But even if you’re already booked into New Orleans, that’s just half the battle. Approximately one million people will be pouring in and out of the city in the next two weeks, so here are some tips for getting around once you’re there.
First of all, even though Mardi Gras itself isn’t until Feb. 12, there are parades going on every day. While that’s always a great attraction if you’re coming into town, keep in mind they will disrupt traffic, so be sure to look up the parade route in advance so you can plan to either be in the area or avoid it altogether. Also, some roads in the French Quarter will be closed to vehicles from Jan. 30-Feb. 4, and roads around the Superdome will be closed as well. The City of New Orleans website has more details. The Superdome is walking distance from a number of hotels, however.
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Also, Carmen Shirkey Collins, a friend of mine who is a savvy traveler herself, suggests that when looking for places to eat, try non-peak times, and make a reservation if you can: “Beignets are available 24/7, not just at 8 in the morning. Gumbo is just as good at 3 p.m. as noon.”
If you’re fortunate enough to be staying in town, you should be able to pass on renting a car because there are many airport transportation options, including a shuttle to the downtown hotels, cabs and an express bus.
It’s been more than seven years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. There are still tours being offered of the parts of the city most affected by the storm, but you can go one step further and volunteer your time in the rebuilding process by being a voluntourist.
There are also New Orleans tourism apps you can download to your phone or tablet, and there is more information about the Super Bowl and surrounding events at NewOrleansSuperBowl.com.
If you don’t have a hotel room in town as of yet, be prepared for a long commute. Hotels in the city have been long sold out, or if there are rooms available, you’d have to pay the premium cost associated with a large event, in the area of thousands of dollars per night.
Even my second-grade daughter understands this concept: “A lot of people go to the Super Bowl, so a lot of the hotels must be full already.”
If you’re still looking at this date, Baton Rouge might be your best bet. And at 80 miles from New Orleans, you will be spending a lot of time going back and forth.
I also spoke with Peggy Gennardo, a CWT Vacations manager in Hammond, La., about 60 miles from New Orleans, and she warned of travelers getting scammed by people offering apartments or houses for rent in New Orleans. If the deal sounds too good to be true at this date, it probably is.