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Trip planning- New Orleans Thanksgiving weekend

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I'm heading to New Orleans again next week with a friend and our girls for a long Thanksgiving weekend. I've been once or twice a year over the last 10 years, and have taken my girls (ages 9, 14, and 15) three times. My friend has been once, many years ago and her daughter (14) has never been. New Orleans is my “favorite place” and I love to continually branch out and explore new parts of the city. It seems like no matter how many things I cross off my list, there’s always more to add to it! Fantastic city, but I think I’m preaching to the choir here!

I've heard that it's a big tradition to spend Thanksgiving day out at the racetrack as it is opening day. Has anyone from here been? I'm hoping for a little insight for what to expect. I've scoured the net for pics and such. It looks like people will wear anything from normal jeans and tees to dressing up with hats. We were in town for Easter a few years ago and totally dressed up and had our Easter bonnets... loved it! We're busy putting our outfits and hats together and are really looking forward to our trip.

I've pretty much dropped the ball on finding a place to eat that day. All of the tables at the track have been booked. Does anyone know if they will be serving event type food? Nachos and whatnot? Or does anyone have suggestions as to where to go in the Quarter beforehand for something quick? We’re not needing the whole Tday spread. Something quick and easy will work just fine. As I mentioned in a previous thread, I’m undecided about transportation from the Quarter to the racetrack. I will have a car, and suppose I can drive, but am considering either taking the bus up Esplanade or the streetcar up Canal to City Park and walking to the Fairgrounds. We are perfectly fine with walking distances, I usually walk my feet clean off my legs when I’m in town. I just want to be sure that if we choose to walk from the City Park stop that we will be safe. I'm not overly paranoid, but realize that we need to be aware of where we are. In the 10 years of going, I have never had a bad experience.

I'm also not sure how much time to slot for staying at the races, or what else to do that afternoon to keep us busy? Also, can anyone confirm that there will be families at the track? I realize that many things will be closed. We're planning to go to Rock N Bowl Thursday night. Anyone ever been? I’ve already got our lane reserved. I'll be driving to Rock N Bowl, for sure.

We've got a lot planned for this short trip-

Get in early Wednesday afternoon. First stop on the way into town will be NOMA in City Park to take advantage of the free admission on Wednesdays. We'll also be taking in the Sculpture Gardens before heading to our hotel to freshen up before a quick dinner (haven’t decided where) and then a show at Preservation Hall.

Thursday will be the races and Rock N Bowl.

Friday we'll be riding the St Charles streetcar out to the Garden District. We'll be doing a birthday lunch at Commander's Palace for my daughter turning 14, then a tour of Lafayette Cemetery, then will be doing some shopping on Magazine Street. I saw that Celebration in the Oaks in City Park starts that night. I thought it would be fun to go be a part of the kick off to the holiday season. Anybody been? How much time should I allow for this? I would love to get some pics of the girls on the carousel. Will we have access to it this night, or should I plan to do this on Wednesday?

Saturday we'll make a quick stop in the French Market before hopping on the streetcar again to go to the end of the line for the Arts Market. Sounds like there's artists booths, food, and music. Again, has anyone been? Looks like this market is always the last Saturday of the month. I’m hoping to squeeze in a stop at Camellia’s Grill, as well.

We'll be heading home Sunday around noon. I was considering a Jazz Brunch, but will probably just make one last trip to Cafe du Monde and save that for next time... cause there's always a next time!

Anyway, thoughts and suggestions are welcome! I promise to post a trip report on upon our return.

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