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New Orleans Family Travel Guide: Sailing down the Mississippi

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The morning of day 2 was a bit sluggish for us.  The previous day’s adventure was a bit too much for all of us so we decided to take it down a notch.   We started by have breakfast at the Ruby Slipper located off Magazine and lucky for us we beat the rush, only by a totally of 5 minutes.

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This restaurant is hopping.  The one and only rule of Ruby Slipper is that your entire party has to be present in order for you to be seated.  If everyone but one person is there, they won’t seat you so make sure you are all there or your name will be put on a list and you have to wait and wait and wait until a table opens up.  The food at Ruby Slipper is amazing.

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What’s with the name?  Well the owners were inspired by the sense of coming home after Hurricane Katrina.  They wanted to be back with family and friends in a city that they love, hence there’s no place like home.

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After a fabulous breakfast (make sure you try their Bananas Foster Pain Perdu), we walked on over to the Mississippi to purchase our mid-morning tickets on the Steamboat Natchez.

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You can purchase tickets at the Lighthouse Ticket Office in the French Quarter.  I suggest going early to book because it does sell out.

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Boarding begins a half hour before departure time but people start lining up close to an hour before departure so if you want to get great seats I suggest buying your ticket and standing in line until you board.  We made the mistake of coming back 40 minutes till and the line was wrapped around a few times.  Before you board, the staff takes a souvenir picture of you in front of the steamboat; you can purchase the picture towards the end of the journey.

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Once you board you have the option to go to the dining hall, second or top level.  I suggestion going to the top and grabbing seats either at the front of the boat or the tail end that way you can have a clean view of everything.

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Once they turn the boat around to go back to shore, go on inside and grab a bite or drink.  Now in terms of food, you can buy a meal with your ticket purchase or just purchase snacks like nachos.  The meal is a southern buffet of fried chicken, grits, dirty rice and so on.

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We decided not to buy the meal and quite honestly didn’t feel we missed out.  While you sail down the Mississippi, the tour guide (who sounded a lot like the voice you hear on the train at Disneyland) gives you a historic commentary of the sights along the river and tales about the beautiful city of New Orleans. In the background you hear the live jazz band playing familiar melodies.

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I highly recommend going during the day so that you can see the workings of the city and river.  After running around town the day before, the 2 hour ride was exactly what we needed.  It was a really nice relaxing ride along the Mississippi River, a truly unique experience.

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Once we docked we decided to walk (a 5 minute walk) over to The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France, also known as St. Louis Cathedral. It is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States.

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The cathedral is located next to Jackson Square and facing the Mississippi River in the heart of New Orleans, situated between the historic buildings of the Cabildo and the Presbytère. It is one of the few Roman Catholic churches in the United States that fronts a major public square.  Artists, musician, tourists and locals flock to this safe haven so expect it to be crowded.

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If you walk to the far side of Jackson Square you can get a great picture of this architectural piece of art.  Admission is free, and it’s worth at least a cursory look around.

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When I walked in, I was awestruck of the beautiful details all around and especially the ceiling inside the church.  It was so serene that I could’ve spent hours in there. The stained glass is breathtaking; the murals on the ceiling are gorgeous and the artwork is just beautiful.

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You cannot take pictures inside the cathedral but you can purchase a brochure for a $1 with information on the notable features of the Cathedral as well as the pictures below. It is open 7 days a week, after the 7:30 am mass until 4:00pm.  If you are able to go to the 7:30 am mass, then do so, I hear it is a spiritual experience like no other. Once we headed out, we decided to walk down Royal Street towards Canal and visit the local stops.  As we came upon a group of musicians playing their rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Down On The Corner in the middle of the street, we noticed a beautiful structure to the left of them.

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It turned out to be the New Orleans Supreme Court.  I was dumbstruck that it was right there in the middle of the French Quarter.

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I don’t know where I expected it to be, but it was so neat to just have it right there.  The New Orleans Supreme Court has an amazing history.  In 1712 in was under the rule of the French.  Then in 1769, Spain gained control over the Louisiana territory and took over the courts. Finally in 1803, Louisiana became a territory of the United States and the rest is history.  As we walked past the Supreme Court, we saw a beautiful peach building with a sign that read NOPD t-shirts available inside station.

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Confused we walked in and it turned out to be an actual police station.

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The police station was filled with glass enclosed badges, guns, handcuffs and police id’s dating back at least a hundred years if not more.  It was a fully functioning police department/museum/gift shop.

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I was so amazed to see so much history inside that I totally forgot to ask questions and get more of a back story about the facility.

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I know I will go back one day and will have an opportunity to ask all my questions but until I do, if you happen to go to New Orleans please ask them about the history of this little treasure.

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With only one more day left we had so much more


I’m an OC mom of two and photographer. I love living in Southern California and want to expose my children to all that it offers. I love taking my kids on adventures and capturing their every moment so much so that my kids find it odd if I don’t take their pictures. You can see my work on facebook.com/photosbynaz.

 

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