1,000 really cool places to see before you die – starting right here in St. Charles Parish

I was born in New Orleans, grew up in old Metairie and Kenner, and have lived in St. Rose for the past 23 years, but I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot about this area that I either don’t know or haven’t experienced.This point was driven home the other day when a friend from Boston mentioned that she loved the seafood at Pat O’Brien’s.

Seafood at Pat O’Brien’s?

I thought perhaps she had had a few too many hurricanes and just imagined she had eaten at Pat O’s, but after further research I learned that Pat O’s does, indeed, have a lunch menu, or at least they did before Katrina. Who knew?

The metro New Orleans area, and south Louisiana as a whole, is such a unique place to grow up that sometimes I tend to take it all for granted.

There’s a popular book out titled 1000 Places to See Before You Die. I had been working on my own list for a while, adding things like Stonehenge, the Louvre, and the Pyramids, when I realized that I really should have a list of local places to see and things to do before I die.

Years ago I went through a plantation phase, so I’ve already seen many of the local plantations.

I was able to tour Belle Helene before it was restored, and that was really cool. I had hoped to see it after it was restored, but Shell Oil snatched it up and has it closed to the public – what a waste.

I was able to see Tezcuco before it burned, but I was more fascinated by the plantation’s African American Museum’s slave artifacts and their Civil War Museum’s submarine than I was by the actual plantation.

I’ve finally toured the haunted Myrtles Plantation, although the tour was during the daytime and I’d really like to go back at night.

I’d also like to get up the courage to spend the night there one day, but I don’t know if I’d be able to sleep.

Surprisingly enough I have never toured the Labranche Plantation Dependency House right here in St. Rose. It’s said to be the home of Zachary Taylor’s bathtub (not too interesting) and the grave of Hitler’s horse (exceedingly interesting). How could I have missed a place like this? It’s less than five minutes away from my house, and I didn’t even know it existed until a few years ago.

I’ve only been to the Jazz Fest once, and I was with a group of people who didn’t actually stop and listen to any music. I did enjoy sampling the alligator-on-a-stick and discovering Pie Man again (he used to come to my office peddling his pies), but walking around in the steam and mud wasn’t exactly my idea of fun. Some day I would like to make it back to hear some music. Speaking of festivals, I realize that I’ve never been to the Plaquemines Parish Orange Festival or St. Bernard’s Crawfish Festival, nor have I been to the Des Allemands Catfish Festival or the Alligator Festival.

I tried making it to the Alligator Festival one year to listen to a relative’s band play, but that was the year there was construction on the bridge. After sitting in traffic for an hour I decided that even if BB King were playing at the festival, he was going to have to play without me.

Due to family obligations, I’ve never been to see the Christmas Eve bonfires, not even the one on River Road in St. Rose, but I’d like to. I’ve been to the Bonfire Festival, but watching them light just one of the many bonfires on the levee while the others sat idle was something of a letdown.

I’ve never witnessed the reenactment of the Battle of New Orleans; I plan to make it every year, but I always seem to forget about it. Last year I made it out to the Chalmette cemetery to do some genealogy research for a lady in Arizona.

The entrance to the battlefield was closed, but I was able to access it from the cemetery. I found the place interesting, and I resolve that next January I will finally witness the reenactment. I haven’t seen the Los Isleños museum either, or been to their festival down in St. Bernard, and I don’t even know if it exists anymore. I did get a taste of their culture at the Children’s World’s Fair a few years ago, and I’d like to learn more.

I’ve been on a riverboat cruise and the zoo cruise, I’ve been on a streetcar and even been to a child’s birthday party on one, but I’ve never been on a buggy ride and I’m not sure I could do that to a poor animal.

I’ve never been on a cemetery tour or visited Marie Laveau’s tomb, and I’ve never been on a haunted history tour, but since that takes place at night, I may have to wait until the NOPD gets a better handle on the crime situation. I’d like to take a daytime walking history tour of the Quarter because I’m sure there are things that I don’t know about it.

I’ve stayed at a historic French Quarter hotel, been to concerts at House of Blues and plays at the Saenger, but I’ve not yet eaten at Commander’s Palace, Brennan’s, Arnaud’s, Jacques-Imo’s, Muriel’s on the Square, Camellia Grill, Mr. B’s, Palace Café, or Tujague’s. I’ve been to the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, but I’ve never witnessed the Stella/Stanley shouting contest. If that’s not something that’s uniquely New Orleans, I don’t know what is.

I’ve participated in the Crescent City Classic, the Race for the Cure, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, and several March of Dimes Pledge Walks (way back when I was a kid), but I’ve never been in the Celebration in the Oaks Run/Walk at City Park or the Run Through History at Metairie Cemetery – both of which seem to be rather unique.

I’m sure there are other unique places and things that I’ve left off my list, and I’m open to suggestions. If you can think of something that’s unique, odd, or must-do in this general vicinity, please let me hear from you! My e-mail address is bmunson4@yahoo.com.


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