Don’t mind me, but I’m playing a severe game of catch up. I have so many posts in the queue. Goodness gracious! I just happened to see a post about discipline on my Facebook feed that inspired me to come and finish at least one of the posts, so here I am.
Today, I want to give you a glimpse into my recent trip to New Orleans with Mike, Tony and Ashley. Yes, I finally took the kids somewhere! To be fair, this isn’t our first trip as one big happy family. I just never documented the others on the blog, but in all reality, there were only like two other trips (LOL). While I want to expose them to things outside of their normal environment, I am hesitant in traveling with them. This stems from them being true teenagers who never seem interested to do shit. As a result, I never want to waste my money. However, I came across a reasonable fare to New Orleans, so Mike and I decided to take them during their spring break.
The week before leaving, I made Tony and Ashley research New Orleans and tell us what they wanted to do, and why. This is what we shaped our itineraries around. We unfortunately didn’t get a chance to do everything during our three day stay, but here’s a rundown of what we did.
Cafe Du Monde
At the top of Ashley’s list of things to do was visiting Cafe Du Monde for the beignets, which I made her learn to pronounce before I agreed to this activity LOL. Mike and I remembered from our visit back in 2009 that Cafe Du Monde had was a low key location at The Riverwalk, away from the super busy French Quarter. Since our hotel was nearby (by the Convention Center), we decided to walk on over. Turns out, The Riverwalk we remembered is now called The Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk with over 75 retail stores. Cafe Du Monde ended up being moved to the bottom level.
Since it was four of us, I only got two orders of the beignets, which has three in one order. That was enough. We didn’t need to OD on that fried dough and powdery sugar goodness.
The French Quarter
We walked along the Riverwalk next to the Mississippi River to Canal Street and then turned right onto what I believe was Chartres St through the French Quarter. Let me tell you something… the architecture of the homes and shops in this area makes me fall in love EVERY. DAMN. TIME. The mood killer tho is when certain young folk starts complaining about being tired of walking. C’mon son! The only way to fix this is to make their asses keep walking.
We got to Jackson Square and admired the St. Louis Cathedral. Well, I admired it. Of course, I had to throw in some questions about what slave owner is Jackson Square is named after, and who is in the statue with the man and the horse? You know, to keep the kids on their toes since they’re supposed to be learning. We ran into some young street performers who captured the true essence of New Orleans music. I’m glad to see that tradition being passed down.
Heading back to the hotel, we walked up a very calm Bourbon Street, just so Tony and Ashley can say they’ve been on it. That was the last time we entertained the infamous street in the French Quarter. #notime
The next day, we joined an 11am New Orleans Voodoo Tour with Free Tours By Foot. I must say it was very interesting and very informative. I’ve always heard the negativity about Voodoo, but I always thought there has to be more to it given New Orleans has a rich history with the practice.
Our guide Melissa, who is a Voodoo practitioner, talked through the origins of Voodoo as a fusion of the religions of the enslaved people and Catholism. We visited Congo Square inside of the now Louis Armstrong Park, where the slaves would secretly congregate each Sunday for celebrations and rituals. We learned about Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, who basically commercialized Voodoo and introduced it to the masses. We even talked about the Voodoo dolls and potions, and how there are some who abuse the religion for evil. The tour ended at Voodoo Authentica, which is voodoo shop run by real practitioners.
I believe this tour was created to debunk all of the myths and misconceptions about Voodoo. There was so much information given about the history of New Orleans, and I would highly recommend it! Plus, you can’t beat a FREE walking tour where you pay what you want at the conclusion of it. It’s very cost-effective for a family of four.
After the Voodoo Tour, we walked to Frenchmen Street, a strip of live music clubs 15 minutes outside of the French Quarter. Of course, at that time, the street was quite dead. Knowing it would be live later on, Mike and I planned on ditching the kids once they fell asleep (we knew they would claim they were so tired around 9pm) and heading back there.
When we came back that night, it was so many people, but a much more mature crowd than Bourbon Street. Live music filled the street that was dead just a few hours before. You could literally club hop and listen to music all night. Although you can walk the street with drinks in hand, some of the clubs wouldn’t let you enter with them. There were also a bunch of late night food spots open to cure that drunken hunger as well.
The French Market (and vicinity)
Walking along Frenchmen Street during the day, we ended up on Decatur Street where there was slightly more of a crowd I guess due to its open bars and shops. We ended up in an area with outdoor restaurants and bar stands where you could get drinks on the go. We of course got two virgin frozen drinks for Tony and Ashley, and Mike and I got hurricanes. From there we walked through the French Market where there were so many vendors. We didn’t buy anything, but it was cool to to check out the offerings.
As I strived to keep the kids walking, we headed over to Crescent Park, where some go to exercise, walk/run, play with the dog, and maybe check out an occasional event along the riverfront. It has a nice view of Downtown New Orleans and a bike path that heads about a mile down to the Bywater neighborhood. So, yes, we walked that path. Just call me Petty Labelle.
My sole purpose for visiting Bywater was to find this super cute purple house. Just when I was about to give up on locating it, I found it! Turns out, Bywater is a pretty cute neighborhood with homes full of character, a dope record store, Euclid Records, and a really chill, artsy/boho vibe I could get with. I just wish I had more time to explore.
Jazz in the Park
Earlier in the day when we were on the Voodoo Tour in Louis Armstrong Park, we noticed a stage being built and wondering what was about to happen. Later we learned there’s a weekly jazz concert series in the park every Thursday through June 1 (again sorry for the late post… WAHHH).
After leaving Bywater, we caught an Uber down to the park to check it out. The park looked a lot different than it did earlier in the day now that it was filled with people, vendors, and live music. Everyone there was gettin’ their groove on to the music and having a great time doing so. Yet again, this was another opportunity for us to feel the spirit of the people of New Orleans, and I loved it!
This is an annual event, so if you’re heading to New Orleans next spring, definitely check it out!
Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery Tour
While I love New Orleans architecture, I wasn’t too pressed to tour the mansions in the Garden District, but the kids wanted to, so we made it happen… with another free tour. While I’m being honest, the tour wasn’t bad at all, but I don’t think I retained any information from it as I sit here writing this post. Of course, other than the property owners making sure the area is preserved with not much help from the City of New Orleans. Oh, and where Sandra Bullock and John Goodman lives. I got some nice photos though :).
The Lafayette Cemetery part of the tour was more intriguing as we learned the process of burial in family tombs, one man who built his own tomb, about some of the people buried there, how this cemetery is the most filmed in New Orleans, and more.
Doing a swamp tour in the bayou was on our list of things to do while in New Orleans, but the problem is these tours can be so expensive! I ended up looking on Groupon for some deals and came across a deal by Ultimate Swamp Adventures for a swamp tour for 4 people for $79. I found a Groupon promo code that knocked the price down to $63.20. NOT TOO SHABBY. You better believe I bought that Groupon with a quickness and booked our tour via phone while eating in a restaurant in NOLA.
We took an Uber to the location outside of the city where it look like all of Trump voters live. I’m just sayin’ so you can be ready in case some fuckery goes down. We boarded our boat, and our guide was an older guy who was a superb shit talker that lived and breathed the bayou. We headed down the bayou and eventually saw some alligators in the water with the help of marshmallow bait bringing them to the surface. It was a very nice way to end our trip to New Orleans.
The airboat looked more fun, but the way Ashley’s motion sickness is set up, we had to ride in slow motion.
As I was writing this post, I realized we did way more than I thought we did while in New Orleans. When it came to tours, I made sure to find low cost and/or FREE walking tours because there’s nothing worse than paying $30+ per person for a tour that a teenager will not pay attention to or get anything from (or myself with the Garden District tour LOL). Also, making them choose what activities we did hopefully made them more aware of what we did and where. At this point, we really can’t tell because they haven’t mentioned this trip since we’ve returned. *sigh*
If you notice, I didn’t mention food in this post. That’s because there will be a separate post running through all of the good eating we did while in NOLA. Here’s to playing catch up!