Thanksgiving in NOLA without the French Quarter

Llama had a wonderful reason to visit New Orleans for Thanksgiving….his “brother” Kent had recently moved there and Llama wanted to check out Kent’s new digs. Llama has been to NOLA several times before and was excited to see something new. He also knew he had no desire to visit the French Quarter. There is so much more to NOLA than drunken Bourdon Street and he was out to prove it. And prove it he did.

The Friday after Thanksgiving was a fun day of touring around. Llama started the day at the World War II Museum. Kent, Llama’s brother, works there. Since we had to drop him off early for work, we took the time and walked to the top of the parking garage for a beautiful daybreak view over the Mississippi.

We also had some time to kill, so Kent suggested that we go inside of what they call the museum hotel. It’s not really owned by the museum but is a beautiful hotel right across from the museum and is decorated in era furnishings. The Higgins Hotel is part of the Hilton chain and very beautiful. The whole place is decked out in Art Deco and 1940s photos, murals and furnishings.

When we saw this globe fixture we knew that our friend Mackenzie would love it. She loves everything globes. Llama snapped a picture of them and texted it off to Mackenzie. Can’t see a globe without thinking of her.

Art Deco piece right behind the check-in desk at the hotel.

Read more about the hotel or book a room at this link: The Higgins Hotel

If you are a Hilton Rewards member, this hotel can be book utilizing Hilton points. We might consider it in the future for a special stay.

It was a beautiful day to visit in the museum area and walk around. The sky was very very blue and the temperature was kind of perfect, started out in the ’50s ended up in the ’60s almost up to 70. Which made it perfect for being outside. Llama took the time to take some pictures of the outside of the museum, and it’s new addition, what we is lovingly called “the wing.” I think it looks like a spaceship landing on top of the museum.

The World War II Museum is a multi-building Museum. It can take hours to visit all of it. They even sell a second day ticket for an additional $7 if you can’t visit it all in one day. Surprisingly, Kent tells Llama stories all the time of people coming in at 3:30 and buying a ticket to visit the museum. The museum closes at 5:00. Llama can’t imagine how much they actually get to visit if they start at 3:30 in the afternoon.

If you plan to visit the museum, a tip is to purchase your tickets online. If you do this, you can walk in and go pretty much straight into the museum. Instead of standing in the long queue to purchase tickets, you can walk up to one of the admission staff that’s standing out in the lobby. Scan your tickets off your phone and enter straight into the museum. The staff that are standing there have maps for you to use and can give helpful tips about visiting the museum. Definitely buy those tickets online so you can skip standing in the queue. When we visited a few years ago, standing in the queue was the only option and it took probably an additional 30 minutes of time to wait to get in. Online ordering is the way to go. Click here to find out more about the museum: World War II Museum information

“Thank you Mr. President for being a great leader. So, what’s the real dirt on Churchill and Stalin?”

There is a diner connected to the museum. One of the three eating establishments at the museum. After spending a couple hours wandering some of the exhibits, we decided to splurge on a nosh. It was still breakfast hours by just a few minutes, so Michael had some of the best grits he’s had in a long time, and Llama and Karol split this massive cinnamon roll. Needless to say, we were on a bit of a sugar high for a while and it is a rare treat, but boy was it good. The little diner is actually pretty reasonably priced given that it is at a museum and in New Orleans. Don’t hesitate going in there and having a little bite to eat.

View inside a cockpit of a bomber. Man this looks tight and uncomfortable. Additionally, when you factor in this is before pressurization and climate control. What the flyers had to go through.

The building which highlights all the aviation of World War II is one of Michael’s and llamas favorite parts of the museum. You can go up the different floors and look down on the plains from different levels. Gives you a whole different perspective. We did find it interesting that all over the place they had signs that said” if you suffer from fear of heights or vertigo, it is advised that you do not go out on the walkways to look over the aircraft.” That is very true. Though you are no danger of falling, if you’re afraid of heights, you would definitely have a tough time stepping out here.

One of the special exhibits they had during this time at the museum was an exhibit on found or made art by servicemen of World War II. Servicemen, often while they were prisoners, would take wood or shell casings or just about anything they could find and make the most beautiful and functional pieces of art. The violin pictured above was entirely made out of found wood in a camp. It plays and works just fine. This is amazing!

After several hours at the museum, Llama and friends decided to head down towards Jackson square. It had turned into a really nice day, the temperature and brilliant blue skies were perfect. French quarter per se, but Jackson square did call.

Llama put not filter or enhancement on this photo, the sky was REALLY this blue.

Wandering back through the streets from Jackson square, Karol stopped and noticed this plaque on the wall of a building in historic New Orleans. What shocked her was not the history of this place but how it was represented on the plaque. The fact that human beings were held and sold in this building is given almost an afterthought to representing a battle in the general. A significant part of history is left here, forgotten, and needs to be told. She wondered how many people even read this plaque anymore or stop to think about the horrors that took place inside of this building not really all that long ago.

Mississippi paddle wheel boat. Once the pandemic eases up a little bit more, it might be fun to take this and tour up and down the Mississippi.

One of the coolest things Llama did was taking a tour of St. Louis cemetery #3. This tour was given by Free Tours by Foot. We have used this group before to take the haunted tour of the French quarter and really like their tour guides and what you learn on these tours. The cemetery tour was fascinating. Not only did we learn about how and why New Orleans cemeteries look the way they do and the burial practices are the way they are, but we also saw tombs of some very famous people and heard some really interesting and sad stories. I don’t want to repeat it all here as it would take away the fun of the tour. I can only say, go and take this tour. I highly recommend Free Tours by Foot. Llama likes their philosophy on sharing the history of a place and we have never had a bad tour. Daniel did a great job! Click here to find out more about the tours: Free Tours by Foot.

The white tomb has a little plaque in front. This means the family paid for perpetual care. Can you tell!

Who Dat!

One of the fun things that we did that we’ve never done before, is to go to a Saints game in Caesars Superdome. We’ve been to the Superdome before when the Ragin’ Cajuns played a bowl game there, but have never been to a Saints game. The Saints were playing on Thanksgiving night and Kent had already arranged to go with some friends to the game. Karol hopped online and purchased some tickets. We like the Saints but not enough to pay really expensive tickets so we did end up getting some nosebleed seats, but the fun was just the same.

The only thing that Llama wasn’t prepared for was the climb up to the seats. When you get up to the upper deck, the steps are probably a good knee height lift. Llama and his traveling companions are what you would call “height challenged.” Karol is only 5’4. It was a definite pull up to the seats. There was no going up or down for the entirety of the game. It was fun and exciting. The place was packed, everybody was jazzed for the game and for the Thanksgiving holiday. Very exciting.

We took an Uber from Kent’s apartment down to the Superdome. It was well worth the Uber expense as parking and traffic is a beast. Just buck it up and pay for the Uber.

Llama can’t decide if in this picture the roof of Caesar dome looks like something out of Star Trek or one of the scenes from Independence Day! Nice picture Michael!

This evening the New Orleans Saints were honoring their former quarterback, Drew Brees. There was a whole halftime show with a marching band, each fan was given a specialty towel that said thank you. Drew, Drew spoke to the crowd, and everyone was just excited to say thank you for your time with the team.

Statue outside of the Superdome.

During our visit, Llama’s “brother” took us around his school. Brother is getting is Master’s at the University of New Orleans. Though his classes have been online for this semester due to the pandemic and hurricane Ida, next semester he should be in campus. UNO is a really pretty campus located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

We did more things while in NOLA, like try some great restaurants and bars. Llama had fun helping Kent explore his new hometown.

Shout out to Mona’ Cafe for EXCELLENT middle eastern food.
I could eat the falafel and hummus every day.
Another shout out to the staff at Bayou Beer Garden for welcoming Kent as a new resident and making him feel like a “regular” from the get go.

See you again soon NOLA. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Llama travel hacks many of his adventures. He was blessed to be able to take this road trip and attend this wedding thanks to travel hacking.

If you would like to travel for free or nearly free, you can utilize credit card rewards to do so. You can use our links to get started. As always, ONLY do this if you use credit responsibly. Llama is not a financial advisor. He does get a small referral bonus to keep traveling for you using his link:

Capital One Quicksilver Card

Capital One Venture Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred

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