A few times a month, New Orleans Bride Magazine travel editor Becca Hensley is offering “Let Them Eat Cake” readers a chance to escape with glamourous trips everywhere from Africa to Colorado. Though the world is still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, slowly more states, hotels and vacation destinations are opening with certain restrictions in place. Hensley’s extensive travel knowledge allows us to dream up picture-perfect honeymoons and pre-wedding vacations; however, we encourage all brides and grooms to thoroughly research any vacation destination, including state regulations, before heading out on your next adventure. Wedding planning comes with enough stress, we don’t want to include any health-related issues into the mix.
In her book about a road trip, Once Upon an Ever After, Angela N. Blount wrote: “Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn’t mean to take.” While nobody asked for this pandemic tumult, it arrived. As weddings and honeymoons continue to be cancelled and rescheduled, as social distancing and mask wearing morph to be a lifesaving artform, we should pivot into that “detour” offered by life, and take in the new landscape. For some, that might mean exchanging that trip to the far flung Maldives for a holiday on the highway, exploring the backroads of neighboring states. When you feel comfortable, when the time is right, steer yourself down a turnpike with the love of your life. En route to remote locales, you’ll laugh, argue about directions then make up, sing — and repeat. Below, we offer some routes to enhance your journey.
Texas Two Ways
New Orleans to Marfa, by way of Concan
It takes a long driving day (9 hours) to arrive in Concan, a charming Texas hamlet on the scenic Rio Frio. Plan to rest up for several nights at Neal’s Lodge, a nostalgic collection of cabins that smack of summer camp-infused, heyday fun. A mecca for birdwatchers, Concan and the Frio River itself draw most visitors for rousing, all day tubing down the stream. Other activities to pen into your schedule include: horseback riding, hiking, hayrides and golf. At night, snuggle in your rough-hewn cabin, far from the maddening crowds.
Put Concan’s Hill Country in your rearview mirror, for a five-hour trek to the desert. Marfa, cute, and funky, seems almost fake. Once the lair of Liz Taylor during the filming of Giant, it recently gained popularity with the resident artists and their fans. Don’t resist a selfie in front of the incongruous Prada Marfa, a whimsical permanent sculptural art installation by artists Elmgreen and Dragset, set about 30 minutes from town. But, mostly you’ll just relax into the Zen vibes of cacti-flecked wilderness, in the shadow of mountains, beneath the immensity of a Texas sky. Known as a global hummingbird heartland, this tiny town has star appeal— and, not just because it attracts celebrities. An unpretentious art colony, thanks to Donald Judd and others who found its setting inspirational, Marfa has galleries, hiking trails, mysterious unexplained (terrestrial, perhaps?) lights, chic boutiques and easy access to nearby Big Bend National Park. Socially distance in vintage-intoned El Cosmico, a canny enclave of yurts, tents, tipis and restored caravans.
Carnivore’s Caper Around Austin
With quarantine at home you may have boosted your cooking skills, but who isn’t dreaming of somebody else toiling over the fire. Barbecue lovers can take the drive to Central Texas, famous for its brisket, sausage and ribs. Start in Austin, where you can order from James Beard-honored Franklin’s BBQ in advance to avoid the line. In nearby Lockhart, touted as the BBQ Capital of Texas, stop at Kreuz Market, Smitty’s Market and the original Black’s BBQ. Why all three? Loyal customers will make you swear allegiance, so you need to know which you prefer, when they ask. In Elgin, stop at for more than a century. In Driftwood, dine at the original Salt Lick, which sits among vineyards. Base at Austin’s newest hotel, the intimate, Commodore Perry Estate, from Auberge Resorts Collection, ensconced in an historic mansion near the university. (Pro Tip: get your third night free through Aug. 31).
Two Other Trips To Put On Your List:
About three hours from New Orleans, loop into the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, a 180-mile trip that leads into “Louisiana’s Outback.” Go crabbing, cast a line, bird watch, alligator gaze and stop for a picnic on idyllic sandy beach.
Land of Enchantment
New Mexico’s legendary setting has inspired scores of famous lovers — such as Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Stieglitz. Delve into the romance of its myriad nooks, most of which can only be reached only by car. Starting from Santa Fe, Taos or Albuquerque, dial up Heritage Inspirations easy itineraries via their “Click & Buy” program, which gives access to eight stunning self-tours, information and maps. Stay in any of the Heritage’s stellar hotels, then set off to explore destinations such as Route 66 or the Turquoise Trail. My personal favorites are El Monte Sagrado in Taos and Santa Fe’s Inn and Spa at Loretto.