Where Decatur Street meets Esplanade Avenue is where the music starts. Before the Frenchmen Street main course, this music hall houses everything from brass bands to salsa ensembles to rock 'n' roll on its main stage and patio every night of the week. Opens 6 p.m. daily. Smoking: yes. 504 Esplanade Ave., 522-2940
Behind an unremarkable facade on the edge of the French Quarter is this lounge with a large U-shaped bar, some banquette seating and an extensive menu of classic and original cocktails. The bar uses house-made tonic water, juices and syrups in its drinks, and there is a wide selection of premium spirits and beers. Open daily. Smoking allowed. No food. Happy hour noon-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
Children can see (and sometimes touch) animals indigenous to Louisiana as well as exotic breeds from all over the world. The zoo has a miniature railroad that runs through the property, a splash park (admission is extra), innovative natural habitats for the animals, special education programs, the Monkey Hill play area, a dinosaur exhibit and more. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
This state-of-the-art attraction on the Mississippi River includes a walk-through arch aquarium and houses a host of exhibits featuring about 600 species of sea creatures, including sharks, fish, penguins, alligators and frogs. There's also a parakeet exhibit, an interactive Gulf Coast fish exhibit, a petting tank, demonstrations, hands-on activities and play spaces. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.