Although New Orleans may not be the first place on your list of places to visit, I definitely think everyone should give it a chance. There are places other than Bourbon Street to visit and there are other reasons to go than to party. I have visited several times with family before and after Katrina and enjoyed every visit. Most recently Mom and I went on Labor Day weekend and discovered some new places to visit. Some of them were recommended by Google but I do not consider them on the most visited places list. Here are my top 5 from my most recent visit.
Daisy Dukes Restaurant
You are probably having flashbacks to the General Lee and Uncle Jesse, but this Daisy Dukes Restaurant has nothing to do with the Dukes of Hazard which was set in rural Georgia. This is good Cajun food in a relaxed setting. They actually have some other branches around town for express service and take out along with the sit-down restaurant we visited. The restaurant is only a block off of Canal Street close to the French Quarter. I could not decide what to order so I ordered the New Orleans Sampler along with a Shrimp Po Boy and took leftovers home. They are open 24/7 and have a breakfast menu along with the lunch and dinner menus. The staff was very nice even though the place was very busy. If you want good Cajun cuisine, this is a place to visit.
Oak Alley Plantation
There are several plantations around New Orleans that I’m sure are must see, but the Oak Alley Plantation I think is the most majestic. It gets its name from the oak trees creating a path to the entrance of the main house. Built in the 1830’s the “Big House” looked over the sugarcane plantation and slave quarters. There are several exhibits on the property that tell about the different eras the property went through along with a restaurant, inn, cafe, and gift shop. There is a guided tour of the “Big House” as well. The property is now owned by a foundation so it hasn’t been lived in for several years but looks exactly like it did when it was first built. It is located about an hour outside of New Orleans so you might want to book a bus tour if you are staying in the city. The driver tells you some history of New Orleans while you are riding out to the plantation which is very interesting. If you wish to drive, there are plenty of parking areas and it is easy to get to. It is easy to spend half the day there so plan plenty of time.
Louisiana State Museum
It turns out that this name a little misleading. The Louisiana State Museum is actually a collection of museums all over New Orleans and a few outside of New Orleans. We actually visited the Cabildo and Presbytere which are on either side of the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. These museums are historic buildings with a story in themselves and also house historical exhibits. The price is reasonable and you get a discount for visiting more than one museum, but you have to ask for it. These museums feature artifacts and stories about the founding of New Orleans along with battles fought there and important events in history that took place there. There is also the history of Mardi Gras exhibit and a Hurricane Katrina exhibit. There is even a Napoleon exhibit showcasing his death mask. If you want to learn the true history of this town, these museums are the best place to start.
Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues
I know most of you probably have heard of the House of Blues, but did you know they have a gospel brunch on Sunday mornings? It is located a couple of blocks off Canal Street close to the French Quarter. Make sure to get there early so you do not miss the pre-show. It does have audience participation and some old gospel songs so be prepared to be selected to perform. The food was wonderful and the show was even better. It was hard to get a good picture because the performers are constantly moving. It is buffet style with everything from fruit to shrimp and grits to made-to-order omelettes. There was also chicken and ham and bread pudding with caramel sauce. The music had classic gospel tunes along with great Christian commentary. The tickets are a little pricey but worth every penny. We sat on the floor which was a little low for me but we waited a little late to get tickets. There are tables around the floor that look like the best seats. Be careful of the tables on the left side of the stage because there are beams in your view. There is a second level which looks to have good seats also as long as you are close to the edge. Beware though the only drinks they serve is water, coffee, juice, and mimosas (an alcoholic drink). That stuff that looks like orange juice is not just orange juice. No matter what your denomination, you and your family will enjoy this event.
Creole House Restaurant & Oyster Bar
The Creole House Restaurant & Oyster Bar is Cajun food with flair. It is still casual restaurant dining but not cafe or buffet style. It is located in the oldest building on Canal Street close to one of the trolley stops. It was right across from our hotel so it was very convenient and easy to find. The atmosphere was very friendly and trendy but you could still feel the history there. It serves the classic Cajun and creole dishes but also offers some specialty items such as Spicy NOLA Bites and Shrimp Ya-Ya. It has a large selection of entrees, sandwiches, platters, appetizers, and desserts. We couldn’t resist the strawberry shortcake which was too big for two of us to eat. We walked away with leftovers from here as well.
I know New Orleans has a reputation for being a “party town” but there are several family friendly things to do. New Orleans also played a big role in our history that should not be ignored. If you plan your visit carefully, you can enjoy the family-friendly part of New Orleans that everyone should see at least once in their life.