New Orleans has been on my bucketlist of US cities to explore for quite some time now. Something about the mystery and voodoo and jazz and sordid past of slavery and French heritage just intrigues me. Not to mention the food…biscuits and pralines and fresh fish and oysters and chicory coffee…yummm.
My father’s parameters for a family vacation over this holiday season – nonstop flights under $200 or drivable from the DC area. Time to put my pocketbook-friendly Travel Advisor hat on and figure out how to get where I want to go while taking into account these particularly scant parameters.
Comfortable accommodations matter, especially when you are staying somewhere for a longer amount of time – and every bit of good sleep matters, especially when traveling with family. Grumpy sleep-deprived family members rarely make for good company, especially in my family.
Windsor Court Hotel seemed to have it all for us. Not too much swank (just enough for me :)), heated pool and complimentary fitness center (!!!!), right around the corner from the hustle-bustle of Canal Street and the French Quarter. A gorgeous Virtuoso property with a quieter feel in comparison to the Ritz-Carlton and the Roosevelt, which were both beautiful properties but provided very different vibes from the Windsor Court.
Located right behind the hotel is the up-and-coming Warehouse/Arts District, with its amazing galleries and fabulous fresh food cafes. Looking to not gain weight on a visit to NOLA? A good bet is balancing out all of that rich Cajun food with some hipster/vegetarian eats in the Warehouse District (nearby to the CBD, Central Business District). Mid December I was sitting outside in 70 degree weather sipping water from a fresh coconut - pretty much ideal for any and all vacations I'd say.
Highlights of the trip included:
Visit to Southern Food and Beverage Museum - there is a bar and restaurant attached and you can wander around reading all about the history of Popeyes and Absinthe while drinking a beer and munching on fried pig’s ears (yes, that’s a thing).
French Quarter/Chartres Street stroll with a casual stop in a WAREHOUSE of an antiques store named MS Rau Antiques where we posed next to Napoleon Bonaparte's death masks and strolled under million dollar crystal Baccarat chandeliers, on the way to hold a 400 million year old meteorite. Also, Frenchman's Art Market in the Marigny/Frenchmen's Street where local artisans hold court selling their wares in the evening hours, with musical entertainment of course!
Garden District morning with breakfast at Stein’s Market and Deli and doughnuts from District Donuts (Pecan Pie doughnut for the win), Garden District historical homes tour and graveyard walk (yes, that’s also a thing in NOLA). Super creepy and super cool – definitely a must-do.
Day trip to the River Road Plantations and visit to the Laura Plantation, a gorgeous Creole plantation framed by 200 year old oak trees and grounds surrounded by banana and grapefruit trees.
Shopping in Uptown at all the cutesy boutiques on our last night in town, ending with dinner at Shaya, the James Beard Award winning restaurant owned by Alon Shaya, in celebration of the first night of Hanukkah!
New Orleans is a great year round destination, with temperatures climbing to the mid-70s in December during our stay. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org about planning your own visit today!