(Illustration: Irwin Krieger)
K. Daigle loves to travel the world with her husband. The couple hits the road two to three months out of the year. They’ve done everything from whale-watching in Alaska to bicycle tours of Belgium and Holland. But the Daigles still claim their former home of New Orleans as one of their favorite destinations, a short drive from their current home in Lafayette, La. Since she’s a Marriott Rewards Insider, we asked Daigle to share her inside tips for a great visit to New Orleans.
You travel a lot with your husband. What’s the most romantic thing to do in New Orleans?
Just to walk along the river at twilight and listen to the calliope music from the paddlewheeler boats. Riding the paddlewheelers is something we’ve really enjoyed doing, though we haven’t in a while. And, something we’ve never done is to take a carriage ride through the French Quarter; that could be a very romantic thing.
New Orleans loves to party. Should first-timers visit during Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, or some other time of year?
I think that for the first time, just to see the city by itself is worthwhile. During Mardi Gras or the Sugar Bowl weekend, at New Year’s Eve, which we just did, you kind of get overwhelmed. I’d recommend for the first time you visit some time other than during a festival.
I would say the best time to avoid crowds would be in the middle of summer. However, a lot of visitors would probably have a tough time with the heat and humidity. We have also always enjoyed being in New Orleans during Christmas. It would be best to leave before the New Year’s parties begin along with the influx of Sugar Bowl fans if you want to avoid crowds.
What are the must-do activities for a first-time visit to New Orleans?
If you’re an animal lover, the Audubon Zoo is excellent, as well as the Aquarium, especially if you have children with you. Something new is the double-decker tour buses, which we like to do almost anyplace we go, to see where everything is. And go to a Saints game or a Pelicans game – even if you’re not a big sports fan! It’s fun to feel the enthusiasm just walking around in the crowd at Champions Square.
If someone wanted to explore outside the city, where would you recommend going?
Visit the plantations along the River Road, toward Baton Rouge. There are also the swamp tours, but I’d prefer a plantation tour. Once I listened to a group of tourists getting ready to go on a swamp tour in Lafayette. I heard a woman ask the guide if he could guarantee that they would see an alligator. He said: “No, ma’am, I can’t guarantee that we’ll see an alligator, but if we do see one, I can’t guarantee he won’t jump in the boat, either.”
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