Can you imagine a better city than New Orleans in which to plan and actually enjoy a “staycation?” The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau is making it easier for locals to do just that with their Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown campaign. Now through September 30, they’re offering special deals on hotels, meals, cocktails, attractions, and other cool stuff all over the city.
I recently was saddled with the arduous assignment of test driving this campaign, not because I wanted to gorge myself on amazing food and drinks, lounge around in a fancy hotel, and soak in the city without time constraints. Heck, no. It was purely based on my desire to promote local businesses and to support our tourism industry during this off-peak season. (Okay, maybe the gorging, lounging, and soaking had a little something to do with it, too…)
The best part of acting like a tourist, instead of being a tourist, is knowing that you don’t have to kill yourself with an overloaded itinerary. No flights to catch or bags to pack sets a much more leisurely pace. This leisurely pace began when we entered the front door of The Hotel Modern and were immediately handed a glass of wine and introduced to Ms. Scarlett, the resident red macaw, who is more likely to be found perched upon someone’s shoulder than in her cage. The hotel’s vibe is chic and modern, yet cozy and accessible, with little bits of whimsy scattered about – please see the awesome pig table, pictured on their home page.
During our ascent in the elevator, we wondered if this was going to be like a typical boutique hotel in New York, with a charming lobby, but shockingly small, sometimes dank rooms. Fortunately, the answer was no. Dude. You could park a Buick in this room and a smart car in the bathroom. The same design aesthetic from the lobby is carried throughout. Though the cushy robe and plush bed were tempting, the city beckoned.
Conveniently located mere steps from the lobby, just beyond the hotel’s Vietnamese restaurant, Tamarind, was our next stop: Bellocq. Its cool, shabby-chic bordello décor makes more sense once you discover that it’s named for photographer, E.J. Bellocq, who became posthumously famous when his portraits of Storyville madams from the early 1900s were discovered. My husband and I were both intrigued when our server asked us about our “flavor profiles” when helping us to choose an appropriate drink from their impressive cocktail menu. My husband wound up with a Stirred and Boozy rye whiskey concoction, while I was served a Ti’ Punch, comprised of blanc rhum (with an “h”), cane syrup, and lime. True mixologists up in this joint.
Next up: a New Orleans pedicab! This is one mode of transportation I’ve never experienced, but I’ve seen those signature red and black NOLA Pedicabs everywhere, so I figured it was time to give it a shot. A pedicab ride creates a really cool perspective of the city. Most impressive was our ambassador on wheels’ ability to carry on a conversation over his shoulder without getting winded, whilst pedaling our weight around town. There’s always a dispatcher ready to send someone to pick you up, or you can book online or by phone in advance for Saints games, pub crawls, curbside hotel service, etc. They’re available from 9 a.m. – midnight, and they cover the ground of the French Quarter, CBD, Marigny and Bywater.
The beauty of acting like a tourist instead of being one is knowing that you don’t ever have to leave New Orleans. We’ve got all the time in the world to enjoy our wonderful city, but what better time to get out and about than during this off-peak season? Plus, we’ve only got until the end of September to take advantage of all the Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown deals! It’s time to motor! Or pedal, as it were.
Be sure to take your shot at fabulous “staycation” prizes with the Instagram Contest, featuring eight weekly themes and giveaways. Fun!
This is the first installment of a three part Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown series, chronicled by GoNOLA writer Liz Genest Smith. Stay tuned next week to see where Liz goes after her pedicab ride! All photos by Liz Genest Smith.