Longue Vue

Mr. Edgar B. Stern and his wife Edith Rosenwald created Longue Vue House & Gardens, a legacy of beauty, education and philanthropy, between 1939 and 1942. The Stern’s legacy is kept alive through Longue Vue’s mission, which is to “preserve and use the historical and artistic legacy of Longue Vue and its creators to educate and inspire people to pursue beauty and civic responsibility in their lives.”

An historic city estate encompassing eight lush acres within the city’s limits, Longue Vue House & Gardens in New Orleans is regarded as one of the last great houses of the American architectural renaissance. In its three stories, this Classical Revival-style mansion boasts an exquisite collection of American and English antiques, French and Oriental carpets, a fine British and Continental creamware pottery collection, needlework and a notable collection of traditional and modern art dating from the 18th and 19th century.

The Gardens of Longue Vue, with their various themes, complement the magnificent Spanish Court, which was inspired by the 14th century Generalife Gardens of the Alhambra in Spain. Within the vast gardens surrounding the home, visitors discover the English-inspired Yellow Garden of gold-colored flowers and foliage, a Wild Garden exhibiting a variety of native and indigenous plants, the Walled Kitchen Garden (currently under restoration), and a newly restored Pigeonnier. Longue Vue’s stately horticultural displays, accented by lyrical fountains, create a memorable experience throughout the year.

Longue Vue’s commitment to education is rooted firmly in the Stern Legacy. Throughout the year, Longue Vue offers an array of educational programs to their membership and general public. Visit Longue Vue on any given day and you can find adults and children creating gardens, learning about textiles, exploring uses for herbs, tracking genealogy, and discussing community issues. Programs include hands-on workshops, lectures, symposia, exhibits, seminars, as well as house and garden interpretations.

For more information visit their website at: Longuevue.com

Haunted Tours

Voodoo, Vampires, and all things magical and mystical are encompassed in the Haunted Tours of New Orleans. Most of them are walking tours of the French Quarter during the night (These are the tours that we recommend). The French Quarter is home to some of the oldest, oddest, and downright spookiest architecture in the USA. With little dramatics provided by the performers, a Haunted Tour is definitely worth the time and money. Most of the tours are acceptable for children over about 10 as they are in no way like the Haunted Houses run by local radio stations. If you’re coming to the Big Easy for the entire experience put a Haunted Tour on your list. Like many other ‘tourist traps’ in the Big Easy, they are truly unique.

Aquarium of the Americas

Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans is one of the best reasons to bring the kids to the Big Easy. Located near the end of Canal Street downtown, the large complex (132,000 gallons) features a 30-foot aquatic tunnel and creatures from near and far. The best way to get your money’s worth is to buy a pass for the Aquarium, Zoo, and an Imax show for the day. For most, one full day is enough time to enjoy all three. Many travelers get confused because the IMAX and Aquarium are downtown and the Zoo is located Uptown (about 5 miles apart). Don’t worry, a steam boat will take you up and down Old Man River between locations. The dock is located on the riverwalk downtown right across from the Aquarium. The boat dock in Uptown is located in the middle of “The Fly.” “The Fly” is on the back side of the Zoo away from Magazine Street.


Canal Street at the River

#1 Canal Street

New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

Phone Number: 800-774-7394


From the West: Via Interstate 10 East, exit at Poydras Street (Exit 234B). Continue on Poydras approximately 1 mile. Turn left on Tchoupitoulas Street, then right on Canal Street. The Aquarium/IMAX is located at the foot of Canal Street at the Mississippi River.

From the East: Via Interstate 10 West, exit at Canal/Superdome (exit 235B), turning right onto Canal. The Aquarium/IMAX is located at the foot of Canal Street at the Mississippi River.

For more information you can visit their website at: Auduboninstitute.org

Audubon Park

Audubon Park is located in the Uptown area of New Orleans and is one of the two major parks in the city. The Park is located between St. Charles and Magazine Street right across from Loyola and Tulane Campuses. The park is home to the Zoo, a very nice small golf course (18 holes no driving range), a jogging trail, clay tennis courts, and “The Fly”. The park’s jogging trail has both a paved route for bikers and rollerbladers with pull-up bars, push-up bars, etc.; and a trail that runs through the mighty oaks. But watch out, you have to share this trail with the horseback riders. Some of the homes that line the park even have their own stables.

“The Fly” is a group of soccer fields and picnic tables that overlook the Mississippi River on top of the levy. They keep the lights on the fields until about 9:00 for anyone that wants to fling the frisbee after dark. The Fly is behind the Zoo which is located behind the main park area on the river side of Magazine. The tennis courts are very nice green clay and are also located on the river side of Magazine St. next to the hospital. One confusing aspect of Audubon Park is that the Audubon Park Society also runs the Aquarium and IMAX, which are downtown. (about 5 miles from the park.) There is a riverboat that runs from the middle of the fly to the downtown river walk area. You may purchase tickets for the Zoo, Aquarium, and Imax for one day at a substantial discount.

For more information you can visit their website at: Auduboninstitute.org

Audubon Zoo

Audubon Zoo is one of the country’s top-ranked zoos; it blends the exotic excitement of animals from around the world with the serenity of its lush gardens. The exhibits feature innovative natural habitats with an animal collection ranging from the unique white alligators to the extraordinary white tigers. Audubon is one of the Gulf South’s favorite family destinations.

The Zoo has animal presentations at the Shell’s Wildlife on Stage amphitheater, and hands-on encounters with a variety of animals at Discovery Walk and the Embraceable. In addition to the amazing animals and exhibits, you can enjoy a ride on the Endangered Species Carousel, Simulator and Swamp Train. You can also shop in the Audubon Marketplace gift shop or spend the day enjoying the sights and sounds of the world around you!

Louisiana Bayou


Swamp tours are a great family adventure while on vacation in the Big Easy. Most of them take about 4 hours door to door and buses leave from Downtown/The French Quarter. Many companies will provide combo trips with either a plantation tour or a walking tour of the French Quarter. It is best to go on a nice day. If it is raining too hard, most of the tours will be canceled. Pricing is cheaper for kids and drive-ups at most companies.


The fishing outside of New Orleans is some of the best in the world. Trips are about $300-$500 for a group. The only down-side is that the weather, wind, and tide all have to be good or the trip will be a bust. The time of year doesn’t matter here as much as it does in other places, but the day-to-day conditions have a big impact on fishing. The reason for this is that the water is so muddy that when it gets ‘dirty’ the fish just don’t bite.


The Gator Season is during the month of September and is highly regulated. You must have a permit (and typically you must have right to land to get a permit), to harvest a gator. While you get to kill your gator with the weapon of your choice, there is a catch. The camp will catch the gator first on a huge meat hook with half a chicken, much like fishing. They hang the hook on a tree branch about 2 feet over the water and the gator then goes up for the chicken and gets hooked. Then you drive up in the morning and kill the hooked gator. So harvesting your gator is even less sporty than a ‘European Hunt.’ Trips run about $1000 – $4000.


For those of you that have never been on a ‘European Hunt’, some people ‘raise pheasant’ (a pheasant is a wild cousin to a chicken) and throw them off towers and let their patrons shoot them. Don’t worry about missing your wild chicken on the way down; most establishments will go out and kick-em to get your chicken back in the air. Yes, I really do have buddies that do this….






The History of Mardi Gras


The Start of the Carnival Season

For most of the country Mardi Gras is a one day affair celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday (Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday). Yours truly lives in the heart of “The Gras” New Orleans where the party rages for almost a month. The Carnival season officially starts on the 12th day of Christmas with the running of the Phorty Phunny Phellas street car parade. Over the next few weeks, all sort of organizations, known as Krewes, host a variety of balls, parades, and other activities. The point of all of this is to live it up before Lent.

The First Major Weekend

The first weekend of Mardi Gras is pretty much like the second weekend except there are a lot less tourists and punk college kids. The parades are not as fancy, but they are pretty close. Many of the popular local musicians play shows and tickets are easy to buy. Hotel rooms are cheaper; all-in-all, it’s very nice.

Dude, it’s time to go head down to “The Gras.”

If you grew up in the south, chances are at one time you and your buddies jumped in the car and headed for “The Gras”. Thursday to Sunday the last week of the Mardi Gras, New Orleans turns into the world’s largest free party. The streets fill with college kids and hooligans sleeping in their cars and Winnebago’s partying throughout the nights. The town has cleaned up this image somewhat; but it’s still no place for your kids. Sunday, most “College Spring Breakers” go home and the party turns more family-friendly.

Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras 

While I have been to Mardi Gras 7 times, I have never made it to Lundi Gras, much less Mardi Gras. (Lundi Gras in Monday) Its more for the locals and the adults that have money to buy things like hotel Rooms, plane tickets, rental cars, etc. (Not part of my plans the first 7 years that I went.) Last year I lived in NOLA for Mardi Gras but I still didn’t make it to Lundi. Sunday night I had to raise the white flag on Mardi Gras. This year I am going to try to leave town for a few days in the middle as to make it to the finish line, Business is always picking up at Nolasurf, so we will have to work a lot harder this season and have a little less fun.

About the Krewes

If you want to join one of the Mardi Gras Krewes you will need to know a local who can hook you up. At a minimum you have to buy your own throws (the beads) which cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars and a few thousand. Some of the more famous Krewes you just won’t be able to join unless you marry into it. Good luck.

Christmas in New Orleans

It’s Christmas time in New Orleans. Holiday celebrations in the Crescent City are all-encompassing. From the month long Christmas New Orleans Style, Dec. 1 thru Dec 31, with more than 100 festivities planned showcasing the cultural diversity of New Orleans to the New Years eve celebration in the French Quarter, there is something sure to entertain even the most dedicated Scrooge in every family.

Celebration in the Oaks – City Park has the largest family friendly gaterings for the holidays. The caracel and park are lit up and a great place to take the kids.

Levee Bonfires – One of the more famous traditions. The LEves come a blaze on Chritmas eve to help Santa find his way to nola. It’s a cool site to see via a quick drive. The party that is more of a local party for those that live on the river. So try to get an invite.

The Sugar Bowl – This year Alabama and Clemson will duke it out to see who gets to make the trip to the championship game in Atlanta.

St. Louis Cathedral Concert Series Free classical and jazz music concerts are held many night during the holidays in St. Louis Cathedral located inside of Jackson Square.

Running of the Santas – Get a Santa Costume and joing the pub crawl. The fun starts at the Rusty Nail and runs ends at Generations Hall with a big old party

New Orleans Bowl  – The other College bowl game in the Big Easy.

Caroling in Jackson Square – Candles and lyric sheets are provided. A great family friendly event in the Frech Quarter.

New Year’s Eve in the French Quarter. One of the great city destinations to ring in the New Year.

Reveillon Dinners  -Another Big Easy tradition. Many of the fine dining restaruant in nola roll out an extravagant multi course meal just for the holiday season.

Getting ready for Mardi Gras! – The first event kicks off the Mardi Gras season with the end of the 12th night. Phunny Phorty Pellas, a street car gone wild.

The Snow Machine  – A cool snow machine next the the Harras Hotel, and many other cool holiday decormations are always good for a an hour or so of fun downtown.

City Park

City Park is located in the Mid-City\Lakefront area of New Orleans. Over a century ago, New Orleans philanthropist John McDonogh donated 100 acres of land for what has today evolved into the fifth largest urban park in the US. City Park encompassing 1,500 acres. Approximately 14 million visitors come through the Park each year to enjoy its magnificent oak trees, picturesque statues and fountains, sports and recreational facilities, and historic buildings.

The Park is home to the New Orleans Museum of Art, the largest collection of mature live oaks in the world, a kiddy amusement park, tennis courts, several golf courses, fishing, horseback riding, and a few other nifty things to do. Every year City Park is also home to this author’s favorite Halloween Party; Voodoo Fest. The art gallery has a collection of Faberge eggs among other things. The public golf facility has a lighted driving range and is still somewhat recovering from Katrina. Recently a fancy put-put course has opened. During the holiday season, the park lights up with a spectacular light show. Taking Esplanade all the way from the Quarter is the easiest way to get to the park and it runs right into the museum.

Fun Facts about the Park – Dueling was not outlawed in the Park until 1890!

For more information, visit City Park’s website at: Neworleanscitypark.com

New Orleans Cemeteries

New Orleans is famous for its unique culture and the dead are no exception. For those of you that have never been to the Big Easy, it can be a little scary the first time you see a huge ship cruising down the Old Miss 15′ above you. That’s right, New Orleans is under sea level. What does this mean for the dead? Well, if you stick them in the dirt they have a tendency to come back up for a visit during the floods. As a result most of the graves are above ground; many of which are very elaborate. If you are a brave soul there are a few night tours. One word to the wise, don’t visit New Orleans Cemeteries at night on your own as it is not safe. While the cemeteries are very interesting, a few hours is enough for most to get their fill.