Jazz music, a rich history and spicy food: Enjoy it all in New Orleans.
By MARILYN ROBITAILLE
If you’re looking for a destination that has something to appeal to all the senses, New Orleans, Louisiana, should be on your list for a long weekend.
Whether you choose to fly or make the adventure into a road trip, the journey isn’t long, and the rewards are oh so many. This city on the Mississippi gave us everything from Truman Capote and crawfish to hot jazz and Voo-Doo.
New Orleans doesn’t have to try very hard to win you over.
As for your lodging, don’t be cheap, and don’t shy away from the French Quarter where all the action and history culminate into a one-of-a-kind fantasy. Much of what you’ve heard about Bourbon Street with its wild side holds true, but even on that most maligned of streets, your shoes won’t stick to the sidewalk before 11 p.m.
I promise that it’s possible to stay in the French Quarter and keep away from the beguiles of Bourbon Street if you prefer milder forms of entertainment. Lots of places have great, live jazz.
Hotel Provincial, my favorite quaint hotel in the French Quarter, caters to guests with discerning tastes who appreciate attributes like thread count and impeccable cleanliness.
Distinctively listed on the “National Register of Historic Places,” Hotel Provincial qualifies as downright sumptuous in every way. You’ll find the hotel staff efficient and friendly, and the hotel history fascinating. Yes, there’s a price tag, so save up, and don’t grimace at the price tag. It’s worth it.
If you’re there in mild weather, don’t miss the hotel’s out-of-the-way alcoves on the grounds. Over the years, Hotel Provincial has grown up higgily-piggily, taking in surrounding buildings. Wander around until you find one of the almost-hidden doorways into a shaded area with a small, very private swimming pool.
If your timing’s good, you’ll have a this mini-shangri-la to yourself. Complete with pink blossoms floating in the water, live jazz wafting on the breeze, and a table and chaise lounge where you can enjoy a beverage after your swim, you can enjoy a private respite before evening adventures.
Given the hotel’s central location, you can easily cover many of the required destinations on foot. Jackson Square, Café Du Mond (home of the beignet), St. Louis Cathedral, the French Flea Market, Royal Street with its antique shops, and the mighty Mississippi all have this same zip code.
Before venturing out, enjoy the hotel’s convenient coffee shop where everything’s homemade and the coffee is strong.
If you like exploring, pick any of the French Quarter streets for a walk, and you’ll find one-of-kind bars, restaurants, and shops. You can sign up for a Quarter walking tour and learn about history, ghosts, and the history of ghosts. From nearby Charles Street, take the famed New Orleans RTA streetcar (yes, the one named “Desire”) to the delightfully quiet Garden District with its mossy mansions, wide boulevards, and stunningly good restaurants.
A quick Uber ride from the hotel will take you to the World War II Museum. For history buffs, you’ll be brought back in time. Films, artifacts, and careful attention to detail can give you hours to uncover the things you’ve known and the surprises you’ve missed.
As you come out from under the rock of COVID, if you want to start with a place where everybody’s friendly, and the spicy food goes down well, where you can fly or drive in a reasonable amount of time, then put a map pin on New Orleans.
It’s so easy to enjoy the Big Easy.