Shermanstravel Blog

New Orleans

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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 vacation packages

Note: This post was updated on January 29, 2015 to reflect current Amtrak deals.

There 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

carnival celebrations around the worldIn 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

Mardi Gras

Is it possible to do Mardi Gras on a budget? Adding up the cost of hotel rooms, frequent beer stops, bead attire, and indulgent, post-boozing meals, a simple trip to New Orleans can easily exceed several thousand dollars. Yet, that same festive spirit can be found in small-town carnival celebrations like the ones we’ve listed below – twice the fun, for half the price. Read more

Windsor Court HotelMardi Gras ends in a few days, which means that revelers will be celebrating well through the weekend. While we’re typically fans of the “go big or go home” party mentality, especially when we travel, sometimes you need a little break. Whether you’re hankering after something refined, something casual, or something that’s just plain New Orleans, here’s where you can get some peace and quiet in NOLA…

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Caribbean Beach getaway for aprilWe’ve got something to lift your spirits today: As we move into spring break season, resorts throughout the Caribbean and eastern Mexico are likely to be either booked solid, or selling at a premium. Come April and early May, however, we’ll start to see those prices go down. For an early spring getaway, plan on kicking back on a remote island in South Carolina, St. Croix, or enjoying a stay at one of New Orleans’ most historic hotels. Read more

Last-MinuteThe twelve days of Christmas have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean there’s no more excitement to be had in December. In fact, for travelers, end-of-year sales and promotions can yield some of the best finds of the whole season. The tricky part? Finding them. But luckily for you, we’ve gone and done all the hard work to bring you the best last-minute travel deals available this week. Consider it our Christmas present to you… Read more

Facebook/Omni Hotels and ResortsOmni Hotels & Resorts‘ 72-hour “Holiday Dash” sale is already underway, but you still have until midnight of December 13th to take advantage of nightly room rates starting at $79 at some beautiful high-end properties.  Read more

Affordable New Orleans RestaurantsNew Orleans might be known for its oysters, haute cocktail spots, and incredible parties, but there’s far more to its culinary culture. It’s at places like these seven down-home restaurants where you’ll feel more like a local than a visitor, especially when the waiter looks at your group and says, “Hey babies, what you havin’?” If you don’t want to break your food budget on a trip to Nola (but still want some classic comfort food), on your next trip to the city, get a seat in some of these beloved neighborhood spots: Read more

New Orleans Oyster SpotsNew Orleans is a city of many passions: music, the arts, fine food, cocktails, and parties galore. But it’s also a city of oysters (they even have an Oyster Festival). The love for bivalves runs deep in these parts, and this city is teeming with options.The gulf varieties are big but mild – perfect for slurping in the raw, deeply fried, or dressed in butter to be chargrilled. Here are my favorites from a recent trip to New Orleans: Read more

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