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10 Things to Do in New Orleans

If there is one city in the Deep South that everyone needs to visit, it’s New Orleans! It’s amazing – from the food, the people, the sights, the amazing French Quarter, the jazz, the nightlife – there is so much to love.

The hardest thing with planning a vacation to New Orleans is to decide what to do out of all the things available. I hope that this list will help!

French Quarter
French Quarter

1. Take a Stroll around the French Quarter

The French Quarter needs no introduction and it’s even nicer than you imagine. There is nothing like walking around this slice of history and it’s the first thing you should set out to do.

2. Go to the Louisiana State Museum at Presbytere

While walking around the French Quarter, stop off here. You can learn about the history of the area and there are some moving exhibits dedicated to Hurricane Katrina.

3. Listen to jazz at Preservation Hall

Going to New Orleans and not listening to some live jazz would be criminal and this is the best place to do it.

4. Walk around the Treme

New Orleans has more to offer than just the French Quarter. Make sure you also take the time to stroll around this historic neighborhood and pay a visit to the Backstreet Cultural Museum where you can learn about the African American customs of the city and see some amazing Mardi Gras Indian suits.

5. Louis Armstrong Park

In the Treme, you will also find the Louis Armstrong Park – the home of jazz! Come hang out here for awhile and take in the experience.

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6. Take a street car through the American/Garden District

See how the other half live with a street car journey through this district. There are massive amazing homes and lovely tree lined streets to take in.

7. Take the Canal Street Ferry

To get great views of New Orleans take the Canal street ferry across to the other side of the Mississippi. It’s cheap and easy to take it back and forth.

8. Eat a po’boy and some beignets

These foods are famous and for good reason – they are delicious! Make sure you set some time aside to really enjoy the local cuisine.

9. Have some downtime at City Park

Take a street car out to City Park, take a stroll to the Sculpture Park and then relax! This is also a good stop if you have kids in tow.

10. Have a Drink on Bourbon Street

Yes it’s slightly tacky, but Bourbon Street is famous and there’s something very cool about having a drink here. Besides, after all the other sight seeing you’ve been doing, you’ve earned it!

What’s your favorite things to do in New Orleans?

You can also read about more places to visit in Lousiana.

5 Reasons to Love a Trip to South Carolina

South Carolina is a fabulous part of the Deep South. There are beautiful beaches, amazing cities, great National Parks and a vibrant culture and heritage. In fact, it would be easier to write a list of reasons NOT to visit South Carolina – because there isn’t any!

If you are considering visiting South Carolina on your next vacation, here’s just 5 reasons why you will love a trip to this great state…

1. Fabulous Food

South Carolina is filled with some of the best food you will find anywhere in the States. There’s nothing like a South Carolina southern BBQ or some tasty grits, especially if you wash it back with some delicious sweet tea. We also recommend eating some Bo-Berry Biscuits at Bojangles.

The coast
The coast

2. Myrtle Beach

Catch some rays and have a dip at the awesome Myrtle Beach – there’s 60 miles of beaches in this area. This place is great for a beach vacation, especially for families. The best part about Myrtle Beach isn’t even the great beaches but the fact that it’s very affordable. There’s something here to suit every budget so there’s no reason you can’t all go on a family vacation here.

3. Visit Nature

From the beautiful coastline to Blue Ridge Mountains, there are some compelling state parks and scenery in South Carolina. The best part is that the state is small, so you are never too far from a slice of nature. We especially enjoy a dip in one of the waterfalls that can be found in some of the state parks.

4. College Sport

College sport is BIG in South Carolina and tons of fun! People are often more serious about their college sports than the professional version. Going to a local game is a fun activity on vacation.

Charleston
Charleston

5. Charleston

Charleston is one of the best cities in the Deep South. From the warm weather, the charming locals to the cobblestone streets and beautiful scenery, Charleston is a fabulous city to just be. Add in great food and some interesting attractions and you won’t want to leave this southern belle.

There are many more reasons why you will love a vacation in South Carolina. Are you ready to pack your bags and go?

Read more on the South Carolina Discover site.

Taking Route 66 with Kids

Road trips aren’t a new thing for our family. Heck, the drive home from the hospital after the birth of our first child was practically a road trip. Our kids are well traveled and able to handle time on the road quite well – of course we have our secrets like the iPad and some of their favorite toys, but even without these things they are still pretty great (for kids!).

First I have to say that I think planning is everything for a road trip. Planning is important when you have kids no matter where you go. We are lucky with Route 66 in its design – it is easy to navigate and you will always know where you’re going. You wont be confined to a GPS as any map will suffice. Its well signposted and just an exciting drive all up, and one we wanted to do for a while.

We chose Route 66 mainly due to its history – this interested us more than the kids but there is so much to see that it worked out well for all of us.

Planning for us involved several things. Besides for our regular things to pack when traveling with babies, we considered the following:

Car Seats

Our kids are still young and so after reading some reviews we chose the best convertible car seat we could find from this website. We were able to compare convertible car seats and it just seems like a more convenient option for us. As the kids grow we are hoping to be able to squeeze the life out of the car seat and use it until we no longer need one. Here’s hoping!

Food

We knew we would need a good supply of snacks to keep the kids occupied (and us). We decided to go to Walmart beforehand to stock up. It was cheap to buy a few things and it meant that no matter where we found ourselves we were prepared. Although we are usually health freaks, we decided it to let the kids pick out a few snacks thinking it would help with the drive. I think it worked.

Gas

Although there is no spots over 200 miles without a gas station, this was too much in my opinion. Being the over thinker that I am, I decided to stock up. I brought with us a gallon of gas so that on the off chance if we needed to go a few extra miles, we would be able to.

Car Hire

We do not live in Chicago, and since we wanted to go the entire distance, we decided on hiring a car. This allowed us to fly to Chicago, pick up a hire car, drive it the distance of Route 66 and drop it off at Santa Monica. This turned out to be a great option for us and would definitely recommend it to make the most of the experience. I can image it would be tough to drive back after driving all the way there, and because we knew we wouldn’t see the sites again on the way back, we fully appreciated them when we could.

So how was it? We loved it.  The recommended time to allow is 2 weeksIt really was eyeopening to see places of our beautiful country that I had never seen before, and it made me want to explore it even more. The kids loved it too and it was a great way to bond. In total, it took us 3 weeks. to see the most popular cities, but we wanted to see more and to really make the most of the time together.

What were out favorite parts?

New Mexico

New Mexico was a favorite for us mainly due to the historical elements. There were so many small towns scattered around that were just so different than what I had imagined. Tucumcari was a favorite of mine specially. The landscape and weather were perfect.

Arizona

The east of our country has one of the most sensational landscapes. Petrified Forest National Park was amazing and a huge contrast to the some of the luscious greenery we are used to. The kids really enjoyed this area and we ended up staying 2 days here.

Oklahoma

I was actually quite eager to get back to Oklahoma after my last trip there – although that was without kids. It is interesting how your perspective changes when you have kids. We found so many kid friendly attractions that this city turned out to be a favorite for them. The zoo was excellent and the food even better.

Our thoughts

We had a fantastic time traveling Route 66 and would definitely recommend it to families with young kids. It is easy to navigate and you can take as long as you like. We loved the flexibility. We had no prior booking and if we enjoyed an area then we would stay an extra night.

The one thing I would say is be prepared. With the right gear you are sure to have a great time.

Top 5 Things to Do in Florida

Florida needs no introduction. Zillions of tourists flock to Florida every year for its warmer weather, beautiful beaches and tons of attractions. When planning a trip to Florida, the tough part won’t be finding things to do, but working out which ones to chose. I hope this list of the top things to do in Florida will help make that task easier!

manatees in florida

1. Visit Disney World

The happiest place on earth is still going strong and is well worth a visit – there just is nowhere else like it. This granddaddy of Disney parks always delivers a fun and magical time for all with multiple theme parks, water parks and attractions. It’s like a whole town in and of itself.

You could easily spend a whole week just in Disney World but don’t spend all your vacation here! Florida also has many other attractions on offer.

2. Visit the Manatees

Winter time in Florida signifies the time when manatees take refuge in places like Florida’s freshwater springs. Seeing a whole group of manatees together is an awe inspiring experience!

There are a few places where you can visit manatees. My favorite is Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River. More information here.

3. Drive down the Florida Keys

key west florida

Is there a more beautiful drive in the US than driving down the Florida Keys? I don’t think so!

This fabulous drive shows a completely different part of Florida as you visit the islands sprinkled down the far south of Florida. There are many places to visit along the way, fabulous beaches and great food. The views and just the experience are my favorite part though!

4. Discover America’s History at St Augustine

St Augustine is the US’s oldest city thanks to being the oldest, continuously occupied place in continental USA. It was founded by the Spanish in 1565, has been the capital of the Florida territory and has changed hands between the Spanish and the British multiple times before becoming part of America. This means there is an interesting chunk of history to discover here.

The Historic District is the main attraction. It is not very big but it is packed full of charming shops and restaurants and some big attractions such as the Colonial Quarter (an open air museum) and Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

5. Chill on South Beach, Miami

One of the world’s most famous cities, Miami is a great place for a vacation. It’s a big city with a ton of attractions from big museums to the cultural districts like Little Havana and Little Haiti to it’s too cool for school beaches – and that’s what we recommend most. You have to go chill in South Beach Miami.

South Beach is an attractive art deco neighborhood and it is worth a wander around – don’t just visit the beach (although you must go to the beach as well). Eat, shop and chill out in South Beach.

 

This is just a small taste of everything on offer in Florida. What are your top picks? Do you agree these are the top attractions?

Top 5 Places to Visit in Louisiana

Louisiana is a much visited state thanks to the world famous New Orleans. There are also many other places worth visiting on a trip to this great Southern state. Hopefully, this article will provide you with some inspiration!

The state capitol
The state capitol

1. New Orleans

So I couldn’t write a list of the top places to visit in Louisiana without this one. New Orleans is on many people’s bucket list and for good reason. This city is one of a kind! From getting lost in the French Quarter, taking in a jazz show to trying the unique and amazing food scene, you are sure to loooove New Orleans.

This city is also packed full of many lesser known attractions and with many kid friendly attractions like the zoo, children’s museum and insect farm!

2. Baton Rouge

The state capital is just a short hop away from New Orleans and worth adding to your itinerary. While lacking the glamour of New Orleans, there are some worthwhile museums and attractions here including the state capitol.

3. Abita Springs

Another short hop from New Orleans is this town about 30 miles north. If you are a beer lover, you will want to come here and visit the Abita Brewery. You can learn how beer is made and try out their craft beers over some excellent Creole food.

4. Breaux Bridge

For a completely different experience, visit this small town in the heart of Cajun Country. The town was settled by the French who traveled from Canada to set up home here. Today, nearly 30% of the town still speaks French.

5. Lafayette

Lafayette is the fourth largest city in Louisiana and is known as being the heart and soul of Cajun Country. There is plenty to do in Lafayette with old churches to visit, music to hear and popular swamp tours which are worth your time.

Read some more ideas here.

What’s your top place to visit in Louisiana?

You may also be interested in reading our guide to Alabama.

Why Visit the Deep South?

So you’re planning a vacation and considering the Deep South but wondering exactly why you should visit this region of the US?

Let me convince you!

There are many reasons to visit the amazing Deep South. Here are some of my favorites…

new orleans

1. The People

Southerners aren’t renowned for their hospitality for nothing. You will find the people in this part of the world to be welcoming, friendly and happy to help! From helping you with directions if you look lost to ensuring you find the best BBQ grill in town, Southerners will ensure you have a vacation to remember. Read our article about Southern hospitality here.

2. The Food

Southern food is also famous for good reason. Nothing beats a good old Southern BBQ and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From the famous New Orleans po’boys to the best lemon icebox pies, you will not only never go hungry in the Deep South but never be without something delicious to eat!

3. The Beaches

florida beach

Many people visit the Deep South for the beaches alone. There are just so many stunning beaches for your family vacation. From the popular Florida southern beaches to the Gulf Coast to everywhere inbetween, it is not difficult to find a great beach area which is perfect for a family vacation.

Read more in our Virginia Beach article.

4. The History

The Deep South is packed full of history. It can feel like you are walking back in time when strolling through Charleston or New Orleans’ French Quarter, not to mention places like St Augustine. There’s also many civil war sites like the battlegrounds in Vicksburg.

5. The National Parks

The Deep South is home to many of America’s most popular national parks and there are many you should try to squeeze into a Deep South vacation. There are many fun activities to enjoy in the wild like alligator spotting in the Everglades or Louisiana Bayou.

This is just my top 5 reasons. There are many more reasons why you should want to visit the Deep South! Are you ready to book?

What To Take When Traveling With Babies

Traveling, whether by yourself or with company can already be a stressful experience for many. Traveling with a baby, however, brings with it a whole new set of daunting scenarios that can drive even the sanest person bananas. The key to keeping your sanity and enjoying an adventure with your bundle of joy is to have an optimistic outlook and being very well prepared for your trip. First things first, babies aren’t as fragile as we are made to believe. Let go of your paranoia a bit and start planning for the things you need to have handy to make your trip a memorable one.

travel with babies

Whether it’s a quick jaunt to the grocery, an excursion to the beach or a long-haul flight to see the grannies, here’s a quick rundown of what to take when traveling with babies:

The Absolute Must Haves

Keep in mind that babies, especially in the first 8 months, are designed to basically eat, sleep, poop, wee and coo (not necessarily in this order). So, anything even remotely associated with any of these 5 basic activities are an absolute must have!

Travel Crib

Although many accommodation providers in the Deep South do provide cribs, it is a great idea to take your own. This way you don’t have to worry about a hotel not providing a suitable, safe crib and your baby will sleep better when they are sleeping in an environment that they are used to. The best travel cribs are well designed and very compact, made especially for travel. There are also special travel beds if your baby is starting to approach older toddlerdom.

Food and Formula

Babies need to eat, and they need to eat all the time (or so it seems). If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, then good for you! This means all you need is one boob and one baby, and you’re good to go. For those who choose the formula route: have a good enough number of bottles to cover your travel time, plus enough water and formula to ensure baby’s appetite is covered. If baby has started eating solids, make sure you’ve got his favorite cereal, fruit, juice, water and purees on hand. Pack them in serving size portions to keep mess to a minimum.

Diapers

Diapers, lots of them. Whether you choose disposable diapers or go the cloth diapering way, lots of diapers, must have, period. Don’t forget all the other gadgets and gizmos that make modern nappy changing a breeze: baby wipes, changing pad, rash ointment, wet bag (especially for those who use cloth, comes in handy for soiled bibs and clothes, too) and hand sanitizer.

Clothes

Extra clothes, enough said. No need to bring the entire closet, but make sure you have enough with an extra set or two, and make sure they are appropriate for the climate.

Other Items

Baby carriers allow you to be “hands-free”. Bring your stroller or favorite baby carrier (sling, wrap or pouch) with you.

Good to have, just in case

Think of things that would make travel easier for you and more comfortable for baby. Say you’re going on a long drive, his favorite car seat, a nursing pillow, some favorite toys and teethers would be good to have. If you’re going to the beach then add sunscreen, beach umbrella and beach blanket to the list.

Worst Case Scenarios

It’s best to be ready for any circumstance, so have a first-aid kit on hand complete with medication baby may need like allergy drops, saline drops for stuffy nose, insect repellant and your pediatrician’s number on speed dial.

Traveling with your baby need not be such a daunting experience. With a little extra planning and being ready with baby’s travel essentials, an excursion could do wonders for your spirit and be a wonderful learning experience for your little one.

Still worried? Here are some more suggestions about traveling with kids from parents.com.

FAQ: What is the Best Stroller to Take to the Deep South?

After parents decide what to take on a Deep South trip, the next question is which is the best stroller.  The myriad of options can be confusing to parents, especially if they haven’t traveled to the Deep South before and unsure of what the facilities are like. Here are our recommendations…

best umbrella stroller in the deep south

Umbrella Strollers

Definitely bring an umbrella stroller. Whether you are flying or driving down, an umbrella stroller is compact and easy to take up and down hotel stairs. Unless you are planning on going hiking with your stroller, then an all terrain stroller is unnecessary.

There are many great options that would be suitable for the Deep South. The Baby Jogger City Select is very popular, but any lightweight umbrella stroller will do the job. If you do not already own one, check out these reviews of the best umbrella strollers to help you decide.

Double Strollers

If you have two kids, a lightweight side by side double stroller is the best choice. Again, you want one that takes up limited room and is not too heavy to carry up and down stairs. Most side by side strollers have no problems fitting through doorways in the Deep South, so this is not a concern. The Chicco Echo Twin Stroller is a good choice or check out some more of the best side by side double strollers.

Stroller Alternatives?

If you hate the idea of bringing your own stroller to the Deep South, they are often available at the big theme parks. Places like Disney World allow you to hire them. Bigger cities will also have companies that will hire them to you.

Another alternative is to use a baby wrap. A baby wrap is a great way to carry around your baby so you can have your hands free to do other things while your baby feels safe and secure. It has the added benefit of being small and lightweight so it fits easily in your luggage. There are many great wrap options and they are quite economical as well.

So the answer to the best stroller to take around the Deep South? Whatever option most appeals to you, but keep it lightweight so that it fits in your trunk or on the plane and is not too difficult for you to carry around.

Visiting Graceland

Graceland was the home of the infamous Elvis Presley. Rich in history, this location is a must-visit on your trip through Memphis, Tennessee.

Here’s why you should consider stopping in for a visit.

The American Dream

Graceland
The home of Elvis Presley!

Graceland is more than just a house. It is a symbol of the possibilities available in America.

When Elvis was young, he was poor. His parents struggled to pay the bills, and he recognized how hard they worked to give him opportunities they never had. He promised them that one day, he would buy them the biggest house in town.

Graceland is the result of his promise. Fans look to Elvis not only for his music, but also his ability to truly create the life he desired for himself and his family. They look to Elvis not only as a singer, but also as a role model for all areas of life.

In-depth tours and showings

Take a tour of Graceland to learn about the history behind the King’s mansion. On this kid-friendly tour you will visit all the main rooms of the house, getting a feel for the lifestyle Elvis enjoyed. In the Graceland Archives, see some of the most antique artifacts from the house and learn the history behind them.

Take a peak into one of Elvis’s favorite rooms; The Jungle Room! With an exotic look this space was built to remind Elvis of Hawaii, one of his favorite places to vacation and tour.

Next, visit the impressive Trophy Building. See not only Elvis’s vast collection of gold and platinum records, but also his movies and the result of his charitable outreach. As a last stop on the tour, visit the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and his family are buried. Join millions of fans who have come to pay their final respects to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Bring a memory home with you from the gift shop!

Load up on your Elvis gear before leaving! Whether you want an Elvis shirt, mug, or even sunglasses, it is all available here for you to choose from. Special house décor is available, or you can pick up some CD’s and play some tunes all the way home!

Want to relive the story some evening in the future? Buy an educational DVD and learn even more about Elvis and his rise to fame.

Your kids will love the Elvis themed toys available for purchase. Teddy bears in leather jackets, games, puzzles, and more are all here to delight and entertain!

Read more about Graceland.

While you are visiting, read more about some fantastic places to visit in the Deep South.

Visiting Virginia Beach with Children

Virginia Beach is a beautiful location to visit with the family. Especially in autumn when the trees turn bright red and orange, Virginia Beach is an ideal location to spend a weekend.

Have kids? Virginia beach has many family friendly attractions for everyone to enjoy!

virginia beach
Beautiful Virginia Beach

The Best Attractions For Families

The Virginia Aquarium is a perfect location for your child’s imagination to run wild. Catch swimming animals with your hands and observe the beauty of the ocean in observation tanks featuring exotic animals from around the world.

Another great location to stop for an afternoon is First Landing State Park, the primary site of the Jamestown colonists in 1607. Rich in American history, this area has seen activity from Native American canoes, settlers, traders, as well as modern cargo ships. Brush up on your history as your kids run along the shore and play in the waves.

Whether you’re an expert angler or just want to bring the kids out on the water you’ll love the fishing options available at Virginia Beach. Located near Chesapeake Bay, the open Atlantic Ocean, and many small freshwater waterways, there are opportunities available no matter what your skill level or preferred location.

Reel in some world-class offshore action or bring the kids to a calmer inland location for a day of excitement and anticipation. No matter what you’re looking for in a fishing experience, Virginia Beach has the perfect experience for you.

The Best Dining Options

If you like to fish, you will love participating in a ‘Catch and Cook’ evening with a participating restaurant in the area. Simply join a charter fishing tour with one of the providers in the area and bring your catch to a local participating restaurant. (Options Include: Rudee’s, Croc’s 19th Street Bistro, Murphy’s Irish Pub, and Waterman’s Surfside Grill) They’ll cook it for you and you’ll be able to enjoy the rewards from your adventure earlier that day!

If you want to dine like a local, there are many delicious restaurants along the beach itself! These locations range from family oriented eateries to high-end locations for a romantic evening with the sweetheart. For a map of these beach restaurants, visit this link.

Have a sweet tooth? Check out some of the local chocolate factories in the area! For a taste of homemade European style chocolates try the Schakolad Chocolate Factory. Care for an exquisite fondue? The Royal Chocolate is as good as it gets!

Looking for something stronger? Six breweries are in the Virginia Beach area for you to explore. You will need to leave the kids at home for this one unfortunately as they won’t be allowed inside on the tour.

Places to Stay

You will have no shortage of places to stay in Virginia Beach, and you’ll be able to find affordable lodging on nearly any budget! For a slightly more expensive option, check out the Vacations Homes lining the water. Condo rentals are also available, as well as many lovely bed and breakfast locations.

A large number of hotels are also available. Many are located along the shore just a short walking distance from the main attractions and restaurants.

Driving Instructions

Virginia Beach is conveniently located within a day’s drive of most American cities in the northeast. City specific directions are listed below.

Boston, New York, and Philadelphia – Travel south on I-95.

Quebec, Montreal, Toronto (Canada) – Travel south on I-81.

Washington, Richmond, Williamsburg – Travel east on I-64.

Raleigh – Travel north on I-95.

Charlotte – Travel north on I-85.

Once you arrive, you’ll want to make your way to one of the eight parking garages stretching along the coastline. Once your car is taken care of, you will be free to enjoy all the wonderful experiences Virginia Beach has to offer!

Read more about Deep South places to visit during your vacation.