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A Little Trip to the Big Easy

This post is part of our Escapes Editor’s Picks series, where LivingSocial travel experts talk about great destinations to travel and tour.

While New Orleans erupts during Mardi Gras every February, the city’s charming Creole roots and musical heritage are on display year-round. The city begs to be explored — certainly you can find a weekend for some Crescent City revelry before summer’s over. Here’s an itinerary of experiences for a brief but memorable 48-hour stay, including great deals to delight you on your southern sojourn.

Begin your getaway in the heart of the French Quarter at the four-star Astor Crowne Plaza. Enjoy the pool above the city streets as well as authentic Creole cuisine at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, located right on the property.

Start your first day at Dickie Brennan’s with a breakfast of Bourbon House Benedict and coffee, and take in the sights and sounds of central New Orleans with a table overlooking Bourbon Street. Next, get a lay of the land with a historic tour of the French Quarter, including must-see mainstays like Jackson Square, the Mississippi River, and the Quadroon Ballroom. You’ll work up quite an appetite with all that walking, so grab some lunch at Fritzel’s European Jazz Bar and enjoy high-energy performances from some of the best musicians in the birth city of jazz. Afterward, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the nation’s biggest celebrations at Mardi Gras World. A tour of this incredible space includes a history of Mardi Gras and a walk through the float den where you’ll get up close and personal with the floats for next year’s parade. For dinner, venture out to Desi Vega’s Steakhouse for the juiciest steak and seafood on this side of the Mississippi. At the end of the day, witches, ghosts, and vampires come out to play on a Witches Brew tour of the most haunted city in America. Your storyteller and guide will provide chilling counts of the supernatural as you explore haunting hotspots like the LaLaurie Mansion.

Forget about nightmares, though; you’ll be dreaming of Café Du Monde’s famous beignets, which you’ll be digging into for breakfast on day two. This New Orleans landmark has been serving up fresh coffee and hot beignets topped with powdered sugar since 1862. Afterward take a step back in time with a stroll through the Beauregard-Keyes House and Garden, built in 1825 and privately owned until 1970 when it became a museum to the rich history of Louisiana’s high society. Make a pit-stop for lunch at the award-winning Gumbo Shop, renowned for its home-style gumbo, jambalaya, and po-boy sandwiches. For a change of pace, escape to the heart of the Manchac Swamp in the afternoon for a pontoon boat tour of Louisiana’s breathtaking swamps and wetlands. Led by native Cajun captains, you’ll cruise through this private wildlife refuge and discover animals of all sorts. These swamp creatures are so accustomed to tours that they often respond to the boat captains’ calls! Head back to Bourbon Street for a last-chance dance and dinner at Bourbon Heat, where Creole cuisine served al fresco is the order of the evening. Finally, toast to a fantastic 48 hours in the Big Easy and your newfound love for NOLA with jazz and drinks at the Maison Bourbon.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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