Our Top Five (Hot!) Destinations for Winter Road Trips, #4

We’ve sung Savannah’s praises, provided the crucial details on Key West and celebrated the city of San Antonio. For our fourth installment, we take a quick look at the Big Easy.

Strike up the band, we’re marching to: New Orleans.
Why New Orleans?
NOLA has long been a favorite tourist destination, and the city has recently earned top rankings for live music and wild weekends. But while your Saturday night may be epic, the adventure needn’t be fueled by a Hand Grenade served in a yard glass.

New Orleans is also a place of refined cocktail bars, where visitors can settle into an elegant buzz, away from the blasted cacophony of Bourbon Street. A block south of that strip is the Hotel Monteleone, a four-star sanctuary that’s home to the Carousel Bar & Lounge, where the Vieux Carré cocktail was invented for the rotating patrons. If you’d prefer to avoid the spins, one block north of Bourbon sits the Roosevelt, where the Sazerac Bar is famous for their eponymous mix of rye and absinthe, and new drinks, like the Thibodeaux Tickle, are dreamed up for each season.

New Orleans is, of course, known for great food, and with almost 1,400 restaurants, the city has never had so many options. One of the city’s biggest chefs is Donald Link—he of Herbsaint and Cochon fame—and his latest, Pêche, opened this spring in the Warehouse District. With an open, hardwood-burning hearth, the kitchen uses old-school methods to prepare both classic and modern takes on Louisiana seafood dishes.

Mardi Gras, March 4
Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival, March 19-23
Foodfest, March 23-24

Day Trip
For a deeper dive into Cajun country, set the GPS for Fred’s Lounge. Normally a sleepy small town, Mamou, La., starts the party early on Saturdays, as Fred’s hosts a raucous Cajun concert from 8 am to noon. Arrive before breakfast to find a seat, or spend the morning on your feet, and most likely dancing.

Should the spirit grab you, stop at the Savoy Music Center in Eunice on your trip back to the city. A handmade Acadian accordion would make a heck of a souvenir, and, maybe in the opinion of your neighbors, one hell of a racket once you return home.

For our last destination, we travel to a place where winter means flip-flops by day and world-class theater at night. And lunch and dinner probably means fish tacos. Can you guess what it is?