A Solo Drive from Boston to New Orleans

“On the road again. Going places that I’ve never been. Seeing things that I may never see again.” Every time I hop into my car for a long-distance ride all kinds of emotions run through me. Anxiety and excitement are the biggest. Then once I get around the corner, I start singing Willie Nelson’s song.

Driving down to New Orleans, LA from Boston. This is quite the trip in a car by oneself. Usually, I do this trip from Florida; 8-hours versus a 25-hour drive. The drive takes you through the Poconos, PA, Blue Ridge Mountains, VA, a stop in Daphne Alabama to visit my friend, Rebecca, then onto New Orleans.

Welcome to Louisiana New OrleansSeventeen National Historic Districts and 73 official neighborhoods make up most of New Orleans. The convention center, Higgins Hotel, and National World War II (WWII) Museum are in the Warehouse District. I attended a four-day Workboat Show at the Moriel Convention Center.  In the past I’ve stayed in the French Quarter a good 20-minute walk to the convention center. This time I stayed at the Higgins Hotel, the official hotel of the WWII Museum. It’s a short eight-minute walk to the convention center.

The hotel opened in March 2019. Prior to that there was an empty parking lot owned by the WWII Museum. Named after Andrew Higgins, who designed and built over 20,000 landing crafts with his boat-building company in New Orleans. According to Dwight D Eisenhower, it was Andrew Higgins’ boats that won the war. TheFront of National World War II Museum, New Orleans hotel is not for profit and all profits go to fund the educational endowment for the WWII Museum. This permits the museum to continue telling the story of America’s involvement in the war. Actual donors underwrite all the rooms in the hotel with a  starting price of $30k. Each room has a plaque outside on the wall near the door and is in honor of someone or dog involved in the war effort. Anytime a donor books a stay at the hotel they are welcome to stay in the room they sponsored; if it’s available.

The Higgins Hotel is part of the Hilton Curio Series with a 1940’s art deco style. The style and association of the museum lends itself to baby boomers and war buffs staying here. This luxury hotel is in the Arts and Warehouse District at 1000 Magazine Street. It has 230 rooms, a rooftop bar, restaurants, museum admission and parking. Two big events that took place at the hotel were the Congressional Medal of Honor Ceremony honoring 45 recipients. Another was the International Conference of World War Two.

Meals are always a problem since I have several food allergies – gluten, dairy, sorghum flour, and nuts; to name a few. Finding places to eat is always a challenge. However, the concierge did a wonderful job of recommending places for dinner.

After driving for two days, I was exhausted. Once settled into my hotel room I went for a long walk. First to the Moriel Convention Center then around the Warehouse District to get my bearings. I ended up having dinner at True Food Kitchen.

Walking to the convention center is convenient straight down Tchoupitoulas Street. Along the way you’ll pass several different bars and Cochon Butcher where you can pick up sandwiches to take with you. Cochon is open from 11am – 10pm. Be sure to order ahead for faster service. I have not tried them; however, they have a dedicated gluten-free menu.

One breakfast place was in the hotel’s Cafe Normandie. The service was accommodating and quick. In fact, when I rode down in the elevator I got to talk to another guest. I found out he was also attending the show and about to sit by himself. As the server was taking me to my table and he to his, I turned around and asked if he’d like to join me. There is nothing worse than sitting by oneself in a hotel restaurant. We had a great conversation, and it was nice to talk and meet someone new.

The Workboat Show ended at 5pm every evening, which gave you time to walk around the city a little bit. Also to go back to the hotel and relax before heading out for dinner. After doing 15k steps every day at the conference I decided to have dinner close by, especially since it was an early start in the morning.

Here’s a list of restaurants I enjoyed eating at and happy to find accommodating to gluten-free. I must admit each night I researched them online first, checked out their menu and most important their wine list. I wanted to eat somewhere the locals go and enjoy the New Orleans experience.

Places to Eat with Gluten and Dairy-free Options

True Food Kitchen – 801 St. Charles Street. This restaurant serves health-conscious fare. For dinner I started with a bowl of gluten and dairy free butternut squash soup with Eat More Color - sign hanging on the wall in True Food Kitchen, New Orleanssage. It arrived hot to the touch and didn’t disappoint. As I ate it, I thought about my son’s butternut squash ravioli’s with sage. (This was before I became gluten-free) My main entree was a Hawaiian rice bowl with chicken instead of ham. If you’re avoiding salt you may ask them to go light on the soy sauce. I’ve come to realize gluten-free soy sauce has loads of sodium. For my beverage a nice 6-ounce glass of Malbec.

The place had plenty of people sitting by themselves, which gave it a comfortable atmosphere. On the wall was a sign that read, “Eat More Color”. The banquets are a lime-green color with wooden tables. For those who like sitting at the bar, they have one in the middle where you can watch the kitchen staff cook in the semi-open kitchen.

Gianna – 700 Magazine Street. This restaurant is the newest addition to the Link Restaurant Group and offers Italian food. A new local favorite, and only seating at the bar without a reservation, otherwise you could wait for 30 minutes or more. The couple next to me, Biff and Barbara, were friendly and easy to talk with. They live a block away from the Higgins Hotel. It was a bit noisy and hard to have a decent conversation. According to Barbara, the chef says it is because it’s an old building and the suspended ceilings don’t help.

Grilled half-chicken with olive tapenade and escarole was my meal of choice here. The wine was a Nebbiolo Barberesco – Angelo Negro “Basarin” 2020. Absolutely delicious.

Lorenzo shucking oysters at Peche Seafood Grill New Orleans

Pêche Seafood Grill – 800 Magazine Street. What a treat! This place was also extremely busy, though they had a seat left at the oyster bar. Why not, right? Pêche’s shucks at least 1,000 oysters a night. While you sit at the bar, Lorenzo and Andrew keep themselves extremely busy shucking oysters of various sizes. It was fascinating watching them work and seeing all the different types of oysters and clams. This night I started off with a wonderful glass of Sangiovese. For my main dish I had the baked drum with mushroom casserole. It’s funny how there are certain foods you’ll only eat in certain places. I’m not a fan of eating fish but I love eating drum fish in New Orleans.



Sofia – 516 Julia Street. Another busy Italian restaurant. For my last dinner for this trip, I ordered a gluten-free pasta with red sauce and broccolini. Not a fan of gluten-free pasta and it appeared to be the only option available. I decided to have a glass of wine back at the hotel rather than here.

Each night as I walked back to the hotel, I would look up in the sky for the WWII Canopy of Peace. Then I knew I was heading in the right direction.Omelette with oven roasted potatoes and spinach, New Orleans

Hyatt-Centric – 800 Iberville Street, French Quarter. This is part of the Holmes Group. I ducked in here on Saturday morning once the monsoon started. It was a great place for a gluten and dairy-free breakfast. I had a veggie omelet with roasted potatoes.


Things to Do

National WWII Museum – 945 Magazine Street, formerly known as The National D-Day Museum. Though this museum is under construction, there is plenty to see. It covers 6-acres and has seven buildings plus a restaurant, bar, and gift shop. Each building has its own theme relating to World War II with live stories throughout using multimedia. Expect to spend four hours to see everything, depending on what your interests are.Bollinger Peace Canopy, WWII Museum, New Orleans

Stretching across the museum and see from a distance at night is the Bollinger Canopy of Peace. It stands 150 feet tall. At nighttime it lights up the sky in various colors. The purpose of the Canopy of Peace is to honor the spirit of Americans who brought the nation together during World War II.




Vue Orleans – 2 Canal Street. On a clear Making our own costumes at Vue Orleans, New Orleansday these 360-degree indoor and outdoor observation decks are a great way to see the city. The entrance is right between the Four Seasons Hotel and the Audubon Aquarium. The views are phenomenal. You can watch the workboats coming down the Mississippi River. Test your skills at driving and docking a boat. Dance and sing along with an interactive show that includes New Orleans’ musicians. Plus, you can have fun and create an outfit for Mardi Gras then have your picture taken in it as a souvenir. A small coffee shop is available on the observation deck and a gift shop on the main floor.



Getting Around and Safety

Pedicabs – These are great if you’re too tired to walk back to your hotel after spending a Pedicab driver, New Orleansday at the convention center. You can usually find them parked at various places like the convention center, Harrah’s, on St. Charles Street, etc. They go anywhere in the French Quarter. The charge is $1 per block, per person. They also do timed rides as part of a tour at $60 per half-hour or $120 per hour.

I spoke to a few pedicab drivers, and they are out until 3am if something special is happening in the city. A few drivers will pedal in the rain if they have customers who do not mind getting wet.

Public Safety Rangers – These rangers are part of the Downtown Development District (DDD) and are an integral part of the public safety team. They have off-duty New Orleans police officers, public security agents, and other agencies they hire to do armed security patrol 24/7 throughout the DDD. They are the feet on the ground between 6am and 10pm.

Map of the different districts, New OrleansThe city’s purpose since both Katrina and Covid was to build a flourishing downtown. To do that, it not only needs to be clean and beautiful, but the public needs to feel safe. They are also trying to build awareness about crosswalks. For some reason, drivers feel they have they have the right of way and don’t stop for people in the crosswalks.

The agency covers 160 blocks which includes part of the following districts: biomedical, central business, arts, and warehouse, sports and entertainment including the Superdome Smoothie King, and theater. To help with the safety for pedestrians, they are offering grants to light up people’s properties. They also partnered with several agencies and the convention center to house the homeless. In November 2023, they placed 30 individuals and families into homes who were living on the street.

🙁  Sadly, my time in New Orleans has ended and I’m back on the road again heading back to Boston. Seeing things that I may never see again. I can’t wait to get on the road again for my next trip.


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