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Where to Go with Your Tax Refund: Take It Easy in the Big Easy

April 23, 2014 at 11:05 AM | by | ()

Tax day is here, and you're probably excited...but not because you love sifting through receipts and credit card statements. You're excited because you're getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" trip—a Tax Refund Vacation.

Cast aside your thoughts of debauchery, drunkenness, and demons to reconsider New Orleans as a city of vibrancy, soul, and history. Not to mention that a visit here is an ideal way to spend that check from Uncle Sam.

'NOLA' is widely known as the home of Mardi Gras, hurricanes (the drinks), hurricanes (the tropical storms), and foggy memories of the night before, but trust us that there's more to this southern city.

Let's start in the French Quarter, also referred to as Vieux Carré, as it's the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans. The plethora of restaurants, bars and shops all vie for the attention of the passing parade with music and a warm "where y'at?" This historical zone boasts traditional creole cuisine all washed down with potent quenchers to fend off the heat, and we'd actually recommend braving the long lines at the Café du Monde for some French beignets and at Aunt Sally's for Creole pralines.

Time your trip right and you could get lucky with June's Creole Tomato and Zydeco Music Festival, or October's Blues and BBQ Fest.

Heading out of this bustling tourist area is best for hangover recovery, for which we say to head to the Garden District. The neighborhood of giant mansions makes for a perfect tour, including homes of some current day celebs like Anne Rice, Jesse James, and Harry Connick Jr. Most tours also include the iconic Lafayette Cemetery, where former movers and shakers in the crescent city have been laid to rest; it's a safe step into the macabre.

Further afield, fans of the popular hot sauce will rejoice with a day trip to Avery Island, the home of Tabasco. Rent a car and hit the road for two hours southwest, to the center of all things pepper. The factory opens their doors Monday through Sunday from 9-4 for tours, and visitors may view the bottling the spicy sauce Monday through Thursday. For just $1 (the toll to enter the island) and the risk of some torched taste buds, you can witness the oak-barrel aging of the condiment and wander the lush gardens of the island.

[Photos: katieharbath/Flickr, wallyg/Flickr, Tabasco Facebook]

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