vacation & holiday

New Orleans: a neighbourhood guide

From the pretty French Quarter to the hip Marigny district, each of New Orleans’ neighbourhoods jive to their own funky beat – learn all about them with our in-the-know guide.


FRENCH QUARTER  

The charming, walkable Quarter is full of step-back in-time architecture and venerable dining institutions that speak to its status as New Orleans’ oldest neighbourhood, but it’s also home to exciting, new foodie spots…


Eat

Photo by CC-By-SA-3.0 on Wiki Commons 

For more than a hundred years, Galatoire’s has been serving trout meuniere (trout with a flour-based sauce), soufflé potatoes and champagne to the New Orleans elite in its mirrored, tiled dining room. The French 75 bar at Arnaud’s, has an eccentric museum of vintage Mardi Gras costumes hidden upstairs.


Stay

Built in 1886, the Hotel Monteleone breathes old New Orleans character, from its elegant Beaux Arts architecture to its many reported ghost sightings.


Do

Preservation Hall faithfully presents traditional jazz each night, just like when it was launched in 1961, with musicians who were there when the genre was born in the early twentieth century. Expect intimate, late-night concerts with contemporary artists like Elvis Costello and Angelique Kidjo.



BYWATER/MARIGNY

Just downriver of the French Quarter, the bohemian Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods have become a centre for hip, laid-back art, music and cuisine.


Eat

Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans on Wiki Commons

Grab a bottle at tiny, jewel-like wine shop Bacchanal, then drink it in the expansive, magically lit garden where live bands provide the soundtrack. In New Orleans, there are gigs 365 nights of the year meaning your toes will always be kept tapping.  A block from the Press Street train tracks in Bywater, the aptly named Junction features Louisana’s finest craft brews and gourmet burgers.


Stay

The cute Balcony Guest House oozes Creole charm with its pretty characterful rooms. Its eponymous balcony provides a wonderful vantage point to admire the area’s rainbow-coloured tiny ‘shotgun’ houses, and see Marigny’s creative types ambling through the streets.


Do

Photo by Robbie Mendelson on Wiki Commons

At Euclid Records and the Louisiana Music Factory, stock up on sounds to remember your visit to the cradle of American music. Crescent Park runs for two miles on the edge of Marigny and Bywater, and has breathtaking river vistas, as well as running and biking paths.



WAREHOUSE DISTRICT/CBD

A few blocks uptown of the French Quarter, this neighbourhood is packed with galleries, plus stylish hotels and restaurants.


Eat

The latest from celeb chef John Besh’s team is Willa Jean, an expansive, corner space specializing in delectable bakery items, and brunch accompanied by lemony frozen rosé. Grab a seat on the raw bar at the award-winning Peche, for the best seafood in the Gulf.  In 2016, New Orleans had the most James Beard award nominees per capita over any American city, so come hungry.


Stay

The old Roosevelt Hotel epitomises grandeur, with a Guerlain spa and its historic Blue Room, where Louis Armstrong once performed.


Do

Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans on Wiki Commons

Stop by the Ogden Museum and browse its collection of contemporary and classic Southern art. On Thursday nights, local musicians play in its soaring atrium. The National World War Two Museum houses an extraordinary multimedia collection dedicated to telling the story of the conflict that shaped the twentieth century.



UPTOWN AND THE GARDEN DISTRICT

Live oaks and magnolias provide lush natural canopies over some of the city’s most impressive architecture


Eat

Photo by Pexels on Pixabay

The relatively new Freret Street cultural district is home to a handful of laid-back, innovative bars and restaurants, from the home-style Southern cooking at High Hat Café to next-level cocktails at Cure. Hidden away on a residential street, Clancy’s where generations have enjoyed fried oysters with Brie and lemon icebox pie.  


Stay

The Avenue Plaza Resort, is home to locals’ favourite Mr. John’s Steakhouse which serves up prime beef just steps away from oak-lined St. Charles Avenue, where streetcars rumble by.


Do

Tipitina’s, founded in the 1970s to give rhythm-and-blues piano man Professor Longhair a place to play, brings in both major touring bands and local luminaries. Magazine Street offers brilliant shopping for miles, including handcrafted jewellery inspired by the history of South Louisiana at Mignon Faget’s 

Book flights to New Orleans with British Airways


Written by Alison Fensterstock

11 US road trips you should add to your bucket list

With such vast and varied landscapes in the US, the only way to cover a variety of them is by car. Enjoy the stunning scenery of the iconic Route 66, marvel at the Tail of the Dragon Highway and cruise through the great US of A.


Route 66

Known as the Mother Road of America, Route 66 journeys for more than 2,000 miles of pure Americana. This historic route, built in the 1920s, travels from Chicago Illinois to Los Angeles California and crosses the states of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. See the heart and soul of the country from your car window and explore beautiful beaches in Santa Monica, the expansive Grand Canyon and the delicious restaurants that are all situated along this route.


California’s Pacific Coast Highway

The twisting, cliff-hugging route of the Pacific Coast Highway runs 458 miles along the central California coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles and is one of the most exhilarating road trips in the US. It takes around six hours to drive from start to finish. While a portion of the Big Sur Highway is currently closed, you can still get a taste by driving down the coastal road as far as Point Lobos Natural Reserve, where adorable wild sea otters sometimes frolic. Doubling back and take Highway 101 inland for sensational winetasting in the Salinas Valley before rejoining the ocean road at Cambria.


Overseas Highway

Get ready for beautiful scenery overload on the Overseas Highway. The Highway 1 route from mainland Florida to Key West travels for 113 miles past expansive turquoise waters dotted with distant sandy islands. The concrete stretches of this magnificent route are punctuated by classic American gift shops and burger stands serving up cholesterol-bursting milkshakes to break up the long journey.


State Route 12

Also known as Scenic Byway 12, it’s frequently regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the world. State Route 12 winds from west to east for 122 miles, located in the Garfield and Wayne Counties of Utah. The highway starts south of Panguitch, passing through part of the Dixie National Forest, and going over the Escalante River. With its limestone network of turrets and spires, the natural cathedral that is the Red Canyon is also along Route 12, which eventually ends in Torrey, just five miles from Capitol Reef National Park. Driving past retro, rusty signs and baron lands, this route is the perfect trip through time back to old America.


Kancamagus Highway

Now designated as an American Scenic Byway, the 34.5 mile long Kancamagus Highway in Northern New Hampshire will not disappoint. Venture through the epic White Mountain National Forest, with views of the Swift River, Sabbaday Falls and Rocky George. Drive Kancumagus in Autumn time and see New England Fall in all its orange and red glory – the highway passes some of the best views of New Hampshire’s famous Fall foliage.


Beartooth Highway

Positioned 10,947 feet above sea level, near to the magnificent Yellowstone National Park, it’s unsurprising Beartooth Highway is frequently described as the most beautiful drive in America. Located on a section of U.S. Route 212 in Montana and Wyoming, Beartooth cuts through the Custer and Shoshone national forests, and it’s the stunning greenery of these woodlands that makes this route so special. The pass is usually only open from mid-May to mid-October due to the heavy snowfall in the winter months.


Delaware Water Gap Road Trip

Take a road trip along the Delaware River. The surrounding 67,000-acre forest at the National Recreation Centre is full of flowing waterfalls that deliver the ultimate scenic route. But it’s the Delaware Water Gap, a deep cleft carved by the river into the solid surrounding rock, which is undisputedly the most beautiful sight of this drive. The route round this beauty spot stretches for 35-miles south on the I-84 freeway in Oregon, Utah.


Route 6

Based in the heart of the magnificent Massachusetts state, Route 6 connects Rhode Island to Fall River, New Bedford and Cape Cod. Also known as the Mid-Cape Highway, Route 6 takes you all the way to California and runs 3,652 miles long and is the longest contiguous transcontinental route in the USA jutting across fourteen states.


Tail of the Dragon

Bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest, the Tail of the Dragon route has no intersecting roads or driveways to distract your travel. It’s just you and the open road. With 318 curving roads, totaling 11 miles, the Tail of the Dragon is America’s number one motorcycle and sports car road. Hire the sports car of your dreams and cruise down the famous open roads for as long as your heart desires.


Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway

Journeying through Utah and Colorado for 512 miles, the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway forms a diamond shape with the four highest points at Moab, Helper, Vernal and Grand Junction, which include some of the best National Parks in the country. With the Dinosaur National Monument, the Canyonlands National Park and the Colorado National Monument all on this route, this trip offers a stunning prehistoric adventure through time.  


The Blues Highway

Starting in ‘Music City’ Nashville, traversing through birthplace of rock and roll, Memphis, blues haven Mississippi and the cradle of jazz, New Orleans, this 630-mile journey traverses rural, romantic roads straight through the heart of the Deep South. As well as classic vinyl shops and stellar Southern cuisine you’ll find the funkiest soundtrack in the States; from jazz in NOLA’s hip Bywater area to the harmonica-strains of up-and-coming talent in Memphis’ juke joints.

With low online deposits and a 24-hour helpline it’s now easier than ever to book your Avis car hire with your BA flights: book in and out of the same, or different, airports and choose from multiple hotels.

Plan your next US road trip


Photo by Roman Romanenko on Unsplash

Seattle: a 48-hour guide 

Photo by Milkoví 

It might be home to Starbucks and Microsoft, but there’s more to thriving Seattle than coffee and computers. Local writer Lucy Rock gives some pointers on where to visit, eat and sleep with just 48 hours in the Emerald City.

 

Day one

Settling in 

British Airways flies non-stop from London to Seattle every day, and with all flights touching down around mid-afternoon, you can start making the most of your trip from the get-go. Downtown is the perfect launchpad to explore one of America’s coolest cities. Unwind with a cocktail amid a touch of Old-World glamour at the Fairmont Olympic Seattle, built in the style of the Italian renaissance. 

Photo by Jakub Dziubak 

For something a little different, stay at The Edgewater – Downtown’s only waterfront hotel – where you’ll be in good company, previous guests include The Beatles and David Bowie.

Book Flights to Seattle


16:00 – Going underground

Soak up some culture in Pioneer Square, the city’s oldest neighbourhood. Art installations, an 18m totem pole and a six-metre waterfall decorate the area. Browse the eclectic art galleries and bookstores before descending underground. 

Photo by Samuel Zeller

Fire destroyed much of the area in 1889 and the city was rebuilt on top of the ruins. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour reveals the network of streets and shop fronts that lie hidden beneath their modern counterparts.


20:00 – Food with a view

The multi-award winning Canlis is perfect for a spot of fine dining. Established in 1950, picture windows on the east-facing side of the mid-century building offer magical views of Lake Union and the Cascade mountains, while the tasting menu provides a plethora of innovative and elegant dishes, such as the malted pancakes (fermented rapini, cabbage and smelt bagna cauda).

Photo by Jay Wennington


Day two

08:00 – Flying high

Get up early and beat the crowds to the top of the Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair in the Seattle Center cultural complex, the flying-saucer design is the iconic symbol of the city. Take the lift 158m to the observation deck for a 360-degree view of the streets below, the Puget Sound waters, and the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, including imperious Mount Rainier.


09:30 – Back on terra firma

Hours can easily be whiled away in the Seattle Center

Be inspired by glass artist Dale Chihuly’s colourful sculptures in the Chihuly Gardens or watch DJs broadcast live as you sip an espresso at La Marzocco café inside KEXP radio station. 

Alternatively, brush up on the history of music at the Museum of Pop Culture or dinosaurs and planets at the Pacific Science Center, while young ones will love the Children’s Museum.


13:00 – Super market

A trip to lively Pike Place Market is a must for any visitor to the city. Opened in 1907, it’s one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the USA. Take the monorail to the Westlake Center and walk three blocks to watch fishmongers toss whole salmon to each other while cracking jokes. 

Refuel at Lowell’s, which boasts three floors of waterfront views, and indulge in wild Alaskan king salmon, Dungeness crab cakes, or tiger prawns fresh from the market’s seafood stalls. Don’t miss the Giant Shoe Museum and maze of shops selling curios and collectables downstairs. 


16:00 – A sticky situation

One of the more bizarre tourist attractions can be found in Post Alley next to the market. You’ll smell Gum Wall – a 12m stretch of brickwork covered in blobs of chewed gum in all colours – before you see it. 

Photo by blickpixel

Over the road from the market, see where it all began for the world’s most famous coffee shop, with a visit to the original Starbucks.


19:00 – Take a troll

A 15-minute cab ride north takes you to the arty, free-spirited neighbourhood of Fremont, nicknamed the ‘centre of the universe’ by locals. Take selfies with the enormous Fremont Troll that lurks under the Aurora Bridge, and check out Waiting for the Interurban – a sculpture of six people and a dog waiting for a train. 

Choose from a host of culinary delights for dinner: go French at Pomerol, Korean at Revel or Japanese at Chiso.


22:00 – Gig economy

Seattle is known as the birthplace of grunge music thanks to bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam and the city still boasts an exciting music scene. Round off the evening by catching a live performance at the Nectar Lounge where there are shows to satisfy every taste. 


Day three

10:00 – On the waterfront

Start your final day with a look at the fun and funky installations in the nine-acre Olympic Sculpture Park at the north end of the two-kilometre waterfront. 

The Seattle Aquarium at Pier 59 is home to a variety of marine life, with the cute, cuddly sea otters being the main draw. For a different perspective on the city, ride the Seattle Great Wheel to see the orange cranes and shipping containers in the nearby port. 

Photo by Luke Pamer


Midday – Sail away

Set sail for spectacular views of the mountains, Puget Sound and the city skyline. Explore the shoreline of Elliot Bay in a one-hour narrated tour with Argosy Cruises, or board a Washington State Ferry for a 35-minute voyage to Bainbridge Island. 

Stop at the Hitchcock Deli, a few minutes’ walk from the terminal for a steelhead trout tartine or house-smoked pulled-pork sandwich. Top off your visit with a mojito or green tea ice cream from the Mora Iced Creamery before boarding the ferry back.

Plan your holiday to Seattle now


Words by Lucy Rock, Seattle-based British writer and journalist