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Mom, Dad and 2 teens--trip report

PA
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Mom, Dad and 2 teens--trip report

We were interested in the kind of vacation where we immersed ourselves in the culture, food and history of New Orleans, but not so much the party scene because that is not our thing. Many of my friends back home felt we could not find "family-friendly" activities in New Orleans, but I think we were pretty successful. Here is what we did:

Day One: Arrived in the early afternoon and checked into our B&B, then sought lunch. We ate at the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. I had not seen LPK mentioned here, but we liked it very much. Simple pizza for my picky teen and artichoke ravioli and spinach and roasted tomato calzone for the more adventurous. Lots of menu options and the friendliest restaurant service we encountered on our trip. Then we took a stroll through the French Market, Moonwalk and by St. Louis Cathedral to get the lay of the land--and to find someplace to buy a big tub of sunscreen. On day one and on every day I was repeatedly struck by how beautiful New Orleans is and how every nook and cranny looks just like a postcard.

St. Louis Cathedral
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St. Augustine Church
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PA
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1. Re: Mom, Dad and 2 teens--trip report

Day Two: We started out at the Audubon Zoo. We are zoo-lovers. We spent a long time watching a funny orangutan family and really enjoyed the "swamp" exhibit to see animals we haven't seen in other zoos. Even the birds and turtles that were wandering about were different from what we are used to and interesting. I would definitely recommend the zoo to families. We had lunch at Daisy Dukes, because I had a Groupon. It was my least favorite meal of the week. The food wasn't bad, but it wasn't much different from diner food back home. I would not return there. In the afternoon we visited the aquarium. I've read other people say that the aquarium was nothing special but we enjoyed it very much. The aquarium was a nice size, with plenty of familiar fish but also some exhibits about local habitats which were full of species and information that was new to us. Both the zoo and aquarium were full of day camp groups, but neither was overly crowded and we enjoyed watching the children see the exhibits. Dinner that night was "take out" from The Praline Connection. I had marvelous jambalaya and everyone else enjoyed the fried chicken. BIG portions.

Day Three: We had breakfast at Cafe Du Monde, which is both delicious and a prime people-watching spot, then did some souvenir shopping. We went to the Presbytere for the Katrina exhibit (very moving, perhaps a bit too disturbing for my kids, but good for them to see) and the Mardi Gras exhibit upstairs. I'm glad we visited. We quickly learned that we could only manage a few hours of touristy stuff in the late June heat and humidity, so after lunch at Port of Call, we took the afternoon off. I was surprised at the appearance of Port of Call (more bar than restaurant) and at the very limited menu. But the burgers were really wonderful. I'm glad we ate there. We napped, played videogames and watched movies during the heat of the day then realized that we were hungry. I called Verti Marte, a corner grocery, for take out sandwiches. WOW. This was one of my favorite meals of the week. We had tuna salad, roast beef and Royal poboys. They were huge--enough food left over for a snack later in the week--and delicious.

Greenwood, Louisiana
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2. Re: Mom, Dad and 2 teens--trip report

Don't ya just love Verti Marte? So glad they reopened after the fire.

PA
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3. Re: Mom, Dad and 2 teens--trip report

Day Four: We slept in (teenagers!) and went to Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse for Dad's birthday lunch. WOW again. The service here was both friendly and flawlessly attentive. The food was fabulous. We all had some kind of beef--prime rib, rib-eye, etc. The mashed potatoes were wonderful. We ordered dessert--it was a birthday party after all. The triple chocolate cake was enough for two (or more). I loved the bananas Foster bread pudding and we also had some creme brulee. No complaints. If I lived close, this would be a regular celebration meal spot. After lunch, we walked to the Insectarium. This was not on my to do list but my children were seduced by all of the advertisements at the zoo and aquarium. The Insectarium exceeded my expectations. It was definitely creepy but also very interesting and MUCH larger than I expected it to be. We filled a happy afternoon. After that we walked (maybe limped by now) to the Algiers ferry for a free ride. The ride was quick but allowed me to get some nice pictures and we can at least say we took a boat ride on the Mississippi. I got the kids snow balls near the Riverwalk after the boat ride and called it a day.

Day Five: I used a crowbar to get the kids out of bed early to have breakfast at Stanley's. Since we arrived at 9:00 ish on a weekend, it was not crowded at all and we found street parking (the troops had revolted against any further walking). Stanley's is very pretty and the food was good. We felt like the portions were a bit small (omelette sandwich, eggs benedict poor boy) for some items but very big for others (side of potatoes and pancakes). We then drove to the City Park to view the Sculpture Garden (we also love sculpture gardens) and because I had purchased groupons for the amusement park. I would have visited the Botanical Gardens but it was just too hot to be outdoors any longer. We loved the sculptures. There were maybe half a dozen rides at the amusement park that were appropriate for my teens (plenty more for little kids). But three of them were out of order for one reason or another. That was a disappointment. We could really only stand two hours in the heat (even with more snowballs), so we returned to our lodgings to nap and drink lots of water. We had dinner at El Gato Negro. I had a margarita (pineapple) because they are so popular on this forum. It was good, but nothing I'll crave in months to come. The food was not different from Mexican food I get at home or in our other travels. The staff was kind about adapting food for my picky teen.

PA
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4. Re: Mom, Dad and 2 teens--trip report

Day Six: After letting the darlings sleep in again, we drove out of town to have lunch at DiMartinos in Algiers. The restaurant looks like a fast food restaurant but the food was fabulous. We shared a Muffaletta and some chicken fingers. The Muffaletta is probably the food that I will be craving in the months to come. I can probably figure out how to make one at home, don't you think? I had purchased groupons for the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, so we drove back to the Riverwalk (note, no more walking!). The F&B museum was quite a bit bigger than I expected and definitely a worthwhile way to spend the afternoon. I think I will remember and have conversations about the things that I learned there more than any other place we visited. We strolled the mall for a bit (air conditioning!) and ended up with more beignets (!) and coffee.

Day Seven: Today was the day I decided I was going to do what I wanted rather than trying to please everyone else, so we drove to the Laura plantation. I had a wonderful time. The tour was full of interesting tidbits about history, culture, food and architecture and agriculture. This was my favorite activity. Even the gift shop had more varied offerings than I'd seen all week (no Fleur de Lis potholders or voodoo dolls). We drove past Oak Alley, but decided we didn't have the energy to tour any more plantations. For our late lunch, we returned to the city and a bbq restaurant in Bywater called The Joint. THIS was the favorite restaurant of my children. The ambiance is rugged, to say the least, but we could also call it "authentic." None of that matters when you taste the food. The family decided that the ribs were the best ever (and we are aficionados) and the brisket and mac and cheese were awesome too. My adventurous teen highly recommends the potato salad.

PA
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5. Re: Mom, Dad and 2 teens--trip report

Day Eight: Really just half a day. We lounged and packed but I thought we'd get one last delicious meal in. I chose Fiorella's, but ended up disappointed. I called ahead and was told that lunch would be served at 11:00. We arrived a few minutes before 11:00 and were told that the food had only been just delivered and food wouldn't be available for about 15 minutes. So we took a little walk and then sat down and ordered drinks. A few minutes later, we were told that we couldn't even order our food for another 30 minutes (or so). At that point, we left. We ended up back at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, which was very good again (spinach and artichoke dip this time and chocolate cheesecake). And, as I said before, it was the friendliest service.

How could I forget---one two separate occasions, we returned to the Creole Creamery for ice cream and shakes. The blueberry pie ice cream tasted exactly and deliciously like blueberry pie. The peanut butter fudge was a favorite too.

PA
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6. Re: Mom, Dad and 2 teens--trip report

I am amazed that anyone would still be reading but if you are here are a few summary thoughts:

The Heat: We really couldn't tolerate doing anything for more than two or three hours without resting for a few hours. We noticed that air conditioned places felt cool as soon as we walked in but within a few minutes, it wasn't really cool enough.

The Walking: We stayed a few blocks from the FQ. We are young and healthy and we walk at home, but we were overwhelmed with the amount of walking after a few days. I'd read that it was impossible to drive/park in the French Quarter, but once my husband began refusing to walk, we drove everywhere and managed to park either on the street or in lots. The cost for parking was truly not bad, particularly since most lots give a discount with validation from stores or museums.

The View: Everything was lush and green and charming. New Orleans is even prettier than I imagined and steeped in history. I loved that aspect.

Southern Hospitality: Honestly, I felt like restaurant, store and museum employees were polite and professional but not hospitable or friendly. It was as if staff members felt like the patrons should feel grateful and privileged to be in such a great restaurant, etc. I'm not usually one to notice service per se, but on this trip, much of the service stood out as sort of cold and disinterested.

PA
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7. Re: Mom, Dad and 2 teens--trip report

Rats, I do have more to say. I hope someone finds this helpful.

What we didn't end up doing:

World War II Museum: It was on my must-do list, but by the end of the week, I was becoming concerned about the budget and it would have been nearly $100 for all of us to see the museum and movie.

Swamp Tour: About half of us were afraid of mosquitos and alligators, so I decided the swamp section of the zoo would suffice.

Riverboat ride: Again, it would have put us over budget.

Preservation Hall: I intended to go there, but we were pretty tired every night and turned off by being in a hot, crowded room. Also I was a bit intimidated by the idea of walking there late at night (mosquitos).

Art Museum: We just ran out of time.

PA
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8. Re: Mom, Dad and 2 teens--trip report

Yes! My very favorite! I never had such good food as an afterthought, wrapped in paper, at 9:00 at night.

Bossier City, LA
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9. Re: Mom, Dad and 2 teens--trip report

Thank you for posting a wonderful TR. I too, love Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. You should have went to Preservation Hall-there wouldn't have been any mosquitoes. I get eaten alive at home but have never had any problems in New Orleans. I'm glad you found plenty to do and enjoy with your children. Now you should plan a trip when the weather is cooler. You will be able to walk further and do more. And also, thanks for the info on The Joint. My husband and I were thinking about going there on our next trip but didn't really know much about it. So know we will try it.

Willington...
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10. Re: Mom, Dad and 2 teens--trip report

Bravo, very nice trip report, thank you.