A special-education teacher, Susan Theodore brings a profound understanding of humans' individual learning styles to her horseback-riding lessons at Can Horses Fly ??, suiting each session to any age and experience level. After hopping atop well-trained mounts, which range from small ponies to wizened steeds, pupils learn the basics of riding, mastering walking, trotting, and cantering before gaining the confidence and notarized documents required to jump over fences and barriers.
The round sun teeters on the barn's gable roof, threatening to roll right down. In a quick burst of wind, leaves begin clapping, as if in response to the equestrians trotting regally past. A smaller group of 10 riders wait patiently as guides corral a posse of good-natured horses, who toss their manes and lift their hooves with the joy of motion on a woodland trail ride past Wolfshohl Horse Training's gardens. Downwind, an individual lesson has a skilled trainer versing a 5-year-old about tack, grooming, and the techniques involved in English and Western riding styles. After patrons dismount at trail's end, they can question guides about holding a special event, boarding a pony, or the uncertain ramifications of using a lucky horseshoe to break a mirror.
Just north of downtown New Orleans, the family-owned-and-operated Northshore Riding Club encompasses seven picturesque acres of land fully equipped for horse riding, boarding, and grazing. Pony parties turn high birthday hopes into rambunctious reality with interactive equine celebrations. A trained horse whisperer in no way resembling Robert Redford will accompany the pony (or ponies) as the birthday kid and pals groom, pet, and take hand-led rides. Cowhands-in-training can also poke through the stables while learning the ancient secrets of equestrianism. The party concludes with a present gifted to the guest of honor by Northshore's benevolent ponies. Call to reserve a date and time.
In a fun twist on traditional campgrounds, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park supplies visitors with amenities and creature comforts such as WiFi and a video arcade. Two swimming pools and two fishing lakes can be found on campus along with playgrounds, a baseball field, and a basketball court. There are 12 types of cabin that come with kitchens, beds, heat, and air conditioning or 374 campsites and RV sites that can accommodate those traveling via saddled wooly mammoth. When not fishing the nearby lakes, families can board a canoe, kayak, or paddleboat for a leisurely float under the sun. After picnicking beneath the trees or relaxing poolside, guests can challenge each other to a game of mini golf or take a tractor-pulled hayride. Onsite laundry facilities ensure clean clothes, and seasonal activities keep kids occupied.
Palm Tree Playground owners Eric and Heather Hays spent the first four years of their children's lives moving around the country. In spots where the weather wasn't great for playing outside, they explored the local indoor playgrounds. Inspired by the cool places they visited, the family founded Palm Tree Playground once they settled down in New Orleans. Their playground incorporates the best features of the many playgrounds they visited including small play equipment for babies and toddler, and a big-kids soft-play structure with spiral slides and a contained ball arena. An attached surf-and-snack shack sells morsels and soft drinks, but families can bring their own lunches and enjoy them in the cafeteria too.
With its imposing, slate-gray façade, the 170-year-old U.S. Custom House may be the last building in which you’d expect to hear the delighted squeals of children. But behind the steely columns, the building erupts into 23,000 square feet of colorful displays and fluttering, scuttling insects, courtesy of the Audubon Society and Insectarium. In the Asian garden, hundreds of butterflies dodge shafts of sunlight to alight on tropical ferns and the shoulders of young visitors. And at the Insects of New Orleans gallery, visitors can ogle the pink katydids, cockroaches, and lovebugs that contribute to the city’s heritage.
These bug-filled displays are all part of the insectarium’s mission to conserve Louisiana’s indigenous species and inspire stewardship in its visitors. While adults can sate their curiosity with the vast array of exotic species, curators gear many displays toward young guests by making them lighthearted and interactive: the Field Camp’s entomologist answers questions about how to collect bugs or break up flea-circus strikes, and at Bug Appétit, chefs dole out insect-filled delicacies to adventurous palates.