Quick Road Trips: Where to Go for a Getaway Outside New Orleans

Quick Road Trips: Where to Go for a Getaway Outside New Orleans

New Orleans has so much to offer, you could never leave and still find something to do every single day of the week. But sometimes, you need a change of pace without spending very much.

Sure, we’d love to hop on a flight to some exotic island, but with our wallets in mind, we’ve created a list of “staycations” – places outside the city that feel like a whole new world but are just a short drive away. Whether you head to the shores of Dauphin Island or the stately guest rooms of Nottoway Plantation, bookmark this list for a weekend getaway or a quick day trip… you deserve it!

Road Trips from New Orleans

Day trips from New Orleans.

Day trips from New Orleans.

Celebrate a Noted Ceramicist

Take the hour-and-a-half drive to Biloxi and visit the Ohr-O’Keefe museum, a non-profit museum that highlights the work of ceramicist George E. Ohr. While the O’Keefe component may conjure up images of desert flowers, it isn’t named for Georgia O’Keefe: instead, the O’Keefe portion of the museum’s name comes from Annette O’Keefe, the late wife of the former Biloxi mayor whose donation dollars were instrumental in bringing the museum to life.

ohr okeefe

Photo courtesy Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art on Facebook

Famed architect Frank Gehry designed the museum, which is a work of art in and of itself. Comprised of five separate buildings, the museum includes dedicated spaces for special exhibitions, African American art, and ceramics.

Where to Stay: If you decide to extend your stay beyond a day trip, there are a variety of hotels within the area. Many even give you the option to test your luck at an included casino!

What Else to Do in Biloxi: Go on a fishing charter, visit the outlet malls in nearby Gulfport, or simply hit the beaches. With that in mind… 

Stay at a Gulf Coast Beach

The Gulf Coast is full of gorgeous beaches perfect for a getaway from New Orleans. Our recommendations? Bay St. Louis for its charming downtown, Dauphin Island near Mobile for a more rustic and nature-immersed feel, and Grand Isle to stay in state and experience a beautiful state park. All of these beaches are fewer than three hours away (Bay St. Louis is only an hour drive), but if you’re willing to drive even farther, we have two additional recommendations:

Destin, FL: The four-hour drive is worth every minute for sparkling blue waters and a charming town.

Photo courtesy The Pearl RB on Facebook

Photo courtesy The Pearl RB on Facebook

Rosemary Beach, FL: Just a bit farther from Destin, you’ll find Rosemary Beach, which has the same charming feel and beautiful waters. If you can spring for the Pearl Hotel, we say go for it – their high-style décor, incredible pool, and proximity to both downtown and the beach makes for a memorable vacation.

Holly Beach, LA: This coastal community in Cameron Parish is about a four-hour drive from New Orleans. You won’t get the same crystal-clear waters as Florida beaches, but the abundance of shells and serene, peaceful feel will keep you intrigued and in awe.

Experience the Past at Plantations

Plantations pepper the region just outside of New Orleans, serving as architectural reminders of the Antebellum South. While there are several to choose from, like Houma House, Oak Alley, and Destrehan Plantation, our top picks are as follows:

Laura Plantation: This plantation about an hour outside New Orleans is a little different than the vast and sprawling plantations elsewhere in the state. Because it was a Creole plantation where mixed cultures lived and work, Laura Plantation has a completely different architecture. You can also connect to the past more closely and realistically at Laura, where examples of slave homes and banana tree farms abound. If you crave the classic plantation style, Oak Alley Plantation is right next door.

nottoway

Photo courtesy Nottoway Plantation on Facebook

Nottoway Plantation: Nottoway isn’t just a plantation – it’s a resort. Drive about an hour and a half outside New Orleans, and you’ll have access to beautiful architecture and elegant furnishings, plus vacation-worthy amenities like tennis courts, a spa, an on-site restaurant, and live entertainment. Stay in the main mansion or choose from guest houses and cottages, some of which even have a private pool.

Visit a Museum that Honors Two Louisiana Pastimes

At first glance, aviation and lumber seem like an odd combination to appear in the same museum. But the Wedell-Williams Aviation and Cypress Sawmill Museum in Patterson is actually a fitting combination. The dual focus is a nod to two components of Louisiana history: Jimmie Wedell and Harry P. Williams formed an air service together in Patterson during the golden age of aviation in the 1920s, and Patterson – about an hour and a half drive from New Orleans – was once home to the largest cypress sawmill in the world.

Top 5 Road Trip Tips

Even a short road trip benefits from a little bit of planning and a little bit of packing. Here are 5 tips to help make your next road trip even better:

1. Plan for high-traffic areas. Are you planning on leaving New Orleans at 5 p.m. on a Friday? Probably not a great idea if you can help it. Instead, try avoiding peak rush hour times if possible, and always remember to plan ahead for the next town — for example, even if you leave New Orleans a little early at 3, you’ll be hitting Biloxi just as traffic starts to peak.

2. Consider joining AAA or another roadside assistance group. Louisiana roads have a real knack for banging up cars, from rock chips to flat tires. Joining a roadside assistance group like AAA ensures you’ll get free help and free towing in the event of anything that brings your car to a halt. These programs are typically pretty affordable — usually about $100 annually — and also include great member discounts on hotels.

3. Have cash and change handy. Don’t forget about toll money! Carry small bills and plenty of quarters in your car so that you can easily pay tolls on the way to your destination and on the way back. Spare change is also helpful in case you can’t get cell phone service: believe it or not, pay phones still exist — but you’ll need coins to get them to work.

4. Have your documents in order. License? Check. Registration? Check. Proof of insurance? Check. If you’ve decided to rent a car, make sure to keep any documents and receipts with you in the front glove compartment.

5. Bring a spare key. This simple little hack can help you avoid a major headache.

 

 

 

 

Cinco Places for Tacos in Metairie, Kenner, and River Ridge

Spicy salsa, cool sour cream, and a variety of textures and flavors all join up for perhaps the most perfect food in existence: the taco. Whether it’s Taco Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo, or just a regular Saturday night, here are cinco places in Metairie, Kenner, and River Ridge to get your taco on.

Mexican cuisine at Carreta's Grill. (Photo via Carreta's Grill on Facebook)

Mexican cuisine at Carreta’s Grill. (Photo via Carreta’s Grill on Facebook)

Places for Tacos in Metairie, Kenner, and River Ridge

Carreta’s Grill

With locations in Metairie and Harahan, Carreta’s serves up its own take on traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. The guacamole dip is creamy and cool, while the chipotle shrimp are a smoky mix of grilled shrimp and chipotle sauce. Try the Baja-style tacos with fried Mahi Mahi — they’re topped with cabbage for extra crunch. With lunch specials served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., this is an ideal place for a midday indulgence.

Taqueria Corona

Hanging piñatas create a fiesta-like atmosphere at this Metairie spot on Severn Avenue (they also have Harahan and New Orleans locations). The tacos are delicioso, but save room for dessert: the flauta dulce is a mix of flavors and textures made from a deep-fried tortilla filled with cheesecake and bananas and served with a strawberry dipping sauce.

Tacos El Gordo

On Williams Boulevard in Kenner, this restaurant features a drive-through so you can enjoy your food at home! Make sure to order the guacamole — it’s incredibly fresh and authentic, topped with delectable crumbles of cotija cheese. The house-made sauces and horchata drinks are other standouts, but you really can’t go wrong anywhere on the menu.

Taqueria Sanchez

The barbacoa tacos with diced onions are like a trip to the Yucatan; you can also venture off the beaten path with meat choices like tongue! This place is a hidden gem just off the I-10 service road, so keep your eyes peeled. And if you drive past it the first time? No worries: it’s open 24 hours. Bonus: they also serve pupusas.

Izzo’s Illegal Burrito

So, it’s a regional chain… but Izzo’s still hits the spot. Easily located on Veteran’s Boulevard, Izzo’s serves up reliably good tacos made to order just the way you like them: choose your tortilla, meat, and toppings as you go.

Must Know Refrigerator Organization Tips

Do you find yourself practically playing a game of Tetris to fit all of your groceries into your refrigerator? Whether you have a smaller fridge or just more refrigerated items than you know what to do with, don’t stress.

How To Organize Your Fridge

There are ways to create more space to make room for everything that needs to be refrigerated. Start with these fridge organization hacks, and read on for the best places to store everything inside your refrigerator:

There are ways to create more space to make room for everything that needs to be refrigerated. Start with these fridge organization hacks, and read on for the best places to store everything inside your refrigerator.

There are ways to create more space to make room for everything that needs to be refrigerated. Start with these fridge organization hacks, and read on for the best places to store everything inside your refrigerator.

Remove packaging

This is a quick and easy fix for products that are taking up more room than necessary. Many products like rice or prepared food come sealed in a bag inside a large, bulky box. By eliminating the packaging, less space will be needed to store the item in the refrigerator.

Cleanse your fridge

Chances are, you have a lot of products that have been sitting in your refrigerator, neglected for a long period of time. Most likely these items include salad dressing and condiments, wilting produce, half-empty bottles of flat soda, frozen popsicles or prepared meals, just to name a few. Make a habit of routinely cleaning out your fridge to throw out the items that have expired or spoiled.

To keep the surfaces of your refrigerator clean, lay down some easily removable cling film on each shelf of your refrigerator to catch spills and crumbs, and remove them and replace as needed.

Organize your groceries

Smartly utilize your refrigerator space by separating different types of food in designated baskets, like condiments, greens, dairy, fruit and meat. Label the containers to keep to a consistent system going and for quick and easy access.

Best Places To Put Everything In Your Fridge:

Did you know that there is a correct method for organizing your fridge and making the most out of your groceries? Follow these tips to maximize your food’s freshness and save money in the process!

On Top of the Fridge

Store things like cookbooks, paper towels and appliances on top of your fridge. NEVER store bread, wine or produce on top of your refrigerator.

Refrigerator Doors

The door is the warmest part of your fridge, so use it to store products that aren’t as sensitive to temperature, such as confinements and sauces, juice, pickles, sodas and bottled water.

Refrigerator’s Upper Shelves

The upper shelves of your fridge have a consistent cold temperature perfect for storing leftovers, drinks, ready-to-eat prepared foods and herbs.

Refrigerator’s Lower Shelves

The lower shelves of your refrigerator are the coldest part of your fridge, which makes them ideal for keeping your milk, eggs, dairy products and raw meat safe.

Crisper Drawers

Your refrigerator has two crisper drawers for a reason. These are made for storing fruits and vegetables separately.

Other Fridge Storage Tips

There are certain things you NEVER want to refrigerate, including tomatoes, onions, squash and potatoes.

Many items in your kitchen pantry can be stored in your fridge if you prefer, like nuts, peanut butter and almond butter, flour and natural oils. Some medications and beauty products are also best when refrigerated.

How does your fridge stack up?

1st Lake Properties offers spacious kitchens with modern appliances at our many convenient New Orleans area apartments that will make refrigerator organization a breeze.

Hearty Cabbage Recipes for Sides and Mains

With its meaty texture and family-friendly size, cabbage is a versatile vegetable for weeknight meals (bonus: it stores beautifully and has a long fridge life of up to two months!). Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that boasts anti-carcinogenic properties, so it’s a great food to incorporate into your diet. Whether you caught a cabbage in the St. Patrick’s Day parades or just picked one up on special at the grocery store, here are a few cabbage recipes ideal for a side dishes or entrees.

cabbage recipes

Braised red cabbage is a quick and easy side dish. (Photo via Flickr user Citrus and Candy)

Cabbage Recipes for Sides and Mains

Sides

Sauteed Cabbage and Apples: A quick saute of green cabbage helps the vegetable retain its satisfying texture while also adding a touch of sweetness thanks to tart, crisp apples. Get this basic recipe from My Recipes. Once you’ve mastered it, feel free to improvise! Try adding an egg on top for breakfast or stirring in some grainy mustard (and keep scrolling to learn how to transform this side into a main dish).

Cheesy Cabbage Casserole: Who needs mac ‘n’ cheese when there’s cheesy cabbage casserole on the table? This recipe from The Pioneer Woman is an instant comfort classic. The green cabbage casserole pairs great with brisket or chicken, but as recipe author Ree Drummond points out, “Sometimes, this really feels like a meal in itself.”

Braised Red Cabbage: This dish from Bon Appetit can be made ahead and reheated — perfect for a busy weeknight! Pantry ingredients like vinegar and chicken broth are all you’ll need (bacon is optional).

Mains

“Unstuffed” Cabbage Rolls: Cabbage rolls are a beloved preparation of the vegetable, but they can be tricky. Get all the flavor without any of the persnickety rolling by cooking all the ingredients together in a skillet. About Food has the easy recipe.

Smoked Sausage with Cabbage and Apples: Remember the quick sauteed cabbage and apples recipe in our Sides section? Simply add in your favorite smoked sausage (we like turkey kielbasa) for an instant main dish.

Shortcut Choucroute: Chef Mark Bittman found a quick and clever way to prepare a whole cabbage with his shortcut choucroute recipe. This easy main dish requires just about 5 minutes of prep. Let the oven do the work — you’ve got better things to do!

For more recipe ideas, visit our Cooking Tips hub on the blog. 

How to Make the Most of Your Free Time

How to Make the Most of Your Free Time, via 1stlake.comIn our busy culture, free time is often painted as a luxury rather than a necessity, but it is exactly that: a necessity.

To give your body and mind a chance to unwind, refresh, and rest, you need to take time for yourself.

Since free time is precious, here are some ways to help you make the most of the time you have and carve out more free time to yourself:

Make A Blueprint For Your Life

In order to create more free time for yourself and spend it wisely, you must first know where your priorities lie.

Step away from your computer and spend some quiet time by yourself with pen and paper. Imagine how you want to remember your life, looking back on it in old age. Think about what aspects of your life you want to fill those memories. Maybe it’s time spent with friends and family, or maybe it’s running marathons around the world.

Plan out your priorities and write them down. Keep a copy of this list close at all times, and when life begins to get hectic, take a step back and remember what really matters to you.

Block Out Free Time On Your Schedule

When work, friends, family, and hobbies all add up to a packed schedule, free time can be hard to come by, but actively scheduling time for yourself to spend free of obligations can help reset your mind and make you a happier person.

Sometimes that means carving out when you give yourself permission not to worry about anything else in your life. Add daily or weekly appointments to your calendar for self-care and honor this time with yourself.

Don’t Do Work

During your scheduled “me time”, don’t cheat yourself. Unplug and don’t let work creep into your well-deserved time away.

Ignore emails and stop checking social media for just a little while. Try to stay away from television and the computer all together. Your brain needs a rest in order to maximize productivity when it’s time to get back to work.

Instead, go for a walk outside, read a book, meditate or throw a one-person dance party in your living room. Your future self will thank you for this time spent re-charging.

Connect With Others

In our digital age, technology and social media can keep us from interacting in person. In addition to scheduling time in your calendar for yourself, schedule recurring dates with close friends and family as well as your spouse or partner.

Make regular plans to meet friends or family for dinner or coffee. Enjoy laughing with your favorite people. You’ll remember how much you crave and miss that connection the moment you see their faces.

Do Things That You Are Passionate About

Make time to do things that are authentically you. If you care about animals, volunteer at an animal shelter; if you love painting, get outside and paint something new.

Make time to do those things that make you who you are; doing this will not only remind you how much those things mean to you, they can bring a renewed energy, as well.

Rest & Relax

If you are a busy person, one of the best things you can do for yourself is take a rest. Schedule a nap or take time to lounge around and do nothing.

Our bodies, minds, and souls function best when rest is included in our lives regularly. Balance is important for achieving our best possible selves.

Learn To Say “No”

Our time is precious and finite, and as much as we would like, it’s not possible to say yes to everything.

Show some respect for your own time by saying “no” more often. Before saying yes to a new project or event invitation, take a moment to really evaluate if that opportunity aligns with your goals for your life.

How Do You Make Free Time?

Do you have additional tips for carving out free time for yourself? Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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