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Costume ready? Party planned? What, you don’t have plans yet for Halloween? With just six days left until the gayest holiday of the year, time is ticking to get your ghoul on – especially as its being on a Monday brings a whole weekend of frights beforehand. Let us be your guide with this crib sheet of the coolest gay events from coast to coast. As for costumes, just try to avoid one of these.
CHICAGO: The city’s biggest bash is in Boystown with a parade from Belmont to Bradley on Halsted Street with plenty of boozing, main stage entertainment (Musical of the Living Dead, Chicago Fire Tribe, and more) and after-hours action in the bars and clubs. Visit NorthHalsted.com for more info.
COLUMBUS, OHIO: Held early, on Friday the 28th, The Short North Highball Halloween combines both a public costume contest and a couture contest fashion show with plenty of queer creativity, pulling in crowds of over 20,000 from throughout the Midwest; from 5pm to 1am outdoors, under and around the area’s iconic arches. Read more
When Labor Day passes, those of us with school-age kids observe a moment of silence to mourn the end of family vacationing until the winter holidays roll around. For those of us who don’t yet have or no longer have children in school, the passing of Labor Day means the time for a family vacation is now.
“Fall’s most reliable and notable trend is the drop in prices post Labor Day,” says Genevieve Shaw Brown, editorial director at Travelocity. “It’s a more affordable time for a family to take a vacation than the summer months.” For families and other bargain-hunting travelers, it’s a shoulder season “when prices are lower, crowds are fewer, and the weather is still agreeable,” she says.
Today, as Spain wraps up the third day of its annual, nine-day Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona, New Orleans readies for tomorrow’s Encierro, its own version of Iberia’s wild street fest – except this one involves no bucking beasts.
Where Pamplona employs angry bulls to storm through the calles, New Orleans brings in the Big Easy Roller Girls (plus skaters from select other derby teams) to glide through the Crescent City’s skinny streets.
About 300 skaters – each decked out in red, donning bull horns-topped hats, and swinging baseball bats – race through the French quarter and chase the some 8,000 runners (dressed in the traditional white with red sashes) who show up for the festival. And yes, the so-called RollerBulls do sometimes whack people with the bats (though mostly men, we’re told).
Last year’s Gulf Coast oil spill threatened to muck up a revitalization movement that had been building in New Orleans since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina first galvanized the city’s creative class to help rebuild. Yet, with characteristic resilience, the city continued to surge ahead, and since last summer, three exceptional nightspots have opened, with keen visionaries at their helms.
Folks who’ve been coming to Oak Street since the inception of the New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival in 2007 have witnessed the rebirth of a neighborhood – one eclectic new boutique, eatery, and gelateria at a time. Take Oak (pictured above), a notable addition to the streetscape, which local lawyer Katie Winters opened last summer. Read more
Realistically, Earth Day can be celebrated any day when dining out. It’s easy to find eco-friendly eateries around the country that serve sustainable food and embrace environmental business practices – online directories like the Green Restaurant Association (www.dinegreen.com) even provide state-by-state listings.
But many of these restaurants and cafés step it up a notch on Earth Day itself by offering special menu items and discounts, and producing special events and entertainment. On April 22, dine out and do good at these eight locations nationwide.
Red Stag Supper Club: Start the day with breakfast at Minneapolis’ Red Stag Supperclub (www.redstagsupperclub.com), where all money raised from 8am to 12pm benefits the Land Stewardship Project (www.landstewardshipproject.org). Minnesota’s first LEED-certified restaurant will serve up locally-produced and organic ingredients, while the LSP will give brief presentations.
Eco-Cafe: Write your pledge to go green on the chalkboard in front of New Orleans’ Eco-Café (www.ecocafeno.com) and you’ll get a free cup of organic coffee. That Friday, featured menu items – like the soup and salad combo – will be made exclusively with ingredients from Holly Grove Farm, just three miles away.
There’s never a bad time to visit New Orleans, but springtime, with Mardi Gras’ 40-day hangover almost over and summer’s heat not yet entrenched, is particularly splendid in the Crescent City. The magnolias are in bloom, Easter bonnets are being madly sewn, and the joie de vivre is coming back into play – especially when there’s money to be saved.
Now through May 31, the Bienville House is offering 20 percent savings on select mid-week dates. As one of the French Quarter’s grand dames and sister property of gay-managed Hotel Montelone, I found the hotel to be perfectly situated for whatever type of trip you were looking for: Culinary, party, culture, or, as is what makes NOLA truly great, a combo of the three. The offer isn’t valid for city-wide events – like Jazz Fest, from May 5 to 8 – but it’s those regular times when the ebb and flow is more manageable that the true soul of the city shines.
Fairly soon the festive streets of New Orleans will be strewn with beads, masks, and doubloons. Luckily, some deal-savvy visitors will have the chance to revel in the celebrations at one of the most prominent hotels in the French Quarter – the AAA 3-Diamond Prince Conti Hotel is offering rates starting from $58 in March, and $50 if you can make it down there for the last days of February. The 76-guestroom property also provides complimentary Internet access and free accommodations for children ages 12 or under!
THE VALUE: The Prince Conti Hotel is a short walk from Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, Louis Armstrong Park, and the French Market.
THE CATCH: Rates are sold out for March 5 and 6, and rise to $269 March 7.
THE DETAILS: Visit the Prince Conti Hotel and select Special Rates on the left to view availability.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find cheap flights to the Big Easy.
Visit our New Orleans Travel Guide for more trip-planning tips and information.
The Luxury Just blocks from the French Quarter, International House is a boutique hotel that exudes a decadently plush vibe without feeling gaudy or outdated. Johnny Depp’s designer of choice, LM Pagano, renovated the 1906 Beaux Arts building three years ago. It now showcases antique velvets, objets d’art from around the world, and room details that tastefully pay homage to the Big Easy’s jazz history. The 117 rooms include spa-like bathrooms, Aveda bath amenities, and complimentary Wi-Fi access.
The Value Book by February 13 for stays through the end of March and get a deluxe queen room for $199/night, a 25 percent savings. On-site extras for Smart Luxury Travel readers include two drinks at voodoo-chic bar Loa and breakfast at Basque-influenced restaurant Rambla.
The Catch Some dates are not available, including several days before and during Mardi Gras (from late February to early March).
The Details 800-633-5770 (mention Luxe List); ihhotel.com
From the Winter 2010/2011 issue of Smart Luxury Travel magazine by ShermansTravel.com.
For general trip-planning information, see our New Orleans Travel Guide.
We’re a little less than two months away from the boisterous jubilee known as Mardi Gras, but you can get the party started a little early when you head to vivacious New Orleans this January. The upscale, 97-room Omni Royal Crescent Hotel, which is located a mere two blocks from the desirable French Quarter, is offering end-of-the-month rates starting from just $116/night – including weekends! In addition to the reduced rates, the hotel also offers guests complimentary WiFi.
THE HOTEL: This mainstay boutique property is ideally situated in the restored Arts District – a stone’s throw away from galleries, museums, and eateries. All of the guestrooms are methodically designed with gaping floor-to-ceiling windows, flat-screen televisions, sumptuous linens, and European bath amenities. Omni Royal Crescent Hotel also offers guests access to a fitness center, and restaurant, and sundeck outfitted with a hot tub,.
THE VALUE: Weekend rates can dramatically increase to up to $229/night in February.
THE CATCH: It’s not Mardi Gras – leave the beads at home.
THE DETAILS: To book your New Orleans getaway, visit www.omnihotels.com.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Book a flight back to New Orleans with our Travel Search price comparison tool.
Read more about the Crescent City with our New Orleans Travel Guide.
See where to let loose with our Top 10 Party Hotels.
If you happen to be in the NOLA in December, the AAA 3-Diamond French Quarter New Orleans Marriott, is offering blowout rates for select travel periods this month, including Christmas. As part of a Shermans Travel exclusive, the world-class hotel combines their Papa Noel discounted rates, starting from just $109, with a 20 percent dining discount (including the Marriott’s five-course dinner menu), and free parking (worth $33/night). Perfect for exploring vibrant New Orleans, the newly remodeled hotel is located by the riverfront, Bourbon Street, and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
THE VALUE: The nightly rates offer a discount of over 30 percent!
THE CATCH: Travel dates are from December 12-16 and 19-29.
THE DETAILS: Visit the New Orleans Marriott website and use promo code LPR to get the Shermans Travel Exclusive perks.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find low rates on flights to New Orleans.
Check out our 20 Sweet Spots for Winter Value for more fantastic savings.
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