Stop off in Houston for a few days before heading over to the city Americans lovingly refer to as NOLA (an acronym for New Orleans, Louisiana), a quick five-hour drive away. Behind the Texan metropolis's skyscrapers lies a network of myriad parks and three major bayous, sinuous waterways formed by ancient river offshoots. Visitors can bike the extensive trails that run through the recently restored Buffalo Bayou Park all the way to the port. Before you leave the city, be sure to stop by Space Center Houston to get up close and personal with the wonders of space exploration. Prepare to be impressed as you visit the Skylab 1-G Trainer, the Apollo Mission Control and Lunar Rover..
Extend your trip with a festive detour to New Orleans. The city, founded by Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, is gearing up to celebrate its 300th anniversary. The festivities will start with Mardi Gras, a huge weeks-long celebration that seeps into every nook and cranny of the city. From their decked-out floats, parade participants toss lucky beaded necklaces to the crowds of spectators. Needless to say, everyone will be singing and dancing to a jazzy beat. From April 12 to 15, 2018, the traditional French Quarter Festival gets underway. Parades, film screenings and concerts liven up the city's historic neighborhood. Like everyone else who comes here, you'll fall for the charming architecture with its pastel-colored three-story townhouses and wrought-iron balconies.
NOLA will win you over with its hybrid culture that reflects European, Caribbean and American influences. Jazz is an undeniable part of the city's DNA. Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet were both born here, and it's no wonder that live music is a quintessential source of entertainment across the city. Brass bands bring their special brand of energy to restaurant terraces everywhere. However, if you're looking for a more low-key atmosphere, head straight to the Spotted Cat where you can hear jazz, blue or funk bands in a cozier setting.
From April 27 to May 6, 2018, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will pay homage to the city's 300th anniversary. Music and Cajun cuisine – that other Big Easy staple – will all be on the menu. Spicy and imbued with French, Spanish, African and Creole flavors, local food specialties take fresh seafood to new heights. To taste an excellent gumbo, Louisiana's official state cuisine, or jambalaya, a local version of Spanish paella, book a table at the very elegant GW Fins. You won't regret it!
808 Bienville St,
New Orleans, LA 70112
623 Frenchmen St,
New Orleans, LA 70116