Destination: New Orleans, The Big Easy
with Jeff Johnston

New Orleans, the Big Easy, a town known for its music, food, and history. It’s a great place for RVers to stop and explore. You can’t talk about New Orleans without including Bourbon Street in the heart of the historic French Quarter. This iconic location is where locals and visitors mingle and enjoy the entertainment and dining options. Bourbon Street can be great fun by day with its musicians, dancers, and well others, but it’s after dark that the place really comes alive.

Popular Bourbon Street area restaurants can be busy so make reservations or plan on waiting in line, but even while you wait, you can enjoy the show passing by. We ate at the Oceana Grill on the corner of Bourbon and Conti Streets and enjoyed some fantastic seafood done New Orleans’s style. Alligator tail, crab cakes and clam appetizers set the stage for the main courses. I’m doing the crawfish étouffée with the additional crawfish tails, delicious, highly recommended.

After dinner, it was back to the street to enjoy the shows. As we explored downtown the next day, we happened upon a music festival at Louis Armstrong Park, just north of the French Quarter. Look around a bit and then on any given day, you can find some kind of entertainment going on live in New Orleans.

Naturally enough, great food is part of the event. Know the food: Jerked chicken, all in a homemade bourbon sauce made by Chell Scott, New Orleans’s, Louisiana, baby, go Harlem!

Many New Orleans’s visitors consider a stop at Cafe du Monde, a must. What’s the attraction at this classic eatery? The famous Cafe du Monde. beignets. These powdered, sugar covered, pastry treats, make a terrific afternoon snack while exploring the French Quarter. They’re light and fluffy, messy and delicious.  Strangers to New Orleans might find the streets hard to maneuver in an RV,
but there are other interesting transportation options available. The oldest is the streetcar line, in service for more than 100 years, with several branches leading from downtown. We rode the St. Charles line clear to its end and enjoyed every mile. Riders sway with the car body movements as the sounds of the clattering wheels and the motorman’s controls transport them back to a time when life was slower. The line passes magnificent Antebellum Mansions, two colleges and historic sites along the way.

During the ride, we stopped at O’Henry’s Food and Spirits on Carrollton Avenue for a tasty casual lunch and cold beer. O’Henry’s shady second floor patio, catches the breeze and provides a sweeping view of the classic neighborhood and the streetcar line. After lunch, we reboarded the streetcar for a ride back downtown. It’s a relaxing and inexpensive way to get around.

There’s a whole new way for RVers to enjoy touring the Big Easy. Leave your RV in the campground, make your way downtown, and jump on board the City Sightseeing New Orleans double deck bus tours.

Elizabeth Reed: Okay, our buses are new to New Orleans and we’re excited about having this open air double decker bus. People can sit upstairs, see a wonderful view of New Orleans. It’s just a whole new vista and if we have a little rain problem or they don’t wanna sit upstairs, we have nice seats downstairs, too, with air conditioning so it can be comfortable for everybody. Well, first of all, we’ll be going through the French market and French Quarter area, we will go to the World War II Museum, we go to the Mardi Grad Museum, so you get a good view of downtown what it’s all about, what it encompasses out by the riverfront, we take them on a special little trip out to the riverfront at Mardi Grad world plus at Mardi Grad world, they’re seeing all the floats being built and designed for next year’s Mardi Grad. So the tour runs the entire loop about two hours. In a constant loop, every 30 minutes a bus will appear at each site so people can hop on. and hop off every 30 minutes if they want to.

Next time you’re in New Orleans, come on down and try the City Sightseeing New Orleans’s tours, it’s a great way to see the city. Tourist attractions abound here and Mardi Grad World is one of those surprising and fun places to visit. It’s a bit eerie walking in past those oversized famous heads.

Barry Kern: Mardi Grad World is a local attraction here in New Orleans, it’s where we build, it’s the home of Kern Studios.  Kern Studios is a company that builds all the floats for the New Orleans Mardi Grad. We build parades as well as for New Orleans,
we build parades for parade– build floats for parades all over the world.  Well, it’s a studio tour and on the studio tour you get to see the actual process of building a float from, you get to see the sketches that are built and each year we build anywhere from 250 to 300 plus floats annually,  and for all the New Orleans’s Mardi Grad as well as parades all over the United States and all over the world. The other thing that we do is, that we actually you can see. the process of how the floats are built, you can see the people sculpting on the heads and the props that are on the floats, you can also get an idea of the paint process, how the floats are painted and decorated. It depends on what time of the year that you come here, but you can always see part of that process is happening and you can kind of get a guided tour.

There’s a great place to have lunch, a nice cafe it’s on the riverfront here in New Orleans, so get a chance to hang out on the riverfront, which is not something you can do a lot of places in town. Now you see the skull with the top hat, there it is right there. The skull was made out of fiberglass but of course this path will be made out styrofoam. But over in the back there, over passed it
you can see baby Kong. Baby Kong goes with King Kong and Queen Kong over here. Now the all three of the Kongs are always in the back of these parade, but nobody rides them they’re just in the parade to go decorate. I you’ve got a prop with all this extra glitter on it, it usually mains is being used in Universal Studios. Somebody down in the Universal really likes their glitter down there.

Jeff: If you’re in New Orleans for Mardi Grad or at any other time, Mardi Grad World is a great place to get into the spirit of the event. Come on down to the Big Easy for some classic southern style fun.