Visitors to Audubon State Historic Site near St. Francisville can walk along the same paths as one of the most famous naturalists in American history during an Audubon Arbor Day Program on Saturday, Jan. 19.

From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., visitors are invited to participate in National Arbor Day with talks about John James Audubon’s bird paintings, guided walks, and children’s and family nature activities such as tree planting or plant discovery. An extended tour takes the visitor through an audio-visual history of the park, a presentation on the prints John James Audubon created while at Oakley House, followed by a guided house and grounds tour. Participants should allow at least 90 minutes for this activity and wear comfortable shoes, as much walking is involved.

“These programs trace the legacy of John James Audubon, in getting people in touch with nature,” said John House, site manager. “We want every visitor to Audubon State Historic Site to experience the site’s rich heritage.”

Audubon State Historic Site is the setting for the 200-year-old Oakley House, temporary home and inspiration to John James Audubon in the 1800s. The park includes a museum, picnic areas, historic buildings, pavilion, and nature trail. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, Oakley House and its lush natural settings are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The $4 adult admission to Audubon State Historic Site includes the site video history presentation, the plantation house tour and all special programs. Children (12 and under) and senior citizens (62 and older) are admitted free.

Audubon SHS is located 30 minutes north of Baton Rouge near St. Francisville on La. 965 in West Feliciana Parish. For more information, email or call (888) 677-2838 or (225) 635-3739.

And they’re off!

It won’t be thoroughbred horses racing, but zebras instead when the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans hosts its first-ever zebra exhibition race on Saturday, Jan. 12. The event will be paired with the return of ostrich and mascot racing, which drew crowds in August.

The special races are scheduled to start after 6 p.m. at the racetrack, 751 Gentilly Blvd.

General admission will be $12 at the door. Children 12 and younger will be admitted free. For dining and box seat reservations, call (504) 943-2200.

To book a party of 25 or more, call (504) 948-1285.


Remembering battle

Events at Chalmette Battlefield will mark the 198th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans this week. A wreath-laying ceremony is planned for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8. All public parking will be at the battlefield and admission is free. More than 150 living history experts will be on hand at the battlefield 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 11 and 12. Dressed as civilians and soldiers from 1815, they’ll share their stories, fire cannons and muskets, and explain the importance of the battle in American history.

A skirmish re-enactment will start at 7 p.m. Friday, at which troops will recreate the night battle of Dec. 23, 1814, at historic de La Ronde Oaks. There will be no parking at the re-enactment site. The first shuttle leaves the public parking area at 6:30 p.m. The event is free. For more information, call (504) 589-3882.

New prices

The Audubon Nature Institute has announced a new rate structure for its attractions in 2013. Prices for Audubon Zoo are: $17.50, adults; $12, children; $13, seniors. At the Aquarium of the Americas, admission is $22.50, adults; $16, children; and $17, seniors. Tickets for the IMAX Theatre are $10.50, adults; $8, children; and $9.50, seniors. The Audubon Butterfly Garden/Insectarium costs $16.50, adults; $12, children; and $13, seniors.

Some combo tickets are available.


The Office of State Parks, the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the National Park Service and the Audubon Institute provided items for this column. Louisiana Travels is a biweekly column about travel destinations and events in Louisiana. Email items for Louisiana Travels to or or fax to (225) 388-0351.