Shermanstravel Blog

New Orleans

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If you’re headed to New Orleans, do yourself a favor and don’t spend all your time in the French Quarter. Just across Route 90 and down the famous St. Charles Avenue, the uptown neighborhood offers parks, stunning architecture, and river views as well as some of the city’s best in food, drink, and music. Here are a few laid-back restaurants and bars for any foodie itinerary.

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iStock/Lake Tahoe in AutumnReady to drive? America in fall is marvel: cooler weather and colorful foliage spread across the northeast; comfortably sunny days are the norm from Vegas to Miami; and there’s perfect hiking weather in the west. Over the past few months, we’ve highlighted dozens of destinations that are perfect for a road trip, whether you’re looking to discover a new beach in Florida, visit a winery in upstate New York, sail on Lake Tahoe, or delve into an American classic — the Grand Canyon. Here are some ideas that we hope will inspire you — and persuade you to fill up the tank and go.

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Sandito Mojito, Cuba Libre OrlandoWe’re game to celebrate nearly every food- or drink-focused holiday (National Margarita Day, anyone?), so we’re excited that August is Rum Month. Rum is the elixir of both swash-buckling pirates and bleary-eyed Caribbean travelers alike. But some folks have rum misconceptions: They think only of umbrella-topped super-sweet frozen drinks or unimaginative soda mixes from their young-adult years. We’re here to open your eyes to a brave new world of this sugar cane-based liquid miracle. Beyond plain Bacardi, there are hundreds of varieties of rum — some as premium as any top-shelf cognac.

These 21 bars from coast-to-coast (and points in between) are serving up choice cocktails this month using rums you may not have heard of before. And don’t forget that Saturday, August 16 is officially National Rum Day. So raise a glass and say, “Aaar!”

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We may have missed National Ice Cream Day (it was on July 20), but National Ice Cream Month continues. Why not celebrate with a couple of scoops of something more adventurous than vanilla? Read more

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River cruising finally seems to be taking off in the States, with sailings along the Mississippi river in the lead. The appeal, once you think about it, isn’t difficult to understand — it’s relatively easy and cheap to get to the various U.S. departure ports, and there’s something romantic and simply American about imagining yourself as a character in a Mark Twain novel. Here, some cruise lines that are reconnecting travelers to the rivers of the nation:

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There’s no excuse like being on vacation to indulge in decadent dishes that you’d feel guilty about tucking into at home, right? Plus, eating local is part of the cultural experience of any destination. Here, five bizarre and over-the-top regional eats — and where to try them if you so dare:

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Home in Marigny, New OrleansIt’s impossible to see all of New Orleans in a weekend. With award-winning restaurants, endless nightlife, and picture-perfect neighborhoods, it seems like you could spend a lifetime of weekends exploring the city. But many people venture here for just a short time, whether they turn up to hear incredible music, tour lavish historic homes, or just party until dawn. Here’s a quick glimpse at the Crescent City as seen over one summer weekend — strictly a beginner’s tour. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did, and plan on repeat visits to this incredible destination.

See the slideshow.

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If you want to head to New Orleans when it’s cheap, go there in summer. Hotels lower prices in August, and you can find round-trip flights from many parts of the U.S. for under $300. Why? It’s hot. It’s also hurricane season — a thing that’s not to be taken lightly in New Orleans. But if you can deal with the risk and brave the heat, it’s a great time to go. Crowds are smaller. Lines for restaurants are shorter. And there’s something about 90-degree weather that feels right in New Orleans — like it’s part of the city’s charm. If you’re heading down, here’s how to brave the heat:

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vinyls - steve snodgrass - 620A big part of the travel experience is bringing a piece of it home, so you can remember where you’ve been long after you’ve returned. We recommend skipping the chintzy souvenir shops and loading up on genuine local goods instead. Here, four ways to find items that really represent the destination, wherever you are.

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cemetery 1Most people love a good thrill, and we don’t mean gravity-defying views or insane roller-coaster drops. We’re talking about the hair-raising variety you get from a graveyard tour. Of course, not all cemeteries are all mist and gloom. In fact, it can be easy to confuse some cemeteries with botanical gardens come spring. Come and check out some of America’s most hauntingly beautiful cemeteries – and “meet” their most famous spirits.  Read more

Pizza Domenica, New OrleansSure, there’s Pat O’Brien’s, Café du Monde and Acme Oyster House. And you’ll have a great time at all of the above – because these venerable institutions are what New Orleans is all about. But why not hit up some places where you’re more likely to mingle with locals and less likely to be sold a commemorative t-shirt? Here are five places in New Orleans that you probably won’t find in your guidebook.

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amtrak-train-empire-builder 2-loco steve - 620There are lots of reasons to take the train: amazing views, no security lines, no need for GPS, and you can even stretch your legs or get a snack. But a big pitfall is that tickets can be pricey. That’s why we’re happy to see these Amtrak deals, which are available right now:

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jazz fest new orleans - Billy Metcalf Photography - 620It’s not quite Mardi Gras, but Jazz Fest is just as much a part of New Orleans’ cultural fabric. Now in its 45th year, the two-weekend celebration encompasses 12 stages that will be welcoming more than 500 acts and 5,000 performers. This year’s edition opened last weekend and will continue on May 1 through May 4, featuring beloved local musicians along big names like Bruce Springsteen, Christina Aguilera, Foster the People, Eric Clapton, and more over the seven days. As with all NOLA events, food also takes center stage – so much so that there actually is a dedicated Food Heritage stage with demonstrations all weekend long.

If this kind of cultural fiesta sounds like your kind of vacation, it’s not too late to make plans. While some hotels run upwards of $400-$500 during the festival – if they don’t sell out – there are still a few with vacancies under $300 for the festival’s second weekend:

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baseball - flickr - tulanesally - 620America’s pastime is in full swing this spring as baseball fans head south to Florida’s Grapefruit League and west to greater Phoenix’s Cactus League to catch Major League Baseball in preseason action. Training stadiums offer closer access to your favorite players, often with designated areas to snag an autograph. You’ll also find yourself merely a fly ball away from the action. Compare the new Cubs Park in Mesa, Arizona, which has 15,000 seats, to Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, which has a whopping 54,000.

If you’re traveling this spring, here are a host of baseball-related activities that are tailor-made for travelers, and you don’t even have to go all the way to Florida or Arizona to experience them… Read more

PanamaIn cities around the world, Carnival revelers party from mid-February through Ash Wednesday. As this year’s festivities wind down, here are ten excellent Carnival parties you can live through vicariously – or plan a trip for next year. Read more

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