Written by Amber Autumn on 20 Mar, 2011
Participating restaurants and businesses have special discounts to audiences of the Jane Austen Literary Festival in March, especially if you happen to be in Regency period style clothing. Ladies, gather your plain gowns with lace accents and sheer shawl. Men, don't forget…Read More
Participating restaurants and businesses have special discounts to audiences of the Jane Austen Literary Festival in March, especially if you happen to be in Regency period style clothing. Ladies, gather your plain gowns with lace accents and sheer shawl. Men, don't forget your top hat and cravat if you would like to get these discounts.
For the special "tea" experience, you can head a block from the Trailhead to Vianne's Tea House. This tea spot at 544 Girod Street has a full meal in three courses which costs about $29.99 plus tax. Next, if you're looking for something budget-friendly and forgot to wear your costume, the Rusty Pelican is the right place for you. In addition, Maxein's Coffee House has a special drink named after Mr. Darcy at 115 Girod Street. If you're in the mood for fish and chips for $7.99, head on over to Louie and the Redhead Lady's on 1851 Florida Street.
The Das Schulerhaus Gift Gallery and Christmas Shop (528 Girod Street) celebrates everyday like a holiday. Costumed guests receive ten percent off their purchases. Next, if you venture to Mae Antiques and participating dealers, costumed goers can get twenty percent off. Across from the Northstar Theater, Susannah Elle Designs has ten percent off to costume festival goers with wire wrap jewelry.
Written by Amber Autumn on 02 Mar, 2011
Being so close to New Orleans, Slidell was caught by the Mardi Gras fever. Slidell, surprisingly, has five of its own unique krewes: Perseus, Mona Lisa and Moon Pie, Titans, Dionysus, and Selene. Besides these major parades, there was the Krewe of…Read More
Being so close to New Orleans, Slidell was caught by the Mardi Gras fever. Slidell, surprisingly, has five of its own unique krewes: Perseus, Mona Lisa and Moon Pie, Titans, Dionysus, and Selene. Besides these major parades, there was the Krewe of Claude and the Krewe of Paws. The Krewe of Paws was Slidell's first dog parade.
The Mona Lisa and Moon Pie is one of the local favorite parades. You won't find the big floats like in the other parades. This walking krewe takes place in Old Town Slidell has their own costumes, four brass bands, and its pushcart floats. Their signature throw is the Moonpie.
The Krewe of Titans is new to Slidell for 2011. Businessmen of Slidell wanted to have their own night parade, and thus the Titans were born. These ten floats had the WWE Wrestling Superstars as their grand marshals, and had the New Orleanian meterologist, Carl Arredondo, as their celebrity for the parade.
Dionysus was started in 1985 by businessmen who wanted to bring a male parade to the Northshore, and have been riding for 26 years in 2011.
The most famous parade in Slidell is Selene, the all-women night krewe that will have you leaving with at least four more bags than you started with. They have over 500 members. Their signature throw is the lighted medallions and wands, fleur de lis beads, and plush animals. New for this year will be the two dune buggy groups. Selene will be rolling Friday March 4, 2011, at 6:30pm.
There's so many things to see and do in New Orleans. So, what to do first? I created my own list of things to help make any trip to New Orleans the most memorable. 1. Take a tour of the cemteries,…Read More
There's so many things to see and do in New Orleans. So, what to do first? I created my own list of things to help make any trip to New Orleans the most memorable.
1. Take a tour of the cemteries, or the Cites of the Dead. My favorite tour is the Save Our Cemeteries Tour.
2. Enjoy sugary beignets and coffee at the Cafe du Monde. On Decatur Street, across from the Jackson Square. For the non-coffee lovers, there's milk and soft drinks.
3. Try a Central Grocery muffalatta. At the Central Grocery on Decatur Street, this Italian sandwich has been enjoyed by Bob Hope and Henry Winkler.
4. Mardi Gras! Grab your copy of the Arthur Hardy's "Mardi Gras Guide" (Walgreens/bookstores/convenience stores) to see where the routes are, what the krewes will be throwing.
5. Tour Blaine Kern's "Mardi Gras World" to see how the floats are made.
6. Try a Randazzo's king cake. Usually more popular to try in February, some of the bakeries are open all year long and have seasonal cakes.
7. Walk along the Moonwalk and possibly take a ride aboard the Steamboat Natchez or Creole Queen.
8. St Joseph Day Altars (March 19). An Italian tradition in which they decorate their altars with food, lucky beans (put in your coinpurses - you'll always have money), and small round peas that are for good eyesight. You can find one at the Jackson Square on this day.
9. New Orleans Museum of Art and their Where Y'Art Fridays. On Fridays from 5-9pm, the Museum stays open later and has an array of live performances, open exhibits, and guest speakers. Plus, for 2011, NOMA turns 100 as well. Besides Fridays, the art museum has many art exhibits and a sculpture garden.
10. The Audubon Zoo. So many animals, a free parking spot, and a waterfall to cool down in those hot summers - what's not to love?
11. The Audubon Aquarium. Lots of animals, but a validated parking spot here. Come walk in the tunnel where fish and sharks swim above you, and play in the Amazonian tree house.
12. Take your picture outside the St. Louis Cathedral. For the best photo shot of all, go to the Moonwalk where the Civil War Cannon is and take your picture from there. You'll have the St. Louis Cathedral, Presbytere, and Cabildo all in the picture.
13. COOLinary New Orleans (July-September). Want to enjoy expensive restaurant meals without draining your wallet? During the COOLinary, some restaurants offer three course lunches under 20 dollars, and three course dinners for 34.00. The restaurants that participated last year were Bayona's, Antonie's, Dickie Brennan's, and many more. Check out http://nomcvb.com/restaurants/index.cfm or call 1-800-672-6124 for more details and who's participating this year.
14. The Tennessee Williams Literary Festival (mid-March). Williams will be celebrating his 100th birthday in this festival where you can take classes, tours of literary places, and see his plays acted by local universities. Plus, the yelling "Stella" competitions.
15. Jazz and Heritage Festival - Jazz Fest is late April-early May. The 2011 Fest will be extra special as singer Mahalia Jackson also turns 100, in which there will be jazz tributes and a birthday celebration presented by Irma Thomas.
16. Running of the Bulls (July). Twelve blocks of the French Quarter become filled with the all-female derby team, the Big Easy Rollergirls, dressed as bulls with horns(and soft foam bats) to chase and "gore" participants. Anyone can participate in the fun by showing up at the Three Legged Dog bar on Conti and Burgundy Streets. For 2011, it will be on July 9 and participants show up at 7am.
17. Christmas in the Oaks (City Park, Mid-City) and Miracle on Fulton Street (Fulton Street, edge of the French Quarter). Christmas in the Oaks has thousands of lights and gardens. Storyland, a magical place for the kids, is open. Meanwhile, Fulton has shops and a large Christmas tree.
18. Champion Square at the Super Dome!
Written by MilwVon on 14 Feb, 2011
Whether your time in New Orleans' French Quarter is during the daytime or after nightfall, there is plenty to see and do. During our weekend getaway, we enjoyed spending time out and about taking in the vibe of the city.Our timeshare resort was on…Read More
Whether your time in New Orleans' French Quarter is during the daytime or after nightfall, there is plenty to see and do. During our weekend getaway, we enjoyed spending time out and about taking in the vibe of the city.Our timeshare resort was on the western edge of the Quarter, a block from Canal St. on Chartres. This was a nice starting point, day or night, to go exploring the area. Chartres is a nice mix of shops and restaurants, along with a few living quarters and some closed or for sale buildings.During our weekend, we enjoyed dining at Daisy Dukes (100 block); Cafe Fleur-de-Lis (200 block) and The Original Pierre Maspero's (400 block). Further up the street in the 600 block is Alpine, another restaurant that we enjoyed back in the summer of 2009.I'm really not a shopper, but there were a couple of places that caught my eye. First was a little jewelry boutique in the 300 block of Chartres. They had a case full of heirloom pieces as well as some interesting lesser priced costume jewelry (broaches and the like).Having passed by Laura's Candies twice, we finally stopped in on Sunday morning for some sweet treats. One thing that impressed us the most was the variety of items they featured, including New Orleans' best known confection - pralines. Pretty much straight sugar in a butter base, melted and then poured over pecan halves; this is a candy that will make your teeth hurt.We also bought some turtles and Mississippi Mud, a chocolate base candy with pecans and caramel that is made into a layered brick like shape similar to fudge.The buildings throughout this area represent significant history of the city, under both French and Spanish rule. Streets have signage representing their original names under each. As you continue to walk towards the St. Louis Cathedral, you'll note the change in architecture to include the best known feature, the wrought iron balconies overlooking the streets.The Cathedral is the oldest in operation in the United States, dating back to 1720 and the parish established along the Mississippi River. In front of the Cathedral is Jackson Square. The entire area is full of artists and musicians as well as visitors from around the world. The other side of the park is Decatur Street which runs about a block from the river and serves as the starting point for the French Quarter Carriage Tour.David and I did take the 30-45 minute circular tour of the Quarter which was very informative and entertaining. Our guide was also named David . . . a fifth generation Creole who clearly loved Na'Orleans. The price for the tour was just $15pp which we rounded to $20 to include a tip.After our tour, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the river to the point where the streetcar station intersects the walkway. There we headed back out to Decatur where we literally stumbled upon the US National Park Service visitor's center for the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Here visitors can learn more about the settlement of New Orleans and the people of this region. During our visit there was an interactive area for kids to make Mardi Gras masks.Throughout this area of the French Quarter are more shops and restaurants. It is down here that the dock is located for those wishing to take a real riverboat cruise on the Mississippi. Grayline Tours offers daytime cruises as well as those featuring lunch or dinner.After dark, the French Quarter transforms right before you eyes as you walk up towards the world famous Bourbon Street. At night, it resembles a street festival with the roadway closed to auto traffic. Foot traffic flows off the sidewalks and into the street with street vendors, mimes and other character type impersonators. With the city's open carry laws making it OK to walk around in public with booze, as the night goes on the inhibitions of people seem to disappear. Given we were down there on a Saturday night, it was especially bawdy.We did have a cool experience upon an encounter with local food bank volunteers. We were "ticketed" for being party poopers, because we weren't drinking. To get out of the ticket, we paid a fine (which I negotiated). For our $10 fine, we each received a cool souvenir cap.I have to say, however, perhaps the best chance encounter we had in the Quarter was a wedding party marching down Royal St. As we were leaving the restaurant after dinner I heard the jazz band somewhat off in the distance. When I zeroed in on where it was coming from, we headed off in that direction, intercepting the "second line" parade with the bride and groom leading the band and approximately 25 or 30 friends and family members.We walked with them until they reached the location for their reception. Upon arrival, the band broke out into "When the Saints Go Marching In" to which everyone sang along. Outstanding!As fifty-somethings, David and I both felt old and whipped, as we headed back to our timeshare. I think we were "home" by 8:30pm. Close
Written by callen60 on 09 Jan, 2011
I love New Orleans. On this latest visit, I realized that, outside of Washington, DC, I’ve visited NOLA more than any other American city (outside of those I’ve lived in). Five years after Katrina, my affection and admiration for this city’s (and this region’s) residents…Read More
I love New Orleans. On this latest visit, I realized that, outside of Washington, DC, I’ve visited NOLA more than any other American city (outside of those I’ve lived in). Five years after Katrina, my affection and admiration for this city’s (and this region’s) residents is undimmed.It’s fun to come explore new parts of the city, but I also love doing some things each and every time I visit. Even in the depths of the Katrina recovery, people would want you to visit and have fun. First, they’d tell you how grateful they were that you’d come to help. Then they’d tell you to be sure and have some fun while you were in town. And then they’d ask you to tell you friends to come and do the same. This was my fourth post-Katrina trip, and here are a few of the things I love doing on each visit, which I hope will continue to be at least once a year. Café du Monde: Yeah, yeah, it’s on everybody’s list of things to do. But I love starting as many days as possible here, watching the sun light up St. Louis Cathedral, and hearing life start to return to the French Quarter (from which, at sunrise, it’s only been absent for about 30 or 40 minutes). On my first visit, I camped out here while the rain poured and poured, and I drank coffee after coffee waiting for the torrents to end. If there’s any kind of crowd in town, there’ll be a line a lot earlier than you might expect, so get there early and grab a table right on the edge of Decatur Street. Your other option is the takeout line, but it’s just not the same. It’s not really a day in New Orleans unless you begin it coated with powdered sugar, which is an unavoidable consequence of the mandatory order of three beignets. Po-Boys: One of my favorite things about New Orleans is the food. You can walk into nearly any restaurant, anywhere in town, and find something great to eat. You can spend $2 or $200 for a meal, and leave wishing that you had those kinds of assurances back home. (That begs the question of why you would drop the big bucks on a meal at one of the city’s many more expensive restaurants, but it’s worth setting those thoughts aside every now and then.) I’ve had po-boys to remember everywhere from Metairie to Algiers to the French Quarter and beyond. Mother’s (in the Central Business district at the NW corner of Poydras and Tchoupitoulas) or Johnny’s in the French Quarter (on St. Louis, just above Decatur) are classic, but the downside is that everyone else knows that, too. Luckily, they’re by no means exclusive. Take the Algiers ferry to Dry Dock Café, if you need another recommendation, but it seems that everybody here makes a great sandwich. It all starts with the bread: a terrific French loaf that crackles as you bite into it, and then gives way completely and lets you get to the filling. My two favorites are roast beef, and fried shrimp. Don’t leave without having one of each. French Quarter: Frankly, I can do without Bourbon Street. I’m not a prude, but I like my alcohol without having to endure dozens of solicitations for skin and peep shows, much less the above-average chance of having every stage of excessive alcohol consumption demonstrated for you within two blocks. If this makes you nervous (as it has several folks I’ve traveled with), just do your exploring before dinnertime. (Things do start to change a little as nighttime descends.) One of my favorite pastimes is exploring Royal Street, classy relative to Bourbon that’s just a block closer to the river but miles away in stature. Here, the storefronts feature antiques, art, books, clothes, and the occasional restaurant or coffeehouse. Pick a favorite and walk in (and, as in France, be sure to greet the proprietor as you enter). Chances are you’ll either strike up a great conversation, find something cool to look at, make a wonderful purchase, or all three. On this trip, my daughter and I wandered in to Vintage 329, a memorabilia store. Among other things, we saw a 1957 flag signed by Martin Luther King, Jr. & Coretta Scott King, Roy Wilkins, and Malcolm X (1957); a U.S. flag signed by all recent presidents (Nixon, Carter, Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton and Obama), as well as walls full of autographed music memorabilia, antique maps, and exquisite silver pieces. It’s still New Orleans, though: you can take your drink into 329, but you do have to leave it on top of the jukebox. No cell phones, though: gotta have a little class.Jackson Square: I think this, and adjacent St. Louis Cathedral, are the center of New Orleans. The cathedral anchored the Creole culture that originally built the city, and provided the canvas on which a rich palette of cultures subsequently made contributions. The cathedral is gorgeous, and the plaza outside is home to musicians, palm readers, performance artists (is staying perfectly still a performance?), and others. If you had one place to go in New Orleans, this would be it. The cathedral is flanked by the Cabildo, now home to several pieces of the Louisiana State Museum. The northern side had a lengthy and moving exhibit on ‘Living With Hurricanes’, which used a brief historical introduction as a lead in to the story of Katrina, with all the horrors, heroism, and pride that accompanied this disaster, our country’s faltering response, and the aftermath. Hang out on one of the benches in the square, enjoy the gardens, and try and figure out just what Andrew Jackson is looking at. Go back and grab another coffee at Café du Monde if you need it, or head up Pirate’s Alley to the wonderfully dense bookstore in Faulkner House (his residence for two years while he wrote for the Times-Picayune).French Market: From Jackson Square, turn left and head north (downstream) on Decatur to the French Market. The vendors themselves have t-shirts, jewelry, photographs, paintings, packaged foods, masks, and anything else you can imagine, although fresh foods are a little hard to find. Across the street is Central Grocery, home to the famous muffaletta. If you’re not up to a sandwich at the moment, take home a quart of the olive salad that really makes the sandwich; if you are hungry, don’t buy a whole one unless you’ve brought a friend. Any other seasoning or spice or ingredient needed for Cajun or Creole cooking can also be found here. Now’s the time to indulge yourself with a little sweet stuff: head across the market to Evans Candy Shop. There are a lot of places that will sell you a praline, but this is my favorite: it’s a big store, the cases are enormous, and you can grab a sample while the friendly ladies wait out your indecisiveness. After you’ve picked out your flavor of praline, be careful: it may look like a cookie, but you’ll end up unconscious if you eat it too quickly. No other item I know of packs as heavy a sugar punch. Close
Written by Amber Autumn on 13 Oct, 2010
If you decide to visit New Orleans in October, you'll find that there's a lot to do, and in so little of time. Throughout the month of October, I recommend going to the French Market along Decatur Street and South Peters.…Read More
If you decide to visit New Orleans in October, you'll find that there's a lot to do, and in so little of time. Throughout the month of October, I recommend going to the French Market along Decatur Street and South Peters. The Market is a whirlwind of colors during this time, and you can easily find cute little and huge pumpkins as souvenirs of your excursion. Also, from October 8th to October 24th, 2010, The Historic New Orleans Collection at 533 Royal Street is hosting a Halloween-inspired tour called "Historic Haunts: The Myths and Legends of Vieux Carre" that costs $5.00 a person. The tour starts at 2pm. You can get more information on the tour by calling (504) 523-4662. For most tour prices in the city, this is a great price, and I would highly recommend taking advantage of this.
If you find yourself in the city the weekend of October 16th - 17th, 2010, there's two interesting events going on. The Botanical Gardens in City Park (Mid-City) has their Fall and Garden Show that costs $6 for adults, $3 for kids ages 5-12, and kids under 5 and Friends of City Park are free. From 10am to 4pm, you'll find plant sales and exhibits, educational programs, plant health clinics, kids discovery center, and a Scarecrow Garden Trail. The Botanical Gardens is a must-see attraction in October, and in Christmas (Christmas in the Oaks Celebration). Also, in the French Quarter, the Patio Planters is having a "Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carre Tour" where you'll be able to see private courtyard gardens that aren't open to the public. This tour costs $20.00 per person, and children under 12 are free. One of the many things that makes the French Quarter unique is its courtyard gardens.
If you're not interested in seeing plants and courtyards, and looking for a spooky experience, then you might want to test your courage at the Haunted Mortuary in New Orleans. I went a year ago before Halloween. The Blood Center was there offering visitors the option of skipping ahead of the line for donating blood, and the line wasn't that long around 5pm. The group that I went with spent about $20.00 a person, and was disappointed because we had discounted coupons from the website that we couldn't use. Another thing I wished the Mortuary had done differently was not rush everyone in and out. There's three floors to this actual mortuary, so you're constantly going up stairs, around long and dark corridors, and back downstairs. You really didn't get to enjoy the artwork and spooky decorations that were throughout the House. What I didn't see, the person behind me saw, and vice versa. According to my relatives, the scariest moment was seeing a white monster coming out a dirty toilet and bathroom in the basement. She told the poor janitor who worked there that she didn't want his job, and she felt sorry for him. If we were in the House ten minutes, it was long enough.
If you're looking for something to do Halloween weekend, you have two options. The Voodoo Music Experience is Halloween weekend in City Park, where you'll find many bands, food, and music. Ozzy Osborne, Kermit Ruffins, Macy Gray, and Weezer are some of the bands lined up for this year. There's also many booths and a beautifully designed stage. And finally, Saints fans get your Who Dat shirts, and get your tailgating items together because there's a Saints game on Halloween night at the Superdome.
Written by Amber Autumn on 27 Sep, 2010
Most of the casino-goers had all attended the last casino trip (about six months ago) to Cypress Bayou Casino/ Shorty's, and were busy sharing their experiences and memories as we left Chalmette on our rented Star Coach motorcoach. I had been unable to…Read More
Most of the casino-goers had all attended the last casino trip (about six months ago) to Cypress Bayou Casino/ Shorty's, and were busy sharing their experiences and memories as we left Chalmette on our rented Star Coach motorcoach. I had been unable to go because of my age, so when they talked about another trip back, I had to see what they were talking about. The group talked about the abundance of food, and even debated about what they were going to eat first when they got there. Only thing was it was "in the middle of nowhere". It was further in the deeper southern regions than I've ever traveled to before. And, on some kind of Chitmacha Indian reservation, so I was equally interested.
Leaving Chalmette (St. Bernard Parish), we went through New Orleans (Orleans Parish) on Interstate 10 to jump onto the 310 that would take us to Hahnville and the St. Charles Parish communities. Louisiana is the only state that instead of counties, we have parishes. We were making good time until we ran into some congestion on the Interstate 10 in the middle of the French Quarter. One of the more experienced casino-goers looked at me and said jokingly, "I wonder where they could be going". I had to think about it for a second, and her "Saints Boo-Dat: Be Afraid" Halloween shirt gave it away. The Saints Game vs. the Falcons was playing today at noon, and had been a quite talked about game (and the tv commercial with a certain voodoo doll and "Dirty birds can't fly with a broken wing"). Looking on the street that ran under the Interstate, I saw a line of cars and tents. Saints fans were already tail-gating with their enormous blow-up Saints football players, BBQ pits in full swing, and everyone was dressed from head to toe in black and gold. After passing through the "Saints" crowds, we were finally on our way onto the 310.
St. Charles Parish is a quaint little parish that has this long street where you pass through so many little towns like Paridis (Paradise), Hahnville, and Luling. Louisiana is famous for having festivals. Luling always stood out because of its famous Luling Alligator Festival (that was also held this weekend, but the bus wouldn't stop to let us off) at the foot of the Hale Boggs Bridge. I always know I'm close to Luling because of this massive bridge that could compete with New Orleans' High Rise (which is pretty tall as well). After passing over the bridge, we made our way into Lafourche (La-foo-ch) Parish.
Written by Amber Autumn on 30 Aug, 2010
"Who Dat". It's the two words since 2009 that united and inspired everyone within the city of New Orleans and those on the Gulf Coast to believe in the Saints Football Team. The Saints are the Champions of Super Bowl XLIV…Read More
"Who Dat". It's the two words since 2009 that united and inspired everyone within the city of New Orleans and those on the Gulf Coast to believe in the Saints Football Team.
The Saints are the Champions of Super Bowl XLIV 2010, and have more than a dozen songs to encourage "the Boys". They made the artists of the Times Picayune sketch historic New Orleans radio host who passed away in 2005, Buddy DeLiberto, in a dress (like he promised if the Saints ever won). This is much different attire from the brown lunch bag he encouraged fans to wear when the Saints lost their games. Of course, some Louisiana historians believe the real reason why the Saints never won was because the Superdome and the New Orleans Shopping Arena was built over the Girod Street Cemetery, and some of the bodies were never moved. But New Orleans' prayers were answered: the Saints are World Champions. They gave the city hope for the better when Katrina tried her best to destroy that, and they gave us (or Tom Benson) the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
New Orleanians love to celebrate any occassion - and this was one of them. During the Super Bowl weekend in February, massive crowds gathered in the French Quarter to celebrate in the city (since we party much differently than those Floridians). Mardi Gras parades and their "Who Dat" theme was commonplace. The streets were bathed with black and gold. And after the Super Bowl on a Tuesday February 9th, there was another parade that was given (even if the Saints hadn't won) in the deep winter cold. Even now in the beginning of pre-season games, New Orleans is proud of their "Boys" and is excited about another season. So, if you're in New Orleans and someone tells you "Who Dat" with a toothy smile, they're not asking the name of the person you're with.
Written by Chris & Carinne on 23 Jul, 2010
I have been on a quest to find the perfect mountain hiking area for extended weekends ever since I moved to Baton Rouge about a year ago. Trips to quality mountains used to take days to make from my former home in Philadelphia, but now,…Read More
I have been on a quest to find the perfect mountain hiking area for extended weekends ever since I moved to Baton Rouge about a year ago. Trips to quality mountains used to take days to make from my former home in Philadelphia, but now, though considerably further south from great parks like Glacier or Yellowstone, I am generally a timezone closer to the great mountain ranges of the west while being about equidistant from the best parts of the Appalachians. Surely, trips that I used to do just once a year for the need to find a week off from work for the laborious drive could now be done more frequently in three or four-day weekends. I generally have found the quality of the experience to be roughly proportional to the distance travelled.1. The closest "mountains" to Baton Rouge are the Ozarks. I hurried up there one weekend and found some nice hills, but nothing quite like what I was looking for: sweeping vistas of craggy mountain peaks, spectacular waterfalls, or awe-inspiring bluffs. I did not really expect any of that and of course might not have been looking in the right places, but if all I am going to get out of a trip is an up-and-down hikes through the woods, there are plenty of options closer to home than 500 miles.2. For just a couple hours more of driving (650 miles), I can reach the completely unique nearly-rainforest environment of the Great Smoky Mountains. Here, the mountains actually reach over a mile high, and the frequent rainfall creates a wonderfully lush forest. Moreover, as the highest mountains on the eastern seaboard, the Smokies have flora found nowhere else in the world and is recognized internationally for its extraordinary biodiversity. Having grown up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I visited the Smokies several times in high school and am reminded of home when I go there. However, not a trip has gone by without at least some rainfall if not outright downpours, as the ever-present mist that gives the mountains their name must come from somewhere. The rain and the fog, though they can add a mystical quality to any trip to the Smokies, enshroud any views at the end of hikes and "dampen" the overall hiking experience. Therefore, some of the features I look forward to the most at the end of a rigorous hike are lost.3. The Guadalupe and Chisos Mountains (in Big Bend National Park) on the other side of Texas offer 8,000 foot peaks in dry, desert-born climates and, both about 950 miles away, are just on the cusp of sanity for a long-weekend trip from Baton Rouge. Both parks offer interesting intersections of multiple ecological zones, particularly the Chihuahuan Desert adjacent to wooded alpine terrain, as well as fascinating geological features, including canyons and incredible rock formations. Big Bend of course is bound by the Rio Grande, which has created the shape of the land over millions of years and today waters a beautiful oasis on its banks. The Guadalupe Mountains used to lie under a sea in the Permian Era, and thus have driven to the surface fossils of sea creatures from millions of years ago. Although considerably farther than the Smokies, both parks are preferable to me and worth the trip from Baton Rouge.4. The Rockies, whether by way of Denver or southwestern Colorado (both ~1300 miles), offer the spectacular scenery I love, with peaks over 12,000 everywhere, and a relatively dry climate to enjoy the outdoors. However, they are so far that a three or four day weekend would be almost entirely wasted on driving.While the Rockies seem too far for a long-weekend jaunt and the Ozarks simply not "satisfying" enough to make the trip, albeit short, I certainly have little problem making repeated journeys to the Smoky, Guadalupe, and Chisos Mountains when the road trip/hiking bug hits me. However, all this has changed in the past week, because I have stumbled upon an option that trumps them all, "only" 750 miles away. While I love all three mountain ranges, I am not entirely sure when any of the three will be preferable to this new option from my vantage in Baton Rouge. Close
Written by Melody Schubert, USA Travel Magazine on 15 Feb, 2010
Shreveport's Mardi Gras celebration is a fun event for families. Starting in January there are numerous festivals and parades to join, and plenty of beads to catch along the way!Since this was our first visit to Mardi Gras, we were not sure what to expect.…Read More
Shreveport's Mardi Gras celebration is a fun event for families. Starting in January there are numerous festivals and parades to join, and plenty of beads to catch along the way!Since this was our first visit to Mardi Gras, we were not sure what to expect. We've heard wild stories about the New Orleans festivals and thought we'd experience the Other Side Of Louisiana first, and it was a blast!We did learn a couple important tips regarding the Mardi Gras parades:1. Always keep your head up because you'll want to keep you're eye out for flying beads and trinkets. 2. When you're children are standing along the street keep a careful eye of them because often they get so excited trying to catch the beads they could jump in front of one of the floats.Drivers of the floats are extremely careful when driving in the parades, and are always on the look out for trouble. It just helps if we all work together, and then everyone can enjoy the event.During the festivals up to Fat Tuesday there are several parades and parties, which begin with the Dreams of Paradise Mardi Gras Bal in Late January. Next is the Krewe of Gemini Grand Bal, then the Krewe of Cotton Country Bal in Early February, and The Mighty Krewe of Centaur’s Mardi Gras Parade; "As Southern As It Gets". This is the one we were lucky enough to be in town for and it was a blast. We also attended the very cool, Float party, and got a look behind the scenes as the Krewe's prepared their floats for the parades. Another fun parade is the adorable Mardi Gras Pet Parade - Pawsitively Petriotic, a parade especially for pets and families. We saw pets of every size and color, and there was even a horse, and cats! Be sure to check the timing on each parade because they subject to change. Which is really no problem because if you miss one you're certain to catch one of the others like the upcoming Krewe of Highland Bal Masque, the Krewe of Gemini Float-Loading Party, and Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras Parade. The fun continues until Mid February, so you still have time to plan your trip to catch the Krewe of Highland Mardi Gras Parade on Valentine's Day, the Krewe of Aesclepius Fat Tuesday Children's Parade, the Aesclepius Bridge Closing Ceremony, and the grand Mardi Gras Magic in Downtown Natchitoches. If you've never been to a Mardi Gras celebration then visit Shreveport-Bossier because while they still party like crazy it is a amazing event for families to enjoy. You can check out the Mardi Gras event schedule by using this link. Don't worry about catching beads; they'll toss more than enough for you to tote back home. Be sure to enjoy some King Cake and visit the new Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau office downtown. Or, just call 1-888-45-Visit and they can help you find events, parties, attractions, and recreation to enjoy as well as help you find the perfect place to stay while in town. Their website http://www.shreveport-bossier.org also has plenty of information on upcoming events and attractions as well. Close