Getting lost in Louisiana

Experiencing the Holidays

With Thanksgiving behind us and the tree ready for decorating in our front room, I can officially say we're full swing into the holiday spirit. This is the time of year I make my wish list of must-hit events and prepare the kids for running full steam ahead until...

Into the Wild: Northlake Nature Center and Big Branch Marsh

On this gorgeous fall weekend, we took advantage of the weather to revisit two of our favorite hiking trails on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Despite being surrounded by towns and cars and people, the Northlake Nature Center and Big Branch Marsh National...

History Lesson at Port Hudson

On previous trips to St. Francisville, we always head straight for the historic town, walking the shaded main streets and shopping at Grandmother's Buttons before setting off to tour a nearby plantation. Although we see the sign for Port Hudson State Historic Site as...

Cooling off in Bogue Chitto State Park

On an unbelievably hot Louisiana summer day, we set out to cool our toes in the waters on the Bogue Chitto River. The state park by the same name is one of Louisiana's newest state parks, located near Franklinton. Loblolly pine tree The drive there on LA-25 north...

Tickfaw State Park and Lake Maurepas’ Northshore

On a whim, we recently decided to take a little drive and check out Tickfaw State Park in Springfield, not far from Ponchatoula and Hammond. It was a scenic journey, north on I-55 through that swampy strip of land sectioning off Lake Maurepas from Lake Pontchartrain....

Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans

In a city known for its cemeteries, each one is more unique and beautiful than the last. One of our favorites, though, is Metairie Cemetery, built on the grounds of a former horse racing track. Opened in 1838, it was the premiere race track of the South, competing...

Vacation Time: North to the Smokies and DC

Scrambling to get in a vacation before the first day of Kindergarten, we escaped the summer heat and pointed our car north, spending two weeks frolicking in the cold streams of North Carolina's Smoky Mountains and the air conditioned museums of Washington, DC. If I...

Donaldsonville to Plaquemine on the Mississippi River’s Westbank

There is no shortage of scenic roads in this state, including many portions of Louisiana Highway 1. The longest road in the state, it runs from Grand Isle to north of Shreveport. We tackled a small portion of it last weekend, driving from Donaldsonville to Port Allen...

History and Hollywood in New Orleans’ Garden District

  Another Garden District Beauty In the midst of t-ball and swim lessons, we've been sticking close to home as of late, taking short adventures in and around New Orleans. Our latest outing was something we rarely do, a guided walking tour of one of the most...

New Orleans: Paddlewheels, History and Beignets

On a coveted three day holiday weekend, t-ball and birthday parties kept us tied to the city, so we used the extra day to explore our hometown. It's so easy to settle into work and school routines during the week, and take off exploring the unique small towns and...

Morgan City to Avery Island

On one of the last cool weekends before summer, we jumped in the car to visit Avery Island, home to Tabasco as well as the beautiful oasis, Jungle Gardens. On previous trips, we always took I-10 from New Orleans to Breaux Bridge and then headed south. This time,...

Pointe Coupee Parish: New Roads & Livonia

In all of our years visiting picturesque St. Francisville, we had never made it across the river to visit its sister city, New Roads. When an advertised Historic House Tour caught my attention, our weekend plans were sealed and we loaded the car with toys for our...

End of the Road: Jefferson Parish’s Town of Jean Lafitte

We've been on a kick lately traveling to the end of all the roads in Louisiana--first in Plaquemines, then St. Bernard and now Jefferson via the Town of Jean Lafitte. It's altogether quite a different drive than the other two, most notably because we didn't seem to...

St. Bernard: From Old Arabi to Shell Beach

Nearly two years ago, we drove the San Bernardo Scenic Byway through St. Bernard Parish, headed for the Chalmette Battlefield and the Los Islenos Fiesta. This weekend we returned to hit a few spots we had missed on our initial journey, starting with Old Arabi and...

A River Road Weekend

It's a rare event that we have an adults-only weekend, but acknowledging the antiques and information-filled tours at many River Road plantations, we reserved our trip there for just such a time. We started late on Saturday (after soccer, of course), dropped the kids...

End of the Road in Plaquemines

It's not easy to get lost in Plaquemines Parish. There's one main road that runs down the left side of the Mississippi River and one down the right. Once you get on it, you simply drive straight ahead until you reach the end. We chose Highway 23 on the left side and...

Tulane’s “Faces of the Maya”

On our evening walks around Uptown New Orleans, we've discovered one the best places to take rambunctious kids is Tulane University. We get a little bit of exercise walking there, and they get to jump out as soon as we reach the university and let loose. It's the...

Cane River Creole to Kisatchie National Forest

From downtown Natchitoches, we took the winding Highway 494 out the east side of town into the rural countryside. Approximately 116,000 acres surrounding Natchitoches make up the Cane River National Heritage Area, which includes several state historic sites, national...

The City of Lights: Natchitoches

I've wanted to visit the city of Natchitoches ever since first hearing about it in college. The town's name alone implies someplace special and unique. Dubbed the "City of Lights" in honor of its Christmas light show during the holidays, Natchitoches has been featured...

Fossil Hunting in Gravel

Our latest obsession is fossil hunting. During a recent trip to Percy Quin State Park, we were initially dismayed to find the normally beautiful lake now a drained, muddy bed. We made the most of it, though, venturing out into the squishy mud, collecting a few...

Thanksgiving Pow Wow

Growing up in Alabama, a Thanksgiving family tradition was to visit the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Atmore, Ala., for their annual Pow Wow. This year, we continued the tradition by bringing our children to see the colorful costume displays, rhythmic dancing and...

Fall at the Swamp

  Although we've explored the trails at Jean Lafitte National Park's Barataria Preserve dozens of times, every trip brings new discoveries. Sunday was the perfect day to visit, with mildly cool weather accented by rust-colored cypress trees and red maples (our...

Life in the Swamp

More times than I can count, we've driven the I-10 between Baton Rouge and Lafayette as a straight-shot, watching the Atchafalaya swamps through our windshield tour. This weekend, though, we ventured off the Grosse Tete exit for what I thought was a small swamp...

Harvest Days at the Rural Life Museum

Saturday brought with it the first day of fall, and because you wouldn't know it by the weather, we decided to celebrate by visiting the Harvest Days festival at Louisiana State University's Rural Life Museum. For its 16th year running, the outdoor museum showcased a...

Charming Madisonville

The tiny town of Madisonville perched its stilted houses and businesses along the banks of the Tchefuncte River, which flows south and widens as it enters Lake Pontchartrain. Countless days of rain had prompted us to visit this historic maritime community, whose past...

Rip Van Winkle Gardens

The name "Rip Van Winkle Gardens" stuck in my head from the first time I heard it. It's been on our to-do list for ages, and our recent visit proved the place to be as memorable as its name. Joseph Jefferson Mansion We made a weekend of the trip, not missing a chance...

Chance Encounter with River Road on the Way to Thibodaux

We recently took to the road and set off on a decent hour (give or take) drive to Thibodaux. I came prepared with snacks, drinks and a movie for the allotted time, and the trip would have been perfect except for one small flaw. The Hale Boggs Bridge crossing the...

Early Summer Vacation: Great Smoky Mountains

Occasionally our wanderings across Louisiana lead beyond the state's border, taking us farther out into the rest of the country. Last week, we rooted our jackets out of the far reaches of the closet and kicked off the arrival of summer heat with a trip to the Smoky...

Walter Anderson’s Ocean Springs

A short day trip from New Orleans, Ocean Springs is one of those small towns for which America is famous. Its historic downtown has quaint shops and restaurants lined up along a walkable main street, jutting off perpendicularly from a railroad line that runs straight...

French Quarter Fest…with Kids

French Quarter Fest, the largest free music festival in the South, is four, packed days of more than 800 local musicians playing on 22 stages throughout the Quarter's historic streets and waterfront. Now in its 29th year, the event has ballooned into a massive...

Return to Grand Isle

It's amazing how much can change in a year. Last April, we visited Grand Isle for the annual Migratory Bird Festival, an event the whole island embraces as residents open their yards to birding enthusiasts. The island was bustling with activity, but some of the key...

Exploring the Gulf Coast: Dauphin Island, Alabama

A short road trip out of state landed us in Alabama's Dauphin Island, a barrier island at the mouth of Mobile Bay. Vacation hotspot for locals more so than tourists, you won't find any shopping outlets or putt putt golf here, but rather quiet neighborhoods overlooking...

Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge

Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife RefugeBundled in puffy jackets and hoods, we fought the weekend's blustery weather and - in between Mardi Gras parades - carved out some time to discover another of Southeast Louisiana's (SELA) eight National Wildlife Refuges....

On the Hunt for Dinosaurs…and a Hike at Lake Martin

Louisiana is not known for dinosaurs - that much I have learned through my Internet searching. Now Wyoming, Colorado and the Dakotas, they're a different story. Unfortunately the pleads of a three-year-old are not compelling enough to make me drive 26 hours to view a...

The Secrets of New Orleans East: Bayou Sauvage & Historic Forts

Beyond a line of Vietnamese stores and restaurants, Chef Menteur Highway journeys to the far edges of New Orleans, deep into the nation's largest urban National Wildlife Refuge. Just a short distance from our house, Bayou Sauvage NWR is a flashback to what much of...

Cajun Country: St. Martinville and Lake Fausse Pointe State Park

On the eastern edge of Lafayette, a circle of roads connects the historic town of St. Martinville with picturesque Lake Fausse Pointe. This was our weekend destination, and we launched the adventure from the Crawfish Capitol of the World - Breaux Bridge. As we passed...

Family Traditions at Percy Quin State Park

For more than 40 years, my husband's family has spent a December weekend at a cabin at Percy Quin State Park. Continuing the family tradition, we headed up I-55 toward McComb, Miss., and met the relatives at a large cabin on the lake. Our lovely cabin After a quick...

Dinosaurs Attack at Audubon Zoo

To build up the anticipation for visiting the Lafayette Science Museum's Dinosaurs exhibit, we ended our long Thanksgiving weekend with a trip to the Audubon Zoo and its own Dinosaur Adventure. The normally packed zoo was nearly empty on this bitter cold and dreary...

Barataria Buccaneers’ Day

Our latest trip took us back to one of our earliest adventure locations - Jean Lafitte National Park. It was Barataria Buccaneers' Day at the Barataria Preserve in Marrero, and Charles was on a mission to become a Junior Ranger/Privateer. Sweetgum seeds in the forest...

Knighted at Ren Fest

Every November on the outskirts of Hammond, men, women and children dust off their swords and corsets and step back in time to the village of Albright. They become the centerpiece of the Louisiana Renaissance Festival, affectionately known as Ren Fest, and they open...

Halloween Hauntings

This Halloween weekend, we took advantage of the ghouls and goblins haunting New Orleans. We kicked it off Friday night at Audubon Zoo's "Boo at the Zoo," where hundreds of Jedis, princesses and fairytale characters had replaced the usual wild animals found at the...

Weekend of NOLA Festivals

When October arrives, those lazy summer months fall to the wayside and festival season kicks into high gear. I had our calendar booked and had mentally prepared the family for a packed weekend. Pony rides at the Children's Book Festival We started off Saturday...

A Straight Drive Down Carrollton Ave.

Every Fall, I feel the urge to search the web for u-pick farms and local produce. I'm not much of a gardener myself, shying away from dirty fingernails and mosquito attacks, but the prospect of pumpkin patches and fairytale gourds draws me out to the country—normally....

Two Northshore Parks: Fontainebleau and Northlake Nature Center

Boys will be boys. That's the one thing I have discovered to be overwhelmingly true about our three-year-old son, whose favorite color is blue, is obsessed with dinosaurs and thinks the greatest achievement in life is to find every bug that exists on this planet. Put...

Escaping to St. Francisville

After suffering through three days of rain over Labor Day weekend, I watched in disbelief as a week full of sunshine mocked me out my office window. Saturday couldn't come fast enough, and we were up and out the door before the geckos had even fled our porch from the...

Across the River to Algiers Point

Today we hopped in the car and started driving with no destination in mind. Heading toward downtown New Orleans, we made a split second decision to cross the Crescent City Connection when the bridge appeared in the distance. The first exit on the Westbank may not...

Art and Planes in New Orleans’ Warehouse District

One of several Walter Anderson paintings on display at the OgdenThe air conditioning is running nonstop these days. I find as I get older, I have less tolerance for the heat, while the kiddos seem to be oblivious to it. In a desperate effort to keep them inside, I was...

Summer in the French Quarter

Back from a two week vacation along the coast of California, it was rough stepping off the plane in a fleece jacket into a wall of hot, sticky air. Everything instantly slowed to a crawl -- breathing got harder, walking became an enormous task and carrying luggage...

A Stroll Down Oak Street

Main streets across the country have designed themselves into one-stop destinations, luring us in with fancy sidewalks and nice landscaping and then keeping us there with an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and coffee shops. Uptown New Orleans has several of these...

St. Tammany’s East Side: Slidell

6:15 a.m. and both kids were up and rearing to go. Charles was pulling on his shoes while asking me in the sweetest toddler voice possible, "Mommy, can we go on an adventure today?" August squealed in agreement. I checked the temperature, and it was already 80 degrees...

Hidden Away in Houma

Amidst all the flooding concerns of late, towns in the path of the Morganza Spillway have garnered a lot of attention--including ours. Like all those people seen perched on the edge of the Bonnet Carre, we wanted to be part of the action, but certainly not too close....

A Studio in the Woods

I'll admit it, I'm a map junkie. Everyone nowadays has GPS in their cars or on their iphone, but I love the feel of an actual map in my hands. Sometimes when I'm bored, I'll just pick up a map and start looking it over, searching for something I've never seen before....

Longue Vue House and Gardens

It was a typical morning, only 7:30 a.m. and Charles' three-foot, stuffed T-Rex had already tried to eat August and had succeeded in eating his yogurt snacks. I had my exercise in for the day after chasing the squealing 3-year-old around the house in my desperate...

Festival Time in Lafayette

Every year during Jazz Fest, our neighbors are talking about another festival -- the Festival International de Louisiane in downtown Lafayette. It didn't take much convincing for us to get on the road and use this as our excuse to visit the heart of Cajun land....

Grand Isle: Louisiana’s Barrier Island

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know a blue jay from a bluebird, but experts and amateurs alike are welcome at the Grand Isle Migratory Bird Festival...at least that's what my husband, Paul, told me while packing us up for a two-hour drive to Grand Isle. I was...

A Neighboring State

Heading east on I-10, a bathroom break for our finally potty-trained (yes!) 3-year-old turned into a destination at the Mississippi Welcome Center. The NASA shuttle stop first caught my attention, where buses were whisking families away to a tour of the nearby Stennis...

A Closer look at City Park

Journalist Chris Rose was on the news the other night expounding on how most people don't play tourist in their own city. He, for example, had never been to the World War II Museum or Preservation Hall. While I had both of these covered, there were some places in New...

Down in Da Parish

Lured into St. Bernard Parish by a festival, we ended up staying late into the evening to see plantations, a battlefield and chickens. That's right, chickens kept us out way past nap time. But I digress. It all started when I saw the newspaper article about the Los...

Lake Pontchartrain’s Northshore

Every Monday morning, thousands of people wake up at the crack of dawn to leave their homes and drive across the longest bridge in the world to their jobs in the city. A lover of sleep and a hater of traffic, I've always wondered what could possess someone to...

It’s Carnival Time!

There are some things in life that children have to learn at an early age. Take football, for example. I'm determined to have my toddler, Charles, recite the LSU Fight Song before he can fully sing the alphabet. Likewise, you are never too young to learn to appreciate...

Bayou St. John and City Park

Some days you know from the minute you wake up that today is not a day to go traveling. The piles of laundry are glaring at you, the empty fridge is pleading to be filled and the impending start of the workweek is gnawing at your conscience. But, then again, the...

An Adventure at the Rural Life Museum

Armed with his Batman jacket and Elmo sippy cup, my son, Charles, stood outside the car giddy with excitement. Today he was going on an adventure to Baton Rouge (ok, so maybe he thought he was going to the zoo) but we knew he was going to have fun regardless. So after...

A Short Drive into the Swamp

Stifled from days of cold weather (40 degrees is frigid for New Orleans!), we took advantage of a warm spell and ventured out of the city to Jean Lafitte National Park. The park proved to be an ideal location to take two small children. We started off in the visitor's...

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