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Tarentum couple celebrates 20th anniversary with a trip to 'The Big Easy'

| Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, 8:57 p.m.
The Smallwoods visit New Orleans' famous Cafe Du Monde for beignets.
The Smallwoods visit New Orleans' famous Cafe Du Monde for beignets.
Tree of Necklaces in the Sydney and Walda Beshoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA.
Tree of Necklaces in the Sydney and Walda Beshoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA.
Spanish Flag circa 1541  at Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans.
Spanish Flag circa 1541 at Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans.
The Corridor Pin at the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA.
The Corridor Pin at the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA.
The Sydney and Walda Beshoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA.
The Sydney and Walda Beshoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA.
Mick Jagger by Andy Warhol
Mick Jagger by Andy Warhol

New Orleans proved to be a terrific travel destination in November 2017 for our 20th anniversary celebration.

New Orleans offered far more than Bourbon Street and Pat O'Briens for us. My husband and I set off on this trip knowing that we wanted to eat well and take advantage of the museums, shopping, neighborhoods and culture in the city.

As with any walkable city, I went prepared with my map and Fodor's guide book so that we could take full advantage of our four-day trip by choosing a few districts and activities to plan our days and nights around.

We stayed in the Garden District and were pleased with it accessibility to the St. Charles Streetcar. We used the trolley extensively, in addition to logging 6-7 walking miles each day while we were there. We purchased a daily pass for $3 so we could get on and off any trolley line.

Our flight arrived just before 4 p.m. and took a $33 taxi to our hotel. On route, I booked a special dinner at Emeril's Delmonico restaurant on St. Charles. If you want to experience service and the most deliciously served entrees and appetizers, nothing can compare. We strolled back down a well-lit St. Charles Street and felt safe and were unbothered.

For our first full day in NOLA we took the trolley to Lee's Circle (Lee's no longer there) for a short walk to the National WWII Museum. We asked Siri for some nearby restaurants serving breakfast and stumbled across a little gem named Two Chicks Café, near the convention center.

The wait was reasonable and you could tell that locals and tourist alike found this small cafeto offer unique southern and comfort foods, including BBQ shrimp and grits,and pecan waffles. The food was fresh, the service very good, and the price reasonable. This meal sustained us for the over six-hour visit at the National WWII museum.

If you think you remember things about WWII from your history class, you'll be amazed at how well this museum chronicled the entire span of the war, including details of both the European and South Pacific theaters. We went early, and never felt rushed as we took our time to read, and watch the video clips along the route. The only regret I had is that we failed to pay the extra entrance fee for the Beyond All Boundaries documentary narrated by Tom Hanks.

We took the trolley back down St. Charles towards the neighborhood of Audubon Park, one of the districts I had hoped to visit. Instead of venturing all the way to Audubon Park at dusk, we relaxed and rode the trolley through the Garden District and jumped off at Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar. You can't beat indoor, but street side seating, po-boys, oysters, fresh bread and a cold beverage to refuel for the walk back.

We wound our way along Magazine Street and strolled the Garden District past its shops, restaurants and historical homes back to the hotel. It's definitely a nice place to leisurely browse and shop.

On Sunday morning, my brother texted us and recommended that we experience the courtyard Jazz Brunch at The Court of Two Sisters (building circa 1832).

The experience was more about the music, architecture and atmosphere although the food was plentiful, diverse and fresh. From there we took the Canal-City Park Streetcar to the City Park neighborhood. Here we walked through the shaded and calming Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, stopped at the Morning Call for beignets and ice coffee, toured the Botanical Gardens, and visited the NO Museum of Art.

There I saw Andy Warhol's acrylic of one of my favorites, Mick Jagger from 1975. Both of us enjoyed the art in all forms and the time away from the city center.

The final days were spent walking along the Mississippi, visiting Jackson Square and, of course, indulging in beignets from Café Du Monde, and having traditional fare such as a muffuletta at the Napoleon House.

Do your homework, go during mild months, know where to avoid and when, and go with good walking shoes. Oh, and go with an appetite.

Shari Smallwood is a Tarentum resident.

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