While winter may have inspired the phrase “cabin fever,” the year 2020 certainly inspired the feeling in people across the country. There’s light at the end of the tunnel for those looking to get out and explore, and late winter and spring bring an array of activities, events, and reasons to safely find an escape in and around New Orleans. Whether you’re planning now for travel later or looking for a way to safely unwind outside of the home with friends, family, or a partner, the following travel destinations, resources and restaurants may deliver just what the doctor ordered. From steaming bowls of gumbo to homemade spaghetti and meatballs, foodies can support local festivals and eateries by warming their bellies with delicious regional cuisine. Meanwhile, travel agencies can help plan a future excursion to celebrate big milestones or achieve some peace and quiet. Cure your cabin fever this winter and spring by hatching your getaway today.
NEARBY TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
Big Bay Lake
600 Big Bay Blvd., Lumberton, MS, 877-424-4229, bigbaylake.com
Big Bay Lake is a one-of-a-kind planned community on one of Mississippi’s largest private recreational lakes. Located only 90 minutes from New Orleans, Big Bay Lake blends seamlessly into its natural surroundings. Waterfront homesites are available for building custom homes or retreats, and resale homes are usually available for immediate purchase. 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 and enjoying laid back “Lake Life” to the fullest. Come experience sun-kissed, fun-filled days at Big Bay Lake, where the little things make life…“Big!”
32nd Annual Sandestin Gumbo Festival
9100 Baytowne Blvd., Miramar Beach, FL, 850-267-8110, sandestingumbofestival.com
Warm up this February with the Emerald Coast’s hottest winter food event, the Sandestin Gumbo Festival held at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. On Friday, February 19, 2021, the fest kicks off with a seafood boil at Hammerhead’s Bar & Grille. On Saturday, the main event will bring gumbo fans from all across the region together to taste and judge their favorite iterations of gumbo—light roux versus dark, seafood versus chicken and sausage, and gumbos with unique twists and influences while live music, children’s activities, and a Best Bloody Marys at The Beach competition add to the fun. An accommodations package available at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort includes a ticket to Saturday’s main event.
VISIT SOUTH WALTON
South Walton Visitor Center
25777 US Highway 331 South, Santa Rosa Beach, FL, VisitSouthWalton.com
With 26 miles of stunning sugar-white sand beaches and 16 unique beach neighborhoods, South Walton offers endless opportunities for visitors to find their perfect beach. Tucked away on the Northwest Florida Panhandle along the Gulf of Mexico, South Walton is easily accessible but set apart by its unmatched natural beauty. Vast nature preserves create a relaxed respite not often found in similar destinations, offering adventure-seekers more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails, four state parks, a 15,000-acre state forest and 15 rare coastal dune lakes. Unique landscapes, eclectic shops, luxury accommodations and award-winning restaurants help form South Walton, Florida’s distinctive character.
NEW ORLEANS ESCAPES
4206 Magazine St., New Orleans, 504-561-8844, RedGravyCafe.com
Settle in—or out—at Red Gravy’s new Uptown location, which features heated outdoor dining in its 24-seat courtyard with eight additional outdoor seats along Magazine Street. The restaurant is adhering to all safety mandates as it continues offering its top-ranked weekend brunch and new dinner service, Wednesday-Saturday. The dinner menu features some of the best of Owner Roseann Melisi Rostoker’s handed-down Italian recipes: handmade pasta and gnocchi, homemade ravioli, and flavor-rich favorites like lasagna and spaghetti and meatball. Roseann’s signature brunch dishes like Cannoli Pancakes and Breakfast Spaghetti pair perfectly on Saturdays and Sundays with eye openers like mimosas and the restaurant’s popular Witch’s Brew coffee cocktail.
Royal Sonesta New Orleans
300 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, 504-553-2205, Sonesta.com
The Royal Sonesta New Orleans believes in “Happily Ever After.” It offers inspired, classic elegance for your wedding celebration—from dazzling venues like its authentic French Quarter courtyard and iconic wrought-iron balconies, to one-of-a-kind cuisine and contemporary cocktails, to private rooms for bridal showers, brunches and teas, Royal Sonesta New Orleans has everything you need to create your unique wedding experience. When social distancing requires a new way to plan your special day, the hotel is ready to host your intimate event with micro wedding and “minimony” promotions. For all your wedding needs, Royal Sonesta New Orleans stands out as the perfect spot for New Orleans destination weddings.
TRAVEL PLANNING & RESOURCES
AAA 24/7 Roadside Assistance
Now is the perfect time to dream about your road trip escape! When the time is right to jump in the car, 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, and 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 can join AAA for only $52 and get two household members free (promo code 175685). Current AAA members can add two new household members free (promo code 175687).
Clandestine Events + Experiences
3436 Magazine Street, New Orleans, 504-766-3033, Clandestine-events.com
Details matter—Clandestine’s Experience Planning Team takes care of all your travel and concierge details, even those that are unexpected. As a boutique destination management business, Clandestine’s services cover local New Orleans hosted experiences as well as those outside of Louisiana with deep-rooted contacts across the US. The company specializes in private milestone celebrations such as destination weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and family reunions. Examples have included a family reunion in Discovery Bay, Jamaica, a destination wedding in Wine Country, a milestone birthday Mardi Gras celebration, and VIP experiences at the Indy500 and Kentucky Derby. If you have an upcoming celebration and want it to be the experience of a lifetime, call Clandestine today.
Cupcake Castles Travel Company
Kenner • Metairie • New Orleans, 504-298-1197, cupcakecastlestravel.com
Cupcake Castles Travel Company is a Boutique Travel Agency that helps busy families and couples dream up their next travel destination by guiding them with expertise, passion for service, and a knack for matching them with a perfect destination and itinerary. The agency consults with clients and carefully crafts itineraries that allow for fun, spontaneous adventures and helps them create memories that are everlasting. From fun-filled theme park family vacations, to relaxing, secluded couple’s getaways in the Caribbean, Cupcake Castles Travel Company can provide a solution for enjoying time together as safely and easily as possible. Clients have enjoyed utilizing the agency’s complimentary concierge services to travel to locations across the globe.