Check out Louisiana’s Abita Mystery House for wacky family fun

The Abita Mystery House

This quirky roadside attraction, located less than an hour north of New Orleans, offers a colorfully consolidated package of Louisiana eccentricity. It sprang from the mind of folk artist John Preble. Also known as the UCM Museum — Preble pronounces the initials “you see ’em” — the place trades in visual overload. The gargantuan Bassigator sculpture, a fish-alligator hybrid, sits in its own 26-foot-long shed. A seemingly crashed UFO sticks out of the side of an Airstream trailer. The star attraction remains Preble’s River Road diorama, a 30-foot miniature town with its own Mardi Gras parade, general store, mini golf course and New Orleans jazz funeral. And that’s just scratching the museum’s kitschy surface. See to believe, indeed.

22275 Highway 36, Abita Springs, La. 985-892-2624,, @AbitaMystery.

Sci-Port: Lousiana’s Science Center

Keep the kids’ brains cranking on vacation at an attraction blending education and entertainment. Sci-Port has math, science and technology on tap, with nearly 300 exhibits inside a 92,000 square-foot space. Its Space Dome Planetarium boasts a 16-million-pixel laser projection system. Towering images overtake the screen in the Imax Dome Theatre. Special events blast off periodically, including the recent Shreveport Mini Maker Faire for DIY enthusiasts of all ages.

820 Clyde Fant Parkway, Shreveport, La. 318-424-3466,, @sciport.

Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World

Some families prefer to stay clear of New Orleans during Mardi Gras, yet the pageantry can still be intriguing. Mardi Gras World allows visitors a chance to get an up-close view of the giant, elaborate floats and props all year long without the potentially raucous crowds. You might see looming, blooming faux flowers, a cartoonish Moby Dick-size whale and massive mugs of everyone from Satchmo to JFK. The staff of craftspeople also can be caught in the act of putting together their next big creation. They’ll even let you slip on a Mardi Gras costume and take a bite of king cake.

1380 Port of New Orleans Place, New Orleans. 504-475-2047,, @MardiGrasWorld.

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