I got another local review from my hometown in New Orleans for you! Not too long ago I reviewed the Natchez Steamboat ride. Next adventure in my hometown lead me to the Audubon Insectarium located on the popular Canal Street! This is another non-sponsored review so all expenses once again came out of my own pocket for this one.
What is the insectarium you ask? It`s basically a zoo or aquarium but rather than your typical fish and animals it`s full of bugs! Sounds like a nightmare for all of us bug haters doesn`t it? But really, it`s not as scary as it sounds! The Insectarium is located in the US Custom House on Canal Street.Â It`s about a 5 minute walk (if that) from the Audubon Aquarium. This is North Americaâ€™s largest museum devoted to insects and their relatives. Youâ€™ll discover why insects are the building blocks of all life on our planet and along the way, youâ€™ll be shrunk to bug size; wander through a mysterious Louisiana swamp; join the active audience of an awards show for bugs, by bugs; and be captivated by thousands of butterflies in an Asian garden. Voted "A top museum for you and your kidsâ€ by CNN.com, 2009.
When you first arrive, you will have to go through a metal detector since this is a Federal building. So please be prepared if you`re traveling from out of state, keep your belongings on this outing to a minimum for your own convenience. (NOTE: Tickets must be purchased from The Audubon Aquarium). The security for this stage is very friendly. It`s nothing intimidating, just a quick note to prepare you for.
Once you have gone through security and had your tickets scanned for entry you are in the museum. It`s not a very big place, even though it is the largest museum in North America for just insect families. As you enter you will be going through a long hallway with various tanks/housing units for the various insects. Each one is well made up for viewing the bugs. They include descriptions of the bugs you are viewing and they do allow photography in the building so you can take photos if you wish. On the walls and ceilings you will see appropriate decor of bugs and leaves and such for the theme of the museum. Nothing scary though, so it`s safe for all ages!
As you go down the hall, one the first right we took was just a dead end path with a table set up where we were able to touch a Madagascar roach! Yuck! I firmly hate roaches, but I took one for the team and touched this big thing! Sophia wasn`t having it, even though it was friendly enough she could have at the age of 3 if she wanted to. At the booth there was a very nice woman who was in charge of this interesting bug and was very happy to tell us all about it. One thing I learned is that unlike the American Cockroach, these big babies don`t fly! Now regardless of the fact that I was willing to touch it, I would still much rather keep that thing there and no where near me!
Next as we kept on our path down the main hall, on the left was a small cave-like area. It was a display to basically show how the insects live underground. Now this may be scary to some of the younger ones, although Sophia went through just fine and she had done so when she was the age of 2, but just a consideration to keep in mind. They had giant sized decor inside this "cave" of the insects you would find such as ants and worms. They also had some visual tv`s set up if anyone was interested in learning more. It`s a small little area that loops around. Not a big space, but it was still pretty cool!
Next we continued on down the hall and at the end they had two different ways we could go. To the left was the cafe for those who are hungry and to the right was another section for more bugs. We decided to get a snack at the cafe. Now the cafe does offer some small regular food like hot dogs and such, but we were being adventurous and went into the 2nd room in the cafe. What`s in the second room? Well that`s where they have a chef cooking up real food with real bugs for you to really try! Yes, we ate bugs! I enjoyed my chocolate covered crickets and other various tastings. I know, sounds totally disgusting! Some of it even looked gross, but I`m always willing to try anything food wise at least once. They do not even taste like you`re eating bugs and the texture didn`t even feel like a bug. So just don`t think about it and you`ll be able to enjoy a sample too! My favorite was the salsa with mango and some sort of bug (refer to the photos for the name). Sophia even liked the chocolate cricket! Yum! In fact, if you do come here, this is a must try! You have to live out the full experience. Just be sure to get there early because all tastings are over by 1pm!
After enjoying our little snack we headed on down the other side for more insects. They had a swamp area with swamp bugs and other random insects, but my favorite was when we got to the butterfly garden. The garden is in a separate room. You go through 2 sets of doors to help keep the butterflies in the room. Once you`re in there the butterflies are EVERYWHERE! They are all so gorgeous! Plus, they`re so used to people that you can get close enough to them to take nice photos. Sometimes they`ll even land on you, which is pretty common there. They have many colors, shapes and sizes flying around also! There`s also a small pond in there to bring out the whole garden theme.
Once we finished in the garden we exited which brought us to a gift shop. Of course I had to get some bug snacks to take home from me! But be prepared, they`re not too cheap at $3.99/box. From there we completed our adventures at the insectarium. Everyone in the staff was very friendly, smiling and knowledgeable of the insects they were handling. Definitely a family friendly place with lots of fun things to learn! This is a must-do for anyone traveling to the New Orleans area! Ticket prices are $15.95/adult and $10.95/child unless you have the zoo/aquarium pass which means you pay just $5/ticket.