New Orleans, Louisiana, has been the biggest surprise so far on the trip.
This was my first time to New Orleans, Ryan’s second (but his first was very brief) and we just didn’t know what to expect. It has never been a must-see place in my imagination and truthfully, aside from the notorious Mardi Gras images and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I didn’t know much about the city.
After only a few minutes, I was instantly smitten. The architecture! The history! The hanging ferns from every porch! The energy and music. All of it charmed each one of us and we had such a fun time exploring the city.
Let me start from the beginning …
We left Texas and drove into Louisiana. We spotted an alligator, a flamingo and turtles as we drove along the marshy freeway and knew we were far, far from Seattle :)
Our first stop was at The Chimes right at the edge of LSU in Baton Rouge for lunch.
Because we’re doing this thing all in, we like to order the food each area is known for. In this case, we tried hushpuppies, boudin balls, po’boys and red beans and rice. Ryan drinks iced tea, but hasn’t jumped over to the sweet side yet. It was a fun lunch and got us in the southern spirit.
Once into New Orleans, we checked into our rv campground (the KOA nearby which was great, by the way), grabbed a snack dinner and drove into town.
The French Quarter was alive and well on this Thursday night.
On a whim we caught a live jazz show at Preservation Hall. We couldn’t take photos once inside, but I can say that it was one of the most enjoyable hours of my life. The line starts about an hour before the show. We were near the back and by the time we made it in to the old jazz hall we were left with standing room which actually worked in our favor as the kids stood in the front doorway with a perfect view of the band. The music was fantastic, the musicians so talented, watching the kids move their feet to the music – it was pure joy.
Bourbon Street was just around the corner so after the show we braved a quick walk just to see what it was all about. Let’s just say that it is not kid-appropriate and we only lasted a few minutes, but it was so intriguing and entertaining. Music is blaring out of every building, people are everywhere, it smells terrible and yet it is colorful and lively and just plain fun. We took off before we exposed our kids to something we were not ready to explain (!) and were excited to return to the city the next day.
First thing in the morning, we braved the rain and walked through the French Quarter for a breakfast of beignets and cafe au laits at Cafe De Monde.
What’s a beignet, you might be asking? Just a delicious bit of fried dough with gobs of powdered sugar. Cafe Du Monde has been a mainstay in the French Quarter since 1862. They serve only beignets and coffee and the cafe is crowded all day long.
Just down the street is picturesque Jackson Square.
After Jackson Square and a look at the Mississippi River, we walked down through the French Quarter to the farmer’s market.
Everything was so old and charming.
(The only complaint from the kids during all this walking was the smell. It’s definitely a city with city smells).
We finished off lunch with a huge piece of carrot cake – my favorite – and it was perhaps the best carrot cake ever made.
Next up was a drive/walk through the historic garden district where streets are lined with very old and very beautiful homes.
The architecture is so different than homes we have in Seattle and we (and by we I mostly mean me and Ryan) had such a fun time taking in all of the details. The kids do have a bit of their parents in them and enjoy looking at houses but then they found a super cute puppy and spent most of their time petting him through the fence while Ryan and I took pictures.
After a long day of walking and site seeing, we made it back to the campground, swam in the pool, made friends with another traveling family and slept like babies.
I think what made our time in New Orleans so much fun was that we had no expectations. We ended up enjoying delicious food, saw gorgeous homes, met friendly people, experienced hot, wet, humid weather and gained a whole new appreciation for jazz music.
This is for sure a stop we’re adding to our ‘must come back’ list.