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Author Topic: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?  (Read 319 times)

Elly Dalmaijer

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Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« on: January 29, 2018, 03:44:16 PM »
In the second half of February we will have about a week to drive from Pensacola FL to San Antonio TX. We will have visitors from Holland with us and will be driving a 28ft Class C from CruiseAmerica.

We'd love scenery, plantations, black history, Acadian history. Can you give us route suggestions? That would be greatly appreciated!

Elly
Either at home in St Albert AB or working in Africa or in our 1993 Itasca Sunrise.

Isaac-1

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Re: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2018, 04:57:58 PM »
I live in western Louisiana, roughly around the half way point on your proposed journey so know the region, the weather, etc.  I also own a 28 ft class A, so have a good idea about what sites are likely accessible for you.    In the second half of February, one can see a wide mix of weather ranging from cool but pleasant days with highs of around 70F and lows of around 50F to highs of 70F (10-21C), or there may be rare hard freezes where with days ranging from 25-40F (-4-+4C).     If you happen to arrive during one of these colder weather events I would suggest taking a more coastal route was the relatively warm water of the gulf of Mexico will mitigate the effects of the cold weather, though perhaps also generating dense fog.

Therefore I am going to suggest 2 routes, 1 for good weather, and one for colder bad weather.

First the warm weather route, you may or may not want to see the beaches around Pensacola, the beaches between Pensacola and Gulf Shores Alabama are the western most "semi nice" beaches until one gets down to the southern tip of Texas, they are therefore popular with tourist that don't want to make the much longer drive to the Atlantic coast of Florida, they have sand and generally greenish blue water, which is much better than the many mud flats and brown water along the Louisiana and upper Texas Coast.  In February the water will also be far too cold to swim in without a wetsuit.  Assuming you will have a mid day pickup and need a place to stop within a couple of hours of driving time on day one I would suggest stopping somewhere around Mobile, AL there are numerous state parks, as well as commercial rv campgrounds in the area.   If you are interesting in more modern historical interests, I would suggest the Battleship Alabama park   http://www.ussalabama.com/ either on day one or the beginning of day 2.

For day 2 consider taking Hwy 98 across Mississippi to Natchez (250 mile drive in an RV expect about 6 hours drive time), 98 is a good highway, mostly 4 lane, yet rural enough to see some scenery.     Natchez is a historic city on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi river, too bad you a bit early for the Pilgrimage  http://www.natchezpilgrimage.com/  there is an large commercial RV park on the banks of the river, just across into Louisiana http://www.riverviewrvpark.com/ where you can watch the barge traffic travel up and down the river (I have never stayed there though have visited with the owners of the park at a local RV show, it also gets good reviews online).  From Natchez take the Natchez trace parkway north about 90-100 miles to where it meets I-20 near Jackson MS. https://www.nps.gov/natr/index.htm The entirety of the Natchez trace parkway is nice, though the spacing between historic stops is denser at the southern end, speed limit is 50 mph on the Trace. Unfortunately it goes the wrong direction for your destination, so is only practical for about a  half day's drive making many stops every few miles.  There is one of the largest Indian Mounds (Emerald Mounds) in the country located about 10 miles north of Natchez just a couple of miles  down a small country road off the Trace, I consider it a must stop location.  An amazing earthwork considering it was all done by hand with a flat top bigger than a football field.    Take I-20 west towards Vicksburg, at Vicksburg go to the civil war battlefield park there is a slow speed drive through the park with many stops with smart phone audio information available (back in the old days they had cassette tapes), the park is RV accessible (mostly)  rushing through it takes 2+ hours, though with thousands of stone memorials to troops that fought here one could spend weeks in the park and not read every stone marker. https://www.nps.gov/vick/index.htm.  By this point we are getting well of the route to San Antonio, so it is time to  head back south, take Hwy 61 back to Natchez and on south into Louisiana.    Hwy 61 generally parallels the Mississippi river though never close enough to see the actual river.     For plantations I would suggest the St Francisville, and New Roads area, then taking the river road south until you get to I-10 in Gross Tette (this will be the gateway to Cajun Country, and will let you miss the traffic of Baton Rouge).

By now we will be on about night 4, for cajun culture option there are a lot of small mostly cajun towns around Lafayette (though I would suggest skipping Lafayette itself) including Henderson, BreauxBridge, New Iberia, Abbeville, Kaplan, etc.  I can't point to any single good cultural point of interest, it is more of a regional thing.     One place you might want to stop and stretch your legs a bit is Rip Van Winkle Gardens  https://www.ripvanwinklegardens.com/ it is  a tropical garden growing on the edge of Vermilion bay.  We are probably on day 5 or so now, so time to make up some ground, and head west.  You are within a full 8 hour days drive of San Antonio, where you must see the Alamo and probably the river walk.  If you have time you may want to  consider a  side trip to Fredericksburg about 90 miles Northwest of San Antonio.     http://www.visitfredericksburgtx.com/attractions-activities/ http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/ http://www.luckenbachtexas.com/     One could spend a week within 10 miles of Frederickburg and still not see everything there, the war in the pacific museum could easily take 3 days by itself.


Now for bad/cold weather route with more indoor stuff to see and do.
We still have the Battleship Alabama in Mobile, then go west to New Orleans, ( try to stay out of New Orleans as much as possible, excluding the french quarter tourist district, the city has one of the highest violent crime rates in the US).  You can find many cultural and tourist things to see and do in New Orleans you don't need me to list them for you.       Going west again visit New Iberia, Abbeville, Kaplan, etc for cajun country.   You will be in the middle of boiled crawfish season during your visit and there will be drive up boiled crawfish stands in every community (several in each actually ), so consider dining on a few along the way.  From here you probably want to go back up to I-10 around Crowley, though is you are up to it consider the coastal route along Hwy 82, the road tends to be narrow and rough though, making stops in the nature refuges, and along the creole nature trail.   There is very little left along the western Louisiana coast since Hurricane Rita wiped it out 3 weeks after Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 (still depopulated by over 50 percent from pre storm levels which were not much to begin with)  Take Hwy 82 in to Texas then 73 west towards Houston, consider some of the tourist options in Galveston or Houston, though be aware of Houston Traffic.  If you want to avoid Houston on your way to San Antonio consider taking TX 105 west from Beaumont, it is a good highway though mostly 2 lanes, I drove it in my coach in the last year, then take one of the highways down to I-10 once west of Katy, or take 290 to Austin and make the side trip to Fredericksburg.

I hope this has been of some help
Ike

2002 Safari Trek 2830

LarsMac

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Re: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2018, 06:53:14 PM »
I live in western Louisiana, roughly around the half way point on your proposed journey so know the region, the weather, etc.  I also own a 28 ft class A, so have a good idea about what sites are likely accessible for you.    In the second half of February, one can see a wide mix of weather ranging from cool but pleasant days with highs of around 70F and lows of around 50F to highs of 70F (10-21C), or there may be rare hard freezes where with days ranging from 25-40F (-4-+4C).     If you happen to arrive during one of these colder weather events I would suggest taking a more coastal route was the relatively warm water of the gulf of Mexico will mitigate the effects of the cold weather, though perhaps also generating dense fog.

Therefore I am going to suggest 2 routes, 1 for good weather, and one for colder bad weather.

First the warm weather route, you may or may not want to see the beaches around Pensacola, the beaches between Pensacola and Gulf Shores Alabama are the western most "semi nice" beaches until one gets down to the southern tip of Texas, they are therefore popular with tourist that don't want to make the much longer drive to the Atlantic coast of Florida, they have sand and generally greenish blue water, which is much better than the many mud flats and brown water along the Louisiana and upper Texas Coast.  In February the water will also be far too cold to swim in without a wetsuit.  Assuming you will have a mid day pickup and need a place to stop within a couple of hours of driving time on day one I would suggest stopping somewhere around Mobile, AL there are numerous state parks, as well as commercial rv campgrounds in the area.   If you are interesting in more modern historical interests, I would suggest the Battleship Alabama park   http://www.ussalabama.com/ either on day one or the beginning of day 2.

For day 2 consider taking Hwy 98 across Mississippi to Natchez (250 mile drive in an RV expect about 6 hours drive time), 98 is a good highway, mostly 4 lane, yet rural enough to see some scenery.     Natchez is a historic city on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi river, too bad you a bit early for the Pilgrimage  http://www.natchezpilgrimage.com/  there is an large commercial RV park on the banks of the river, just across into Louisiana http://www.riverviewrvpark.com/ where you can watch the barge traffic travel up and down the river (I have never stayed there though have visited with the owners of the park at a local RV show, it also gets good reviews online).  From Natchez take the Natchez trace parkway north about 90-100 miles to where it meets I-20 near Jackson MS. https://www.nps.gov/natr/index.htm The entirety of the Natchez trace parkway is nice, though the spacing between historic stops is denser at the southern end, speed limit is 50 mph on the Trace. Unfortunately it goes the wrong direction for your destination, so is only practical for about a  half day's drive making many stops every few miles.  There is one of the largest Indian Mounds (Emerald Mounds) in the country located about 10 miles north of Natchez just a couple of miles  down a small country road off the Trace, I consider it a must stop location.  An amazing earthwork considering it was all done by hand with a flat top bigger than a football field.    Take I-20 west towards Vicksburg, at Vicksburg go to the civil war battlefield park there is a slow speed drive through the park with many stops with smart phone audio information available (back in the old days they had cassette tapes), the park is RV accessible (mostly)  rushing through it takes 2+ hours, though with thousands of stone memorials to troops that fought here one could spend weeks in the park and not read every stone marker. https://www.nps.gov/vick/index.htm.  By this point we are getting well of the route to San Antonio, so it is time to  head back south, take Hwy 61 back to Natchez and on south into Louisiana.    Hwy 61 generally parallels the Mississippi river though never close enough to see the actual river.     For plantations I would suggest the St Francisville, and New Roads area, then taking the river road south until you get to I-10 in Gross Tette (this will be the gateway to Cajun Country, and will let you miss the traffic of Baton Rouge).

By now we will be on about night 4, for cajun culture option there are a lot of small mostly cajun towns around Lafayette (though I would suggest skipping Lafayette itself) including Henderson, BreauxBridge, New Iberia, Abbeville, Kaplan, etc.  I can't point to any single good cultural point of interest, it is more of a regional thing.     One place you might want to stop and stretch your legs a bit is Rip Van Winkle Gardens  https://www.ripvanwinklegardens.com/ it is  a tropical garden growing on the edge of Vermilion bay.  We are probably on day 5 or so now, so time to make up some ground, and head west.  You are within a full 8 hour days drive of San Antonio, where you must see the Alamo and probably the river walk.  If you have time you may want to  consider a  side trip to Fredericksburg about 90 miles Northwest of San Antonio.     http://www.visitfredericksburgtx.com/attractions-activities/ http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/ http://www.luckenbachtexas.com/     One could spend a week within 10 miles of Frederickburg and still not see everything there, the war in the pacific museum could easily take 3 days by itself.


Now for bad/cold weather route with more indoor stuff to see and do.
We still have the Battleship Alabama in Mobile, then go west to New Orleans, ( try to stay out of New Orleans as much as possible, excluding the french quarter tourist district, the city has one of the highest violent crime rates in the US).  You can find many cultural and tourist things to see and do in New Orleans you don't need me to list them for you.       Going west again visit New Iberia, Abbeville, Kaplan, etc for cajun country.   You will be in the middle of boiled crawfish season during your visit and there will be drive up boiled crawfish stands in every community (several in each actually ), so consider dining on a few along the way.  From here you probably want to go back up to I-10 around Crowley, though is you are up to it consider the coastal route along Hwy 82, the road tends to be narrow and rough though, making stops in the nature refuges, and along the creole nature trail.   There is very little left along the western Louisiana coast since Hurricane Rita wiped it out 3 weeks after Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 (still depopulated by over 50 percent from pre storm levels which were not much to begin with)  Take Hwy 82 in to Texas then 73 west towards Houston, consider some of the tourist options in Galveston or Houston, though be aware of Houston Traffic.  If you want to avoid Houston on your way to San Antonio consider taking TX 105 west from Beaumont, it is a good highway though mostly 2 lanes, I drove it in my coach in the last year, then take one of the highways down to I-10 once west of Katy, or take 290 to Austin and make the side trip to Fredericksburg.

I hope this has been of some help
Ike

Some nice suggestions, there.
2000 Itasca Sundancer 430V
2007 Saturn Vue

"The trouble with people isn't that they don't know, but that they know so much that ain't so."

Old_Crow

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Re: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2018, 06:36:58 AM »
Isaac, all that typing, you mentioned New Iberia twice and never mentioned the Tabasco Factory on Avery Island. 
The factory tour is cool, and besides that there's the botanical gardens planted by the McIlhennys and the bird sanctuary.
Also in New Iberia, try the Bon Creole restaurant.  Looks like a total dump from the outside but the Shrimp PoBoy's are not to be beaten anywhere.
Lake Fausse Pointe state park is a nice place to camp in that area, but I'm not sure it's open due to the flooding during the recent hurricane.
Wally Crow
Retired 30 year ASE Master Auto Tech
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'03 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

AStravelers

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Re: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2018, 09:45:25 AM »
First go directly to New Orleans. 

Stay at Bayou Segnette SP a little SE of New Orleans.  To get to the French Quarter, drive the RV to the Algiers Ferry Terminal and take the passenger ferry to the French Quarter.  There is parking available at the ferry terminal.  Don't try to take the RV and park in the city.

From there head to Abbyville and the Lafayette area. 
--  Stay at Abbeville SP, a city owned RV Park: http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions/louisiana/abbeville/abbeville-rv-park-1216   
--  Or for a unique experience stay at Betty's RV Park:  http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions/louisiana/abbeville/bettys-rv-park-1217 Read the reviews and decide if that is where you want to stay.
--  Another place to stay is Palmetto SP:  http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions/louisiana/abbeville/palmetto-island-state-park-12139 This is a very nice park under lots of trees with swamp and river in or by the park.  Mosquitoes should not be a problem in late Feb.

Eat lunch/dinner at Shucks or Dupres for some excellent Cajun food:  https://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=Restaurants&find_loc=Abbeville,+LA+70510

Visit Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center:  https://www.nps.gov/jela/new-acadian-cultural-center.htm  Excellent info about the Acadian history and their relocation from Nova Scotia.  Most were British subjects from around the time of the "Revolution of the American Colonies".  Better known in the US as the "Revolutionary War".  It just depends on who is telling the history.

Take a swamp tour.  It has been some years ago, but we took Champagness Swamp Tours https://champagnesswamptours.com/  This is a small open boat with room for about 6 passengers.  The tour slowly winds through the swamp in and around the trees and brush.  Lots of small alligators, birds and other wildlife.  There is another tour company I don't know anything about:  https://www.cajuncountryswamptours.com/

That has used up about 5-6 days of your 7 days to San Antonio.  Hop on I-10 and head to San Antonio.  Mid day traffic through Houston on I-10 or I-610 is no fun, but is doable.  I hope you have a smart phone to view traffic maps as you go through Houston. 

In San Antonio, stay at:
--  Travelers World RV Park:  http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions/texas/san-antonio/travelers-world-rv-resort-2897
--  San Antonio KOA:  http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions/texas/san-antonio/san-antonio-koa-3345

Both have bus service to the River Walk & Alamo.  Travelers World is closest to the Spanish Missions.  Should be good parking for the RV at the Missions.
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29R
2009 Chevy Colorado 4X4

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

Isaac-1

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Re: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2018, 10:02:35 AM »
Those are more good suggestions, so many options so little time.  As to the blood sucking vampires / mosquitoes at Palmetto Island State park, we were there last February and they were out in force by sunset.  Of course we had a very mild winter last year in the region, unlike this winter.  Other than that it is a great little state park, however some of the roads one needs to take to get there (particularly form the west) are awful.

Ike
2002 Safari Trek 2830

AStravelers

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Re: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2018, 10:18:03 AM »
I don't recall the roads around Abbyville as being awful.  Two lane, normal width roads.  Slow driving, at 45-55 mph yes, but not awful. 
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29R
2009 Chevy Colorado 4X4

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

Isaac-1

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Re: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2018, 12:50:05 PM »
Some roads are, at least as of last spring,  such as 82 south of Palmetto Island state park, 35 south of Kaplan, as well as parts of 14 west of Lake Arthur, etc.  Driving home from down there last spring the roads were so rough they shook the mounting screws out of my headlight bezel and left it dangling, as well as screws from 2 or 3 other interior trim pieces.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

Elly Dalmaijer

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Re: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2018, 05:49:21 PM »
Oh how I love this forum!!  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for all those great suggestions!
We love staying in State parks rather than private campgrounds but will check all your suggestions out. Also your much appreciated suggestions for things to see and do.

We had hoped fervently to be able to eat some crawfish, so thanks for giving us hope PLUS suggestions where to eat them. Actually we want to eat lots of local seafood so any food suggestions will be welcome! What are some more local foods and local hangout we could try?

I love the suggestions of parking at the ferry terminal and taking a ferry into New Orleans. We would have never thought of that and will certainly do it that way!

Thank you all again for taking so much time to design even  personalized fair and foul weather routes and typing it all up for us. These two Canadians and two Hollanders will have a great time thanks to you!

Elly
Either at home in St Albert AB or working in Africa or in our 1993 Itasca Sunrise.

Bob Maxwell

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Re: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2018, 06:25:41 PM »
Good to see you here Elly!
 ;D
Adiós. . .

Bob †
and wife Betty Font 

. . . still ridin' for the brand.

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Isaac-1

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Re: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2018, 10:25:35 PM »
On the Cajun food topic:

Rules of Cajun Food:

1, It is very hard to find real Cajun Food in New Orleans, most of the New Orleans food is some variety of Creole or contemporary mashup

2, Creole and Cajun are 2 different things, for example creole gumbo has tomatoes in it Cajun Gumbo does not.  In fact very few Cajun dishes have Tomato in them.

3, With few exceptions good Cajun food restaurants exist only in Louisiana west of the Mississippi river, and south of I-10, there are a few exceptions, like Hoilers in Sulphur, Louisiana comes to mind for good working class Cajun food.  (2 locations, both with potential RV parking, both less than 1/2 mile north of I-10 though the new one on City Services Hwy by Lowes is probably better for RV), They also have a meat market, so you can take stuff with you to cook on your way out of Louisiana into Texas.

Other possible cajun food stops of interest along the route, with possible rv parking

Pat's on the Wharf in Henderson (one of the places that started the Cajun food craze back in the 1950's, the founder of it died earlier this month in his 90's), would rate is a fair chance to be able to park (good, traditional, though a bit over priced)

Cafe Jefferson, the restaurant at Rip Van Winkle Gardens, some fantastic contemporary cajun food at fair prices https://www.zomato.com/lafayette-la/cafe-jefferson-at-rip-van-winkle-gardens-new-iberia/menu#tabtop

Suires, A ran down looking country store in the middle of nowhere a few miles south of Kaplan, Louisiana with unbeatable home style cajun food, and best of all they sell frozen single serve portions that you can reheat in your microwave, ps if you are in need of a restroom while you are there, you should probably use the one in the RV it is likely bigger, this place has the smallest public restroom I have ever seen.

http://suires.yolasite.com/

Of course as already mentioned Holiers in Sulphur, good working mans Cajun food, popular with the petro-chem plant workers, they have an all you can eat buffet which is good, but the best stuff is by ordering from the menu.

I could probably name another dozen spots, but each of these gives a different take on what Cajun food is, and should be, and most importantly parking a sub 30 ft coach should be possible at all of them, though you may need to watch for overhanging limbs or go to the parking lot the back way at Rip Van Winkle gardens (scout it out on google maps / street view).


p.s.  If you do find yourself in New Orleans and want real Cajun food, not that New Orleans stuff (which can be very good, but is not Cajun), try https://mulates.com/ it is near the riverwalk area behind the Harahs hotel near the convention center
« Last Edit: January 31, 2018, 11:36:45 PM by Isaac-1 »
2002 Safari Trek 2830

Memtb

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Re: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2018, 11:12:05 PM »
 Isaac-1,   You certainly “nailed it” with rules number #1 and #2!     :))
Todd and Marianne
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LarsMac

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Re: Route suggestions Pensacola-San Antonio?
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2018, 06:36:48 PM »
On the Cajun food topic:

Rules of Cajun Food:

1, It is very hard to find real Cajun Food in New Orleans, most of the New Orleans food is some variety of Creole or contemporary mashup

2, Creole and Cajun are 2 different things, for example creole gumbo has tomatoes in it Cajun Gumbo does not.  In fact very few Cajun dishes have Tomato in them.

3, With few exceptions good Cajun food restaurants exist only in Louisiana west of the Mississippi river, and south of I-10, there are a few exceptions, like Hoilers in Sulphur, Louisiana comes to mind for good working class Cajun food.  (2 locations, both with potential RV parking, both less than 1/2 mile north of I-10 though the new one on City Services Hwy by Lowes is probably better for RV), They also have a meat market, so you can take stuff with you to cook on your way out of Louisiana into Texas.

Other possible cajun food stops of interest along the route, with possible rv parking

Pat's on the Wharf in Henderson (one of the places that started the Cajun food craze back in the 1950's, the founder of it died earlier this month in his 90's), would rate is a fair chance to be able to park (good, traditional, though a bit over priced)

Cafe Jefferson, the restaurant at Rip Van Winkle Gardens, some fantastic contemporary cajun food at fair prices https://www.zomato.com/lafayette-la/cafe-jefferson-at-rip-van-winkle-gardens-new-iberia/menu#tabtop

Suires, A ran down looking country store in the middle of nowhere a few miles south of Kaplan, Louisiana with unbeatable home style cajun food, and best of all they sell frozen single serve portions that you can reheat in your microwave, ps if you are in need of a restroom while you are there, you should probably use the one in the RV it is likely bigger, this place has the smallest public restroom I have ever seen.

http://suires.yolasite.com/

Of course as already mentioned Holiers in Sulphur, good working mans Cajun food, popular with the petro-chem plant workers, they have an all you can eat buffet which is good, but the best stuff is by ordering from the menu.

I could probably name another dozen spots, but each of these gives a different take on what Cajun food is, and should be, and most importantly parking a sub 30 ft coach should be possible at all of them, though you may need to watch for overhanging limbs or go to the parking lot the back way at Rip Van Winkle gardens (scout it out on google maps / street view).


p.s.  If you do find yourself in New Orleans and want real Cajun food, not that New Orleans stuff (which can be very good, but is not Cajun), try https://mulates.com/ it is near the riverwalk area behind the Harahs hotel near the convention center

We love Pat's. It IS a tad pricey, but I love sitting out on the dockside, and their Crawfish Etouffee is top shelf.  Parking is a challenge with a large rig. (even a medium size rig)
2000 Itasca Sundancer 430V
2007 Saturn Vue

"The trouble with people isn't that they don't know, but that they know so much that ain't so."

 

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