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Trip Report New Orleans with 6 year old is fun, fun, fun!

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I just returned from spending a week in Louisiana with my 6 year old son. We visited relatives for a few days, then spent 3 days in New Orleans.

Having grown up close enough to New Orleans that it was easy to get to, but not close enough that you could get tired of it, it's interesting how ever since I first visited the city as a 12 year old, up until now, I can't find a way to not enjoy the city.

It seems everytime I think I've figured out the mysteries of the Crescent City, my life changes and I return there and see that the city is even far more interesting than I ever had dreamed of.

On this trip, it was most apparent to me why they say "Mardi Gras is for the children." That had escaped me up until I saw the St. Patrick's Day parade in the French Quarter with my son. Obviously, the debauchery of Mardi Gras doesn't exist at St. Patrick's Day, so you get to see what Mardi Gras was like prior to frat boys and wild tourists visiting and actually changing Mardi Gras to what they think it should be. As my son was totally bewildered with awe and happiness at the St. Patty's Day parade and the music, the beads, the revelry, as large smile came upon my face. I finally got it.

That being said, let me get to my trip report...

First things first, hotel: I bid $80 for a 4 star hotel in the FQ/CBD/GD and it came up with the Hilton Riverside. That is fine, except they charge $40/valet and $34/self parking. I figured I'd just park at Canal Place, as they charge $25/day. Both times I've used priceline for New Orleans, I've gotten a room at the Hilton Riverside. I can't complain, the hotel couldn't be in a better location, and I like the hotel overall. With a kid, I don't care about ambiance, I just want convenience and this hotel has it.

We ended up getting into town a bit late because of an accident on the Atchafalaya Swamp Expressway (I-10 bridge portion over the swamp), that caused us to only have time to check in and then get a bite to eat.

We took the Riverfront Streetcar to the Quarter and then headed to Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. I would never eat at a place like this unless I had a kid, but since I'm somewhat of a parrothead myself, I secretly wanted to eat there anyway, lol! I had a cheeseburger in paradise (duh) that I washed down with Landshark beer and my son had mac 'n' cheese. This place is great for kids but that's about it (and like I said, I love Jimmy Buffett's music).

ASIDE: One of my son's favorite things about New Orleans was the streetcars. He wanted to take them everywhere, even wanted to wait when it would be faster to walk. If you have kids, get a day pass and take the streetcar around town! END ASIDE

The next day we took the streetcar to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait (for me) and OJ (for him). The beignets were good but our waitress only brought out 5 beignets when we ordered 2 orders (6), and my son was hungry so I pointed that out "Maam, there are only 5 beignets and we ordered 6." She got really angry and yelled "Oh my God! I'll get them for you!" Weird how the smallest things set people off. Oh well, no tip for her for giving attitude like that. That being said, the weather was absolutely wonderful and sunny, and the musician was playing some good music. It was some combination soul/gospel/jazz stuff and I bought his CD. He was very thankful and said I was helping to rebuild his community as the price was basically a donation to rebuild his church. I was happy I was able to help such a worthy cause.

Next we took the streetcar to the Audubon Aquarium and we purchased the combo deal "Zoo, Aquarium, IMAX, and Insectarium". We booked a 5PM showing for the IMAX under the sea show for the next day.

After that we took the streetcar to the St. Charles line and then transferred. We were heading to the Audubon Zoo. When we got to the Audubon Park entrance, I had to make a decision as to whether we'd walk through the park (which is beautiful) or take the shuttle. I made a calculated decision that since we'd be walking a bit at the zoo, it may be better to save our feet for the zoo. So we waited for the shuttle. The shuttle was small and overcrowded and not everybody fit on. They ended up walking.

As to the Audubon Zoo... Now, the last time I went there, I was probably 20 or so, so I couldn't really remember it that well. One thing I noticed this time, however, after having visited many zoos, is that this zoo really is world class. On this beautiful, sunny and 78 degree day, when we walked into the zoo, with all the palm trees, live oak trees, and manicured/landscaped grounds, where everything is lush and green, I immediately began thinking "This is better than any zoo I've ever seen." and I've been to the San Diego Zoo as well. The layout is logical, it is flat so that makes walking easy, there are plenty of food options, the exhibits are wonderful, and the shuttle bus is nice if you need a break on the feet. To my son and me, the highlight of the zoo is the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit. It really captures the essence of the Louisiana swamps. It was cool to see the alligators as well.

Now, it was around 2:30 and we hadn't seen but half of the zoo, so it was time to speed things up as we had a 5PM IMAX movie to catch, and we had the shuttle and then streetcar to take to get back. I figured we'd stay an extra hour and then head out. So, we ended up taking the tram around the zoo and stopped at the various areas that interested us.

We then took the shuttle bus and then the streetcar back to Canal street. The St. Charles streetcar was jam packed as it was rush hour. We had to stand the whole way.
When we finally got back to Canal St, we had 5 minutes before the IMAX started, as it was 4:55. So we ran down Canal St. to the Aquarium and then checked in. We ended up being around 8 minutes late, but fortunately the IMAX was just finishing up the last preview. So things worked out.

More to come.

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