We went on a little holiday to New Orleans, LA, a first time visit for the boys and I, second for my husband. Tying the visit in with Dear Husband’s work, we headed down to The Big Easy Friday morning, arriving in the afternoon. Little fella is enamored with hotels and would have been happiest just hanging out in the room the full weekend, but we did peel him away on Saturday starting with our walk through the French Quarter.
I didn’t preplan anything. Dear Husband was exceptional, going wherever I led while we figured it out on the fly. All I knew was I wanted to see the French Quarter and any cemetery. Walking down Bourbon Street proved disappointing, as it’s mainly bars and strip clubs, not the typical Saturday morning walk we take with the boys. So instead of more failed wandering, we went to the Jean Laffite National Historical Park and Preserve French Quarter Visitor Center and grazed advice from the Rangers.
A trip to Laura’s candy shop on the same street, New Orlean’s oldest candy store, perked us up with chocolate infused praline samples. One Ranger told us of a nearby exhibit celebrating 200 years since Andrew Jackson’s inconceivable victory in the War of 1812. En route we grabbed pizza by the slice and went to connect the dots on the General. The hosts at The Historic New Orleans Collection were as, or more, enthusiastic about Andrew Jackson as are the Hermitage curators. Dear Husband and the boys were ever so patient as I kept asking questions to the helpful docents. Unfortunately I couldn’t take photos inside. The building was gorgeous, with tall slender windows, wavy panes of old glass, vibrant red and yellow walls, and ornate ceilings. The exhibit was very nice. It was fun to see items on loan from both The Hermitage and The Tennessee State Museum.
Feeling accomplishment (and the desire to pick up a biography on Andrew Jackson!) we wove under awnings, through crowds of people, around bags of trash and puddles, by street performers and artists, and ended up river side to plan the rest of the afternoon.
With the goal of heading to St. Louis Cemetery, we decided, (as little legs were waning) to head back to the car and drive there. On the way to the parking lot, we serendipitously walked by (and of course into) the cleverly named and well-stocked Quarter Stitch, a knitting and needlework shop. Then we were en route via car the short distance.
The crowded concrete cemetery proved as interesting as I thought it might. The ominous prison-like cement wall made it look so small from the outside, but once inside, the narrow paths, fallen brick debris, and fern plants taking hold in tombs made this place an amazing new world to explore. The boys would choose the tallest monument and navigate us to it, counting the probable number buried there based on small casket sized doors.
Then, we followed the St. Charles trolley line to a beautiful neighborhood full of elegant, historic homes. My oldest son compared them to the oversized “cottages” we saw on Jekyll Island. While we waxed poetic on the facades, Dear Husband made a quick u-turn and landed us at the library book sale, just 20 minutes before closing. We dashed in, found three titles, and headed back to the hotel to catch our breath.
To me, New Orleans French Quarter doesn’t seem like a family vacation destination, more of a weekend Las Vegas style getaway for adults. It was a bit soiled, smelly, and alcohol friendly. Not to say we didn’t have a good time there, just that there wasn’t a lot to invite us indoors to linger with the kiddos. Also, the cemetery could be creepy for certain families. We were advised to steer clear of the tours just for that reason. And, looking at beautiful old architecture made my older son bust out on a quote he coined at Jekyll Island, “So, it’s basically just a bunch of rich guys with beards” (who own these fancy places… so what?).
Desire satiated, I don’t believe we’ll be headed back to New Orleans for a while…. well, okay, we would if Dear Husband had another work engagement. Until then, we were happy to see New Orleans take on Andrew Jackson and visit some unique features of this city.
We made one more New Orleans stop outside the city, I’ll post up more of our adventures this week.
Have you ever been to New Orleans? What’s your favorite stop?