I think I was just lovingly looking at a glass of bourbon here…at d.b.a. Fun fact, I forgot my regular glasses that night so spent the night dancing in my prescription sunglasses like I was in the blues brothers!
Lingering in the Gumbo shop. It wasn’t my favorite place, but the company was great 🙂
My favorite part of both of my trips to New Orleans this summer were the long leisurely strolls. Yesterday I talked about finding great coffee and museums, today it is all about my favorite FREE institutions, public parks and public libraries!
I was able to get a glimpse of City Park when I visited the art museum. But I spent more time in Audubon park. The park is 350 acres in Uptown New Orleans, filled with joggers (how you run in 100 degree heat is beyond me!) cyclists and families. It is home to the most photogenic trees I have ever seen as well as a Zoo, Aquarium, and Butterfly garden! Parking is tricky but we arrived after 6PM when it was a little cooler and more spots open by the entrance. I can imagine it would be a bit harder to park when school is in session (Audubon park is very close to Tulane University and Loyola University, across the street really) but it is worth the hassle. My only regret is not getting a picture of Trent dominating the plyo boxes! Next time!
I thought we wouldn’t be able to visit a public library but, we were able to squeeze in a visit to Uptown’s branch before it closed on our last day in town!
The Milton H. Latter memorial library started as just another giant house for a wealthy family in the early 20th century. It changed hands a couple times, first it was the home of a family that owned a big New Orleans department store, then it was sold to an aviation pioneer and his silent film star wife. If was eventually purchased by the Latter family who wished to build a public library to honor their son, Milton, who died fighting in WWII.
The library was so beautiful, I mean, look at one of the reading rooms!!
The children’s room was warm and inviting and featured Drew Brees and his favorite book, (the itsy bitsy spider, lol). The adult stacks were small but made great use of the space. Trent and I had a lot of fun looking through the books that the library had to offer. It was an inspiring visit, I took all of their flyers for future programming inspiration!
And finally….DANCE PARTY
It is not difficult to find a dance party in New Orleans. In fact you can be having dinner and one will pop up across the street!
These are the 5 things I try to do on every trip I take! I don’t always get to it, and sometimes my dance party is bouncing around with my friend’s baby in her living room (just as fun!) but I keep these goals in mind when I’m planning a trip.
So here is my attempt to get through my check list in New Orleans!
First, the coffee!
It was blazing hot at 10 in the morning in NOLA so it makes sense that their iced coffee game is on point! My favorite iced coffee was at District Doughnuts in the Lower Garden District. The baked goods were out of control too.
We also spent some time at French Truck Coffee on Chartres Street in the French Quarter. They have other locations in the city and Memphis. The coffee was really good, and we split an out of this world almond croissant. Loved finding a quiet place to read and relax in the French Quarter!
We filled up on regular coffee at The Grill in the French Quarter. This is THE place to go, especially after a night out! The omelettes are enormous and can keep you full till dinner. Just make sure you know what you want right away, waiters are not fans on indecisive people!
Oh, and Cafe Du Monde’s iced chicory coffee is a must!! (While getting at least two orders of beignets obviously!)
We went to two different museums. The first was the Historic New Orleans Collection in the French Quarter. I like this one because it is free! I didn’t take any picture though, I think it was because the docents there are VERY helpful and if they saw me slow down and look at something they would come over. Which is nice! I know! But I was in the “quick browsing” mood. So, its very nice. Nice people work there, really interesting stuff about the history on NOLA and it has a great gift shop.
The museum is located at the edge of NOLA’s City Park, which would be really fun to explore, I think, if it weren’t over 100 degrees outside. There is also a free sculpture garden outside of the museum that we will have to check out the next time we are there. Admission to the museum was 12 dollars.
Here was a piece that was especially inspiring!
This is quilted! Amazing!
Tomorrow I will get into the rest of my check list!
Here are some highlights from my fun filled trip to Des Moines, Iowa!
The library, of course!! I try to see the main library of every new city that I visit, this is my artsy shot of the central library in downtown Des Moines. So many things that I love about this place. It was new (built in 2006) and obviously had a modern library mindset when designing the space. New books were attractively displayed right by the checkout stations for a quick visit. Meaning, how do people use the library today? The main collections were organized in an intuitive way. The kid space was fabulous. Displays were lowered to a child’s level and there were other activities for children to explore during their visit (legos, audiobooks, toys for babies). I also really loved how they set up their picture books:
The programming at the library was great too! I took a lot of flyers for ideas later. Sarah, Maya and I went to a storytime so that I could take notes for my upcoming preschool storytime at school! We had a blast!
After breakfast we spent the mornings wandering around Des Moines. The first day we went to the Central Library and the neighboring Sculpture Park. The next day we stopped by the weekly downtown farmer’s market (a great spot to people watch and eat delicious cookies) and shopping in the East Village district which I highly recommend if you are looking for a great neighborhood to explore!
So many great coffee places in Des Moines. I liked the brand new coffee shop, Horizon Line, which gave me nice Brooklyn vibes. The menu was limited but the iced coffee was on point.
Whenever Sarah and I get together, we craft. I started working on my loom and Sarah worked on her Cacti while we watched Pretty Little Liars on Netflix.
I want to plug my favorite shop of the trip, Art Terrarium. It is a combination plant shop and art gallery and I wanted to buy everything in it. It got me thinking about what kind of store I would have if I took two things that I love and combined them. The answer I came up with was Magazines and Ice Cream!
Oh man, I love these guys so much that I got teary towards the end of the trip! I can’t wait to visit Des Moines again!
Here are some pictures of a recent weekend I spent with some of my very best friends in my old stomping grounds, Brooklyn, New York. I had a big list of all of these New York City things I wanted to do, go to the MET and the main library, walk through Central Park, etc. But for this trip, I loved hanging out with my best friend Mary, visiting friends and their adorable babies, and chatting over “Peruvian french fries” (that’s french fries with cut up hot dogs) with Morrell (I wish I had pictures of that one!)
Here are some pictures of my favorite spots:
Sarah and Mary at The Meatball Shop. Mary and I chilled at her place until “brunch” became a solid “lunch” and I wanted meatballs. Meatballs were the go-to hot food of 2011, which was the last time I lived in Williamsburg so I still thought it was cool and my friends humored me! While Mary and I were waiting we spotted Law and Order goddess Kelli Giddish! I didn’t have the courage to ask her what her problem was with Olivia in the last few episodes and she looked pretty hungry for meatballs so we left her alone.
Bowling at Gutter. A perfect afternoon activity. We had to wait awhile for a spot at one of their six alleys but we passed the time splitting a pitcher at a bar that looks like a place my grandpa would have loved in Buffalo. Bowling is always fun, you never see people bummed out at a bowling alley.
Karaoke at Beats. This was a new spot for us, usually we would trek to the Lower East Side or even Koreatown for a karaoke room. So when Mary heard about a new spot in Brooklyn, we jumped at a chance to stay on our side of the East River. Beats is very new, clean, and classy. We had a lot of fun, I only have two complaints. One is that it is yet another spot that does not have Yes by LMFAO, whhhyyyy?? It’s their best song! It also closed at midnight, we could have gone way later. But maybe Beats was just doing us a favor, knowing that we had to get up for an early brunch!
Brunch with Malaika and Deanna (and Mary!) at Sisters. My first time at this place and I liked it a lot. I tried out their savory french toast and I’m hooked! Now you can have sweet and savory for brunch! I took this lesson home and have been eating a waffle with a fried egg on top for breakfast.
Did not have pictures of my walk with Sarah through Greenpoint with a stop at Ovenly but that was a highlight as well. There is so much to see in Greenpoint, which was not totally the case when I lived there!
Such a great time in NYC, I’m sure I will come back soon!
That National Gallery of Art is big big big! We got there at the end of the first day actually. We waited around to take the tour but the tour guide had such a quiet voice that we slipped out and hung out with the 17th century Dutch art for awhile. There were so many paintings that you see in art books there that it is like spotting celebrities. I hit a wall when we got to the French Impressionists which was too bad. We made promises that we’d go back the next day but, alas. Too much to see!
Frommer’s gave us a good tip. The National Portrait Gallery is open “late” as far as museums go. While most close at around 5, this one is open till seven, so you can save it for last and not worry about being rushed. Two of my favorites were a painting of Toni Morrison that was so realistic I could have sworn it was a photograph, and the iconic painting of the four female Supreme Court Justices, both current and retired. And speaking of SCOTUS:
We went there!! Some highlights: the movie you can watch about the Supreme Court. All of the portraits of former justices, AND RUNNING INTO JUSTICE KAGAN!! We were walking up the stairs, we took a wrong turn and there she was with her clerks. She looked over, and Trent and I froze with out mouths open and then she smiled and kept it moving. Which was probably the right choice. Trent beat me to the FB announcement:
We also visited my mothership, the Library of Congress.
I. Just Can’t. First of all, the LOC is the most beautiful building I’ve even been in. Inside and out, it was breathtaking:
Trust, I took a TON of pictures and Trent took a lot too (which were way better and I am using them here!). Best believe there will be some power points created for my middle school classes, they are going to love it!
Photos (Clockwise): Me and Eleanor at the Roosevelt Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, inside the Jefferson Memorial, a view of the Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial, outside of the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II memorial. Pictures by Trent!
The first day of our DC trip was devoted to the memorials. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm but with a breeze that kept us from collapsing. I am glad I have been taking regular walks this summer because we spent most of the day moving. We started with the Washington Monument which is so big that it seems unreal when you get up close to it, as if it was actually made out of cardboard and you could knock it over with a kick.
I had a travel guide in my purse that I took out to read fun facts whenever we reached a new memorial, my favorite guide was from Frommers:
It was easy to read, with interesting notes and a lot of good advice. Like, when to go to the Portrait Gallery (more on that later) and great suggestions for walking tours. And while it wasn’t the smallest guide to carry around, it fit easily in my small purse. It also had two maps, a big one to pull out when you really didn’t know where you were going and a more discrete one to double check the train routes without looking like a total tourist.
Some moments from the monuments:
The Korean War memorial was very beautifully done. The Vietnam War memorial is very moving as well, so much so that I didn’t feel right taking pictures. But go check out the Korean War memorial. The statues of the solders walking through landscaping that looks like waves works really well.
The Lincoln and Jefferson memorials are just huge. I felt small standing inside of them, and maybe that was the point. Fun Fact alert: The story goes that FDR was such a fan of Jefferson that when the memorial was built, he had all the trees cut down between it and the White House so FDR could see it every morning. If you stand in front of Jefferson’s statue, you can see the White House still. And that was as close as I got to the White House during our trip.
Water is a key element to FDR’s memorial because of his connection to water throughout his life. From his creation of Warm Springs to the Tennessee Valley Authority , FDR believed in the healing power of water. So it is fitting that his memorial is filled with flowing water, pools, and mini waterfalls.
The Tidal Basin is a great place to take a break, buy a hot dog or an Italian ice and watch people try to move around in paddle boats!
Tomorrow: Museums, SCOTUS, AND THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS!!