Part 1: New Orleans, LA and San Antonio, TX
As some of you may know we are a Navy family, which means we moved A LOT! This past November we moved from New Orleans, LA to San Diego, CA. (But let’s be honest, San Diego wasn’t our final stop as we had to get to Disneyland as soon as possible to get our annual passes!) We knew we didn’t want to rush this trip, and wanted to see as many fun and interesting places we could along the way. We took the Southern route to avoid hitting the possible snow in the mountains, and stopped at some fantastic places along the way!
New Orleans, Louisiana
If you ever find yourself making a trip through New Orleans whether on your way to Disneyland or Walt Disney World take a few hours to explore the French Quarter or even stop at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, which can be found in the heart of uptown New Orleans.
We finally made it to the aquarium the weekend before we moved, and really enjoyed it. While the aquarium is on the smaller side compared to others we have visited, they packed quite a bit into the small 2-story space. We loved the interactive section Geaux Fish that focused on the local aquatic finds, and how important the fishing industry is to Louisiana. Another family favorite was the Gulf of Mexico Exhibit that features a 17 foot deep salt water tank with sharks, schools of fish, and King Mydas an endangered green sea turtle. My absolute favorite part of the aquarium was the cuttlefish and seahorses!
We really enjoyed our day at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, and are glad we got the chance to spend the day there before heading out on our cross country adventure. Should you want to visit the Audubon Aquarium, they are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. General Admission tickets are $22.50 for adults, $16.00 for children (2-12), and $17.00 for Seniors (65+). The Aquarium and Imax combo tickets are $27.50 for adults, $21.50 for children (2-12), and $21.50 for seniors (65+).
Another must-do while in New Orleans (or NOLA as the locals call it) is to EAT! New Orleans is home to some of the most amazing dining experiences you will ever find! Try Commander’s Palace (Chef Tory McPhail), Emeril’s (Chef Emeril Lagasse), K-Pauls Louisiana Kitchen (Chef Paul Prudhomme), Arnaud’s (Chef Tommy DiGiovanni), and The Court of Two Sisters, if you are looking for a one of a kind fine dining experience. For a more laid back atmosphere try Acme Oyster House, Mother’s Restaurant, Deanie’s Seafood, or Pat O’Brien’s. For the vegetarians and vegans looking for a Green Restaurant, might I suggest Carmo Cafe’.
San Antonio, Texas
We had planned on making a day out of exploring San Antonio, Texas, however, with a family of five (5) the greatest intentions do not always pan out. Even though we were running late we had to stop at Buc-ee’s Convenience Store! If you’ve never been to a Buc-ee’s it is a MUST! The place is filled with all sorts of crazy finds, and has some of the best road trip snacks including Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets (caramel and butter-glazed corn puffs), which is Buc-ee’s #1 branded product. All Buc-ee’s are open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. If you visit the Buc-cee’s Fan Photos site you will see Buc-ee’s fans all over the world, including a couple at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom!
We finally made it to San Antonio, and ended up meeting some family for dinner at Casa Rio at the San Antonio River Walk. Casa Rio is one of the most photographed locations in all of San Antonio. Casa Rio serves up traditional Mexican food which is fabulous! Their menu offers something for everyone. The atmosphere is festive and really makes this a fabulous place to dine! I wish I had taken more photos of the River Walk as it is gorgeous at night! The San Antonio River Walk is a public park open 365 days a year, lined with individual businesses composed of restaurants, hotels, attractions and more.
Our biggest must do in San Antonio was of course seeing the Alamo. The Alamo began as the San Antonio de Valero, a Spanish Mission, in the early 1700’s, one of the first in Texas. The establishment of this mission played a crucial role in the settlement of San Antonio and the Southwest. It is important to remember the Alamo’s primary role is as a memorial to those who died in the 1836 battle during the Texas fight for freedom.
Since we didn’t get into town until late evening the Alamo was unfortunately closed to visitors. We did spend some time exploring the outside, but wish we had made it on time to see the inside. Seeing it lit up at night was breathtaking though, and a sight that I am glad we got to experience.
I would highly recommend visiting the Alamo during business hours (Monday through Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.) so you can take part in a tour. The 1 hour guided walking tour gives a detailed, in-depth history of the events at the Alamo complex and is recommended for ages 13 and up. The guided tour is $15.00/per person and must be scheduled in advance. Alternatively, you may schedule an audio tour for $7.00/per person. The audio tour is a 45 minute audio production that brings the story of the Alamo to life. Rentals are available daily from 9:00 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. in English, Spanish, German, Japanese and French.
We will definitely be making a trip back to San Antonio to explore more someday!