Monday, October 6, 2008

The Best Fall Getaway: New Orleans

A luxurious yet affordable trip? In a major American city? It can be done this fall, despite soaring gas prices and an economy on the fritz. Travel to the city of New Orleans where extravagance is possible – if you only know where to look.


The Soniat House – Featured in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, this glamorous boutique hotel exudes traditional New Orleans charm from its convenient perch in the French Quarter. Formerly a Creole carriage house, the owners have updated the space with sparkling chandeliers, marble soaking tubs and gorgeous linens without compromising any of the property’s historical integrity. Silver tea service, valet parking and a romantic stonewalled courtyard simply add to the magic. Twenty percent off specials available now, Sunday through Thursday with rooms starting in the $200 range.

W Hotel – Unabashedly modern, this cutting-edge Starwood property offers rooms as low as $189 while a new promotion gives the third night away for free to guests arriving on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Winner of AAA’s Four Diamond award, this hotspot is trendy enough for hipsters (Rande Gerber designed lounge, poolside cabanas) yet still within the realm of affordability.

Omni Royal Crescent – Perfect for families, art aficionados or those looking for an amazing deal, this hotel’s location in the chic Art District spells savings. Although it’s only a short walk to the French Quarter, the difference in geography makes for massive reductions in price with specials beginning as low as $99 per/night. Floor-to-ceiling windows, free wi-fi and a rooftop sundeck and hot tub pamper guests.


Music, Festivals and Art:

Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival – Hot music, Southern soul and delectable barbeque. Come hear local artists like Marva Wainwright and Walter “Wolfman” Washington free of charge.

VooDoo Music Experience – Diverse musicians unite at this three day concert in City Park with big-name acts like Panic at the Disco, Joss Stone, REM and Lil Wayne. Tickets range from $40-$50 per/day (discounted three-day passes also available) with free admission to children under the age of eight.

Swamp Fest - The Audubon Zoo hosts a festival celebrating Cajun music, food and culture with special events for children.

Prospect 1. – Contemporary art showcase of massive proportions, founded and curated by Dan Cameron, formerly of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City.


Swamp Tour – Watch alligators, nutria and other wildlife from the safety of your boat – just remember to keep your hands safely inside.

Oak Alley Plantation – Featured in Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire, this breathtaking property is famous for both its history and its popularity in movies.

Laura Plantation – Tour guides tell fascinating stories about the families who ran this two hundred year-old Creole sugar plantation, mainly based on the writings of Laura Locoul Gore.

Sporting Events:

Football – Come see the legendary New Orleans Saints in the Superdome or visit for the Bayou Classic.


Commander’s Palace – This gloriously over-the-top restaurant has been awarded top honors by the James Beard Foundation, Food & Wine and Gourmet. Although dinners here are costly, lunch is affordable with twenty-five cent martinis and entrees under twenty dollars.

Jacques Imo’s Café – Locals love the eccentric atmosphere and Creole cooking. Since it’s outside of the traditional tourist areas, prices are reasonable and generous portions of spicy blackened fish, mashed sweet potatoes and barbeque shrimp abound. Wild bayou murals and multicolored Christmas lights add to the zany, New Orleans ambience.

Central Grocery – Featured on NBC’s Today Show, this deli serves enormous muffulettas (round, sub-like sandwiches stacked with Italian meat, cheese and marinated olive salad) that could feed a family of four.

Café du Monde – Opened in 1862, this outdoor café has become a New Orleans institution. Grab a bag of warm beignets dusted with powdered sugar, a café au lait and sit down at a table near the Mississippi River like a true local.

No comments: