From the swamps of the bayou to the art in downtown New Orleans to the history and don’t forget the beignets of the French Quarter we experienced New Orleans in a way we scarcely knew was possible. Take cajun style cooking the children’s museum and Mardi Gras World for example. The diversity and beauty of the towns, culture and experiences have opened our eyes to what Louisiana has to offer. Little did we know of the family friendly activities and oh how glad we are that we only spent a long 5 minute walk down Bourbon Street with our family. Funny enough we got the comment, “hey, it looks like Bourbon Street has turned into Sesame Street”. We appreciated the welcome, stopped for a quick piece of pizza and continued onward to what was the unknown of Louisiana.

Swamp Tour

A swamp tour is a must if you are heading south to Louisiana.  No other place in the United states can give you the experience of the wetlands.  Birds, alligators, snapping turtles, snakes, cypress threes and Spanish moss will leave you floating in awe amazement of the diversity the bayou bears.

Captain Billy with Cajun Man Swamp Tours did a fantastic job on our tour.  He grew up in the bayou and was very knowledgeable about plants and animals alike explaining what we were looking at throughout the tour.  The stories and background were interesting.

Cypress Trees in the Bayou

Floating slowly through the water we kept our eyes peeled for alligators and my girls hands away from the edge.  Apparently alligators can jump out of the water!  We saw this phenomenon when we fed them!  Apparently alligators like raw, smelly chicken.  Captain Billy would put piece of chicken on the stick, hold it a couple of feet above the water and when the alligator was ready, it would propel itself out of the water and snatch the chicken.  My girls loved it.

Listening to the Cajun music and being out the bayou was an experience I will always remember.  It was relaxing and interesting at the same time.  Plus we were able to see a lot of wildlife and enjoy observing them in their natural habitat.

Blakely trying on a turtle shell from Captain Billy’s Cajun Man tour

French Quarter

The French Quarter is the oldest square in New Orleans.  You can pretty much find whatever you are looking for here.  Restaurants, Cafe du Monde (a famous shop for powdered sugar scones/beignets), shops, artists (painters, writers, entertainers), Taro readers, the National Jazz Park, Jackson Square, Saint Louis Cathedral, and much, much more!

Me, Blakely and Tessa strolled the sidewalks for hours.  We stopped at the square, viewed the Cathedral with great reverence and stood in awe at the stain glass windows.  While looking at the art canvases Blakely turned to me and told me she wanted to paint.  Tessa just wanted to take a carriage ride on the purple horse.

Jackson Square in New Orleans

Since I am a pharmacist, I took the girls on a stroll through the Pharmacy Museum.  Exciting for a five year old and a three year old, right?  They did really well and put up with looking at old glass medicine bottles, primary dentistry and medical tools and old pharmacy prescriptions.  Blakely had a lot of fun taking my prescription and ‘filling’ it!

Of course we couldn’t leave the French Quarter without having a famous New Orleans beignet so we stopped by Cafe du Monde.  I had been to New Orleans once back in 2012 when I was in pharmacy school.  Some awesome friends had done their research and we had visited Cafe du Monde.  The anticipation of waiting for my family to taste of the powdered sugar scones was fun!  Blakely and Tessa loved the beignets but loved the powdered sugar even more.  They literally licked their plates clean. FYI, we have taught them better…but in the moment we were entertained by their ambition.

Cafe du Monde beignets

School of Cooking

When you visit New Orleans and go back to wherever you came from the first question people may ask is ‘What did you eat?’  You can tell them you took a class and learned how to cook southern style from the best.

I had no idea what we were in for when signed up, but Pat, our chef was incredibly knowledgeable about the history of New Orleans and gave a great demonstration on how to cook bread pudding, and a couple of other southern dishes. Eating the food that was cooked was an added bonus to the demonstration!  Now we can cook some authentic New Orleans cuisine.

It was delightful to meet the foodies at our table.  We had time to chat, enjoy great food and spend the afternoon getting to know each other.

Louisiana School of Cooking

Louisiana Children’s Museum

Play, play, play is why my kids love the Children’s museums so much!  They get to explore and learn with their hands.  The Louisiana Children’s Museum didn’t disappoint.  The girls played dress-up, puppets, and went shopping.  I wish I could rate each museum but each one is so different and loads of fun.

One of the highlights for me was watching them play restaurant right after we went to the cooking class.  We took all three girls and they actually learned something because they were cooking up a storm in the play restaurant.  I was happy to be their customer.

Saylor at the Louisiana Children’s Museum riding Andrew Jackson’s horse

Mardi Gras World

Mardi Gras is what I think of when I think of New Orleans.  Since we just missed the festivities (probably a good thing) we thought it would be a lot of fun to go see where the floats are made.  Blakely thought we were going to a party but stood in awe along with her little sisters when we walk up to this warehouse and there is a big statue of a lady dressed up like a joker.

As we walked through the doors to go inside we see huge displays of birds, football players, fish of which have been used previously on floats.   Fortunately, the magic of carnival does not stop at the front door.  Purchasing tickets and experiencing the walking tour takes you deep behind the scenes and allows you to see how floats are made!  The crab cake at the end of the tour was a bonus!

Mardi Gras World Tour

 

Our whole family learned a lot while we were in Louisiana.  We enjoyed the wetlands, New Orleans, and learned about Mardi Gras.  Touring a plantation was the only adventure on our list we didn’t experience but add it to the list for next time!