Louisiana Bucket List ~ Greater New Orleans Region

This is the place in Louisiana that we have spent the most time visiting as we spent 3 days in New Orleans the summer of 2016. While we didn’t find New Orleans to be quite what everyone talks it up to be, we did enjoy the few days we were there and found several things to keep us busy.

Franklinton

  • Bogue Chitto State Park: A nice way to view the landscape of Louisiana.

Madisonville

  • Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum and Research Center: Museum that gives some history about life on Lake Pontchartrain.

Mandeville

  • Fontainebleau State Park: This state park was once a sugarcane plantation.

New Orleans

  • Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation: New Canal Lighthouse Museum and Education Center: I’m really sad we missed out on this, and quite frankly that we didn’t see much of Lake Pontchartrain at all as we did not approach the city from that angle. This unique lighthouse would have been neat to see.
  • Mardi Gras World: This place is fun to visit no matter what the season. When we were there in August, work was constantly being done to complete these massive floats for Mardi Gras celebration.
  • The National World War II Museum: This was the highlight of our visit to New Orleans. We spent a whole day here as they have so much to offer. So much was interactive and gave great insights into America’s involvement in the war.
  • New Orleans Jazz Museum and the Old U.S. Mint: Not only was this a neat historic building to visit, but they had live jazz performances occurring while we visited.
  • Southern Food and Beverage Museum: This is another place that I’m sad to have missed. Looking at pictures it looks like the perfect place to visit for a foodie like me!
  • Cafe du Monde: Ok, this is an extra, and a food related one that I would rarely share, but no visit to NOLA is complete without trying their tasty beignets.

All attractions found in the 2018 Louisiana Travel Guide.

 

Southern Tour Day 6: New Orleans

On our last day in New Orleans, we made sure to get the full city experience one last time.  Our morning began with a tour of Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. It was so neat to see how they put the floats together and watch the artist’s at work.  I loved that after the tour, we could stay in the warehouse area as long as we wanted walking around seeing all the props and floats that were back there. It’s hard to believe that what’s there is just a small portion of what gets used during Mardi Gras.

Following that, it was back towards the French Quarter area to see the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. While it was a neat Aquarium, it was very busy and I think far overpriced. We only spent about an hour there because that’s all we needed to peek into all the exhibits.  The bird feeding area was pretty neat, but I wish they had more of a show like Baltimore or Chicago. It would have made it more worth it. But I was very excited to see a white alligator. The only other time I’ve seen one was at the Philadelphia Zoo when I was 8.

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Lunch was split into two courses. First we went to Mother’s for some gumbo. The line was long and out the door but the wait went by quickly. While gumbo in New Orleans is better than it is other places, it’s still not my thing. Next we went to The Joint, which supposedly has the best BBQ in Louisiana. The price seems a little high at first, but when you see how much food you get, you won’t be sorry! We were eating leftover BBQ for two meals after!

We made a quick drive past the Metrodome, just to say we’d been past it and then head out of the city towards Baton Rouge.

Southern Tour Day 4: New Orleans

On the 4th day of our trip Andrew and I had hoped to take a trek down to the Gulf of Mexico, but we awoke to a thunderstorm that morning. Quick flip of plans and we decided to head over to the National World War II Museum. On our way there, I’m pretty sure we drove past a movie set. That’s not something you get to see everyday!

Lucky for us, our visit to the museum fell during “Museum Month” in NOLA. This meant that with Andrew being a student we got in for roughly half the price, just by signing up to become members! You begin your time in the museum on a train car where you receive a card with a soldiers information on it. You can use this card in either the European or Pacific Theater exhibits to follow the real life story of your soldier during their time in the war.

The museum is made up of 4 buildings. The first is where you start your journey and can view some planes and other military vehicles. They also had a really neat exhibit about an artist who traveled with soldiers during the war and created art work to share with the people back at home. Very moving!

The next building was where the theater was located to give us a 4D experience of “Beyond All Borders,” a 40 min film put together and narrated by Tom Hanks to give you an introduction and overview of the war. It really opened my eyes to how things were for the U.S., since most of my WWII studies have focused mainly on Europe.

Following that it was time for our U.S.S. Tang submarine experience in the third building. Each of us was given a card that showed us who we were and what our duty on the submarine was. About 30 of us were herded into the “submarine” where we were given commands from our captain and then took place at our stations. We were in charge of the depth gauges. Sadly, I can say, neither of our soldiers were among the survivors in our mission.

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Following our submarine mission, we decided to head over to the museum’s Soda Fountain for lunch. This was located back in the main building and we both enjoyed some fantastic Mac and Cheese. They also have another restaurant that is a bit pricier but uses all local ingredients from the “Victory Garden.”

Following lunch, we went over to our final building which included the European and Pacific theater exhibits. We started with the Pacific exhibit where we followed Andrew’s soldier through his journey. My soldier was part of the European exhibit, but my card quit working halfway through :(. No matter though, we still enjoyed the exhibits. I do wish they had a few more machines available for following the soldier’s stories though, it got awful backed up at times.

We spent a little bit more time back in the submarine building taking pictures of aircraft displayed in that building. Some of the catwalks got a little high for my liking though! I’m really glad we gave ourselves the whole day to be at the museum, because we definitely needed it with doing the whole package deal.

We were getting hungry for dinner after our time at the museum, so we drove back down into the French Quarter and found a much more convenient parking area by Cafe du Monde this time. We were on a quest to find some real NOLA cuisine. The first restaurant we had thought about trying didn’t open for another two hours and we didn’t feel like waiting that long, so we thought we’d find some alligator in the French Market instead. We were unsuccessful there due to it being late in the day, but did eventually find some at the Market Cafe nearby, and boy was it tasty! The for dessert we grabbed some beignets  at Cafe du Monde. Despite what several people say about it being busy, I didn’t really think it was and our wait was very short. Do come prepared with Cash though as that’s the only form of payment they accept!

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Southern Tour Day 3: Natchez, MS and New Orleans

Day three of our trip gave us an early start in Natchez. We drove over to the Natchez National Historical Park Visitor Center along the river to get my Passport stamped and then drove past the William Johnson House (couldn’t go in because they are currently short staffed and closed the day we were there) and then walked through the grounds of Melrose Estate. Finally began to get the feel of the Southern Plantation life.

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From there we continued on to New Orleans. Getting there early, we decided to head straight down the the French Quarter. Parking was a pain to find, but we eventually found a parking garage near Bourbon Street. Never again will we park along that stinky, filthy, street. I have no idea why everyone enjoys it so much, other than if you purely want to go to get drunk at anytime of day.

We quickly headed towards the river, away from Bourbon Street. The main street along the river is much cleaner, although still filled with homeless. Our first stop was Jackson Square and the Saint Louis Cathedral. The cathedral was beautiful, but we giggled over the fact that signs said “Please remain quiet” and they had drills running at top speed on the second level balcony that roared over everything as they refurbished something up above.

From there we walked all the way down to the Old U.S. Mint building, where the Jazz National Historical Park is currently being housed as the renovate their visitor center. We were able to take in the second half of their free concert, which was pretty awesome to be able to say that we got our New Orleans Jazz in during our first hour or so in the city.

After walking back to our car in the heat and smell, we determined we’d had enough of the city for the day. We drove over to our Super 8, which is located right next to an abandoned Holiday Inn still left behind from Hurricane Katrina. It was obvious our hotel’s neighborhood still was attempting to recover nearly a decade later. While the neighborhood wasn’t much to look at, our hotel was nice, aside from the pool undergoing maintenance that day. We decided to stay in the rest of the night and ordered a pizza! New Orleans had already taken a toll on us in only our first afternoon there and we didn’t feel like paying for parking to go back in for some authentic cuisine that night!