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.
Starting at the elegant white columns at the New Orleans African American Museum, the Tremé walking tour shepherds groups of up to 23 wanderers through the culturally significant neighborhood. For two hours every Monday, Friday, and Saturday, guests traipse through 300 years of richly saturated history, learning more effectively than sipping the contents of a blender full of history textbooks. Patrons tread across original handmade bricks that cover the ground in parts of one of the oldest African American communities. They also meander through Congo Square and St. Augustine Church as the knowledgeable guide sprinkles in anecdotes about the rise of jazz, creole architecture, and the New Orleans civil-rights movement.
Spend a day discovering the cuisine and culture of the South to build up your appetite before letting loose in one of the greatest food cities in the world. Whether you’re entertaining out-of-town guests or earning your foodie merit badge, the museum’s permanent collection of exhibits allows you to explore the myriad tastes and traditions unique to southern food. The Louisiana Eats! Laissez Faire-Savoir Fare exhibit chronicles the evolution of the region's flavors over time, while the Eating in the White House exhibit exposes the inner workings and dining habits of first mansion residents throughout history. Recently opened exhibits, such as SPOILED, which tells the tearful photographic tale of post-Katrina refrigerators, and an upcoming exhibit celebrating the history and heritage of the hurricane cocktail keep the museum's content as fresh as a butter-melting biscuit.
Adventure Quest Laser Tag feeds fun glands in a futuristic facility that houses a 6,000-square-foot, multi-level Mayan-ruin laser-tag arena that provides ample obstacles to duck and dive behind while avoiding the crosshairs of fellow competitors' phasers. You can also choose a session of bumper cars, in which children learn the tenets of seatbelt safety and the lifelong importance of owning a superabundant bumper, or cosmic golf, with nine holes of ancient obstacles illuminated by black light. Adventure Quest Laser Tag provides a customizable day of family fun, supplanting wrestling sessions for the remote control, greased-up chicken-chasing races, and greased-up wrestling sessions against remote-hoarding chickens.
Fully devoted to dance since 1969, NOBA is bringing the ultra-creative flairs and fantastic whirlings of MOMIX to the center stage. Sate a desire for fluffy flower props, human centaurs, and large sheet swooshes with today's Groupon.