It was dawn in New Orleans and I was in a cab on the way to the airport after a Thanksgiving getaway. We had just driven past the Superdome, only days after hosting the lively Bayou Classic and only five years after it stood as the unfortunate icon of one of the worst disasters in New Orleans’ history. As if in acknowledgement, my cab driver nodded towards it and started talking. “You know, I been in this city all my life,” he said, “except for the two years I spent in Houston after Katrina. Most of my family—they’re still there.”
Getting back to nature can be nice, but it’s so very, natural. Sometimes, you just want to be among the made-up people fresh from the salon, dance up a fine sweat in a late-night club to your favorite music and several strobe lights, sleep late and wake up to a room-service champagne brunch followed by a day of shopping for novelties you’d just never be able to find back home. You want the thrill of a crowd and the bustle of a busy sidewalk and more than just a minute to mingle with the movers and shakers.
Right now is a great time to find bargains on fall city breaks, especially if you’re willing to package your Flight + Hotel together. Below, you’ll find a list of four cities fresh with possibilities for how to spend a day during your next metropolitan escape.
This weekend I was in New Orleans for Jazz Fest – it was awesome. And New Orleans is definitely able to show tourists a grand ole time – just like before. Only, well, a little different. Katrina changed the people of New Orleans as much as it changed the foundation of the land. When everyone talks about the culture of New Orleans – the music and the food and the history – this storm is now a part of all of that. Everyone you talk to has a story.
It was my first trip back post Katrina. And I wanted to learn as much as I could about how things were now. I have to say that everything I’ve read and heard about New Orleans is true. New Orleans is very much ready for tourists to return. I stayed in the W on Poydras Street – just outside of the quarter. It was vandalized and set on fire after the storm. You’d never know. I walked along the warehouse district and Magazine street is thriving. The nearby Garden District’s gorgeous homes are still standing proudly. And of course the French Quarter buzzes around the clock. Bourbon Street shows no signs of Katrina whatsoever. And yet, the city still needs help.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival began this past Friday and I’m completely jealous of everyone who will be able to attend. The line-up includes the likes of Ludacris, Gillian Welch, and Harry Connick Jr., plus local favorites like Rebirth Brass Band, Galactic, and the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars (regarding the latter, I can say from experience: you’ve got to see it to believe). Also, Joss Stone plays, hosts a private event, and volunteers to build homes for musicians uprooted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.