Every year for our annual beach trip we stay somewhere along the gulf coast between Gulf Shores, AL and Panama City Beach, FL. Where we go and stay largely depends on where we have hotel points at that point in time so that we can stay for free!
This year instead of going to the beach we planned a trip to Universal and then another trip to Disney so we were going to skip the beach. It sounded like a good idea in theory but when it came down to it after our Universal trip everyone still wanted to go to the beach so when the farm got a big rain we headed out! Unfortunately since it was so last minute all of our hotels we had points for were completely booked. We barely found a condo available at Phoenix V in Orange Beach, AL.
Phoenix has several different condos in this area and they all range in amenities such as pools, lazy rivers & splash pads. Phoenix V has an indoor pool, outdoor pool and a small splash pad area. There are also beach loungers, chairs and umbrellas for rent on the beach. This is a large condo building and the pool area is not big enough for the amount of people staying here. It was extremely crowded. The building itself was in pretty rough shape too. Our specific rental unit was nice and had been taken care of but the entire condo building and pool area needed some tlc. Also, there’s 4 elevators for the entire building and at rush hours like the evenings you could be waiting 30+ minutes for an elevator!
We stayed at the beach for a couple days then decided to drive over to New Orleans, LA which is less than 2 hours west. We love New Orleans and try to make it down there every year. For this trip I was able to use our Holiday Inn points to get our rooms free. We stayed at the Holiday Inn French Quarter which has an excellent location on Dauphine Street.
We weren’t planning on going to New Orleans or anywhere but the beach for that matter so we didn’t have our strollers with us. New Orleans is a lot of walking so we stopped at a Target and grabbed 2 umbrella strollers before we got into town and they were well worth the purchase!
As soon as we checked into our hotel we headed over to the Gumbo Shop to eat. Gumbo Shop is on Saint Peter street and one of our favorite French Quarter restaurants. After eating we were on a mission to find stuff for our new house so we hit up every single antique store in the French Quarter and made some awesome purchases. Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of everything we bought like the old wooden bi-plane toy and large airplane picture for our youngest’s bedroom.
Mainly I wanted to find the Bevolo lighting store and we were successful with finding exterior lighting from them for our house. Bevolo hand makes gas lanterns that are seen all over the French Quarter. You can custom order lanterns for residential homes and they will ship them to you. I’ll discuss these more when we get to that part in our house process but we decided to go with all gas lanterns from Bevolo for the entire exterior of our home. They are stunning and I can’t wait to see them!
The next morning we got up early and headed back home. Unfortunately Cafe Du Monde didn’t open for several hours after we were already gone so we didn’t get to have coffee and beignets before leaving. On the way home we saw a random road sign for the Mississippi Petrified Forest so we decided to stop and check it out. This ended up being a great stop on our trip. It was a nice break from the car for the kids. They were able to run around and play for a while before we got back on the road.
A lot of the path around the petrified forest was paved but even the parts that weren’t we didn’t have any trouble pushing our cheap umbrella stroller around and we were even there after a big rain. There’s even a nice little campground there if you needed a break from driving and wanted to stay the night.
We only had one night in New Orleans and a goal in mind to hunt for house stuff but for future reference for anyone else you can easily spend days there even with small children. New Orleans has a really great aquarium, zoo and butterfly garden. For older kids you can take history tours around the French Quarter and Garden district that are full of interesting information and sights. For adults I highly recommend a haunted history tour through the French Quarter. The haunted history tours are done at night and they’re so interesting!