We drove over to the Lafayette area specifically to be able to spend some time on Lake Martin. I read several reports that I did not need to book ahead but to see how the weather was and then call that day to reserve a spot on a tour. BAD ADVICE! Do NOT do this! It might be December but tours on Lake Martin are in high demand. You can imagine my surprise when the first available tour was two days later when we were to be in Mississippi. This was not looking good!
I had plans to spend around 24 hours in Lafayette on our trip. We wanted to tour Lake Martin and then fill our time in around our swamp tour. I gave the family the option to tour the Alexadre House, Vermilionville or the science museum. They said they were house toured out and not up for thinking. (Her words.) So we set off for Vermilionville.
Vermilionville is right near the Lafayette airport and situated along the river. The small village shows the life of Creole and Acadian historic life. They moved several original homes to this location and show life from the late 1700’s to 1890s.
Christmas morning saw us with no concrete plans. Old me would have had something booked, new me polls the family now. The vote was to ride the street car to the garden district and poke around until we were bored. I knew we needed the St. Charles line and our Free Tours by Foot guide had recommended boarding at the corner of Canal and Carondelet street. Boarding there gave us the best chance to get a seat and not have to stand for the ride. $3 a person gives you a 24 hour pass or $1.25 exact change each ride.
We rode the streetcar down to Washington Avenue. This would also be where you would want to exit for Commander’s Palace Restaurant. Right across the street is Lafayette Cemetery. Since it was a holiday the cemetery was closed but normal hours are 7-3pm daily.
Last Christmas we had a bit of a hard time finding decent Christmas Eve dining options. Eating at the hotel as a last resort is expensive and not really what I had planned. This year I made sure we had something booked that we would all enjoy.
New Orleans had several options. Reveillon Dinner are very popular and many restaurants offer them even on Christmas Eve. They usually offer three to four courses for a fixed price. Unfortunately for me, they were pricey once I removed the seafood courses I would not want to eat. If you are looking for a great resource I used this website to see who had plans to be open during Christmas. https://holiday.neworleansonline.com/traditions/reveillon-dinners
The other interesting option was to take a river boat dinner cruise on the Mississippi river. I cannot do that at home in December! Both the Creole Queen and the Steamboat Natchez offer Christmas Eve dinner cruises.
Steamboat Natchez offers boarding beginning at 6:30pm, cruising from 7:30pm until 9:30pm. Tickets are $80 for adults, $45 for kids (6-12) and $26 for kids (2-5).
Creole Queen offers boarding: 6:00 p.m. at the Riverwalk/Canal Street dock with departure: 7:00 p.m. and returning at 9pm. Adult with dinner: $77 Child (ages 3-12): $39 Child (ages 0-3): FREE
Since I suddenly remembered to book this the second week of December the Steamboat was sold out. Creole Queen was closer to our hotel and I quickly booked three tickets for our family. In the end it worked out perfectly!
I love a good artisan market and hunt them down when we travel. New Orleans has one along the river on the edge of the French Quarter. We visited twice during our trip. The first time was Christmas Eve and then again on a Monday. Each time we found different items.
As usual, the market has t-shirts, souvenirs, art, music and food.
We try to sample regional foods when we hit a new area on vacation. I knew I had to find some beignets because I love them but the other items I was not so sure about. A Po-boy and a Muffuletta are not offered in my neck of the woods. And I can be a picky eater sometimes.
We were walking back from the French Market when we walked past Central Grocery. I made the very reluctant family go inside. Really, they were complaining about having to eat something. Once they got a good whiff inside they were game to share a half of a Muffuletta with me. The line moves pretty quickly so do not let it discourage you.
Instead of sharing tables in the back of the grocery we took ours to Jackson Square to share on a bench.
We had a slight mishap when we were leaving the airport. Life had been a little beyond crazy and I had forgotten to update the GPS. I got in the car and started to type the hotel and it found nothing. Nothing at all for Louisiana. We are NOT stellar with maps, even less so in the dark on a very busy night on highway 10. There was a football game Saturday and the highway was jammed. It was not a great start to our time. Daughter was able to get directions on my phone and was helping navigate us around. Much easier when its not bumper to bumper traffic but we found the hotel a short time later in the business district.
This past December like the prior two we headed to a warmer climate for seafood and relaxation. We tossed around going back to South Padre again, I swear we have the same conversation each August. While it was a top contender it was not our winner for our December 2016 trip.
For part of our trip to the Oiver Mansion I wanted to include a lunch stop at Tippecanoe. This home was the Studebaker Mansion before being turned into a restaurant in the 1980s. The Studebaker Mansion was finished in 1889 with approximately 40 rooms and 20 fireplaces. This makes it a tad larger than the Oliver Mansion.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated for the season and the smaller rooms would be perfect for a family party.
My Daughter and I enjoyed a tour of the Oliver Mansion called Copshaholm in October when we went to the Dressing Downton exhibit. We really wanted to see this mansion decorated for Christmas. The roads in the Midwest can be iffy at best in December but we lucked out and the snow changed to rain during our trip. The roads were not the best the whole time but we had safe travels.
We called ahead and were able to add our names to the 11am tour listing the day before. I did not want to make the long drive and then not be able to tour the house. You can do this by calling 574-235-9664 and speaking to the staff.
This time our tour began in the carriage house connected to the museum so we had very little time outside.