A Birthday by the Bayou - My Family Travels
Commanders Palace, New Orleans

Last summer, the summer of my 16th birthday, I begged for a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. I had seen pictures and I was dying to go. I didn’t want a sweet sixteen, I didn’t want any gifts, I just wanted a family vacation to my favorite city. When my mom surprised me with the tickets, I couldn’t believe it! We were actually going!

On the first day we checked into the Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street. During summer, which is hot and humid, this very luxurious hotel offers 15% off room rates! The hotel was gorgeous, with marble floors, old fashioned elevators and a carousel bar (yes, the bar actually looks like a carousel!).

After settling in to our room, we headed down to the French Quarter for dinner. My favorite part about New Orleans is the French Quarter at night. I don’t know how else to describe except to say that it’s…alive. The smells of fried fish hangs in the air, lively notes from a nearby street saxaphonist drift by and every corner is lit up by these beautiful gas lanterns that bathe the whole street in a warm glow. We ate at Irene’s Italian Restaurant for dinner and gorged ourselves on pasta and tiramisu. Here‘s a link to their review page on Zomato.

The next day was the plantation tour. New Orleans is home to hundreds of pre-Civil War plantations. Some of them are even haunted by the ghosts of former slaves and plantation masters. We decided to check it out. We booked through the Old River Road Plantation Adventure, which I would wholeheartedly recommend. The drive is about an hour to get outside of the city and into the plantations. We visited two plantations on the tour and had some great guides (they were so enthusiastic it was easy to tell that they loved their job!). Plus, the gift shop has some awesome goodies like candied pralines and plantation cookbooks. Also, the Oak Plantation makes world famous mint juleps on the premises. Of course, I’m not quite of age but they sure looked refreshing on a hot, summer day. It almost made me want to break out in a Southern Belle accent!

For dinner that night, the night of my 16th birthday, we went to Commander’s Palace. Now, if you’ve never been to Commander’s Palace then you haven’t lived. The decor is absolutely stunning inside, with fabric wallpaper, chandeliers and candelabras-very classy. I ordered the soft-shell crab, gumbo, and bread-pudding soufflé with whiskey sauce for dessert. Mmmm…delicious! My favorite restaurant, for sure, and the best place to have a birthday dinner.

After dinner we even stopped by Café Du Monde for beignets and coffee. If you’re going to go anywhere for beignets in New Orleans, go to Café Du Monde. You won’t regret it, I promise!

The next day was shopping day! New Orleans has some great little boutiques and flea markets up and down the streets, so it was easy to lose track of time. I got some great Mardi Gras masks and beads for my friends back home, for some great prices! Also, I picked up some beignet mix, too, so I can have New Orleans cooking at home whenever I miss my favorite city. For lunch we headed over to Treme to Little Dizzie’s chicken which is, hands down, the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. That night we did a ghost tour through the city, which was creepy, but fun!

Finally, the weekend came to an end. Our final meal was brunch at Brennan’s.  Pricey, but delicious. I was so sad to leave, but I had a great time. Definitely the best birthday ever!

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