Celebrate the heritage of the South and the rebirth of New Orleans and Biloxi on this AAA EXCLUSIVE vacation. Both cities are shining examples of the resilience and pride that have set them on the path to recovery after Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill. Become part of this spirit of rejuvenation on an itinerary that combines community service with the best of Southern culture.
• Exclusive: Give back by participating in a volunteer beach cleanup project.
• Exclusive: Tour New Orleans, learn about post-Katrina rebuilding efforts and take a private cooking class.
• Exclusive: $25 per person donation will be given to a nonprofit organization to aid in the continued rebuilding of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.
Help make a difference in people's lives and become part of the spirit of hope and rejuvenation spreading along the Gulf Coast on this AAA EXCLUSIVE departure. You’ll have the opportunity to help with ongoing rebuilding efforts and become a part of history by supporting the resurgence of a unique coastal ecosystem and one of America’s great cities. You’ll also have plenty of time to experience the charm, history and culture of the Gulf Coast.
Begin with two days in Biloxi, Mississippi, one of the areas hardest hit by both Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill. You’ll stay at the Beau Rivage Resort, just 200 yards from the beach and overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Learn about how the oil spill has affected the area's shrimp industry on a Biloxi shrimping expedition. The following day, join volunteers to help clean up a Mississippi beach. Also stop by the Biloxi Visitors Center which uses state-of-the-art exhibits to give visitors a feel for the Biloxi of yesterday and today.
Then head back to New Orleans' French Quarter for a three-night stay that promises in-depth exploration of the city's flavors, history and culture. Learn the secrets of Creole and Cajun cuisine during a private cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Led by an expert guide, discover the French Quarter's colorful, and sometimes dangerous, history on a walking tour. Glimpse the elegance of bygone New Orleans on tours of the exquisitely preserved Elms Mansion and Laura Plantation, a historic French Creole homestead and manor house. Conclude your getaway with a paddle wheeler dinner cruise on the Mississippi River and a guided tour that includes visiting home rebuilding projects in the Lower Ninth Ward.
• 5 nights accommodations: 3 nights at Astor Crown Plaza Hotel in New Orleans and 2 nights at Beau Rivage Hotel Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi
• Daily breakfast, 4 lunches and 3 dinners, including a Farewell Dinner Jazz Cruise on the Mississippi River
• All on-tour transportation and tour guide throughout
• In Biloxi, a Biloxi Shrimping Trip cruise excursion and Volunteer Beach Cleanup on the Gulf Coast
• In New Orleans, a private cooking class with lunch at the New Orleans School of Cooking; a French Quarter Walking Tour; tours of Elms Mansion and Laura Plantation; and a Hurricane Katrina Rebuilding Tour
• $25 per person donation given on your behalf to a non-profit organization to aid in the continued rebuilding of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward
Note: Pre-tour and post-tour hotel nights may be added, subject to availability. Inquire for rate and availability at time of booking. This tour involves a lot of walking for extended periods each day so please bring comfortable walking shoes.
Day 1 – Arrive in New Orleans
Transfer from Louis Armstrong International Airport to your hotel. Meet your Tour Guide who will be with you for the duration of the tour and check into the Astor Crown Plaza Hotel. Meet the rest of the group in the afternoon at a Welcome Dinner at the Palace Café.
Accommodation: Astor Crown Plaza Hotel – 1 night
Day 2 – New Orleans / Biloxi
After breakfast depart for Biloxi, Mississippi. Upon arrival, visit the Biloxi Visitors Center which opened in July 2011 in the shadow of the Biloxi Lighthouse on U.S. 90. The center fuses the city’s architectural heritage with state-of-the-art technology and multi-media exhibits to give visitors and residents alike a feel for the Biloxi of yesterday and today. Later, enjoy an excursion aboard the Biloxi Shrimping Trip. The pride and heritage of Biloxi comes alive aboard this unique and interesting cruise. The cruise exposes guests to the spectacular world of sea life and what it’s like on a real shrimping expedition. Check-in to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure.
Accommodation: Beau Rivage Hotel Resort & Casino – 2 nights
Day 3 – Biloxi Volunteer Project
Followed by a breakfast buffet at the hotel, meet your tour guide for a volunteer project, a beach cleanup on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The cleanup usually focuses on the Coast's mainland and barrier island beaches and waterways. Cleanup zone captains supply volunteers with trash bags, data cards, pencils and plastic gloves. Each zone captain wears a yellow zone captain T-shirt so that volunteers can easily spot them on cleanup day.
Afterwards, enjoy the unique, comfortable atmosphere overlooking peaceful Bayou Bernard as you enjoy lunch at the Blow Fly Inn Restaurant, a long-time Gulf Coast attraction. Return to the hotel with the rest of the day free to explore Biloxi. A dinner buffet voucher at the hotel will be provided.
Day 4 – Biloxi / New Orleans
Enjoy a breakfast buffet at the hotel before we depart for New Orleans. Upon arrival, enjoy a private cooking class with lunch at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Learn how to make some of the region’s most famous Creole and Cajun dishes. And the best part is you get to sample everything at the conclusion of the class! When you return home, you’ll be able to prepare an authentic Cajun or Creole meal and really impress your family and friends with your world-cuisine savvy.
Spend the afternoon on a French Quarter Walking Tour led by a licensed tour guide. Explore the storied streets of the Vieux Carre where legend and documented history converge. From the dynamic Mississippi River to the serene courtyards, discover everything from the outrageous colonial history to Creole culture, from piracy to architectural masterpieces. Just of few of the stops along the way: French Market, Jean Lafitte Blacksmith Shop, Jackson Square and Saint Louis Cathedral. After, proceed to the hotel for check-in.
Accommodation: Astor Crown Plaza Hotel – 2 nights
Day 5 – More New Orleans Sightseeing
After breakfast, embark on a tour of Elms Mansion. The Van Benthuysen-Elms Mansion is a beautiful example of Italianate style architecture, providing exquisite grandeur to St. Charles Avenue and the Garden District of New Orleans. The historical Elms Mansion is complemented with period furnishings and surrounded by lovely gardens and patios. It is one of the most sought-after private party venues in New Orleans and continues to host special events for individuals and corporations. Enjoy lunch at Frenier Landing overlooking Lake Pontchartrain.
Then be transported in Louisiana’s Creole culture on a tour of Laura Plantation, an historic sugar plantation built in 1805. Named by Lonely Planet Travel as the "Best History Tour in the U.S.," the one-hour guided visit is entitled “The Creole Family Saga” and is based upon 5,000 pages of documents found in the French National Archives and upon Laura's Memories of the Old Plantation Home, dramatically detailing 250 years of true-life stories of Creole women, slaves and children.
Tonight, enjoy a Farewell Dinner Jazz Cruise on the Creole Queen Paddle wheeler. Step on board and cruise into the night where the sleepless activity of America's busiest port buzzes. The sounds of a lively jazz band fill the air as you enjoy a lavish Creole buffet in elegantly appointed dining rooms.
Day 6 – Depart New Orleans / Hurricane Katrina Rebuilding Tour
After breakfast and hotel check-out, depart for a New Orleans City / Hurricane Katrina Rebuilding Tour (3 1/3 hours). The tour will include the Garden District where the large, elegant mansions exemplify many styles, including Greek Revival, Italianate and Queen Anne Victorian. Visit St. Charles Avenue where two of the most prestigious colleges in New Orleans are located: Tulane University and Loyola University. Pass by Audubon Park, a 400-acre park located in uptown New Orleans built on the site of the 1884 World's Fair. Another hop-off location is the above-ground cemetery known as “The City of the Dead.” Throughout, learn about the history of New Orleans, including the first settlers, religion, culture, and of course, Mardi Gras. Conclude your tour with a stop in the Lower Ninth Ward and see the rebuilding that has taken place since it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
After the tour, transfer to Louis Armstrong International Airport for your flight home. Please book your flight to depart after 3:00pm.
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