areas next to the picnic sections are handy for sporting events. An old railroad track that runs through the park has been converted into the Tammany Trace as a part of the Rails to Trails program. It is a wonderful route for cycling, hiking and in-line skating. The park's nature trail is a favorite of nature lovers. Over 400 different species live in and around Fontainebleau.
Scattered throughout the park beneath a canopy of huge oak trees, you will find numerous picnic tables, as well as a group pavilion, a playground, and comfort stations. Spend a relaxing afternoon on the river or venture out into the water for lively outdoor recreation. Fishing from the river bank or a boat offers unmatched delights for even the most casual fisherman. Crabbing in the lake and the river is also popular.
Near the park and upstream, the river is remarkably clear of obstacles, which means that water skiers find their sport enjoyable on this wide waterway. Just two miles away by road and a few minutes by water is the Madisonville public boat launch. Many visitors use the launch for access to the calm waters of the Tchefuncte River or the exhilarating expanse of Lake Pontchartrain.
For the overnight visitor, Fairview-Riverside offers 81 camping sites, all with electricity and water hook-ups. A nearby comfort station and dump station are provided. The park also provides a tent camping area with comfort station access. This camping area is a favorite of groups who want to camp together under the stars.
Bayou Segnette State Park
Not far from the lively urban center of New Orleans lies this South Louisiana retreat--a unique and wonderful wetland area where recreational opportunities abound, as does the opportunity for one-of-a-kind nature-watching.
After you have splashed the day away in Bayou Segnette's popular wave pool or skipped across any one of the adjacent waterways by boat, you will be glad you took the time to sit back and watch nature at play--for the wildlife is abundant and the vegetation worth closer study.
Both salt and freshwater fishing are available because of the park's unique location. From the boat launch, you may explore many areas not readily accessible by overland routes.
On land, picnic areas are available for the whole family, and the playgrounds will delight the children. Overnight accommodations available include; 98 campsites with water and electrical hook-ups and a nearby comfort station, tent camping, twenty waterfront vacation cabins and a group camp that can sleep 120 people.
Sports and Attractions
New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans provide city visitors and natives alike with an exciting basketball experience unlike any other in the country. Playing in the NBA's Southwest Division, the Pelicans franchise has been in New Orleans since 2002 and play their home games at the Smoothie King Center located in the downtown area just a few minutes walk from the historic French Quarter
Exciting halftime acts including, the world's greatest mascot - Pierre the Pelican, and the team's electrifying dance team, are just a few of the elements that make every minute you spend in the Smoothie King Center entertaining.
For tickets, call Ticketmaster or visit http://www.nba.com/pelicans/tickets.
Additionally, New Orleans is famous for its wide diversity of cultures. Festivals are held throughout the year celebrating the best of New Orleans. Guests from across the country attend many of the large festivals such as: Jazzfest, the Essence Music Festival, the Satchmo Summerfest, and the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience. Local communities also gather to celebrate their heritage through food and fun in locations all across the New Orleans area.
Finally, the biggest party of them all is Mardi Gras. Although the Mardi Gras season begins January 6 or "Twelfth Night," "Fat Tuesday" can occur on any Tuesday from February 3 through March 9. Easter can fall on any Sunday from March 23 to April 25, and Mardi Gras is always 47 days prior to Easter.
Nearly 70 parades are scheduled during the two-weeks preceding "Fat Tuesday," but most of the more famous parades during the last few days of the Mardi Gras season. The purpose of Mardi Gras is to enjoy life to excess before the beginning of the Lenten season and the parade throws such as doubloons, beads, and toys symbolize that excess. Review the website http://www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/mardigras/, for more information about Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Mardi Gras World
There are plenty of tours in New Orleans, but only one offers a real, behind-the-scenes look at New Orleans Mardi Gras, and that’s the Mardi Gras World tour. Mardi Gras World gives an authentic Mardi Gras experience all year round.
Take the day tour to see what it takes to. The tour allows visitors to see firsthand the hard work and extensive planning that goes into this bringing Mardi Gras to life year after. The knowledgeable guides take the mask off Mardi Gras with an all-access Mardi Gras tour, winding through the massive studio where the magnificent floats are built from the ground up. Visitors learn about the history of this unique and festive tradition and go beyond its reputation to get a deeper understanding of the real Mardi Gras. The whole family will love the experience of touring the space where artisans create spectacular floats for more than 40 parades each year.
Since 1947, Blaine Kern Studios has built the breathtaking parade floats for major parades not only for Mardi Gras, but for parades all around the world. Mardi Gras parades would be nothing without the fantastical floats that line the parade route year after year. The hard work that goes into making these spectacles is what makes Mardi Gras in New Orleans the greatest show on Earth!
There are plenty of opportunities for photos in front of floats, with props, or wearing a traditional Mardi Gras costume on this New Orleans tour. This is an experience to document, so don’t forget to the camera!
The one-hour tours are offered daily from 9:30 a.m. and begin every 30 minutes with the last tour starting at 4:30 p.m. Tours include a display of Mardi Gras costumes, a historic video and a free slice of King Cake (which is difficult to find out of season).
A free shuttle is provided with ticket purchase and has pick-ups at 20 convenient downtown locations.
For more information visit: http://www.mardigrasworld.com