Top 15 field trip spots in New Orleans
New Orleans has a reputation for being an adult playground, but visitors and residents of all ages can find a dazzling array of museums, historical homes, theaters and zoos and aquariums in the area -- all offering unique family and field trip opportunities. While New Orleans attractions number in the hundreds, let this list of 15 get you started on your tour of the Big Easy.
New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park
Opened in 1911 with only nine pieces, the New Orleans Museum of Art now boasts nearly 40,000 works of art in its permanent collection. Specialties of the permanent collection at NOMA include American, French, African and Japanese art, glass and photography. As if that weren't enough to make NOMA a great field trip visit, the museum is also home to the five-acre Sydney and Walda Bestoff Sculpture Garden, heralded as one of the most important sculpture installations in the country.
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, University of New Orleans
The Ogden Museum is home to the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of Southern U.S. art. The museum's permanent collection, which spans the 18th-21st centuries, includes prints, watercolors, ceramics, photographs, sculpture and crafts. Docent-led tours are available, and a special tour based on the Newberry Award winning book "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is available for students in grades four through eight.
Audubon Nature Institute, various locations, uptown and downtown New Orleans
A zoo, aquarium, insectariums and IMAX theater comprise this brimming-with-nature spot in the heart of New Orleans. While the Nature Institute has something for everyone, many of the programs are geared to kids. A recent exhibit at the Audubon Aquarium was "Animal Grossology," where visitors were invited to experience some of the slimiest, stinkiest and yuckiest creatures on earth.
Louisiana Children's Museum, Warehouse Arts District, New Orleans
This museum focuses on playful, interactive learning experiences where kids of all ages learn through observation, creative construction, role-playing and free play. Exhibits include Body Works, Bubbles, Simple Machines, Safety Zone, Cajun Cottage, Little Port of New Orleans, Little Winn Dixie Grocery Store and Eye to Eye.
Backstreet Cultural Museum, Treme´ neighborhood, New Orleans
The distinct cultural richness of New Orleans is represented in this museum, which features artifacts, costumes, memorabilia, photographs, film and art reflecting the city's rich African American community-based masking and processional traditions, from Mardi Gras to jazz funerals. If you've ever wanted to see elaborate Mardi Gras regalia up close and in detail, this is the place.
Mardi Gras World, Port of New Orleans Place
What would Mardi Gras be without the iconic, magnificent parade floats that are such a big part of the celebration? Mardi Gras World offers tours where visitors can walk among the sculptures that personify the Mardi Gras floats and watch the sculptors and artists at work on these magical creations.
Beauregard-Keyes House, 1113 Chartres Street
Built in 1826, this home is a leading example of a raised center-hall house, which is one of the iconographic architectural styles in New Orleans. The historical home also boasts a collection of more than 200 antique dolls, fans, folk costumes and veilleuses, which are ornate, translucent food warmers.
Bocage Plantation, Darrow, Louisiana
This stately mansion is part of a 100-acre plantation site overlooking a levee that fronts the Mississippi River. Built in 1837 and lovingly restored to its original splendor, it is now a bed and breakfast inn and open for public tours. Located about an hour from New Orleans, this historic treasure is filled with fine furniture and antiques of the era.
Longue Vue House and Gardens (www.longuevue.com), 7 Bamboo Road, New Orleans
This home, built in the classical revival style, boasts a sizable collection of antiques, art, textiles and more. Visitors to Longue Vue can tour the main living spaces of the house including the flower arranging room, the art gallery and the drawing room. Longue Vue offers several educational, multidisciplinary field trip experiences focused on art and history in the historic mansion and science, math, language arts and social studies in the gardens.
New Orleans Opera, Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts
The New Orleans Opera's community outreach project includes live performances in local schools and student matinees of main-stage operatic productions. Additionally, student groups may attend final dress rehearsals of all New Orleans Opera productions for free. Study guides with information about the operas, composers and history of the genre are made available to student groups.
Creole Queen Paddlewheeler, Riverwalk Market Place, Port of New Orleans
The Creole Queen takes passengers up and down the Mississippi River, where they can see the French Quarter and Port of New Orleans from a unique vantage point. The Chalmette Battlefield Cruise brings passengers to the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans and Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, where they can tour the battlefield and surrounding points of interest.
Once the home of French Impressionist Master Edgar Degas and now a bed and breakfast inn, the Degas House is the only Degas home and studio open to the public. A descendant of Degas gives guided tours of this elegant home filled with period furnishings and an extensive collection of Degas reproductions. Of particular interest is Degas' bedroom and studio, where he created an estimated 22 works of art.
Avery Island, South Louisiana
For the cost of the $1 toll, visitors to Avery Island are in for a hot time -- literally. The island is home to the Tabasco Sauce factory, where visitors can see how the spicy Louisiana staple is made. The island is also home to Jungle Gardens, a 170-acre semitropical garden that stretches along a bayou.
Equest Farm, New Orleans City Park, north side
Equest Farm offers visitors of all ages the chance to enjoy horses in an urban environment. Special field trip packages offer a tour of the stables, a hands-on grooming station, and even a short ride where visitors learn the basics of riding a horse.
The National WWII Museum, 945 Magazine St., New Orleans
Founded by noted historian and author Stephen Ambrose, the WWII Museum gives a comprehensive look at the "war that changed the world" with artifacts, exhibits, oral history recordings, printed materials, a 4D theater, period entertainment and a cafe. Featured artifacts include an M4A3 Sherman Tank, victory items, weapons, uniforms and more.
While we're pleased to offer this list as a jumping-off point for exploring this fascinating city, there's no telling what else you might find with as little as a map and a bus pass.