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Intentional Adventures


Make the same old spots in New Orleans new again.


There’s tons to do in New Orleans: the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas; the Audubon Zoo; the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium; the Louisiana Children’s Museum; and playgrounds galore. After a summer filled with fun, sometimes finding something new to do can seem daunting.

We’ve been trying something different when visiting “old” places lately. I call it taking intentional adventures. Intentional adventuring means visiting places we go all the time and finding ways to make them exciting again. This works with children (and adults) of all ages and helps break up the boredom of seeing the same things over and over again. Intentional adventuring can be done anywhere or anytime, and can take as little or as long as you like. Here are some ideas to get you started.

The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
– Go for the playground. There’s no need to walk through the entire aquarium to enjoy the play space inside the building. Seriously, my kids could play there for hours. There’s a boat, a slide and lots of acrylic animals to crawl on and around. Pack a snack, and let them play.
– Go for the splash-pad. Okay, so maybe it’s not a splash-pad exactly, but the fountains in front of the aquarium are a blast to run through. Bring swimsuits and towels to play out front in the water all afternoon. If you have an Audubon membership, you can even run in and change afterward. The best part of this adventure is that it’s free!
– Go for a show. Look online and check out the schedule of events. From mermaid visits to Star Wars days, there are lots of cool events to attend that break up the monotony.

The Audubon Zoo
– Go for the continents. Keep each visit to one continent and try to find the animals that come from one particular place. One time, find all of the animals from Asia and the next, Africa.
– Go for the dinosaurs. Have you been to the dinosaur exhibit yet? Make an afternoon adventure of dinosaurs only! For only $4 extra, you can take a trip back in time to see life-size dinosaurs, including a 43-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex. My kiddos love the archeological dig site where they can uncover “bones” with brushes and shovels from a giant sandpit.
– Go for the water park. Sometimes, we go to the zoo just for the Cool Zoo. With a lazy river, splash pads, slides and sprayers, it’s a no-brainer adventure for a hot afternoon.
– Go for the playground. The playground at the zoo is no different than any other playground in New Orleans, but sometimes we make an intentional adventure of just hitting the playground. It’s shaded, has great benches and a bathroom close by. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, it’s directly adjacent to the carousel.
– Go for Monkey Hill. In the back of the zoo, you’ll find a great little climbing structure with a giant rolling-hill, climbing ropes and bridges. On the way through, grab a frozen chocolate-covered banana and monkey around for the afternoon!

The Louisiana Children’s Museum
– Go for Art Trek. This often over-looked area of the museum is an incredible intentional adventure for the kiddos. Here, kids can explore art in exciting new ways, from making jewelry, painting, sculpture, screen printing, drawing and collage. We often head over just for the art experience!
– Go for the grocery store. My kids would spend all day in the grocery store if they could. I love how the attendants have a system of how the children collect the items, cash out and can even help put the items back if they are so inclined.
– Go for the cafe. Every so often, we’ll make a menu at home with crayons and paper, and head over to the LCM to take it live. Intentionally adventuring to the cafe within the museum is a great way to help kids practice manners and hospitality, and it gives them access to a really cool play space. It beats their home play kitchen any day.

– Go for the trees. Many of the local parks and playgrounds have grounds full of climbing trees, ready to be scaled. City Park is one of our favorites and has trees of all heights surrounded by grassy landing pads.
– Go for the flowers and leaves. Gather a few handfuls of different leaves, flowers and vines around your favorite playground. Take some unwrapped crayons and plain copy paper, and practice leaf-rubbing in the park. Lay the leaves and flowers on a flat surface; place the paper on top; and rub the crayons horizontally across the paper to view the imprint of your finds.

You don’t always have to find new places to go in Nola. Planning intentional adventures with your family is a fun way to create new excitement about places you’ve been to many times before. Breathe new life into your old routines, and make good use of those annual passes too!