New Orleans, Louisiana:

Leaving at 5 o’clock in the morning to avoid all the crazy traffic of a big city, and to get a big chunk of the traveling done before the sunrises is turning into a tradition for our family. Our girls don’t complain so much when it’s still dark outside (they think it’s a treat as nighttime normally means bedtime), and if we’re really lucky they actually take a little nap.

Apart from the signs telling us that we had left the big state of Texas, there was one simple natural sign to inform us we had made it to Louisiana. The trees. They are so different to what you find around the Dallas-FortWorth area where we are currently living. Driving down through Louisiana had a different feel, with plenty of green as well as cotton fields to view, and plenty of bodies of water where the girls kept asking: “Are there any alligators in there?

This journey was a shorter road trip than what we’ve done in the past, and one where we knew we would be stopping for food along the way. This is more fun and less stressful than having to plan ahead stuffing a cooler box full of food for the whole family for a three day journey. However, along with this freedom comes a higher price.

Even though we had planned to splurge more on food this time, you still cannot get away from the fact that it’s not easy to find healthier food options when traveling. All I can say is yay for Google Maps!

It was nearly lunch time as we approached Baton Rouge, and after a morning of sitting still and unhealthy snacks we were in much need of a super healthy lunch. After a quick search on one of our phones along our journey we found, and decided to check out Fresh Junkie.

The salads were rather tasty and it’s amazing how much spinach they packed into the girl’s wrap, which they ate up. This salad shop is super small, but there was a continuous stream of people coming in and picking up their orders to go. And you can tell they were regulars, which is always a good sign. We didn’t want to eat in the car, so thankfully there were enough seats for all of us as well as the opportunity for a much needed potty break.

We were then quickly back on the road for our final approach into New Orleans as there was nothing else for us to see in Baton Rouge. The excitement for what was planned kept the girls from continually asking: “Are we there yet? But they have finally caught on that when we’re only minutes away from entering a new city to explore that they had better be quiet. From past adventures they’ve learned that distracting mommy and daddy from navigating new streets may easily lead to a delay to when the fun can begin.

When staying in the French Quarter of New Orleans I highly recommend a hotel with valet services. They took our car off to a secure location and we didn’t have to navigate the crazy busy streets. It’s where all the action is. People there don’t understand the reason for sidewalks, most of whom are tourists of course.

We only had one night in our hotel, so as soon as we got our bearings by asking for dinner recommendations from the locals at the hotel, and situated our overnight suitcase in our hotel room, we were off to explore. We wanted to pack in as much as possible with three kids. There was no time for 2 mile hikes between our hotel and all the action, so our hotel (Bourbon Orleans Hotel) was perfectly situated.

After our arrival we learned that apparently it’s one of the most haunted hotels in the country, but we didn’t give it a second thought and didn’t see any action. But the staff members will give you plenty of other stories.

In less than two blocks we were in Jackson Square, and it’s a good thing we got there when we did, as shortly afterwards everyone was ‘cleared out’ for a movie/TV shoot.

Emily wasn’t sad at all, because instead she had plenty of time to admire all the real horses as we headed across the street to our pre dinner destination. Well who said you cannot have dessert first?

But before we move on to that, here’s a number one tip for any stay in New Orleans: Take plenty of cash! Thankfully we had enough on us (more than usual), but no one had warned us that nearly every vendor only accepts cash. Our first insight to this ‘no plastic card ’ culture was after taking our seats in Café du Monde.

Café Du Monde

It may have been October, but it was hot. So chilled chocolate milk for the girls was a delicious pairing for their beneighs. Their world famous beneighs are sold by a plate of three. So, we had one each, and were so high on sugar that the last one got left behind.

But they were a delicious treat, and according to Micheal, their coffee was wonderful too. I sat back with my hot chocolate listening to the musical delights of the saxophone, which was being played only a few yards away.

It was then time to walk off the sugar rush that we all had, and as we did we quickly found other jazzy music to dance to in the streets while exploring. And dance we did!

Behind Cafe Du Monde is the Mississippi River. It was the first time the girls and I had seen this famous river, and since then we have crossed it multiple times. I still remember learning about this third largest river in the world in England, back in school all those years ago. And for the cherry on the top as we walked along the Mississippi River was that we got to see a traditional paddle boat waiting to float away for the night with plenty of party goers.

After exploring several of the city’s streets, we took a tour of our hotel that finished with a surprise…an evening reception in the owner’s suite.

This loft hotel room had a wonderful wrap around balcony for us to watch down on the fun happenings on Bourbon Street. Even though it was pouring with rain, it didn’t stop all the partying in New Orleans. During the day there were plenty of precautions we do as a family to keep us all safe, but this was our way to safely feel the excitement of the city after dark. Family warning: It’s a crazy town!

After a restful night’s sleep (once all the music had stopped), we were ready to get back on the road and head toward our main destination of Orange Beach, Alabama.

First up though we needed breakfast. Can you think of a better location to try out a 24/7 diner? Well this was a novelty for the girls as we took up the bar area in the Clover Grill, which was yet another location less than two blocks away from our hotel. It was the perfect location for getting some fresh air before we hit the road again, and they also accepted cards (but not all credit cards).

We had also initially planned to explore the Louis Armstrong Park, but by this time we were ready to move on. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait too long in our hotel’s lounge for our car to be returned to us. With all this unexpected time on our hands, and knowing we couldn’t get into our next accommodation (beach front condo) until late afternoon, Micheal got a special treat.

Well, the Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama was on the way. And who wouldn’t want their husband to be in their happy place. Yep, The USS Alabama and the USS Drum put him exactly where we wanted him.