back in january cal told me he really needed a trip to look forward to and he booked a refundable trip to chicago for our anniversary. fast forward to the end of march and i'm thinking the last thing i want is more cold weather. i asked him to cancel it and we decided on "weezyana" (as the kids called it) instead. i had never been anywhere in lousiana and have ALWAYS wanted to. the weather is supposed to be great in the spring down there and we noticed jazz fest happened to be the weekend we were looking at so we decided to go for it. we like to go on trips in lieu of gifts for our anniversary (last year we did nyc) and we usually take the kids with us. about 99.9% of people we told said we were absolutely insane to take 3 toddlers to new orleans. i'm sure those people had taken adult trips there and knew it was nothing suited for kids. i did a ton of research and found PLENTY of fun things to do with the kids. i booked the hotel through dosh, which works a lot like an ebates and you can get money back on your stay (+ an an extra $25 back for your booking your first hotel through it) so with $100 back for our 4 day trip, it seemed like a good way to do it! we had a little snag at the end of the trip (charged twice for the second hotel) but were able to get it fixed.
so we headed at out as early as two adults can get their shit together for a family of 5 and got on the road at 5 am on thursday. my plan (and it worked!) was that the kids would sleep for at least the first 3ish hours and then hopefully eat an early lunch and fall back asleep for their "afternoon" nap until we got there. we literally never even had to get an iPad out. it was glorious! i made a few plans for our trip before we left town but wanted to leave room to just go wherever the wind blew us (as much as cal hates that...sorry cal!) so the plan thursday was just to get checked in our hotel, b on canal, and explore what we could within walking distance. the hotel had a beautiful lobby! it looked like everything had been redone (it was formerly the 504) and the rooms were new. the staff was AWESOME. we walked from our hotel down to bourbon street (it was only about 3pm before everyone starts panicking about kids on bourbon street...chill people) and on the way vance found some kid street performers that let him join them. it was the cutest thing eveeerrr. then we headed to pat o'briens. my parents went to new orleans for their honeymoon and told stories about having too many people buy them drinks at pat o's...so i had to try it. the kids got waters with cherries and we got hurricanes, of course. strangely, our sober kids were the craziest people there. i have a video of ellis yelling "I'M AT PAT O'BRIENS!!!!!!!" after our cocktails we walked until we found a restaurant that looked good. i honestly could't even tell you what it was called but the kids ate shrimp and crawfish and all the world rejoiced because it wasn't chicken fingers and fries for once! when we got back to the hotel vance threw the most epic meltdown you can ever imagine because we hadn't ridden the trolley yet. he literally lost his fucking mind. so we paid the $5ish bucks and did it. they never did find daniel tiger on it though.
friday we did cafe du mode for breakfast! the wait was short and it totally lived up to the hype! after that we walked around jackson square and up to congo square. we went to cowbell for lunch and had the best mac and cheese I've ever had in my life. we took st. charles ave back to the hotel to get to see the GORG garden district. i wish i had known about that area before i booked our hotel, because i would've much rather stayed over there. it had the downtown charleston feel with the huge southern mansions and live oaks. there were also plenty of places to eat, shops, and parks to see within walking distance. then it was nap time until jazz fest! we were a little worried about jazz fest with kids because...well... we've taken a few trips around the festival block a time or two (if you know what i mean, haha!) but i truly cannot say enough good things about it! we never waited in a single line for anything, got our tickets at the door, kids were only $5 each, they had two tents of kids music with shade and chairs (hallelujah!) and never had any traffic problems going or coming. it was an AWESOME festival to do with kids. we saw sting, sturgill simpson, calvin johnson, jake shimabukuro, dirty dozen brass band, and a gospel choir that would bring you to your knees they were so good! sting was definitely a check off the ole bucket list for me. my parents always listened to him and the police growing up. we also lucked out that there hadn't been any rain recently...so we only had to deal with dust and not mud. anyone thats been to a music festival after a rain knows how HORRIBLE that can be.
after jazz fest we headed back over to the garden district and ate an amazing mexican place called, superior grill. it had a whole wall of the garage doors that open up and the weather was perfect. plus, mexican is ideal for my kids because you get chips and salsa immediately when you sit down and i don't have to play the "i dropped my blue crayon on the ground!!!" 14 million times with the kids + now we have to thieves all the crayons game. DO YOU FEEL ME PARENTS?!!?!? the kids were exhausted after dancing their brains out all day at jazz fest and we called it an early night...but of course, turned live pd on.
saturday we checked out early and went straight to get the famous willa jeans homemade pop tarts. the place had a line around the building to get a table, so we got them to go and walked them down to stumptown coffee. this was literally the ONLY place i didn't bring my camera and MAN, did i regret it. the design is fucking flawless y'all. its connected to the ace hotel which was just as flawless. so, excuse my crappy iPhone pic.
after breakfast we shopped around a little near stumptown (found an awesome boutique called freda ...and wanted almost everything in it) and started our trek across lake pontchartrain to covington. i had done almost no research on this part of the trip. i booked the holiday inn on dosh and hoped it was in a pretty area. downtown covington is ADORABLE. if you've ever been to sonoma, thats the only thing i can compare it to: great little shops, restaurants, all walkable, and adorable cottages... but, theres no hotels right there. all the hotels are about a mile away in more of a shopping center type area. the hotel was new.... hideous, but new and clean. its also close to a starbucks. sorry to be a high maintenance here for a second, but i don't drink milk and hotels never carry milk alternatives with their in room coffee...soooo mama (and daddy) need starbs or a cafe with milk alternatives. bonus points if they have matcha for the afternoons. so our first stop in covington was actually outside of covington a little ways. i read a tons of blogs about Louisiana with kids and they all suggested the zoo. i'm not a big zoo fan. we go occasionally but i'd much rather support a wildlife sanctuary and its a low key secret that theres one an hour from new orleans! its called the global wildlife center.
we called on our way and asked to purchase tickets to guarantee a spot, however they wouldn't do that. you also can't buy them online. you just have to show up and hope for the best. we got there about 1:30 and they said we'd have to wait until the 3pm tour. we agreed there was no possible way for the kids to wait an hour and a half, so we walked around and showed them as much as we could from the parking lot. it was, strangely, A LOT. to be totally honest, i kinda loved that we dodged all the germs on the wagon but still got to see the animals. world's biggest germaphobe over here. after the safari we drove over to abita brewery and got a tour plus a few beers. simms is OBSESSED with the "how its made" shows so he thought the tour was cool. the twins were more interested, per usual, in dropping their shit on the ground and seeing how many germs they can get. at the end of the tour the kids got tokens for caffeine free root beer. they've never had anything like that and simms said he wanted it so i said "what the hell!" they gave it to him in a tiny glass and after the first sip he slammed it down on the metal table and shattered it like some guy from animal house or something. we left abita and ate at buster's place. the food was good, not great or bad. after dinner we headed to bed early because my most favorite day was coming next!
sunday was SWAMP TOUR DAYYYYYY. this was one of the things i booked before we left via trip advisor. i read tons of reviews and booked the one regis and kelly did, cajun encounters. i was most worried about it being too hot (so i booked the 9:30am tour on a Sunday), bugs being bad, and not seeing many animals. i couldn’t have been more wrong! we got Captain Chris and he did a phenomenal job! he had tons of knowledge and answers my endless questions. the weather was flawless and our boat was covered, so we didn’t have to worry about sunburns. we were never bothered with any bugs. we saw tons of gators, raccoons, and wild hogs. the hogs jumped right up on the side of the boat and we’re very friendly. i was disappointed not to see any snakes, but i guess that would be a perk for some people. ha! there was no bad side of the boat to sit on because Captain Chris would turn the boat to make sure both side got great photos. the tour lasted right at 2 hours, but i wish i could’ve stayed out all day! this was BY FAR my favorite part of the trip. it never fails, anything involving nature and being outside is always a highlight for me. after the tour i found an awesome last minute brunch spot on the water with live jazz called palmettos on the bayou. kids ate free and adults got a free mimosa, champagne, or bloody mary with the buffet... win/win! after lunch we drove around town long enough for the kids to get a small nap in and then went to fontainebleau state park. its a massive and awesome state park right on the lake. theres beaches, playgrounds, splash pads, and hiking trails. we did as much hiking as 3 toddlers will do and then let them play on the playground and dip their feet in the lake. there was an AWESOME welcome center with artifacts they've found on the property dating back to 500 bc! insane. my favorite were the hawk feather collections and the pirates ring.
all in all, it was such a great trip! we ended the last night at a place called the chimes in covington that overlooked the river. it had a MILLION beers on tap and great food. theres goats doing some kind of lawn maintenance right off the porch that kept the kids entertained too. can't wait to go back...i'm already missing the cajun food!