5 Tips to Find New Orleans Vacation Rentals

New Orleans is a city of contrasts with brightly lit nightclubs and dark, silent alleyways, spicy Cajun food and sweet, soft beignets. This exciting city has stood between the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico for hundreds of years, making a New Orleans weekend trip high on almost everyone’s bucket list. Use these five tips to find New Orleans vacation rentals that give you everything the Big Easy has to offer.

  1. Determine Your Dates
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    While you set up your New Orleans weekend trip, remember that the Crescent City is a busy place. If your New Orleans trip falls on Mardi Gras, you will need to reserve New Orleans vacation rentals sometimes years in advance. Do you dream of watching the Mardi Gras parade from a balcony over Bourbon Street? If so, the planning is going to take some time. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Food and Wine Experience, French Quarter Festival and even St. Patrick’s Day are exceptionally busy times for a visit. If you don’t want to miss the Jazz Festival, get that vacation rental booked right now.

  2. Stick to Your Budget
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    Taking a New Orleans trip ensures that you will be spending some money. Between parking, New Orleans vacation rentals, tempting tasty foods and sipping cocktails in the streets, you need to plan to have a good-sized budget in the Big Easy. Selecting New Orleans vacation rentals takes time, but there are areas of the city that tend to be less expensive than the french quarter or the Garden District. Chain hotels and even hostels are always available just outside of the tourist areas of town. Choose a pretty vacation home in the French Quarter and split the cost with several friends to save some cash.

  3. Determine the “Must-Haves”
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    The heat in the Crescent City is sometimes unbearable. A nice cool pool is a luxury in the evening after a long day of exploring the French Quarter. While you are choosing a New Orleans vacation rental, keep in mind that in this city, not every home has a pool or even air-conditioning. Make a list of things that you “must have” to enjoy your New Orleans trip, and check off the list as you research your vacation rentals.

  4. Pick a Pretty Area
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    The city of New Orleans is divided into several distinct areas that provide a different type of experience for visitors. Want some peace and quiet? Choose New Orleans vacation rentals in the elegant Garden District. Streets are lined with imposing mansions surrounded by giant oaks draped in Spanish moss. This area of the city is a little quieter than the bustling French Quarter where the party lasts late into the night, every night.

  5. Kick Around Some Ideas
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    Your New Orleans weekend trip might begin at one of the beautiful and historic hotels in town. As far as New Orleans vacation rentals go, these are some of the safest options with doormen and hotel staff keeping an eye on the area. Head for a Garden District vacation home rental for more space and privacy than a traditional hotel. Select a pretty townhouse with a balcony in the French Quarter to get a great view of the Big Easy’s famous nightlife.

10 Tips for Choosing the Best Mexico Beach Rentals

There are a ton of reasons why Mexico Beach, Florida, should be at the top of your dream getaways list. You can try fishing, parasailing, kiteboarding and reef diving, as well as a variety of other activities and events. But before you head to Florida, make sure that you have a confirmed reservation for your accommodations, especially during peak season. Here are some more tips for choosing the best Mexico Beach rentals.

Prices Tend to Go Up the Closer You Get to Your Trip

Because Mexico Beach is a top tourist destination, home and condo beach rentals are almost always fully booked. It’s best to secure yours at least two months prior to your arrival. Otherwise, you might end up paying more.

Consider the Benefits of a Condo by the Beach

Being based on the beach means outdoor activities are more accessible. Go fishing, swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking, and enjoy fresh seafood in nearby restaurants.

Confirm Your Reservation

Online bookings are convenient, but they can occasionally result in miscommunication or double bookings. The last thing you want to happen is to arrive in Mexico Beach and discover that your rental is not available. Contact the owner directly and confirm availability.

Consider Other Types of Beach Rentals

There are multiple types of beach rentals available in Mexico Beach. Choose from RV parks, seaside cottages, condos and a lot more.

Location Matters

The property you rent shouldn’t be too far away from entertainment and attraction, but you also want to be close to important amenities. Ideally, your beach rental will be within easy driving distance of the attractions you’ll most want to visit as well as restaurants and shopping.

Consider Extra Comforts

You’re on vacation, and Mexico Beach, Florida, is a lovely place to relax, so don’t be afraid to splurge a little. Choose a home rental that offers a nice kitchen, a big bed and a balcony with awesome views. This will make your vacation truly unforgettable.

Pet Policy

If you have a dog or a cat, it is important to know the rental’s rules about pets before you book. Dogs are not allowed on the beach, but you are permitted to walk your pooch on St. Joe Beach for a day out.

Use Google Earth to Map the Exact Location

Getting a bird’s-eye view of the property will help you know what you are booking. Check to see if the rental is located near a noisy business establishment or if the grocery store is too far away.

Luggage Space and Parking Space

If you’re staying in a condominium, you might need a luggage cart to take your belongings to your front door, so check with the owner to find out what types of facilities are available. You might also look into the parking situation.

Ask the Owner if Credits Cards Are Accepted

Credit cards are pretty universally accepted, but there are still a few people who don’t like to take payments that way. Check with the owner before you book.

Mexico Beach rentals can make your stay comfortable, as long as you understand the situation before you finalize your decision.

Finding the Perfect Torch Lake Vacation Rentals

Named one of the most beautiful lakes in the world by National Geographic magazine, Torch Lake is Michigan’s second largest inland lake. Visitors to the area enjoy the clear waters that reach 300-feet deep, the soft sand beaches and the cool temperatures even in the hot summer months. Check out these tips to find great Torch Lake vacation rentals for your next getaway.

Cabins around Torch Lake

Stretching almost 18 miles in length, Torch Lake has plenty of space for rustic cabins that dot the shoreline. Beginning in the late spring and running through the warmest parts of the summer, cabins are a favorite rental option for Torch Lake visitors. Cabins in the area are reserved almost a year in advance, and most include amenities like efficiency kitchens, mini refrigerators and decks that overlook the surrounding forest or the lake itself. Ideal for small families, most of the cabins sleep four guests comfortably, or pick two cabins to house bigger parties.

Cottages

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Designed to handle larger families or to provide more of the comforts of home, Torch Lake vacation rentals include cottages with easy access to boat launches, fishing excursions and trips to Mackinaw Island. Cottages offer various styles with two, three or four bedrooms that sleep up to 10 guests. Visitors expecting to explore the Michigan fall foliage are advised to book early to get a great cottage with views of Torch Lake. Amenities include a full kitchen, large yards for barbecues or picnics and private beach access.

Lakefront Manors

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With locations that include access to the south sandbar end of Torch Lake, lakefront manors are suitable for family get-togethers like reunions, weddings and anniversaries. Sleeping as many as 40 guests, these huge homes include private sandy beaches, boat launches and easy access to shopping and restaurants. The lakefront manors tend to fill quickly during the summer months, making booking early a must for these properties.

Rapid City Rentals

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Not far from Torch Lake, Rapid City vacation rentals offer quick access to Torch Lake without the higher cost of actual lakefront properties. Pick a cute two-story cottage within walking distance of Torch Lake and enjoy the natural beauty of northern Michigan. Foxes, turkeys and deer wander the area, and private porches decorated with hammocks make it simple to relax and appreciate the summer weather. Most Rapid City vacation rentals are busiest in the summer months.

Camping near Torch Lake

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Roughing it is a blast at Torch Lake campgrounds with several different camps to choose from depending on your camping style. Torch Grove Campground offers 45 hookup campsites with electricity, water and sewer access for your RV. The bathrooms are easy to access with five toilets and seven showers, and the campground is within walking distance of the public access points of Torch Lake.

Things to Do in New Orleans | Food & Nightlife

Let the good times roll is more than a suggestion in New Orleans. It’s a way of life. If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans, spend some time mapping out what to do at night when the city seems to come to life.

Preservation Hall

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Preservation Hall is a quintessential New Orleans jazz hall, a spot where veteran musicians and newcomers meet each night to play traditional Dixieland jazz. This venue is more than a music hall. It’s a piece of American music history that helped keep jazz music alive in New Orleans. You won’t find any food here, so make this a stop on your way to or from dinner.

Charlie’s Steakhouse

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Since the 1930s, Charlie’s Steakhouse has been a staple restaurant for New Orleans’ working class, making it the oldest steakhouse in the city. The restaurant has a comfortable, welcoming ambience and a simple menu consisting of quality steaks and assorted sides. This is a popular spot where locals dine, so make sure you secure reservations before heading over.

Antoine’s Restaurant

Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Antoine’s Restaurant made culinary history in 1889 when chefs developed the dish, Oysters Rockefeller. The menu featuring classic Creole dishes has stayed the same for more than a century and includes dishes like pompano Pontchartrain, Eggs Sardou and Cafe Brulot. If you have to choose only one place to dine when you visit New Orleans, try to get a table at Antoine’s.

Maple Leaf Bar

Oez/Shutterstock

Home of the Grammy-award-winning Rebirth Brass Band, Maple Leaf Bar is more than a run-of-the-mill jazz bar. It’s a complete artistic experience that encompasses music, visual art and spoken word. You routinely hear poetry readings and recitations mixed in with the funky music. On some nights, you can watch the resident painter work.

Frenchmen Street

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There’s a four-block stretch on Frenchmen Street in Faubourg Marigny that’s a nighttime hotspot for locals, and it’s one of tourists’ favorite places to visit in New Orleans. You’ll find live music, bars, restaurants and galleries where you can entertain yourself for the evening. There’s also an assortment of live music on the sidewalk, so you can find a party anywhere you go.

One Eyed Jacks

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Located on the eastern side of the French Quarter, One Eyed Jacks features a smorgasbord of entertainment each night. The rotating schedule features jazz, funk and rock bands from all over the city. This former theater is also a hotspot for burlesque shows and themed dance parties that last all night. Settle in with the signature drink, The Matador, or some PBR shots and enjoy the show.

Brennan’s Restaurant

Foxys Forest Manufacture/Shutterstock

A French Quarter staple since 1956, Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street serves classic New Orleans cuisine with a combination of traditional Creole and contemporary specials. From the architecture to the menu, this landmark restaurant pays homage to the cultures and flavors that blend together in New Orleans. Taste the flavor of freshly caught seafood and finish with the restaurant’s signature dessert, Bananas Foster.

Carousel Bar & Lounge at Hotel Monteleone

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Located in the iconic Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, the Carousel Bar features a rotating bar. This intricately designed merry-go-round has 25 seats that give you the perfect spot for people watching as you enjoy one of the bar’s signature cocktails. Start your night here with a sample of bar bites and drinks or make it the final destination for an evening night cap.

Cafe du Monde

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When you need a break from the revelry, head over to Cafe du Monde for a late night snack of beignets and cafe au lait. This spot is a New Orleans landmark that first opened in 1862 and is a must-see site at least once during your trip.

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From the sidewalks to the iconic bars and restaurants, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy in New Orleans. Make sure you have a cozy vacation rental where you can retreat after exploring the fun side of the city.

Most Underrated Spring Break Destinations

Over 1000 people helped us rank the top places for you to visit this spring break

Quick. What comes to mind when you think of spring break? If you’re flashing back to your college days and envisioning masses of people on an overcrowded beach, you’re not alone. Flocking to warm climates in Mexico is a popular choice for many Americans (especially those living in colder climates), but many of these famous spring break destinations are worth skipping.

Not only are destinations like Miami or Cabo jam-packed with people this time of year, but getting there and staying in hotels can be expensive too. If you’re ready for an authentic and refreshing getaway, minus the chaos and stress, there are plenty of alternative options — whether you’re a college student looking for the biggest party of the year, or a family hoping to avoid that entirely.

To help you find a less crowded, and cheaper getaway — and not to mention affordable vacation rentals — we asked over 1,000 people what they think is the most underrated U.S. spring break destination, and we ranked the top four.

The people have spoken, and Taos, New Mexico ranks as the No. 1 underrated spring break destination in the country with nearly 31 percent of the vote, and — spoiler alert — you might be packing your ski jacket instead of your swim trunks. But don’t worry, Snowbirds, we have you covered too. Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks came in second place, and is an ideal getaway for escaping the last remnants of Winter.
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The Top 4 Most Underrated Spring Break Destinations

  1. Taos, New Mexico — 30.98% of the vote. As spring approaches, now is the time to start looking for the ultimate spring break vacation spot, and Taos, New Mexico truly lives up to this title. Taos is an unconventional option, yet it boasts all the appeal with less constraint on your budget. Taos has a reputation for its quirky vibe, but spring breakers of all ages and preferences can find relaxing, and breathtaking activities at an affordable price point. What most people don’t realize is that Taos has it all this time of year, and when it comes to traveling with kids, this city is as good as it gets. You can go rafting on the Rio Grande, visit some of the finest hot springs on the planet, and even go on llama adventures — that’s right, llama adventures.


    If you like to check out historical sites, it would be remiss not to visit Taos Pueblo. The community lies about a mile north of the city of Taos and is renowned for being the oldest inhabited dwelling in North America. Constructed entirely out of adobe, the extraordinary community is home to living Taos Native Americans, and was once home to their ancestors over 1000 years ago.
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    As mentioned earlier, you might want to dust off your ski gear, as Taos is also home to a world-class ski resort, Taos Ski Valley. The resort is positioned in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where the Rockies begin, and miracle March powder days come true. This part of New Mexico offers spectacular scenery, and exceptional outdoor recreation. Although Taos appears to be off the beaten track, it is central to countless adventures at a reasonable price.

    Interested in a Taos getaway?

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    Check out rentals in Taos on VacationRenter.

  2. The Ozarks, Missouri – 23.56% of the vote. The Ozarks are often seen as a not-so-delightful place thanks to Jason Bateman and the Netflix Original TV show, but in reality, this region is rightfully known as the outdoor recreation capital of Missouri.If you are bringing the kids, there are still plenty of activities — take the family on exciting canoe adventure, float down Buffalo River, or just take in the view from your Ozarks vacation rental. And if you’ve seen it all above the water, you can always explore underground in one of the four natural caverns that are showcased by Missouri State Parks. The most well-known, easily accessible, and largest cave is the Onondonga. You can take a tour that follows 1.5 miles of paved, illuminated passageways while taking in interesting cave formations and waterfalls.

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    For the younger, good-time seeking crowd, the sprawling lake is a huge attraction and home to an infamous “Party Cove” where you might not find the most family fun activities.

    If fly fishing is more of your scene, this is the place for you. The lake offers a seemingly endless amounts of prime locations to cast out your line, and an abundance of white river trout to reel in. Whatever type of adventure you seek, you’ll find it in the Lake of the Ozarks.

    Are the Ozarks calling your name?

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    Check out Missouri rentals in the Ozarks on VacationRenter.

  3. Gatlinburg, Tennessee – 21.91% of the vote. Why head to the beach when you can head to the mountains? Gatlinburg, and the greater access to the Smoky Mountains, are exciting and affordable places to visit in early spring. As winter comes to an end, most of the attractions and activities are back open for business as the winter chill thaws into spring warmth.While the city of Gatlinburg warms, the mountains are still plenty cold, which is why skiing at Ober mountain is still a viable and fun activity for your Spring Break. But if you’re not a skier or snowboarder, finding an outdoor adventure in the Smokies that suits you or your family is not hard — try bungee jumping, go kart-racing, zip-lining, horseback rides, and ATV Tours.

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    For a more relaxing activity, check out Gatlinburg’s beautiful downtown that’s loaded with boutique shops, award-winning restaurants, and family-friendly activities like mini-golf and laser tag.

    Check out vacation rentals in Gatlinburg on VacationRenter.

  4. Bozeman, Montana – 14.85% of the vote. Bozeman may not have beachfront views, but for what it lacks in a warm spring climate, it greatly excels in its top-notch outdoors and nightlife scene. If you want to grab your skis or mountain bike, and get off the grid on some legendary slopes or trails, Bozeman has you covered. The same goes if you simply want to experience the blooming cultural scene.If you’re looking to hit the slopes with the kids, ski resorts like Bridger Bowl (to the north), and Big Sky (to the south) are only a short drive away. And if dry land is more your style, the surrounding rivers, foothills and mountains offer endless opportunities for the family to explore — whether that be on a white water excursion down the Yellowstone, Madison, or Gallatin Rivers, or hiking one of the several trails in the Hyalite Canyon.

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    Home to Montana State University, Bozeman’s nightlife is a guaranteed fun time after a long day of being outside. Downtown Bozeman offers a diverse selection of bars with everything from dives to fancy cocktail bars, and plenty of friendly people to meet.

    Interested in Montana?

    Check out vacation rentals in Bozeman on VacationRenter.

This year, skip the crowds, overpriced hotels and airfare, and take advantage of under the radar destinations. Save the hassle and explore not-so-typical places that are rich in history, culture, and fun activities for all ages.

Santa Barbara Trip Planner: Weekend Getaway Guide

Thanks to its location between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, California, is a great weekend getaway destination for folks all up and down the Pacific Coast. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back break from hectic city life or you want some sunshine and moderate temperatures during cold seasons at home, this sunny coastal California town is a great choice for a few days away from it all. With this Santa Barbara trip planner, you can make your weekend one to remember.

Understanding Santa Barbara Seasons

Santa Barbara brands itself as the American Riviera, and in many ways this is an apt comparison. Rocky shores and mountains make Santa Barbara feel a bit more like a Mediterranean hamlet than the typical California beach town. The weather is generally mild, with only a few cloudy or rainy days a year. Summer is usually hot and sunny, and this weather can extend well into fall on a good year. Winter and early spring are usually the coldest and rainiest months, though this is relative to the warm, sunny temperatures that are the norm.

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In general, the slate of activities available in Santa Barbara stays pretty constant year-round. The Pacific is still pretty chilly here, even during the hot summer season, so swimming in the ocean isn’t likely to be comfortable for most people, especially if you don’t have a wetsuit. That all means that Santa Barbara can be a good choice for a last-minute getaway, but if you’re planning ahead and you know you want sunny, warm weather, aim for late summer. If you can thread the needle between peak tourism in July and kids going back to school in August, you may get perfect weather and less crowding from other tourists.

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What to Do in Santa Barbara

The ocean is one of the main attractions in Santa Barbara. From stand-up paddle boarding to whale watching nearly all year round, visitors who want to be near the water have plenty of options for fun in the sun. Thanks to its proximity to the Channel Islands Marine Preserve, Santa Barbara is also one of the top spots on the coast for scuba diving. Fishing, horseback riding, golf and hiking opportunities are also available if you’re more interested in spending time inland rather than on the water.

Santa Barbara is also home to a number of interesting historic attractions, including the Mission Santa Barbara, which dates back to the 1700s and is the perfect representation of California’s Spanish colonial past. The Native American tribes who lived here well before the Spaniards have also established a local tourist foothold with the Chumash Casino Resort, which offers not only gaming but also concerts, comedy and a host of other entertainment options. If you’re planning to be in the area and are looking for some nightlife or evening entertainment, the casino may be the perfect option. You might even want to plan your Santa Barbara weekend around a favorite performer’s show date at the casino. Just make sure your rental home is close enough to the casino that you’ll feel comfortable driving back after the show is over.

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Luxe and Low Key Activity Options

Not everyone who travels to Santa Barbara is going to be eager to head out on a boat or go for a rigorous mountain hike. If you’re more of a spas-and-fancy-dinners type of traveler, you’ll still have plenty of options. In particular, the Santa Barbara wine country offers visitors plenty of chances to taste local wines and stroll through scenic vineyards, many of which are so beautiful that they’re ideal places for proposals. The winery options in this part of California are just as romantic as they are in the state’s more famous wine regions.

The Santa Barbara area is also home to a number of spa facilities where you can get treatments like massages if you want to really unwind. Many of these spas are located within high-end resorts in the area, though you generally don’t need to actually be a hotel guest to book services at these spas. That means you can enjoy the freedom of a rental house while also enjoying some resort amenities on your own terms.

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Santa Barbara Dining

The local beauty and historic significance of Santa Barbara have made this a destination for the rich and famous, which means there’s no shortage of high-end restaurant options available for those who want a fine dining experience. In addition to local wines, many of the restaurants in the area also feature beers from local breweries and tons of farm-to-table ingredients, offering visitors a fantastic way to connect with the local culture through their taste buds.

Eating out isn’t your only option for a good meal, especially if you’re trying to watch your budget. Though Santa Barbara is often more of an expensive travel destination, you can make it more affordable by opting to prepare a picnic in your rental home’s kitchen and eat it in one of the many beautiful outdoor spots in the area, like Butterfly Beach or the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

Don’t Miss A Single Thing: Your Official New Orleans Travel Guide

Are you in search of an incredibly unique experience when you visit New Orleans? NOLA doesn’t hide its character, so it’s hard to miss out on what makes this city so special no matter what you do. In order to make the most out of your trip to America’s most iconic cities, allow us to give you some insight on all the must-see spots that come highly recommended.

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The Special Attractions of New Orleans

  1. Tour the French Quarter

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    You can’t come to town without seeing the city’s most historic — and some say beautiful — neighborhood. The French Quarter dates back to 1718, and its streets are lined with a mix of old and new, including restaurants that have been around for more than a century. Historic mansions, family-friendly attractions, cathedrals, museums and even an aquarium are all located within the community. It would take days for you to see it all. The French Quarter is also home to some of the city’s most famous eateries, including restaurants that first opened their doors in 1840 and have been serving beloved New Orleans, Cajun and Creole cuisine ever since. Don’t forget to shop while you’re here. You’ll find a unique blend of new upscale brands, antique shops, boutiques and specialty stores within the neighborhood.

  2. Spend a Day in the Park

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    Enjoy the great outdoors by spending a morning, afternoon or an entire day at one of the city’s gorgeous parks and green spaces. Each one offers something unique, whether it’s a beautiful view of the Mississippi River or a botanical garden. The 1,300-acre New Orleans City Park is a favorite with locals and tourists alike, dating back to 1854. Today, it’s home to a storybook-themed playground, family-friendly amusement park, golf course, botanical garden and fishing lake. The historic New Orleans Museum of Art is also located in the park.

  3. Attend a Festival
    New Orleans loves a good celebration, but not all of them are as wild and crazy as Mardi Gras. Throughout the year, the city hosts dozens of festivals, many of which have taken place here for decades. Celebrate literature and drama with the annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival that happens every spring. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is the place for live music and loads of fun. Celebrate food, friendships and even more live music at the annual French Quarter Festival that started in 1984.

  4. See Wild Animals

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    When it comes to things to do in New Orleans for families and animal enthusiasts, the Audubon Zoo tops the list. The 58-acre zoo is often considered one of the best of its kind in the country, and it dates back to the 1884 World Exposition. From the 1920s-era sea lion pool to the rare white tiger, view more than 2,000 animals, many of them in their natural habitats. There is even a baby animal nursery. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget. Nestled along the banks of the Mississippi River, you’ll find another hot spot for spotting wildlife: Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. It’s home to more than 15,000 sea creatures. Pet a shark, see a seahorse glide through the grass in their tank and view the rare white alligator. There is even a rainforest exhibit with exotic frogs, snakes and birds.

  5. Remember at the National World War II Museum
    If you’ve ever wondered what life was like during World War II, for both soldiers and civilians, you can learn all about it at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. It opened its doors in 2000, and people have flocked to the museum from all across the country ever since. There’s a 4D movie, along with artifacts, exhibits and oral testimonies. Plan to spend a few hours here learning about one of the most notable events in world history.

  6. Take a Swamp Tour

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    No matter how much time you spend in the heart of the city, it’s hard to forget that New Orleans was built in the Bayou. That means there is swampland aplenty to explore. Several local companies offer swamp tours, and you must add one to your bucket list. Explore the swampy waters via kayaks, airboats, flatboats and other vehicles that take you up close and personal with wildlife, including alligators and crocodiles. You’ll also learn about the ecology and history of the area from experienced guides.

  7. Cheer on a Local Team
    You may not realize it, but New Orleans is a big sports town, playing host to both pro and collegiate teams. Depending on when you visit, you may want to catch the New Orleans Saints take to the field on a football Sunday, or you can head to the Smoothie King Center to watch the NBA’s Pelicans shoot some hoops. If you visit New Orleans during the springtime, you may want to take yourself out to a Baby Cakes minor league ball game. No matter what time of year you’re in town, you catch the Tulane Green Wave play more than a dozen men’s and women’s sports, including football, baseball, basketball, tennis and beach volleyball.

Food & Nightlife

  1. Charlie’s Steakhouse
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    Since the 1930s, Charlie’s Steakhouse has been a staple restaurant for New Orleans’ working class, making it the oldest steakhouse in the city. The restaurant has a comfortable, welcoming ambience and a simple menu consisting of quality steaks and assorted sides. This is a popular spot where locals dine, so make sure you secure reservations before heading over.

  2. Antoine’s Restaurant
    Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

    Antoine’s Restaurant made culinary history in 1889 when chefs developed the dish, Oysters Rockefeller. The menu featuring classic Creole dishes has stayed the same for more than a century and includes dishes like pompano Pontchartrain, Eggs Sardou and Cafe Brulot. If you have to choose only one place to dine when you visit New Orleans, try to get a table at Antoine’s.

  3. Maple Leaf Bar
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    Home of the Grammy-award-winning Rebirth Brass Band, Maple Leaf Bar is more than a run-of-the-mill jazz bar. It’s a complete artistic experience that encompasses music, visual art and spoken word. You routinely hear poetry readings and recitations mixed in with the funky music. On some nights, you can watch the resident painter work.

  4. One Eyed Jacks

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    Located on the eastern side of the French Quarter, One Eyed Jacks features a smorgasbord of entertainment each night. The rotating schedule features jazz, funk and rock bands from all over the city. This former theater is also a hotspot for burlesque shows and themed dance parties that last all night. Settle in with the signature drink, The Matador, or some PBR shots and enjoy the show.

  5. Brennan’s Restaurant
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    A French Quarter staple since 1956, Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street serves classic New Orleans cuisine with a combination of traditional Creole and contemporary specials. From the architecture to the menu, this landmark restaurant pays homage to the cultures and flavors that blend together in New Orleans. Taste the flavor of freshly caught seafood and finish with the restaurant’s signature dessert, Bananas Foster.

  6. Carousel Bar & Lounge at Hotel Monteleone
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    Located in the iconic Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, the Carousel Bar features a rotating bar. This intricately designed merry-go-round has 25 seats that give you the perfect spot for people watching as you enjoy one of the bar’s signature cocktails. Start your night here with a sample of bar bites and drinks or make it the final destination for an evening night cap.

  7. Cafe du Monde
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    When you need a break from the revelry, head over to Cafe du Monde for a late night snack of beignets and cafe au lait. This spot is a New Orleans landmark that first opened in 1862 and is a must-see site at least once during your trip.

  8. Neighborhood Vibes

    Though the city is uniquely itself through and through, different parts of town have different vibes. The neighborhood you stay in will also influence your experience of New Orleans. The French Quarter, for example, is the main tourist hub of the city, so travelers who want an off-the-beaten-path experience may want to steer clear of this part of town. However, though it does have a lot of T-shirt shops and other standard staples, the French Quarter is unique because most of the businesses in the area are still locally owned and the architecture is so uniquely New Orleans.

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    There are other parts of the city to head to if you want to take in the local character with an edgier or less touristy vibe. The Garden District is home to the St. Charles Streetcar, a charming way to sightsee in style without wearing out your feet. Treme was once the city’s musical heart and soul, but most of the old jazz and blues clubs have been replaced with coffee shops and other symbols of gentrification. But visiting this part of town can still connect you to a sense of place and cultural history, even if the old landmarks aren’t physically there anymore.

    Marigny is one of the up-and-coming parts of New Orleans that people who appreciate a bohemian atmosphere may want to stay in or check out. Particularly good for walking and biking during the day, parts of Marigny can get a bit rough at night. But if you stick to well-trafficked areas like Frenchmen Street, you’ll enjoy delicious food and great live music for a fully immersive New Orleans experience.

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    Gorgeous Vacation Rentals

    One of the great things about traveling to NOLA is that you have the opportunity to stay in some truly unique buildings that you may not find in many other places on the planet. Many New Orleans vacation rentals are in newer buildings that have been renovated or built from the ground up after Hurricane Katrina, but there are still a lot of historic homes standing tall and waiting for you to rent them for your trip.

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    Two of the most distinctively New Orleans home styles are the shotgun shack and the Creole townhouse. A shotgun shack, so famed in blues and jazz songs, is a humble cottage that looks tiny from the front but usually extends quite a ways to the back. These homes are long and thin, with rooms stacked in a row rather than spreading out to the sides. Most shotgun shacks are brightly painted and have front porches that you can enjoy during your stay. The Creole townhouse is also notable for its porches, or rather its balconies. Classic Creole townhouse architecture includes the lacy ironwork balcony railings that show up in so many photos of New Orleans. Most of the buildings in the French Quarter are in the Creole townhouse style, though you may find homes like this in other parts of the city, particularly in the close-in areas that weren’t destroyed by Katrina and subsequent flooding. The areas of Downtown and Marigny that border the French Quarter are good places to look.

    From the beautiful homes, to the iconic bars and restaurants, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy in New Orleans. Make sure you have a cozy vacation rental where you can retreat after exploring the fun side of the city!

How To Spend 3 Days In New Orleans

Situated between the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans is a mecca to visitors seeking an exciting weekend getaway. Visit New Orleans and get a taste of the Crescent City’s exuberance and beauty. Take these five tips with you on your New Orleans weekend getaway.

  1. Sample the Seasonal Flavors
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    Located on the Gulf Coast, New Orleans is known for its flavorful seafood. Fill up on some crayfish gumbo and shrimp etouffee, followed by sweet and crisp beignets and top everything off with a chilly daiquiri in any flavor. No New Orleans weekend getaway would be complete without a sip of chicory coffee at Cafe Du Monde or a hand-crafted beverage straight off of Bourbon Street. Rent a French Quarter vacation home and simply step out onto the balcony and breathe in the scents of fresh baked bread and shrimp and grits at breakfast.

  2. Wander the French Quarter
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    Spend at least a day in the French Quarter. Discover the beauty of St. Louis Cathedral with its statue of Andrew Jackson in the gardens. This cathedral has stood since the 1700s and is the oldest in the United States. Take a mule-drawn carriage tour to learn a little about the history of the city or to enjoy the historic brick streets with a spooky ghost story. The French Quarter of New Orleans is also home to exciting architecture and a variety of vacation rental homes.

  3. Discover the Garden District
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    Take the St. Charles streetcar or wander the sidewalks, but definitely don’t miss the New Orleans Garden District. Stately oaks draped in Spanish moss line the streets between elegant mansions. Homes in the Garden District vary greatly in architecture with some dating to the late 1700s. Take a few hours to wander the cemeteries with their above-ground crypts and intricate stone carvings. Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is located within the Garden District and is a favorite for New Orleans visitors.

  4. Handle the Harrowing Hauntings
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    The Crescent City is considered to be one of the most “haunted” places in the United States, and there’s plenty of spooky fun to be had regardless of the season. Visit the tomb of a voodoo queen, or walk through the haunted halls of an elegant plantation during your New Orleans weekend getaway. There are plenty of haunted tours that explore places like the Garden District and the legendary Vampire Tavern. Take a comfortable bus tour or walking tours when the weather permits.

  5. Check Out a Saints Game
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    The New Orleans Mercedes-Benz Superdome is the home of the Saints, and the locals take their football very seriously. Take in a game on your New Orleans weekend getaway and celebrate with the crowd. If your visit to New Orleans doesn’t coincide with football season, take in a festival, join Monster Jam or choose from one of many concerts throughout the year. Grab a burger and some fries at the concessions before you head home to your vacation rental.

Best Places to Celebrate Mardi Gras (That Are Not New Orleans)

New Orleans is renowned as the mecca of Mardi Gras celebration, but in recent years, the city has become overcrowded and expensive to visit this time of year. So if you’re hoping to blow some steam before Lent, but not your cash, the Crescent City is not your best option.

Contrary to popular belief, this historic and colorful celebration is not limited to just Louisiana. In fact, there’s French influence and Mardi Gras traditions in cities all across the country. While the types of celebrations and parties differ from city to city, you’ll still find masses of people dressed in purple, green, and gold. Take a look at these cities below to find some of the best places to visit for Mardi Gras outside of New Orleans.

5 Places Outside of New Orleans to Celebrate Mardi Gras

  1. St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis has its own rich history and traditions for Mardi Gras, most notably the Soulard Mardi Gras festival in the historic Soulard neighborhood. This four-decades old tradition brings in more than 500,000 people, and starts in mid-January and lasts until Fat Tuesday. The celebration kicks off with smaller events like the Cajun Cook Off, Missouri Lottery 5k Run for Your Beads, but the 7-week long party concludes with St. Louis’ biggest party of the year — the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball and the Bud Light Grand Parade.

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    The Mayor’s Ball is in the Rotunda of St. Louis City Hall, and is a black tie, Great Gatsby-esque evening with fancy food, cocktails and entertainment. You can try to get your tickets ahead of time, which go for $150. Mayor Francis Slay has proudly proclaimed that St. Louis’ Mardi Gras is not just the second largest, but also the best in the country. You can buy your ticket to the Mayor’s Ball here.

    The Bud Light Grand Parade is the biggest event of St. Louis’ Mardi Gras, which draws upwards of tens of thousands of people to Soulard. The parade features hundreds of floats made by groups known as Krewes, marching bands, and an endless amount of beads flying through the air. This event is completely free, and you can find more information on the Soulard Mardi Gras site.

    Want to join in on the fun in St. Louis? Check out Soulard rentals on VacationRenter

  2. Galveston, Texas. Galveston is known for being home to the biggest Carnival celebration with a beachfront view, and rivals St. Louis for having the second biggest party in the country. More than 300,000 people flock to this island city, which is home to a longstanding Mardi Gras tradition that brings locals and visitors together for several action-packed days. Tens of thousands of people gather in downtown Galveston for to watch parades, live music, and of course, throw beads in the air.

    You can buy general admission and balcony party tickets, as well as find information on all 20+ Galveston Mardi Gras parades on the Galveston Mardi Gras site.

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    Want to experience a one-of-a-kind Mardi Gras party? Check out Galveston rentals on VacationRenter

  3. Mobile, Alabama. While most people associate Mardi Gras with the revelry of the French Quarter, the oldest carnival celebration as we know it actually happened in Mobile, Alabama. Similarly to New Orleans and Louisiana, the gulf of Mississippi and Alabama also saw a heavy dose of early French exploration, which is why all along the coast, you’ll find streets and towns named after French explorers.

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    More than 1 million travel to Mobile for the oldest party of its kind, which is spread over a few weeks with parades and balls. But Mardi Gras wouldn’t wouldn’t be celebrated the way it is today if it wasn’t for Joe Cain, who is credited with igniting Mobile’s pride for the holiday. In 1866, Cain dressed as an indian chief and paraded the streets while people joined in — this event sparked a new ritual in the town. Now, the Sunday before Fat Tuesday is known as Joe Cain Day, and is considered a can’t-miss parade.

    Want to join a historic celebration? See Mobile, Alabama rentals on VacationRenter

  4. San Diego, California. If you can’t make it to the South for for Mardi Gras, even the West Coast has a worthy celebration for you to experience. You can satisfy your Southern cravings — whether it be daiquiris, beignets, or live music — even in San Diego. The Gaslamp Quarter is where all the festivities take place, and over the course of four days, you can take your pick of food and drink crawls, dancing, and masquerade parties. Look no further to find out where to sport your purple, gold, and green.

    Want to experience Southern traditions in Southern California? Find San Diego rentals on VacationRenter

  5. Pensacola, Florida. On the other side of the country from San Diego, the Sunshine State also runs deep with French culture. Pensacola, Florida is also home to one of the first Mardi Gras celebrations in the country. The tradition still continues today with the Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade which draws in over 100,000 spectators.

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    The parade winds through Downtown Pensacola, and is still a lot like the original parade in 1875. The parade includes a king, queen and royal court, hundreds of floats, several marching bands, and, of course, lots of green, gold and purple beads. You can find more information on Pensacola’s biggest event of the year here.

    Want to experience a long lasting tradition? Check out Pensacola rentals on VacationRenter

An Insider’s Guide to Portland Vacation Packages

Want to treat your vacation like an experience buffet? Portland, Oregon, is a popular vacation destination, in part because it offers the possibility of three distinct experiences: a laid-back yet cosmopolitan city trip, a mountain retreat and a coastal getaway. With Mount Hood and the Oregon Coast situated just a short drive away from the city, you can pack multiple different vacations into one. Use these tips to get the most benefits from Portland, Oregon, vacation packages without getting boxed into a trip that keeps you from experiencing the full range of possibilities in this magical part of the world.

Pick the Right Time of Year

Portland has a fairly predictable and notorious weather cycle. Essentially, Portland has two seasons: sunny and rainy. Late fall, early spring and all of winter are almost always dark, rainy and chilly. There are some exceptions, including occasional snowy and sunny periods, but if you want to see the best of the Northwest without having to deal with head-to-toe waterproofing, it’s best to travel during the drier months of July, August and September.

These are the most expensive months for Portland travel, though, so if you’re looking for a bargain, going at a typically rainy time of year might be a better bet. Portlanders don’t tend to let rain stop them from exploring the outdoors and otherwise going about their business, so your experience of the city and its surrounding areas won’t be much different. Just do like the locals do and wear waterproof clothes and shoes rather than using an umbrella, which may not stand up to wind and definitely won’t save you from puddles.

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Do Get a Car

Though Portland is known as a biking city, you might not be able to find a vacation package that gives airfare discounts with a bike rental. Cars are the next best thing, especially if you want to really explore the area. With a car, you can drive out to the Columbia River Gorge for hiking or farm visits, go up to the mountain for a cultural experience at the iconic Timberline Lodge or head out to the coast to see the breathtaking views offered by the coastal mountain range.

With a car, you can also make it out to parts of the city that aren’t necessarily well connected by public transit. Portland’s bus and light rail system is pretty good, but it isn’t as extensive as public transit systems in larger cities. Sauvie Island, for example, is a quiet, rustic farming hamlet that’s technically part of the city, but going there by bus won’t allow you to do much exploring unless you bring a bike and want to pedal for miles.

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Don’t Get a Hotel

Portland’s hotels are often clustered in busier, more commercial parts of town. While that can be fine for business travel, it isn’t necessarily great for those who want to really experience the city on vacation. Avoiding hotel booking as part of your package allows you to get closer to the “real” Portland in smaller, trendier neighborhoods like Sunnyside or Alberta. Opting for vacation homes rather than hotels can also give you the chance to hop around town or spend a night at the mountain or the coast as you see fit. Though hotels are typically a big part of vacation packages, there are other elements, like airfare and rental cars, to focus on rather than hotels. From tiny houses to luxe cabins, Portland and its surrounding areas offer a lot of interesting rental properties with a lot more local flavor than a hotel typically offers.

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Embrace Touristy Stuff

Portland doesn’t have a whole lot of tourist trap experiences on offer. Generally, attractions in this part of the country focus on natural beauty, history and culture that is genuinely interesting and fun for tourists to check out. And if you rent a car as part of your vacation package rather than opting for bus tours, you can do touristy things like visiting Multnomah Falls on your own terms.

There are some quirky and unique tourist options in Portland as well, reflecting the city’s general character. As a bike-friendly city, for example, there are a lot of weird cycles you can rent in various parts of town, including some multi-person, pedal-powered vehicles you can take on things like brewery or pizza tours. Food and drink are major attractions in Portland, so it may be worth it to buy tickets for something like a guided tour of local coffee roasters. Oregon also has a thriving wine industry, and you can find plenty of options for winery tours, often as close as an hour away in the Portland suburbs.

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There isn’t really a Times Square type equivalent in Portland, which means that travelers can usually embrace being tourists without really feeling like they’re getting pulled into some sort of commercialized gimmick that doesn’t reflect local culture. Portland has enough unique physical and cultural characteristics that you can be pretty confident that your tourist experience will reflect something authentic.