We spent last week at Bayou Segnette State Park, about 20 minutes from New Orleans, but we only went into the city twice. Part of the reason was the weather (cold & rainy), and part was the fact that we’re not very good at exploring cities (we get overwhelmed by all the options). Most of all, we just didn’t feel like dealing with the hustle and bustle of traffic…and parking…and people… and leaving our warm, cozy home. We travel because we like to explore, see new things, and have new experiences. But we also need to have down time, and if that down time coincides with our stay outside a major city…well that’s just the way it is.
By the way, the campground was really nice. Twenty bucks a night for a huge site with electric and water hook-ups. We had a giant yard with a wooden deck and a view of the woods (site 17). The two shower buildings are only a few years old, and they have free laundry. Lots of places to walk and bike, along with a wave pool in the summer. A great, affordable option for the area.
In the end, we made one evening trip into the city for some mediocre beer and dinner at the far too touristy Crescent City Brewhouse, along with a plate of beignets from Cafe Du Monde. I had some really high expectations for these delectable bites of fried dough coated in powdered sugar, and was disappointed to discover that they were pretty unremarkable. I mean…they were good, but they tasted suspiciously like the fried dough I grew up eating at the country fair. It was kind of a let down.
Finally, on the day before we were scheduled to leave the area we managed to spend an entire day exploring the city. We decided to go the easy route and take the passenger ferry across the Mississippi. The hours are a bit limiting. On Saturday it runs from 10:45 to 8:15, so if you want to experience some night life, or get an early start, then the ferry is not the way to go. For our needs it was perfect. We parked in the adjacent parking lot for $10 ($5 on weekdays) and paid $2 each for the ferry. It’s a really short ride – only about 5 minutes.
The ferry dropped us off at the far end of Canal Street.
From there we set off on our self-guided walking tour of the French Quarter. We considered a guided tour, and looked into all the options, but in the end decided it was just not for us. Instead I found an online map with 38 stops along with corresponding information about each stop. Maybe we would have learned more on a paid tour, but this gave us the flexibility to take detours and make stops. Which we did. A couple times we veered from the tour to listen to street musicians, duck into galleries, or venture down interesting looking streets.
We also stopped for lunch at Johnny’s Po-Boys where we not very wisely each ordered our own Po-boy. They were so massive that we both only ate half, had them wrapped to go, and then Tim carried them around for the rest of the day. Made for a yummy dinner.
I didn’t take pictures of every stop on the tour, and I didn’t keep track of the ones I did take (bad blogger). Instead we ended up with a random assortment of photos depicting the buildings, people, and interesting details of the French Quarter.
After several hours of the French Quarter we made our way back to Canal St. and hopped on the streetcar. The idea was to ride it all the way up St. Charles Ave., giving our feet a rest while we watched the fancy houses in the Garden District pass by. Maybe on a weekday this would have been a good plan, but on this particularly busy Saturday we didn’t see much more than the overload of people squeezed together into the car. So we got off at Audubon Park and did some more walking.
The houses, err…mansions in the Garden District are pretty majestic looking. We saw lots of columns, fancy wrought iron fencing, and formal gardens as we walked along.
Four miles later it was starting to get dark, and we were starting to get cold, so we decided to jump back on the streetcar. We had to wait for three cars to pass us before we found one that we could squeeze onto. A short, bumpy ride later and we were back on Canal St. After a quick stop to pick up our obligatory souvenirs (a sticker & magnet) we made our way back to the ferry, and back across the Mississippi.
We may have only spent one full day in New Orleans, but we’re pretty happy with that one day. As much as we love nature and solitude, there’s something to be said for spending time in a city as vibrant and beautiful as New Orleans. We will be back…