Great American Road Trip: Alligators and all that Jazz…

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Last Updated on January 12, 2012



We started our second day in New Orleans by actually leaving the city and driving straight to the swamps! We went on Swamp Tour with Cajun Encounters to witness Louisiana wildlife – alligators, turtles, water birds and snakes! On the way, we passed by some interesting architecture. Houses in the swamp and bayou areas, called Camps,  are built on seven to ten foot high stilts – to be protected during floods.

Louisiana style houses on stiltsArriving at the Honey Island Swamp, we jumped into the boats and went deep into Louisiana’s wetlands.

Swamps Louisiana honey islandNot long after the trip began, the first alligator came into sight…

alligator swamp louisiana… a very curious alligator, as it turned out, who showed a lot of interest in our boat, filled with lots of fresh meat!

alligator by boat swamp tour Back in town, we saw more alligators in the French Market…

french market alligatorsAlligator is a culinary specialty in Louisiana, and hunting season kicks off later this month. In New Orleans, you can try alligator meat in any form – in a burger, on a stick, in a soup… or just pick up a head as a souvenir!

It has not always been easy to find fresh & healthy vegetarian food since we got to the South, but we were pleasantly surprised when we found this delicious apple, pistachio, feta cheese and mixed green salad salad in the French Market – only one of many healthy food options there.

french market saladAfter our lunch break, we headed back to the French Quarter to continue the exploration which had begun on our first day in New Orleans.

New Orleans Jackson Square

new orleans french quarter balcony rocking chairs

new orleans french quarter balcony

As Saturday night in NOLA rocked into full swing, we chose to bypass the French Quarter and headed instead to Frenchman Street for dinner and jazz.

Jazz bar frenchman streetWe bar-hopped through several little jazz venues and not a single one disappointed – we heard some of the best live jazz we’ve ever heard!

Jazz singer frenchman streetWe ended our night at a bar where a band of ever-changing members of all ages and backgrounds flowed from song to song for hours, blaring their five trombones, tuba, sax and trumpet.

Jazz band new orleansHave you been to New Orleans? What are your favorite live music venues in the city?

Tags : new orleans


  1. Was hoping to give you some tips before you got to my favorite city! Oh well. Yes, Frenchman St. is awesome … I love DBA, Snug Harbor, and The Spotted Cat. I will email you some other NOLA tips!

    1. All great places! We peeked inside each of them actually on our big night out on Saturday – just loving this city! we won’t be around much longer but are coming back for sure at some point soon – so tips for the future would be appreciated. Definitely understand how this can be your favorite city!

    1. Hilarious. We were also thinking of you all day today! We rented cruisers and rode around like we did in Puerto Viejo with you – and surprisingly so much of NOLA reminded us of Puerto Viejo, Belize and part of Nicaragua – so we were definitely feeling that Central America vibe on bikes today. And here’s me whistling literally all day on my bike – and all….that….jazz…:-) all day!

    1. Thanks for the tips, Don! Again, we need more time to check out these places…Frenchman St was just so great, but the clock keeps ticking and time slips away and pretty soon we’re leaving and won’t make it to these other spots this time around. Next time for sure – and there is 100% a next time!

      1. I know… unfortunately, there is never enough time. When you come back, you might try it during Jazzfest (end of April) or Mardi Gras – the weather is normally nicer then also. We’ll be at Jazzfest next year.

        1. Mardi Gras isn’t really an option, but Jazzfest just might be. It’s hard to make plans for anything the way we roll right now, but we would love to experience one of New Orleans major events – especially a music festival!

    1. Hey Debbie – the swamps are so interesting to see and experience! And the jazz – this is real, authentic, from the heart and soul of the band. Half of those kids were under 20 and playing this mature, cool and fun music. We’ll never forget it and forever search it out when/where we can!

    1. I think we would have an AWESOME time if we met up here in NOLA next time we’re in the area – Jazz, gossip, wine and fabulous hotels! Something to keep in mind. The giant reptiles are really cool to see on those tours – highly recommend them!

  2. Friday will be my third trip to NOLA and first since Katrina. I thought I couldn’t be more excited, then I saw this article. Bravo! Great pics too.

    1. Hey thanks for the compliments! We had never been to New Orleans pre-Katrina, but it is shocking how much is still in disrepair. Not in the French Quarter, of course, that was fixed, but you can’t miss the rest of it…let us know what you think about it!!!

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