There’s no need to suffer in the city’s heat and humidity when you can hop in a car or plane and escape to a relaxing, as well as exciting, destination.
Often the biggest problem with trying to figure out where to go for a weekend is choosing … where to go. So many options, so much stress. Well, NOH&L will handle the stress for you—we’ve chosen 11 weekend getaways that can satisfy any number of interests. (FYI: We consider Thursday to Sunday to be a sensible weekend.) So relax, read, and plot your next adventure.
Music to Your Ears
Just about everyone that lives in Texas wants to live in Austin. It’s beautiful, smack dab in the center of the Hill Country; it’s artsy and political and erudite, housing the state capital and University of Texas; and it’s got a phenomenal music scene. Texas music (a healthy combination of country and western, blues, ska, Latin and more) seems to have originated here—or at least it thrives here. This big city that boasts a small-town personality is home to Austin City Limits and South by Southwest, two huge (well, not as big as Jazz Fest) music festivals.
Sixth Street is Austin’s version of Bourbon Street, and it and the surrounding area make up Austin’s musical Quarter. Lined with bars and oozing music from every crevice, this happening area is in downtown Austin, right next to the University of Texas’ main campus. Antone’s is a live-music venue that remains on the wish list of ultimate places to play for many a musician on the way up. Hosting local and traveling bands (Bob Schneider plays here quite a bit.), Antone’s is the blues bar.
Located on top of Katz’s Deli (a 24-hour kosher deli that serves up some killer fried pickles), Momo’s showcases an eclectic mix of music in a classically Sin City-style venue. The bartenders will usually learn your name here, and lounging on the patio is a great way to spend your evening. Since 1957, Continental Club has been catering to music-hungry Austinites—at a fair (read: cheap) price. Order a Lone Star beer, and sit back and enjoy the talented rockabilly, blues and country acts that entertain here. Definitely a place to experience Texas music, Continental Club attracts a diverse crowd of Texans, as well. (If you’re into classic cars, this is the place for you!)
Before you leave on Sunday, you have to catch the Sunday Gospel Brunch at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q. The perfect combo for a Texas retreat, barbecue and music gets your week off on the right track. From Modest Mouse to Willie Nelson, this find is seeped in musical legends and fire-hot up-and-comers, as well as some true Texas barbecue.
Austin Tourist Bureau: (866) GO AUSTIN,www.austintexas.org; South by Southwest Music and Film Festival,www.sxsw.com; Austin City Limits Music Festival,www. aclfestival.com; Antone’s, 213 W. 5th St., (512) 320-8424,www.antones.net; Kat’s Deli, 618 W. 6th St., (512) 472-2037; Momo’s, 618 W. 6th St., (512) 479-8848,www.momosclub.com; Continental Club, 1315 S. Congress, (512) 441-2444,www. continentalclub.com; Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, 801 Red River, (512) 480-8341,www.stubbs austin.com.
Getting there: Fly American, Southwest, Delta, United and Continental to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Travel time: Anywhere between 2 1/2 hours to more than 3, depending on where you have to stop before reaching Austin.
—By Phaedra Friend
When one envisions the Islands of the Bahamas, they picture aquamarine waters and silent breezes toying over powder white sands. And usually they are right. But at Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, travelers will find that and so much more. “Once upon our time” is the slogan of this floating Vegas, which will provide all types with a variety of experience.
One must arrive here via Chalks Island Airways, which can be boarded after flying into Fort Lauderdale International Airport. This is an experience in its own right, as Chalks is one of those rare seaplanes that takes off from and lands in the water. An exhilarating way to enter this Utopia.
For families, this is a Disney on water and the kids will be overwhelmed by the myriad activities awaiting them. For those out for a rockin’ time, this bustling mecca in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is chock-full of gambling, dance clubs, superior restaurants, a luxurious spa, rooms with a view and an aquarium system that will make any ocean lover cringe in jealousy. The tropical aquariums are really the main element that sets Atlantis apart, with a connected maze of tunnels, pools and lagoons that contain more than 50,000 marine animals. Giant rays with wingspans longer than me fly gracefully above black-tipped and bull sharks, nurse sharks, Great Goliath groupers, lobster, sawfish, piranha and reef fish.
The extensive and pampering Mandara Spa has many luxurious services, as well as an outdoor heated mineral pool in which you can lounge and relax.
But if beachside is your chosen destination, you will be waited on while sunning at the ocean’s edge. Or why not take a snorkeling, diving or fishing trip? If partying is what you’d like to do, take a “booze cruise” at night, or hit Dragons, the high-energy nightclub in the casino. There are tennis courts, a basketball court, a putting course and a lap pool. No shortage of activities on this bustling island.
To quell your hunger, there are quite a few restaurants that span the menu from ultra-gourmet chic to poolside casual. And speaking of pools, don’t miss the opportunity to float down the Lazy River Ride, catapult down the Leap of Faith vertical slide or wind slowly down the Serpent Slide through a clear tunnel submerged in a shark-filled lagoon.
One wonders how to accomplish all there is to enjoy in a short stay at this floating oasis, which has 2,300 rooms in three towers: the luxurious Royal Towers, and the Coral and Beach towers. To explore the historical myths of Atlantis, make your way through The Dig, a fascinating maze of underwater corridors and passageways into the ruins of this lost city. Immerse yourself in magical sea horses, lobsters crawling overhead and hammerheads eyeing you up. If ever did exist such a utopia as Atlantis, this surely may be that paradise resurfaced.
Bahama Tourist Bureau: (800) Bahamas,www.bahamas.com; Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas, (800) ATLANTIS;www.atlantis.com.
Getting there: Southwest (non-stop) to Ft. Lauderdale; Chalks Ocean Airways, (800) 424-2557,www.chalksoceanairways.com.
Travel time: 2 hours from New Orleans to Ft. Lauderdale; a little over an hour from Ft. Lauderdale to Paradise Island, Bahamas.
—By Christie Caliendo
Knock on Wood
In less than an hour’s drive from New Orleans, you can be relaxing on the deck of a secluded cabin, overlooking an artesian-fed river in the shade of tall pine trees. Little River Bluffs near Folsom, La., offers the peace and quiet of 60 acres of woods, a private bass and perch-stocked pond, and miles of walking trails along the Little Tchefuncte River.
Take your pick from three cabins featuring different amenities. The River Chalet is set on a tranquil bend of the river and includes a spacious living room with soapstone fireplace and dining/kitchen area, floor to ceiling views of the river and woods and a whirlpool bath for two. The River Chalet sleeps eight comfortably and the top story is a cozy cedar loft, with a half bath and sitting room.
The Meadow Cabin is set back in a nook of the woods, just a short walk from a small pond and wildflower meadow. This cabin has a large screened-in porch, an all cypress living area with a fireplace, dining/kitchen area, small whirlpool bath and central air conditioning. The Treehouse is nestled among pines and magnolias and also features a large screened-in porch with a view of the river. The living area, full kitchen and wood fireplace make for comfortable stay in this secluded natural setting.
If your idea of nightlife does not include campfires and fireflies, look elsewhere. This quiet, nature retreat is for visitors whose idea of a good time is a walk along a forest trail, a swim in the river and a nap in a hammock.
The Little Tchefuncte River is one of the first rivers to be protected under Louisiana’s Natural and Scenic Rivers Act. Wild turkey, deer and a host of woodland and meadow habitat birds live along its banks. Other nearby entertainment includes the Global Wildlife Center, Zemurray Gardens, St. Joseph’s Abbey and historic towns and villages like Abita Springs, Madisonville and Covington.
Little River Bluffs
Little River Bluffs: Between Covington and Folsom, (985) 796-5257,www.littleriverbluffs.com; Rates (based on 2 night weekend stay): River Chalet, $395; Meadow Cabin, $295, The Treehouse, $225. Getting there: By car, take the Causeway Bridge to Mandeville and go west on Hwy. 22 to Madisonville. Take Hwy. 1077 nine miles across Hwy. 190 and Goodbee Amoco, turn right on Hwy. 1077. Go two miles to top of small hill (pass B&C Grocery on the right). Veer right onto Hwy. 1078 (“Bennett Bridge Road”) and turn at first right onto Donnie Road. Go one-half mile and you’re there. Travel time: 55 minutes.
—By Kristian Sonnier
Heaven on Earth
The kids are finally away at camp—or you’re just plain worn out and need to feel pampered. There’s no need to deny yourself anymore—book a weekend at Cal-A-Vie Spa in Vista, Ca., just outside of San Diego.
In my particular case, I was trying to recover from a post-Mardi Gras sinus infection, which wasn’t helped with the landing at the San Diego International Airport (My ears got clogged and I couldn’t pop them.) No matter, the moment you arrive at the airport real life is suspended—there is a Cal-A-Vie representative there to find your luggage and transport you to what is truly a sanctuary. See how easy it is to leave the “outside” world behind?
Because you only have a weekend, book a La Petite/Three Night package, which includes two massages, hydrotherapy, reflexology, a facial and a hair and scalp treatment as your therapeutic treatments. (If you want more treatments, you can get them at a nominal price.)
When you fly in on the a.m. nonstop Southwest Airlines flight from New Orleans, you arrive just in time for lunch. If you can, have some procedures scheduled for your arrival, though they like to check you in first, then meet with you about what your goals are and to set up any special appointments—such as nutritional or fitness evaluations, both of which I recommend (you will be surprised at how in shape or out of shape you are.)
For those who haven’t been to the spa in a while, you will be surprised by all of the changes. While much of the exterior remains the same—Mediterranean villas set in lush greenery— the spa’s owners, John and Terri Havens, had the rooms’ interiors completely done over from drab ‘80s to fresh French country via interior designer Laurie Steichen. Makeovers to the spa’s breakfast room, dining room, bath house and the beauty treatment area were also completed. And the most recent addition this past February is the fitness center—a new building which houses the exercise rooms and equipment.
But now it’s on to your first procedures—I recommend going for just beauty and relaxation for your first day at the spa—I had a facial and a massage. But soon it’s time for dinner, featuring the spa cuisine of chef Steve Pernetti. You will learn that delicious and nutritious are two words that are actually complementary! That, and you don’t have to eat a super-sized meal to feel full.
After dinner, there are talks—I went to one about the power of breathing, while the other was about skin care with a guest speaker. Alternatives are just hanging out in the breakfast room to watch TV (there are none in the rooms), or just go back to your room and get some sleep. You’ll need it because the next morning at 5:45 a.m. you will be getting a wake-up call for the hike, which can be exhilarating or torturous, depending on your fitness level. (There’s also an easier a.m. walk.) Then it’s off to more beauty treatments or fitness classes—which can range from sports conditioning, pilates, spin, and fitness bands to restorative yoga and tai chi.
By the time my flight left, my sinus infection had cleared up and I felt pampered, rejuvenated and ready to face the real world again.
Cal-A-Vie, 29402 Spa Havens Way, Vista, Ca.; (866) SPA HAVENS,www.cal-a-vie.com; La Petite weekend: $2,995 plus room tax ($48.60) – includes three meals a day, accommodations, fitness classes, nutritional lecture, cooking class, 2 massages, 1 reflexology, 1 hydrotherapy, 1 facial and 1 hair and scalp treatment. Transportation to and from San Diego International Airport is complimentary.
Getting there: Southwest Airlines has nonstop flights to and from San Diego. Travel time: By air: About 3 hours; Drive from airport to spa: 45 minutes.
—By S.L. Strachan
The American Experience
Traveling to Washington, D.C., really puts the city of New Orleans, whose culture has been described as French, Creole, Caribbean—anything other than truly American—into perspective. We have the fancy architecture; so do they. We have the estimable history; as the political bedrock of the country, they have it in spades. But when it comes to the land of the free and the home of the brave, we’re more like a banana republic.
Nowhere is the American experience more evident than on that swath of green space framed by museums, monuments and the imposing silhouettes of the U.S. Capitol building and the newly reopened Washington Monument—the Mall. First trips to D.C. seem to center around the Mall, where you’ll find the country’s most-loved and most-visited attractions (many of which are open year-round and free of charge —donations welcome). Hardy sightseers could easily spend a full week in the attractions of the Mall and walk away without having taken in everything, to say nothing of the attractions located elsewhere in the District.
For a short trip, start with the major facilities of the Smithsonian Institution: the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History (where painstaking work on the Star-Spangled Banner has been underway, on public view, since 1999), and the National Museum of Natural History. Summertime means school-trip time, so visitors will jockey for space with scores of eighth-graders and other likely students of civics and American government. This, too, is part of the American experience.
Free tours of the U.S. Capitol building and that most famous of American addresses, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (not on the Mall, but not far away, either) are best seen with advance tickets or by that time-honored method of getting things done: writing your congressman.
For all its hard-working, no-nonsense reputation, the District of Columbia has romantic elements, too. The patrician Georgetown neighborhood bustles at night but remains cozy, especially along the main restaurant-and-shopping strip of M Street. The Adams-Morgan and U Street neighborhoods are funkier, with hip eateries and nightspots. “Hip” is not a word that’s commonly associated with our nation’s capital, but these areas rival New Orleans for nightlife. And in 2005, the great American pastime (that’s baseball) returned to the District with the Washington Nationals.
Washington, D.C. Convention and Tourism Corp., (800) 422-8644 orwww.washington.org Getting there: Continental, Northwest, United, US Airways.
Travel time: About 2 1/2 hours.
—By Faith Dawson
The Heartbeat of Hip
Welcome to the city where the heat is on, all night on the beach ‘til the break of dawn.
— Rap artist and actor Will Smith
The pulse of this throbbing city conjoins with you almost the second you hit Miami’s bustling streets, known internationally for its five-star lodging, hip and exclusive nightclubs and some of the best restaurants in this cuisine-rich world.
But with all the hype, how does one figure out what to do? Here’s a couple scenarios we know even the most discerning traveler will relish. Take a flight straight into the heart of the city, as Miami International hosts most major and minor airlines. Hop in a cab or pre-arrange a driver to take you to Mandarin Oriental (shown here), the uber-posh and palatial resort on scenic Biscayne Bay where you are as likely to see top CEOs as you are the hottest celebs around. One barely has to leave here to have a dream vacation, with its luscious spa, idyllic pool area and gourmet cuisine. Voted “Best Spa in Miami” by Self magazine and “Best Spa in the USA” by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, a visit to The Spa is not to be missed.
The sumptuous rooms are designed in ultra-chic Asian simplicity, with a spa flair for comfort that is raging across the finest hotels. You must have dinner one night at the Mandarin’s award-winning Azul, a top-tier restaurant under the direction of chef Clay Conley. It has a luscious raw bar and extensive menu.
One must also try Baleen Restaurant at Grove Isle Club & Resort. Also overlooking the Biscayne Bay and voted “Most Romantic restaurant” and “Best Seafood” in Miami several times over, the food is phenomenal and so is the ambiance. Or if sushi fusion is your gig, sexy world-famous Sushi Samba is the trendy place to be for the hip set, where the food is as divine as the people watching.
Then, once you have filled up on Asian cuisine and gourmet goods, make your way to hip South Beach where the in crowd convenes. Hit the Shore Club’s world-famous SkyBar, where you will enter the world of pulsating Miami nightlife so many have wanted to glimpse. Spread throughout the intensely electric cobalt-blue walls, fountains and pergolas, the open-air rooftop wonder of Skybar Miami Beach matches any mood and entertainment at any time within the deeply sensual background of the colorful tropical gardens or its hot Red Room … always on fire. After lounging on their posh couches, jet over to hot club spots Prive or Mansion and dance the night away. For extra special treatment and envy, grab a VIP room.
Miami–Where it’s Hot
Miami Tourist Bureau,www.gmcvb.com.
Where to stay: Mandarin Oriental, 500 Brickell Key Dr., (305) 913-8288,www.man darinoriental.com, weekday rates $219 to $2,300 per night; weekend rates $229 to $2,300 per night
Dining and clubbing: Baleen, Grove Isle Club and Resort, Four Grove Isle Dr., Coconut Grove, (305) 858-8300, (800) 884-7683,www.groveisle.com; Mansion, 1235 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, (305) 531-5535, (Insider tip: Mansion is open Thurs. to Sun. 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
It is recommended to arrive early to avoid prolonged wait. Cover charges range between $20 to $30. Parking is available at the nearby 12th Street Garage, 1/2 a block west of Washington Avenue, for a rate of $1 per hour on weekdays and $6 per day on weekends.); Prive, 136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, (305) 531-5535,www.opiummiami.com, (Insider tip: Prive is open Thurs. to Sun. 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. It is recommended to arrive early to avoid prolonged wait. Cover charges range between $20 to $30.); Skybar, The Shore Club, 1901 Collins Ave., South Beach, (305) 695-3100, email@example.com; Sushi Samba, 600 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, (305) 673-5337;www.sushisamba.com Getting there: American has non-stop flights to Miami, leaving daily.
Travel time: A little over 2 1/2 hours.
—By Christie Caliendo
A free weekend was looming ahead for my boyfriend and I—no parties, dinners with friends, bands to see—and we decided to take advantage of it and go out of town. The requirements were a short drive—no flying, buses or trains—and we weren’t in a beach mood, nor interested in communing with nature. His parents, hearing of our dilemma, suggested Natchez, Miss. It was perfect—not too far away and it had the requisite amount of activities.
We tried to book a room in one of the more than 40 beds and breakfasts in the city—many of which are historic homes, such as Monmouth Plantation—but had picked a time when every room seemed to be taken. Looking elsewhere we came upon the Natchez Eola Hotel, located in the center of town. Built in 1927 and renovated in 1998, this small antebellum hotel adorned with marble columns and heavy rugs—it reminded me of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis—really conjures up that feeling as if you are living in the past. The rooms, thankfully, had modern-day amenities, and if you can, book a room with a view of the Mississippi River.
The river, like in New Orleans, played (and still does) an important role in the city. Founded in 1798 on a bluff 200 feet over the river, Natchez became a boomtown in the early 19th century because of the cotton trade. To show off their wealth, successful businessmen built large, antebellum homes and filled them with extravagant furniture. Many of these architectural treasures are open on a daily basis, with more open during the city’s bi-annual pilgrimages (in spring, and this fall, Oct. 20 to Nov. 5).
If touring homes is not your thing, you can have a nice walk around the center of town (there’s more than just fine antebellum architecture), bike (and the Natchez Trace is nearby), shop or gamble at the Isle of Capri casino, docked on the edge of an area called “under the hill.” This area, at the river’s edge has a number of restaurants and bars, though my boyfriend has a fondness for Cock of the Walk—not “under the hill,” but has good stick-to-your ribs food and cornbread served in an iron skillet—as well as the Eola Hotel’s extensive breakfast buffet. For a cocktail, we also liked the bar in the Eola, where you won’t have to drink alone—a collection of taxidermied hunting trophies (a bobcat, a big-horn sheep, etc.) are watching you.
Finally, if you want to venture a little out of town, take the bridge over the Mississippi River to Ferriday, La. The Delta Music Museum is a charming enclave that celebrates legendary musicians from Louisiana, such as hometown boys—and cousins—Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggert and Mickey Gilley, as well as Conway Twitty and Jimmie Davis.
City of Natchez:www.natchez.ms.us; Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, (800) 647-6742,www.natchez pilgrimage.com.
Where to stay: Natchez Eola Hotel,110 Pearl St., (601) 445-6000,www.eolahotel.com, the standard rate is $108 to $136; Monmouth Plantation, 36 Melrose Ave., (800) 828-4531, (601) 442-5852,www.monmouthplantation.com, rates are $165 to $380.
Dining: Cock of the Walk, 200 N. Broadway, (601) 446-8920.
Misc.: Delta Music Museum, 218 Louisiana Ave., Ferriday, La., (318) 757-9999,www.sec.state.la.us/ museums/delta/delta-gifts.htm; Isle of Capri Casino, (800) THE ISLE,www.islandofcapricasinos.com/Nathez.
Getting there: By car, take I-10 West. Merge onto I-55 North via exit 210 toward Hammond. Take the US-98 West exit (exit 20B) toward Natchez. Merge onto US-98 SW. Turn slightly left. Merge onto US-84 West via the ramp on the left. Stay straight to go onto Devereux Drive, which becomes St. Catherine St. Turn left onto N. Martin Luther King Jr. St. Turn right onto Main Street. Turn right onto N. Pearl St.
Travel time: 3 1/2 hours.
—By S.L. Strachan
Girls Gone Wild
Sometimes, a girls’ night out just isn’t enough. With a babysitter and half a tank of gas, you can turn one night into an entire weekend getaway by road tripping for an hour-and-a-half to the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s resorts and casinos.
Currently, there are 12 casinos in which to choose from, and even more are under construction. With all those options, you’ll need to know which resort/casino suits you and your party best. And that depends on what you’re looking for.
When it’s just the girls, typically the significance lies with spending the days at the pool, spa and shops; meals at fine-dining restaurants; and nights at upscale clubs.
If your comrades like to live in the lap of luxury, the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino is undoubtedly the most indulgent of the resorts. You can spend an entire weekend at “The Beau” and not place a single bet on a table—if you so choose. Here, you’ll find a spa complete with an exercise facility; a high-energy dance club called the Coast Brewing Company; Ivy, a martini bar; a luxurious pool area (shown here); and the Port House restaurant, which is surrounded by an aquarium that makes you feel like you’re dining under-water. Catch a Las Vegas-style show at the Beau Rivage Theatre. “Ezuru,” an exhibition of acrobats, aerialists and comedians, runs through June 12. Skip the outlet malls on the way and check out the shops in the lobby.
For a slightly wilder time, all bets are on the new Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Biloxi, which is scheduled to open in late summer. Though Hard Rock representatives are tight lipped on the amenities the hotel and casino will offer, what they did reveal is it will appeal to all ages. According to hotel representatives, the spa will be full service and, just like its Vegas location, the pool plays underwater music, but it won’t be shaped like a guitar. The featured restaurant sizzles—Ruth’s Chris Steak House. And after dinner, catch a music concert at the live venue, then drink some cocktails on the balcony at the lounge (the name is still under raps) located on the roof.
Oh yeah, did I mention there’s beaches and gambling too?
Mississippi Gulf Coast Getaway
Mississippi Gulf Coast CVB, (888) 467-4853, ext. 224,www.gulfcoast.org; Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, 875 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, (888) 567-6667, Hotel rates: $169 to $249 per night; Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Biloxi, 777 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, (877-URROCKN); hotel rates not available at press time.
Getting there: By car, take I-10 East for 85 miles. Take exit 46A toward Biloxi/Keesler, merging onto I-110-South. Merge onto Beach Blvd./US 90 East, via exit 1A toward Ocean Springs.
Travel time: About 1 1/2 hours.
—By Katie Block
Sea and Sand
Contrary to popular belief, the Florida panhandle is now open for business. Despite the several hurricanes that threatened the Emerald Coast, Florida beaches are ready to welcome their usual summer crowds. The Beaches of South Walton—located east of Destin and west of Panama City—in particular, have a little extra to offer this year’s guests, however.
The Beaches of South Walton—namely, WaterColor, Seaside and Rosemary—have many great events taking place throughout the summer including a weekly concert series and movie nights, aside from the picturesque resorts ready to accommodate those looking for a relaxing Florida experience.
WaterColor Beach is one of the Beaches of South Walton’s newest neighborhood communities. The WaterColor Inn and Resort is a resort and residential community located between Seaside and Grayton Beach State Recreation Area, nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and a rare, 220-acre coastal dune lake. The David Rockwell-designed Inn offers 60 rooms overlooking a sugar white sand beach and the emerald sea. Condominiums are also available to stay in. Winding foot and bicycle paths, parks, gardens, ponds and Western Lake are there to explore by bicycle, canoe or kayak (all complimentary). Several restaurants and shops are located within the community and a new full service spa opened last year. The top-ranked Tennis Center, along with the highly rated Camp Creek Golf Course (just six miles away) complete the total resort experience.
Seaside, which is adjacent to WaterColor, is the picture-perfect little town where you can reach every shop, restaurant, art gallery and more by foot or bicycle. Discover the unique shops, beachfront accommodations, galleries and more. Seaside made a giant splash in the architectural world when developer Robert Davis carved out a modern Victorian town with narrow streets, picket fences and homes arranged close together to encourage walking and neighborliness. It was the first of its kind, creating the model for towns across America. The homes can be rented on a daily or weekly basis.
Farther down on 30-A is Rosemary Beach, which offers beautiful beaches and unique architecture. Rosemary’s unique look is what first captures your attention, with its Dutch and West Indies-inspired homes and commercial buildings. Building palettes run to colors found in nature—mostly shades of rust, tan, green and brown, with Bermuda shutters, wide second floor porches, and arched garage doors. Footpaths and boardwalks lead to large decks over the sand dunes and, of course, to the beach. Established in 1995—named for the dune rosemary—the development is still growing, adding not only homes, but also new places to shop and dine in the Town Center.
Beaches of South Walton
Beaches of South Walton info.: (800) 822-6877, (850) 267-1216,www.beachesofsouth walton.com; Seaside, (888) 732-7433, (850) 231-4224,www.seasidefl.com; WaterColor, (866) 426-2656 or (850) 534-5000,www.watercolorinn.com; Rosemary Beach, (800) 736-0877 or (850) 231-2900,www.rosemary beach.com.
Getting there: By car, take I-10 East to Defuniak Springs Exit (US Hwy. 331). Head south to Hwy. 98 (Visitor’s Center is on the corner of Hwy 98 and 331).
Travel time: 4 hours, 48 minutes for Seaside and WaterColor, about another 1/2 hour more for Rosemary Beach.
A Sports Weekend in NYC
If you’re looking for a weekend getaway that’ll break up your summer monotony, then pack your bags for the Big Apple and get ready for a New York City sports adventure that’ll expose you to new experiences and won’t cost a second mortgage.
To get the maximum of sports viewing, I’ve come up with an itinerary that allows you to see the New York Yankees and the Giants at work, as well as give you time to do less sports-centric activities.
Leave New Orleans on Thurs. August 25 on United Airlines flight 2004, departing at 6:20 p.m. and arriving at New York’s LaGuardia Airport at 10:08 pm.
Hail a cab outside LaGuardia and head for the Doubletree Metropolitan Hotel. This modern hotel will put you at the center of it all. Get a good night’s rest—you’ll need it.
Wake up early. Then head to the 540 Park restaurant early and witness a New York “power breakfast.” Take the subway to the East Village at First Avenue. There’s some great shopping around St. Mark’s Place. Head to Second Avenue across from the Orpheum Theatre and have a “Soul Burger” at Paul’s. (Another shopping option, if you got money to burn: Start at 58th Street and Fifth Avenue at Bergdorf Goodman’s and work your way down—Tiffany’s, Henri Bendel, Harry Winston and other shopping havens await.)
Around 4 p.m., take a cab to Giants Stadium in New Jersey just across the Hudson River. Tickets to a Giants game are a rare find, so if you can put your hands on them, enjoy! However, an alternative is to stop at a grocery before you head across the river and pick up some essentials: ice chest (on wheels, preferably), cold drinks, ice and munchies. You are now ready for tailgating at the Giants vs. Jets preseason contest. If not, use some of your ice chest contents to gain entrance into an RV with a satellite dish. After the game, take a cab back to the hotel and have two Aspirin and two glasses of water. Then hit the sack.
Sleep late, you earned it. Head to the East Village again for brunch at Teany, a small tea shop owned by the musician Moby. Replenish yourself with the peach-apricot tea and a breakfast bagel.
Head to Yankee Stadium at 11 a.m., either by cab or subway. The Yanks take on the Kansas City Royals at 1 p.m. Feel free to root for George’s boys or the visitors. Either way, get some hot dogs and nachos. After the game, get to the Orpheum Theatre by 10 p.m. for a moving performance of Stomp! You won’t regret it.
On Sunday, check out and head to LaGuardia. But take your time: United Airlines flight 1808 doesn’t leave until 3:15 pm. Enjoy a three-hour nap on the flight home. Welcome back!
New York City Tourist Bureau: (212) 484-1200,www.nycvisit.com; New York Giants:www.giants.com; New York Yankees tickets: $45 each,www.yankees.com; Stomp! tickets: $37 each,www.stomponline.com.
Where to stay: Doubletree Metropolitan Hotel, 569 Lexington Ave. (at E. 51st St.), (800) 222-TREE; Airfare plus hotel for two: $867.69,www.expedia.com.
Getting there: United Airlines (another choice: JetBlue, but that gets into Kennedy Airport. LaGuardia is closer to NYC.)
Travel time: 3 hours.
—By Adam Tracey
Off the Beaten Path: St. Lucia
Lush green forests, deep blue water and a touch of exoticism: that is what St. Lucia can offer a traveler looking for a Caribbean escape without the hordes of tourists. While the island does have a number of all-inclusive resorts and is a stop on some cruise ships, it has still escaped the “Sandals”-ization that has plagued other Caribbean isles. (Though there are three Sandals—with one more to come—on the island, what I’m trying to say, is that it hasn’t been over-gentrified or commercialized.)
Who does St. Lucia appeal to? The traveler who wants more adventure than laying on the beach getting a constant flow of rum punches—the drink of choice on the island. Though, if that’s what you want to do, supporting the island’s rum industry is downright patriotic.
Since you have only a weekend, I would suggest staying at the southern end of the island. Drive to Soufrière (oh, and by the way, the roads in St. Lucia are twisty, hilly and bumpy—not for the faint of heart) and start by checking out the world’s only “drive through” volcano, Mount Soufrière, which is yes, still active. Park your car in the crater (really) and walk between sulphur springs and catch a sight of bubbling mud. No flying rocks or glowing lava—this isn’t Hawaii. It does smell—of sulphur, so be prepared.
Now it’s time to check in to Ladera, south of Soufrière. Situated in the mountains between the Pitons—two mountain peaks that face each other and are the national symbol–every room (six villas and 19 suites) has a stunning view of the valley, the Caribbean Sea and the Pitons. Situated on the side of a mountain (you can get quite a workout walking up and down the stairs to the hotel bar and restaurant), you often feel like you’re in a treehouse, à la Swiss Family Robinson. Furnished in a West Indies flair, the rooms open up to the view—meaning they are lacking a “fourth wall,” so you can go to sleep massaged by the gentle Caribbean breezes. (Many other island resorts/hotels, such as Anse Chastanet, are the same way.) Rooms also have their own pools, where you can sit, sip on a rum punch and serenely gaze out on the view. Though not on the beach, the resort can provide transportation—it’s about a 15 minute drive.
However, before you start hitting the rum punches, you may want to try snorkeling or diving—or hiking and biking through the island’s rainforests. The island’s flora, fauna and fish will amaze you with its diversity.
If you do go to the beach, right next door is Bang—the home of Colin Tennant, a.k.a. Lord Glenconnor, best known for being a friend of England’s Princess Margaret and the developer of Mustique. He’s moved to the island and owns Bang (also known as the Beau Estate), a real-estate development, but has opened a restaurant that serves lunch. (Call before to make sure it’s open that day.) It was quite a treat to dine with him—many eccentric wild stories, including that of owning a pet elephant.
Deep sea fishing is popular here: the waters off of St. Lucia are known for being a good spot for blue or white marlin, yellowfin tuna, wahoo and sailfish, with mackerel and barracuda closer to shore.
Nightlife is centered around food, rum punches, Piton beer and dancing. St. Lucians like to play—just like New Orleanians.
And, if you can’t wait for Mardi Gras, get a taste of the Caribbean version during the St. Lucia Carnival, May 29 to July 19 (the main activities take place July 18 and 19).
St. Lucia Tourist Board, (888) 4-STLUCIA, www.stlucia.org; Ladera, (758) 459-7323,www.ladera-stlucia.com; Anse Chastanet, (758) 459-7000,www.ansechastanet.com;
Getting there: Depending on what city you want to fly through, American Airlines offers a nonstop, daily service from Miami; U.S. Airways offers a nonstop weekend service from Philadelphia, and Saturday service from Charlotte, NC.; BWIA flies weekly from Miami and New York; and Delta offers nonstop service, five days a week from Atlanta.
Travel time: American Airlines: New Orleans to Miami:
A little over 1 1/2 hours, Miami to St. Lucia: about 3 1/2 hours.