From the bayous of New Orleans to the plains of Oklahoma, the South-central region offers diverse culture, topography and attractions. Here are some places to eat and be entertained to make the time you spend in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas more memorable.
The Big Easy
While New Orleans is called the Big Easy, it’s not the easiest city to visit in a big rig. But don’t let that stop you from visiting this eccentric city. There are some parking decks in the city and several truck stops within minutes of New Orleans.
The Palace Truck Stop is 20 minutes from New Orleans. Take Exit 246A off I-10, drive three minutes and take Exit 2C. Call (504) 241-0409 for more information.
Mardi Gras Truck Stop is on Elysian Fields, five minutes from the French Quarter. Call (504) 945-1000 for more information.
To get around, take a quick cab or buy a three-day $12 visitor’s pass that allows unlimited access to buses and trolleys. There is a parking deck only four blocks from the Dome in downtown. It has room for up to four trucks. It can cost up to $25 per day, depending on how many spaces you need. You can contact Tor Bridges at (504) 894-9200 for a voucher.
For an in-depth look at sea life, visit the Aquarium of the Americas and see the world’s largest displays of jellyfish and penguins. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, and admission is $13. The aquarium is on Canal Street. For more information, call (504) 861-5105 or go to www.audoboninstitute.org.
The best view of the Big Easy is at the Top of the Mart, the world’s largest revolving lounge. Admission is free, but the lounge has a one-drink minimum. It is on the 33rd floor of the World Trade Center on Canal Street. For more information, call (504) 522-9795.
Pat O’Brien’s is a New Orleans institution. See 500 beer steins hanging from the ceiling or check out the flaming fountain on the patio. Try a platter of crawfish nachos or alligator bites; wash it down with a world-famous hurricane and sample the bread pudding for dessert. The restaurant, located on St. Peter’s, is open 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call (800) 597-4823 or go to www.patobriens.com.
The Louisiana State Museum in Jackson Square traces the history of Mardi Gras and features displays on the history of technology, communications and architecture. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is $5. For more information, call (800) 568-6968 or go to lsm.crt.state.la.us.
For a taste of the Final Frontier, head to the Arkansas Aerospace Education Center in Little Rock. Check out a model of the Apollo Command and Service Module, or watch nature films. See an extensive collection of flight memorabilia and visit the Aerospace Library. The museum is open every day, but hours vary, so call ahead for times. There is parking for four or five rigs one block from the center, and admission ranges from $4.75 to $6.75. Turn right off Exit 33 off I-440 and go toward the airport. The center is a half-mile on the left. For more information, call (501) 376-4232 or go to www.aerospaced.org.
Shake your fears at New Mexico’s American International Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque. It has the world’s largest collection of rattlesnakes. And don’t miss the snake-related artwork and memorabilia. The museum is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $2.50. The museum is on San Felipe, less than a mile from I-40. Take the Rio Grande Exit, and go to Mountain Road. Turn left on Mountain Road and right on 19th Street. Park on Central Avenue, 1 block from the facility. For more information, call (505) 242-6569 or go to www.rattlesnakes.com.
Oklahoma’s Roman Nose State Park and Resort in Watonga has something for every outdoor lover. Golf, swim, hike or try your hand at sand art or woodworking. There is free parking for two rigs. Room rates range from $55 to $78 per night, depending on the season, so call ahead for prices. The resort is 30 miles from I-40, and it is open 365 days a year. Take the Watonga Exit at mile marker 108 and go north 23 miles to Watonga. At the stoplight, go straight on Highway 8 for three miles, turn left on Highway 8A and drive 3 miles into the park. For more information, call (800) 892-8690 or go to www.shopoklahoma.com/romannos.htm.
Get in touch with nature at Corpus Christi’s Botanical Gardens in Texas. The attraction includes the Sensory Garden and the Bird and Butterfly Trail that is home to many native species. The Gardens are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is $3. Free parking is available for three trucks. The park is located four and a half miles off Highway 358. Follow the signs from South Staples Street and cross the Oso Creek Bridge. For more information, call (361) 852-2100 or go to www.ccbotanicalgardens.org.