baton rouge

Baton Rouge Staycation

Last week my little family got to enjoy our first ever  "staycation". Don't get me wrong, I love a good vacation. But staycationing was a great option for us this year for a few reasons. One being we have a six month old, and we just weren't sure how well he would do traveling in the car seat for a long drive. The other (main) reason we opted not to go on a traditional vacation this summer was because at the end of last year when it was time to book summer vacations, there was a little bit of uncertainty with my husband's job. So it just didn't seem wise to pay a ton of money for a trip when we didn't know what the next few months would hold for us (thankfully it all turned out fine!). The idea of having a week of vacation time without having to pay a lot of money or travel a long distance seemed like a great idea for this season of life. So we cleared our schedules and Jonathan took Tuesday-Friday off of work, and we ended up having such a fun time!

All of our activities were in and around the Baton Rouge area. I'm thankful we live in a place that offers so many things to do. We started off pretty slow on Tuesday. I had to take Gibson in for his six month check up, so Jonathan took the older boys out on a boat ride (one of their most favorite things). How gorgeous is this view on the river?!

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We spent the afternoon hanging out at home, watched a movie, and then went to dinner at a local restaurant - Mi Padre's. We didn't realize it was kids' night, so their meals were free! I need to get up to speed about when kids' nights are around town!

Wednesday was a bit more exciting. We woke up and headed to downtown Baton Rouge to explore. We walked along the levy to check out the river and barges. Then we made our way down to see the USS Kidd. I love that Baton Rouge has a real battleship right in the middle of the city! I remember touring it as a kid, so I was excited to show it to the boys. We didn't do the tour of the boat this time since it felt difficult to try to navigate a battleship with a baby. But the boys still loved getting to see it!

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The Louisiana Art and Science Museum (LASM) is right next to the USS Kidd, so we headed there next. This was another one of my favorite places to visit when I was younger! The boys had a blast playing in the discovery and learning centers. We even got to see a dinosaur skull.

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LASM also has a real mummy, but they weren't quite as impressed with that as I was hoping. Maybe one day. We headed back home in the afternoon for lunch and rest. Porter didn't quite make it to the house before passing out. Sometimes I forget he's only three years old, sweet boy.

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After naps we headed to the mall (their request) to eat Chickfila and ride the carousel. We walked around a little while, and were reminded why we usually avoid the mall, ha! But the boys had a lot of fun looking in the stores and riding the escalator. Little kids are so easy to impress!

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Thursday was an awesome day! We started the day off by heading to Houma because Jonathan's sister and her husband were finalizing the adoption of their four kids! It was so special to be there to celebrate with them.

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From there we headed to New Orleans to visit the Louisiana Children's Museum. We made a pitstop at McDonalds for a potty break and to feed Gibson. The boys loved the play place and begged to just stay there and play! They also loved eating their first ever Happy Meal (yes, for real...#meanmom).

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The Louisiana Children's Museum is somewhere I've been wanting to go for a while, but hadn't made the trip yet. But we will for sure be going back because it was so much fun! This may have been my favorite place we visited just because there was so much to do. They loved getting to pretend play at all the different stations. And of course the bubbles were a huge hit!

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Sweet Porter was worn out once again! We got home in the late afternoon, and then dropped all three boys off at my sister's house for the night so Jonathan and I could go on a date! We went to dinner at BRQ (fun fact: Jonathan built the wood sign that is hanging over the door!) and then went to Movie Tavern to see Baby Driver. It was such a fun movie! I'm so glad we were able to take a night for just the two of us. We had great (uninterrupted!) conversation. And going to the movies has always been one of our favorite things to do (going to a movie was what we did on our first date).

Friday we picked the boys up from my sisters and got some donuts from Fleur de Lis Donuts for breakfast. We then headed over to Area 51 (or "the jump place" as they like to call it). They ask to go jump at least once a week, and that rarely actually happens. Because three kids by myself at the trampoline park is just TOO much. They were so excited that I actually got to jump with them since Jonathan was with us, too, and he got to hang out with Gibson.

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I was so proud of Evan. He had so much fun and was being so brave! It wasn't that long ago I was having to force him to go down a slide. And now he is swinging on the trapeze and doing flips off the highest jumping point.

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After our time was up at Area 51, we headed over to Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center (with a stop for Icees on the way, of course). This is another place I've never taken them so it was fun to explore it together. Inside they have rats, frogs, turtles, snakes, and even a baby alligator. They loved it, and I pretended to not be totally freaked out by the snakes (ew!). Then we headed for a half mile walk along the trail through the swamp area. We didn't see any crazy wildlife (one snake, huge grasshoppers, spiders, skinks, and a butterfly), but it was really pretty! It's crazy that this sits right in the middle of Baton Rouge!

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We spent the rest of Friday hanging at home, playing, and watching the Lego Movie on repeat. We spent most of the day Saturday at home too. It was nice to have a day at home with the whole family. And since we had been going going going all week, no one was stir crazy, and the boys were still getting along. Jonathan took the boys out to Lowes (another favorite activity of theirs) and to eat pizza at "the pizza store" (aka Rotolos) while I stayed home for Gibson to get a good nap. Speaking of Gibson, he was a ROCKSTAR all week long. I don't think he really fussed one time. He went with the flow, had fun playing in his carseat, ate on a good and easy schedule, napped in the stroller and on our drives. I couldn't have asked for him to be any easier. Thank the good Lord for that sweet baby!

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So if any of you Baton Rouge area mamas are wanting a vacation without the travel, I hope you found some good ideas in this post! I'm sure there are similar things to do in whatever area you live in if you just start doing a little research. Little kids are generally easy to please. It's all about your attitude going into it! Even though we were at home all week, we didn't worry about any around-the-house chores or projects. We let our focus be totally on having fun and relaxing with the kids. It was such a sweet time and I know I will remember all the fun memories we made. And there was no misery of long car rides and being totally out of our normal routine. Because that just isn't necessarily fun with small kids, let's be honest (I hope that doesn't make me a mean or not-fun mom to say that). I totally recommend giving a staycation a try if you don't want the stress or expense of a week of travel! I think all in all we spent around $300 for the week - including going on a date! Not too shabby.

Do you go on family vacations every year? Or have you tried a staycation before? Let me know your thoughts and tips. It's never too soon to start thinking about and saving for next summer!

The Best Local Restaurants // BR and NOLA

Today I want to share a few of my favorite restaurants around Baton Rouge and New Orleans. It's easy to forget or take for granted that we live in an area that many people choose as a travel destination between sports and music festivals. Be it New Orleans or Baton Rouge, or really anywhere in South Louisiana, there is lots of great food to be found. So, I am sharing my favorites that are a little less touristy but still very much delicious! 

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Baton rouge

Red Zeppelin

There's always lots of debate about who has the best pizza in Baton Rouge, but Red Zeppelin usually shows up on every list. One of our favorites!

Coffee Call

Great stop for beignets and café au lait!

Curbside

Great atmosphere, and great burgers. They have an amazing list that goes beyond the traditional cheeseburger.

Mr. Taco

This one is definitely a hidden gem, but the tacos are authentic and delicious. Go on Friday or Saturday because they have pupusas that will "speak to your soul" according to my sister, Haley.

Magpie

They make the best latté in Baton Rouge and they try to source as many of their ingredients locally as possible. Definitely a great brunch spot!

Fat Cow

Cool burger place near the gates of LSU. Their duck fat and parmesan fries are a must!

Mason's Grill

This is a go-to when you're wanting to visit a neighborhood restaurant. The food is absolutely delicious, from the brunch to the burgers (their burgers are a consistent craving...perfectly seasoned on a Hawaiian bun). Also check out their build your own bloody marys and bottomless mimosas for a weekend brunch. They also have happy hour every day from 4:00-7:00.

Poor Boy Lloyd's

Super casual and family friendly downtown spot. Poboys are a must in Louisiana, and Poor Boy Lloyd's has the best!

The Overpass Merchant

This restaurant in the mid-city area is worth the visit! Great location, great drinks, and great food. They have some delicious signature cocktails and an extensive beer menu. Check out their $8.99 lunch specials.

Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar

Oysters served every way you can imagine! And if you're not an oyster lover, they have a delicious selection of sandwiches.

Roberto's On the River

This one is a little out of the way of Baton Rouge, but it's worth the drive for a date night. It's on of our favs! Try the River Road Shrimp!

Nino's

This is my absolute number one favorite. It's a very small Italian place. Most of their pastas are made in house, and their ingredients are locally sourced. A great upscale farm to table option!

Latil's Landing at Houma's House Plantation

Definitely a place to go if you're celebrating something special since it's quite the splurge, but Latil's is located on the grounds of Houma's House Plantation, and a walk around the grounds is worth the visit alone.

new orleans

French Truck Coffee

Great, local coffee shop with a few locations around New Orleans.

Camellia Grill

Head down to Carrollton for some casual dining. Grab a burger or an omelet, and enjoy your meal being served by the wait staff in white tuxes!

Breads On Oak

A great spot for breakfast, lunch, or a pastry and coffee. Everything here is made with organic and locally sourced ingredients.

Cowbell

Super eclectic atmosphere. Great burgers and the mac and cheese is a must!

Surrey's Uptown

Great spot for breakfast! Try their shrimp and grits or the Costa Rican breakfast.

Katie's

Laid back, family friendly restaurant with a great menu. There's seriously something for everybody!

PIZZA domenica

A spin-off of Domenica, this place is a must if you love pizza. They offer specialty pizzas with unique toppings; they're all delicious. Also, get the garlic knots as an appetizer and thank us later!

The Gumbo Shop

Great creole food if you're in the Quarter.

Stanley

Right in the heart of Jackson Square, it's usually busy, but it's worth the wait. Great all day breakfast! Their Bananas Foster french toast is worth a cheat meal!

Cochon BUTCHER

If you're a meat lover, this place is for you. Great sandwiches with house made meats and charcuterie.

Sylvain

A super romantic, low key restaurant just off of Jackson Square in the French Quarter. The courtyard is beautiful and the service is amazing. Everything on the menu is phenomenal as well! A must for date night in NOLA. Try their pôts de creme for dessert...so good!

Tujagues

If you're looking for upscale, check out this hidden gem for an elegant meal. It's small, but it's delicious. It would be perfect for an anniversary dinner.

GW Fins

It's one of the most pricey restaurants on the list, but if you're up for splurging, it's worth it. One of the best dining experiences in New Orleans; top notch service, delicious seafood, and a great atmosphere. Definitely make reservations because the wait can get pretty long.

Do you have any favorites I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments! And for more restaurant love, y'all should go check out my friend @eatloveBR on instagram! She knows all the best places.