Spring Travel Destinations

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Spring inspires travel for many local families, and whether it’s a spring break week away or a simple day trip to a nearby point of interest, getting out of town and out of a routine is good for the soul. Greater New Orleans is close to a wide variety of attractions, and even destinations thousands of miles away are made close by the convenience of an international airport. From discovering the soul of Mississippi and the history of Louisiana to feeling the waves crash against you in Alabama or Florida, there’s an adventure for everyone just a short drive away. Festivals also abound across the region, which means a surplus of opportunities for food, music, dancing, and art. Professional and collegiate sporting events, vacation rentals along the beach, casino resorts, and entertaining excursions are just a few of the options included here. Find your fun this spring with a nearby or international trip, and remember what it’s like to experience the world away from the home and office.

 

International Travel

 

This spring and summer, allow Condor to deliver you to your international vacation destination. Beginning May 23, 2020, international flights from Condor Airlines will resume from New Orleans, operating on Wednesdays and Saturdays through September 19, 2020.

Condor has been flying its guests to the most beautiful destinations in the world since 1956. Every year, around 9.4M passengers fly with Condor from eight German airports to around 90 destinations in Europe, Africa, and America. According to a survey conducted by the German Institute for Service Quality on behalf of the news channel n-tv, Condor has repeatedly been named Germany’s most popular holiday airline for many years.

“After 16 years, the Condor logo will return to the tails of our aircraft, which makes especially every person working for Condor very proud,” says Ralf Teckentrup, CEO of Condor. “Condor and our logo is a strong brand that has signified Germany’s most popular airline for 64 years.”

For flights and information, visit Condor.com.

 

Louisiana Hot Spots

 

St. Martin Parish draws visitors year round with its welcoming hospitality, world-class music, and famous local cuisine. Accommodations offerings include beautiful B&Bs, top quality campgrounds and cabins, houseboats, and hotels. Breaux Bridge offers an array of shopping, antiquing and world-renowned hot spots like the famous Zydeco Breakfast at Buck & Johnny’s and nighttime entertainment at Tante Marie’s, Pont Breaux’s Cajun Restaurant, and Cafe Sydnie Mae. The Henderson area, at the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin, offers airboat and swamp tours and great family-owned restaurants such as Chicken on the Bayou and Crawfish Town USA. St. Martinville plays host to countless festivals and quaint cafes in the beautiful downtown district. Take heritage tours at Acadian Memorial, African American Museum, and Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site.

Located just two hours west of New Orleans and a short drive from anywhere in the state, St Martin Parish holds the true essence of Cajun and Creole. Discover “where Cajun began” by visiting CajunCountry.org.

 

French Quarter Phantoms Ghost & Vampire Tours are fun for visitors and locals alike. Listed as #5 in TripAdvisor›s Top Ten Ghost Tours in the World, their tours should be on everyone’s “Must Do” list. Grab a cocktail and walk along with their Master Story Tellers for a lot of great laughs and chills up your spine. Their fun, exuberant guides are passionate about entertaining guests. Year-round tours begin at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. nightly and are appropriate for all ages.

For daytime adventures, explore St Louis #1 Cemetery, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily, or walk amidst shady live oaks and grand houses on a tour of the Garden District available at 10 a.m. daily. For adults-only fun, try Saints & Sinners, a dirty little French Quarter history tour beginning at 1 p.m. daily. French Quarter Phantoms offers a variety of tours throughout the day and evening. Pick your favorite, grab your friends, and have some fun.

Online discounts are available through FrenchQuarterPhantoms.com. For more information, call 504-666-8300.

 

A visit to New Orleans combines comfort with adventure, the experience of southern hospitality and a relaxed pace among the magic and entertainment that keeps the city lively all year long. Adjacent to the French Quarter and in close proximity to popular festivals and events such as Mardi Gras, Southern Decadence, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and French Quarter Fest, the
JW Marriott New Orleans offers recently refreshed, luxurious hotel rooms and suites with views of bustling Canal Street and the French Quarter.

After exploring the sights, rest easy with JW Marriott’s heated outdoor saltwater pool on the 8th floor as well its lobby lounge and bar. JW Marriott believes that a hotel is more than a place to lay your head—it is a crafted, immersive experience created by staff that love what they do. That’s why each moment of your stay is personally choreographed to delight and inspire your journey so that you may leave richer than when you arrived.

Visit JWMarriottNewOrleans.com to view exclusive packages or call 504-525-6500.

 

Surrounded by the waters of Bayou Teche, Atchafalaya River, and the Atchafalaya Swamp Basin, the Cajun Coast in St. Mary Parish is known for its natural splendor and “road less traveled” atmosphere. Spend a beautiful spring day exploring the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area or winding along the Bayou Teche Scenic Byway. Captain Caviar’s Swamp Tours take visitors through the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest overflow swamp in the country. Or, experience the wilderness by paddling through the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge or renting canoes and kayaks at Captain Caviar Swamp Tours in Patterson. Golfers love the Atchafalaya at Idlewild, ranked Louisiana’s number one golf course by Golfweek Magazine in 2008 and 2009.

This spring, St Mary Parish is alive with festivals and events. March brings the Basin Brew Fest and Brittany’s Project (March 21) and Songs on the Bayou Songwriter’s Festival (March 25-29). April 17-18 brings the Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival, the Bayou Teche Wooden Boat Show, and the Franklin Bicentennial Celebration. Porch Fest takes place April 18, and Rhythms on the River runs every Friday for nine weeks beginning April 17.

For more information, visit CajunCoast.com.

 

Take a walk through time as you enjoy a glimpse into the lives of fascinating people who have called St. Joseph Plantation home. Learn about the Priestly family and grandson H. H. Richardson, who was born at St. Joseph and became one of America’s most important architects of the 19th century. Explore the story of Valcour Aime, known as “The Louis XIV of Louisiana,” and his two daughters, Felicite and Josephine, to whom he gave St. Joseph Plantation and neighboring Felicity Plantation. Discover the stories of the slaves that lived here and the work they did.

In 1877, the story of St. Joseph’s Plantation’s current family began when Joseph Waguespack purchased the plantation. Joseph’s descendants, the Waguespack and Simon families, have kept this sugarcane plantation thriving for over 135 years, operating the plantation with over 1,000 acres planted. Visit and learn about the sugarcane industry and its regional significance.

Additionally, see where scenes from All The King’s Men, Skeleton Key, 12 Years a Slave, Underground, Queen Sugar, the remake of Roots, and four-time Oscar nominee Mudbound were filmed.

Visit StJosephPlantation.com, or call 225-265-4078.

 

Located in downtown New Orleans, The Smoothie King Center has taken its place as the number one entertainment and sports venue in the region. In addition to playing host to some of the world’s largest musical acts, it is also the home of the New Orleans Pelicans.

This month, the Smoothie King Center will host the Sun Belt Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships on March 14 and 15, WWE Friday Night SmackDown Live on March 20, and Nick Cannon Presents: MTV Wild ‘N Out Live on March 28. The NCAA Women’s Final Four will also return to the Smoothie King Center for the fourth time, tipping off on April 3 and 5.

Tickets to these events are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com. To check out all of The Smoothie King Center’s upcoming concerts and sporting events, please visit SmoothieKingCenter.com.

 

Alabama Getaways

 

Orange Beach, Alabama Photo Shoot On Saturday, June 1, 2019.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

Spring ahead to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach—whoever said you had to wait until summer to enjoy a beach vacation has obviously never been to the Alabama Gulf Coast. Spring adventures await you and your family along Alabama’s 32 miles of sugar-white sand beaches. With pristine turquoise waters, deliciously warm weather and an extensive list of activities on and off the beach, your family will want to spend their spring break in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for years to come.

Make plans to visit Alabama’s coast for the Waterway Village Zydeco and Crawfish Festival on Saturday, April 4. Sink your teeth into hot, juicy, lip-smacking crawfish throughout the day while dancing to the infectious rhythms of some of the best Zydeco bands from around the South.

To start planning your spring getaway, order a copy of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach’s 2020 Vacation Guide at GulfShores.com/Plan/Vacation-Guide.

 

Unlike regular beach hotels cluttered together along the coast, The Lodge at Gulf State Park, A Hilton Hotel is a unique destination on the Alabama Gulf Coast with nature at its doorstep. Located within the beautiful 6,150-acre Gulf State Park, The Lodge at Gulf State Park provides luxurious accommodations with direct beach access, four dining options, 40,000 square feet of flexible event space, and miles of beach trails with the pristine coastal scenery of this natural wildlife habitat. During your stay, you’ll connect with the outdoors on a whole new level. And in doing so, you’ll be helping in the hotel’s conservation efforts to restore and maintain the beauty of this truly distinctive property.

Each of the 350 non-smoking guest rooms, including 20 suites, weave comfort and sustainability with a contemporary flair. All rooms bring the outdoors in by providing guests views of either The Gulf of Mexico or Lake Shelby/Gulf State Park. At The Lodge at Gulf State Park, doing nothing is really something. Book your spring getaway today by visiting LodgeatGulfStatePark.com.

 

Florida Fun in the Sun

 

It’s spring break season, and there’s no better beach escape than Pensacola Beach, Florida, and the properties of Premier Island Management Group. Situated just a few hours outside of New Orleans along the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Island National Seashore, this collection of vacation rentals includes beach homes, condos, and the acclaimed skyhomes of the Portofino Island Resort.

Northwest Florida’s premier beach vacation experience, Portofino Island offers families the perfect balance of indulgence, natural beauty, and active adventure. Take a kayak or paddleboard adventure and surf the emerald green waters, or fly under the sun as you parasail your day away. Be sure to reserve a spa day and get pampered in the comfort of your private suite or poolside. Enjoy a morning or sunset cruise and watch curious dolphins jump out of the water to say hello. Whether you want to enjoy the beach with family, children, your spouse or friends, guests of all ages will enjoy the properties of Premier Island.

More than just another Spring Break, this will be the one your family remembers for a lifetime. Discover yours at PremierIsland.com or call 866-935-7741.

 

Experiencing Historic Pensacola is a must-do for any spring getaway to America’s first multi-year European settlement. Located downtown, just minutes from Pensacola’s world famous sugar-white beaches and emerald-green waters, Historic Pensacola is nestled within the footprints of the original Spanish and British forts as well as in the heart of today’s waterfront dining, shopping, and entertainment scene.

The walkable complex shares the stories of Pensacola’s rich heritage through museum exhibits, guided home tours, and engaging, period-dressed living history interpreters. “One Ticket, Seven Days to Explore” ticketing allows access to all museums, tours, and activities for seven days.

While exploring, step across the street to the Pensacola Museum of Art and immerse yourself in the diversity of visual culture through exhibitions, tours, and special events designed to educate and inspire. For hours and ticket information, visit HistoricPensacola.org (850-595-5990) and PensacolaMuseum.org (850-432-6247).

 

Spring is here and summer is close behind. With the warmer temperatures, many Louisiana families are dreaming of fun-filled days at the beach. Just a four-hour drive from New Orleans, the soft, white sand beaches along Destin, South Walton, and 30-A are easily accessible.

For more than 35 years, Newman-Dailey Resort Properties has been welcoming families to the beach and sharing local favorites. This year, families can act local by participating in Beach BINGO, the My Beach Memories Photo Contest, a Coastal Clean Up, or Food for Thought food drive. Participating guests will be registered to win a vacation stay with Newman-Dailey or other fun prizes.

For families planning a spring getaway, Newman-Dailey is again offering the Late Spring Fling* special offer. For stays between April 18 and May 20, 2020, vacationers can save 10 percent off a vacation rental home or condominium. (*Some restrictions apply). Use promo code: SPRING20. Learn more at DestinVacation.com or call 1-800-225-7652.

 

Uncork some fun in the sun at the 34th Annual Sandestin Wine Festival, April 16-19. Regarded as one of the top wine festivals in the country and known as the “Kentucky Derby of Wine Festivals,” the Sandestin Wine Festival provides a picture-perfect series of events, complete with white tents, flowing wine, gourmet food, and live music at The Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.

With one-of-a-kind seminars, wine dinners, and culinary experiences, the Sandestin Wine Festival is most known for its main event, the Grand Wine Tastings, which showcase more than 500+ domestic and international wines over a two-day span. Guests enjoy the opportunity to talk to vineyard owners and wine makers about their favorite appellations while also trying something new. Savor South Walton tents allow guests to pair delectable, bite-sized appetizers from some of the Emerald Coast’s best chefs with their current glass selection. The popular Bubbly & Boozy tent returns to the Grand Sandestin Lawn with bubbles, specialty liquors, and desserts galore.

For a full schedule, tickets, accommodations, and more, visit SandestinWineFestival.com.

 

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Mississippi Escapes

 

There are so many reasons to visit Vicksburg in the spring—from Vicksburg Pilgrimage to fun day festivals and flea markets, there are countless one-of-a-kind experiences you won’t soon forget.

If you are in search of the elusive sound of the Mississippi Delta Blues, you will find it in Vicksburg. Learn American history by visiting the site of the defining battle of America’s defining war at the Vicksburg National Military Park. Enjoy the southern charm of Vicksburg by strolling the brick-paved streets of its historic downtown. Visit eclectic boutiques, art galleries, and various eateries featuring Southern specialties. Enjoy sweeping views of the mighty Mississippi River and some of the most beautiful sunsets imaginable.

Relax—it all runs on river time. For more to see and do in Vicksburg, go to VisitVicksburg.com or call 1-800-221-3536.

 

Big Bay Lake is a one-of-a-kind planned community on one of Mississippi’s largest private recreational lakes. Located just outside of Hattiesburg, and only 90 minutes from New Orleans, Big Bay Lake blends seamlessly into its natural surroundings. Waterfront homesites are available for building custom homes and retreats starting at $70,000 and several resale homes are usually available for immediate purchase. Both the homes and homesites within this community provide unique opportunities to create the perfect home or weekend getaway.

It’s time to relax, unplug, make memories and create new traditions at Big Bay Lake. Whether you are a boating or fishing enthusiast or just a family who loves to make a big splash, Big Bay Lake is simply about the lure of the water. Come enjoy sun-kissed, fun-filled days at Big Bay Lake, where the little things make life…“Big!”  Call for a boat tour today at 877-4BIG-BAY or visit BigBayLake.com.

 

Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, voted “Favorite Casino Resort to Vacation At” on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, welcomes you to book your stay and enjoy a lavish hotel room featuring breathtaking views, superior service, and bathrooms that feel more like a spa.

Start your Sunday mornings with a Jazz Brunch at Scarlet’s Steaks & Seafood with bottomless mimosas and bellinis and live entertainment by Jesse Hill. Spice it up with a loaded Bloody Mary topped with fresh lobster tail.

Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort showcases over 900 state-of-the-art slot machines, over 30 top-of-the-line table games, and over 50 video poker games. If you are feeling really lucky, take a shot at a hole-in-one at Lava Links Miniature Golf Course featuring a live, erupting volcano.

Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort—your home away from home. Book your next ultimate getaway at ScarletPearlCasino.com or call 888-BOOK-SPC.

 

Life has a distinctive rhythm and texture in Greenwood, Mississippi, home of the haunting strains of the blues, America’s original musical art form, and the final resting place of legendary bluesman Robert Johnson. The area inspired a culinary tradition that rose from humble roots to seduce the most discerning palates while simultaneously comforting the soul. Greenwood attracts artists, musicians, filmmakers, craftsmen, chefs, foodies, writers, storytellers, seekers, entrepreneurs, outdoorsmen, lovers, collectors, history buffs, and adventurers. It lives, breathes and redefines authentic Southern hospitality.

Foodies love visiting the original Viking Cooking School with demonstrations and hands-on lessons from expert instructors and chefs (advance reservations required), and unwinding is made easy with amazing eats and drinks at a variety of local restaurants.

History buffs loves visiting the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement and its Freedom Trail markers identifying the fateful story of Emmett Till and the site of the famous “Black Power” speech by Stokely Carmichael. Meanwhile, markers from the Mississippi Blues Trail adorn Greenwood, offering significant insights to the music’s origin. The Museum of the Mississippi Delta features history, art, and regional archaeology.

For more information, go to VisitGreenwood.com.

 

Take an island adventure this summer that won’t break the bank and is located only about 70 minutes from New Orleans. Mississippi’s finest beaches are located on Ship Island, approximately 11 miles offshore from the Gulf Coast cities of Gulfport and Biloxi. The undeveloped sand island is accessible only by boat. Ship Island Excursions offers daily passenger ferry service from Gulfport and Biloxi.

Watch for Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins during an enjoyable 60-minute cruise. Part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, Ship Island offers visitors the first high quality, natural beaches for swimming and shelling east of New Orleans. Travel to a special place where the main attractions are long, quiet beaches, beautiful green water, and clean Gulf air. The nine-mile long barrier island also features historic Fort Massachusetts (circa 1858).

Food service is available on the boats and the island. Chair and umbrella rentals are also available. During summer, the National Park Service offers a lifeguarded swim beach and fort tours. Ferry service operates March through October. Visit MSShipIsland.com for info.

 

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Travel Resources

 

There’s nothing like the feeling of jumping in the car and embarking on a long-awaited road trip. If there’s one thing that could ruin your journey, it’s unexpected car trouble. Fortunately, you can make sure your road trip stays on track with the peace of mind that accompanies AAA 24/7 Roadside Assistance. AAA covers you in any car, SUV, or pick-up truck even if you’re not the driver. AAA provides members with free towing, free tire change, free lock-out assistance, free minor mechanical first aid, free jump start, and free delivery of emergency fuel.

For a limited time, readers of New Orleans Magazine can join AAA for only $52 and get a second household member free (promo code 175602). Current AAA members can add one new household member free (promo code 175604). For more details, see AAA’s ad in this issue, visit your local AAA branch, call 844-330-2173, or visit AAA.com/ValueAd. Join AAA today.