Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Orleans

My family of five is visiting New Orleans this week. My first visit. With our kids. It's an interesting mix. My brother is getting married in east Texas next weekend and the choices were to fly into NOLA or Houston, so we chose New Orleans. Can you blame us? Navigating with kids, though, that's the challenge. Here's what we've done so far:

We're staying at the Holiday Inn French Quarter. Not fancy, but the price was right and the space (and beds) were good. We have an extra large double/double with a rollaway for my daughter at $99 per night plus $20 for the extra bed. Can you beat that? Plus it's on Royal in the French Quarter. Clean, too. Not fancy, mind you. But they even have (albeit small) laundry facilities.

Here's where I'd stay if I wasn't with kids (and had lots of money): Hotel Monteleone

We lucked out and coincided with the last day of the FREE French Quarter Festival. Wandered around, enjoyed music, ate beignets at Cafe du Monde and got the lay of the land. There were ~15 stages set up around the French Quarter with nonstop shows from noon to late.

Sampled red beans and rice with smoked sausage at Sammy's on Bourbon Street. Saw some wonderful street bands, too, including Tuba Skinny. Did I mention the Hurricanes?

The next day, we had a fantastic breakfast at Stanley's on Jackson Square. Their specialty is Eggs Stanley - Eggs Benedict with fried oysters on the side. Yum! The kids all got stacks of plate-sized pancakes with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and Louisiana pure cane syrup. They were all very happy. Afterwards, we visited the "Historic Voodoo Museum" (quotes are intentional) for a little local flavor.

We met the practitioner and a couple of his snakes and learned a bit about voodoo, Marie Laveau and gris-gris.

Afterwards, we walked along the river down to the Natchez steamboat wharf and got tickets for the afternoon cruise down the river. That evening, the husband and I left the kids and an extra large cheese pizza at the hotel while we went out. Saw a jazz pianist play and a Q&A with a local DJ at the Louisiana Endowment of the Humanities for a mere $5 each, then had dinner at the Pelican Club. Delicious! Each of us ordered soup (Crab & Corn bisque and chicken gumbo) & salad and shared crab & wild mushroom ravioli followed by the best bread pudding I've ever eaten. Good thing I'm walking a lot or I'd need to buy an extra plane seat for the way home.

The following day, we spent with friends at the National World War II museum. It's incredible. We spent a solid 4 hours there, including a one hour IMAX movie you shouldn't miss. Could have stayed longer if it weren't for the antsy youngsters. Went to Mother's for a not-to-be-believed roast beef and ham po'boy complete with 'debris' - the pan drippings from the roast beef. Sandwiches come dressed with mustard, cole slaw and pickles. I ordered the 2/3 'mini' which was anything but small.

Our final day, we took the St. Charles streetcar from Canal Street to the Garden District. Along the way, the street is lined with gorgeous southern homes and there were Mardi Gras beads hanging from the trees. We got off at the Audubon Park and since my kids are a little passed zoo enthusiast age, we toured Loyola University and Tulane instead. We try to "visit" colleges wherever we travel so the kids can get an idea of various sizes, locations and flavors before we're on the true college hunt. Our eighth grader was a little embarrassed, but we joined a Tulane Admissions Office tour this time. I'm sure he's on all kinds of mailing lists now.

Our final dinner was at the Acme Oyster House for charcoal barbecued oysters, jambalaya, hush puppies and crawfish. I'm stuffed! The husband and I are headed out to see some live music at Preservation Hall and have one last Hurricane before we call it a night.

Tomorrow, we pick up a car and muffulettas from the Central Grocery before getting on the road to Beaumont, Texas for my brother's wedding. Our plan is to visit Oak Alley Plantation on the way and perhaps a quick stop in Baton Rouge.

It's been a great trip and I can't wait to come back another time!

Travel book I used for this trip:

1 comment:

  1. You definitely made the right decision. There's no place like New Orleans!