Lake Charles, Louisiana Hosts First-Ever Louisiana Food and Wine Festival This September

 Food and wine enthusiasts will gather in host destination Lake Charles, Louisiana, for the highly anticipated Louisiana Food and Wine Festival next month. Taking place September 14 to 17, this inaugural four-day event will showcase the best of Louisiana’s culinary offerings and local flavors. Set against one of the most picturesque areas in the region that’s nicknamed “Louisiana’s Playground,” the festival will take place at the downtown lakefront area.  

The festival will feature an impressive lineup of renowned Southern chefs, including James Beard-nominated celebrity chef and restaurant owner Tiffany Derry, a Texas native who’s made appearances on shows such as “MasterChef,” “Top Chef” and “The Great American Recipe.” There will also be winemakers, food experts, artisans and more, and attendees can partake in master classes, indulge in a wide array of delectable dishes, and sample beverages from the region. Additionally, there will be live music and a marketplace where visitors can purchase local products and crafts, further immersing themselves in Louisiana’s cultural heritage. 

Ticketed events are as follows: 

  • Louisiana’s Celebrity Chefs Wine Dinner
  • September 14 
    • This six-course dinner will feature some of the state’s most celebrated chefs, including local legend Chef Amanda Cusey, named Louisiana Seafood Queen last year. 
  • Louisiana-Inspired Master Classes 
  • September 15 
    • These intimate and interactive experiences will offer tasting bites paired with a signature beverage. Classes vary from Creole cooking to mixology to touring Bayou Rum Distillery and more. 
  • Fire on the Lake
  • September 15 
    • Pitmasters, grill masters, BBQ masters … you name it, they’ll be at Fire on the Lake and serving Louisiana’s best roasted, smoked and grilled dishes. Attendees will receive a souvenir glass and unlimited food and drink tastings for this event. 
  • Louisiana Food & Wine Festival Grand Tasting
  • September 16 
    • Demonstrations, live music, Best Taste Awards, artisan booths, and hundreds of food and beverage tastings will come together for the largest event of the festival. Tickets are all-inclusive for tastings, and guests will receive a souvenir glass. 
  • Sunday Jazz Brunch
  • September 17 
    • The all-inclusive tickets for brunch allow for unlimited beverage tastings and lavish food stations. Sushi, Louisiana seafood, salad, made-to-order omelet and carving stations, even a Bloody Mary bar will provide attendees with a drool-worthy end to the festival. 

In addition to the lakefront happenings, festival-goers are sure to enjoy exploring the lively atmosphere of Lake Charles, an area known for its expansive outdoor offerings, thriving music and arts scene, and gaming resorts. From enjoying live music performances to shelling or birding along the Creole Nature Trail (and definitely spotting a gator or two!), there are plenty of activities to complement the culinary delights. Lake Charles has put together a suggested itinerary for the weekend, which can be viewed HERE

The Louisiana Food and Wine Festival is a must-attend event for anyone who’s passionate about food and libations. Whether you’re a seasoned foodie, a wine connoisseur, or simply eager to explore the vibrant food culture of Louisiana, this festival promises an unforgettable experience in an unforgettable destination. For more information and to stay updated on the festival’s schedule and culinary lineup, or to purchase tickets, visit To further explore everything there is to do in Lake Charles, head to  

Can’t make it to the festival this year? Not to worry! Lake Charles will be hosting the Food and Wine Festival annually, and the destination looks forward to growing the event and welcoming guests for years to come. Plan ahead for 2024 and beyond!  

Book These Cruise Deals and Discounts Now

Guest blogger and award winning writer Kathy Witt shares tips for getting the best cruise deals now.

There are so many reasons to choose a cruise for a vacation. Cruises are an outstanding
value—including accommodations, meals, activities and transportation to multiple destinations.
They are easy to plan, family friendly and hassle-free—and they come in sizes from small to
extra-large, ensuring there is one ideally suited to everyone.
Cruises offer tremendous culinary variety, convenient ways to stay in shape at sea and never-
ending gorgeous views. And right now, a number of cruise lines are making cruising even more
attractive—and affordable—with limited-time deals and discounts.

Princess Cruises – Prime savings for future sailing

Plan now to get the best deal on your Love Boat dream cruise in 2024 or 2025. The Score for 24
Sale applies to a range of itineraries and destinations in the Caribbean and in Europe.
Additionally, Princess Plus and Princess Premier inclusive packages have added more dining
options at GiGi’s, the Salty Dog Pub and other casual dining restaurants at no cost and have
waived the room service charge and the OceanNow on-demand, location-based delivery service.
Deal/discount: Score for 24 Sale
Applies to a wide range of itineraries and destinations and subject to availability.
Offer: Lowest deals for 2024, with fares as low as $399 per person for a 7-day Western
Caribbean voyage.
Book by: September 5, 2023.
Info:, 800-774-6237.

Seabourn – Sail away with savings

Book an ultra-luxury, all-inclusive Seabourn voyage or expedition to your choice of
destinations— Asia, Alaska, Antarctica, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean—and save on select
2023 and 2024 itineraries. Enjoy curated voyages with an unmatched sense of style, elegance and
grace, personalized service that includes a host and attendant with every suite, complimentary
Wi-Fi and fully stocked in-suite bar, world-class dining and a host of other luxuries.
Deal/discount: A Sail to Remember
Applies to select 2023 and 2024 Seabourn ultra-luxury ocean voyages or expeditions, including a
14-Day Atlantic Coast Harbors voyage aboard Seabourn Quest departing Montreal (Oct. 24-
Nov. 7, 2023).
Offer: Savings up to 10 percent—up to $2,600—with a non-refundable deposit.
Book by: September 6, 2023.
Info:, 800-442-4448.

Celebrity – Up to 75 percent off second guest deal includes newest ship

The new Celebrity Ascent brings it, with more space, more luxury, more everything—including
32 distinct restaurants, bars and lounges. Making its debut this fall, Celebrity Ascent is the fourth
Edge Series ship, meaning its features include a cantilevered Magic Carpet soaring above the
ocean, asymmetrical pool area and martini-shaped hot tubs. It is included in Celebrity’s current
BOGO offer, allowing cruisers to experience the brand-new ship—as well as other Celebrity
cruise ships—at extraordinary savings.
Deal/discount: Buy One Get One 75% cruise fare.
Applies to sailings from August 3, 2023, to April 30, 2025. All cruises, except for Alaska
Cruisetours and Galapagos sailings, are included in the deal as well as voyages on new
ship, Celebrity Ascent, launching this fall.
Offer: Receive 75 percent off the second guest with a non-refundable deposit or 50 percent off
the second guest with a refundable deposit. NOTE: If travelers book a stateroom on a weekend in August, depending on the category and timing, they can also get $100 or $200 of onboard credit or savings.
Book by: September 7, 2023
Info:, 888-751-7804.

Crystal – Proving themselves ‘exceptional’

Relaunched under the new guardianship of A&K Travel Group, Crystal Serenity has undergone a
multimillion-dollar refurbishment, bringing updated and larger suites with artisanal finishes and refreshed specialty dining venues to the 740-passenger ship. In the final stages of her own
extensive refurbishment, Crystal Symphony makes her inaugural cruise from Athens, Greece, on September 1. The company is helping those former Crystal guests and travel agents affected by the shut-down recover lost funds through its Exceptional Initiative.
Deal/discount: Exceptional Initiative
Applies to Any former Crystal guest who holds a verified claim in the Crystal Cruises LLC case
for canceled sailings on Crystal Serenity or Crystal Symphony.
Offer: You can apply for credits to use towards future Crystal voyages on board either Crystal
Serenity or Crystal Symphony. (Specifics here:
Book by: October 1, 2023
Info:, 888-617-0110.

Windstar – Bonus onboard credit or Captain’s Exclusive Beverage Package

Board one of Windstar’s three sailing ships or three all-suite ships and embark on a voyage of
discovery with less than 350 likeminded adventurers. These elegant yachts can nose into places
bigger ships can’t to bring guests authentic experiences, uncrowded spaces and lesser-known
places in the world. Sail to the Caribbean, the Middle East, Tahiti, Costa Rica and Panama, and
other tropical destinations, and in luxury—onboard and ashore.
Deal/discount: Seas the Sun
Applies to selected departures between November, 2023, and May, 2024; new bookings only.

Offer: Get up to $1,000 to spend on board or an unlimited beverage package (unlimited beer,
wine and cocktails by the glass valued at $65 per guest, per day).
Book by: November 15, 2023.
Info:, 866-851-4042.

Holland America – Christmas with the penguins in Antarctica

Hanukkah at the Americas’ oldest synagogue or spend New Year’s Eve in Vietnam. Explore
your destination by day, enjoy the ship’s holiday décor—gingerbread villages, light displays—by
night, along with traditional holiday dishes like turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving, latkes and sufganiyot (traditional doughnuts) for Hanukkah and a festive, around-the-world menu for
Christmas with dishes from Scandinavia, Asia and beyond. Other holiday fun: tree lighting
ceremony, game of dreidel, holiday movies, caroling, kids’ activities and surprises, appearance
by Santa, and Christmas Eve Party and New Year’s Eve Ball, depending on sailing.
Deal/discount: Home Away from Home for the Holidays
Applies to sailings to the Caribbean, Hawaii and Mexico, departing from Fort Lauderdale, FL or
San Diego, CA. Additional voyages are offered in Asia, South America, Australia and New
Zealand, featuring a special Thanksgiving sailing in the Caribbean departing Nov. 18, 2023,
among other notable holiday itineraries.
Offer: Special fares and premier onboard events. Book with “Have it All” for included shore
excursions, beverage packages and beverage service charges, specialty dining and Wi-Fi (a value
of $99 per person per day included in the fare).
Book by: No deadline, but book early to get your choice of sailing and date.
Info:, 855-932-1711.

Where to Celebrate Fun Food Holidays This September in Phoenix

Food days–and food months–celebrate our favorite foods so don’t miss out on what’s going on this month in Phoenix.

National Chicken Month (September)

Just in time for National Chicken Month, Bar Louie unveiled five new dinner items including two new chicken dishes. Guests can try the Monterey Chicken made with two grilled chicken breasts, roasted cremini mushrooms, artichoke hearts, roasted tomatoes, lemon herb sauce, roasted baby potatoes and asparagus. Guests can also indulge in New Orleans Chicken and Shrimp Pasta made with blackened chicken, jumbo shrimp, andouille sausage, red and green bell peppers and house-made Cajun cream sauce. 

International Bacon Day

Actually International Bacon Day was September 2nd but I’m a firm believer that every day is a great day to celelbrate bacon. So check out Twisted by Wetzel’s where guests can indulge in the Everything Bacon Twisted Signature Dog, featuring Wetzel’s signature hot dog and pretzel bun, topped with twisted sauce, wetz cheese sauce, bacon bits, slaw, and green onion. Not to be missed either is their unique Bacon Ranch Twistz, a tasty Wetzel’s garlic pretzel dough twisted and filled with bacon, mozzarella, parmesan, sun-dried tomato pesto, ranch, and green onions. Their Maple Bacon Topped Pretzel is a sweet-and-savory must-try–an original Wetzel’s pretzel topped with a drizzle of maple glaze and a generous sprinkle of crispy bacon bits, linked HERE.

National Beer Lover’s Day (Sept. 7)

Celebrate National Beer Lover’s Day on September 7th at Bar Louie. That’s when guests can enjoy a wide range of local, rotating, and seasonal beers, along with various tapped options including IPAs and imports. Happy hour is from 4-7 p.m. (Monday-Friday) with 16 oz domestic drafts at $4 and craft drafts at $5. Late night happy hour (Sunday-Thursday, 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.) offers $4 beers, $5 shots, and $6 liquor. Location-specific offers and times apply. 

National Guacamole Day (Sept. 16)

On National Guacamole Day, guests can indulge in the delicious flavors of Tocaya’s signature guacamole! For one day only, with every order of $15 or more, restaurant goers will receive a complimentary serving of freshly made chips and guac.

National Cheeseburger Day (Sept. 18)

National Cheeseburger Day on Sept. 18 at Bar Louie includes the sweet but smoky Bourbon BBQ Burger! Guests can enjoy a juicy patty layered with applewood smoked bacon, cream cheese, Tillamook white cheddar, crispy onion strings and house-made bourbon BBQ sauce. Keep the celebration going the following day and satisfy your craving for juicy cheesy burgers stacked high with 50% off all burgers on Burger Tuesday. Prices and offers vary by location.

National Cheeseburger Day (Sept. 18)

September 18th is National Cheeseburger Day! Dog Haus, a biergarten that specializes in gourmet hotdogs and sausages is highlighting its cheeseburgers on this day. Guests can enjoy a cheeseburger for only $5.99 by texting “cheeseburger” to 833-440-1110 to claim a coupon. See the official graphic HERE.

National Coffee Day (Sept. 29) 

Bar Louie invites guests to try its Mean Bean Martini in celebration of National Coffee Day. A mix of morning fuel and evening thrill – the Mean Bean Martini is made with Smirnoff Vanilla, Kahlua, brown sugar espresso syrup and a shot of espresso. Additionally, all signature martinis are available for just $7 during happy hour from 4 to 7 pm Monday – Friday. Pricing and participation may vary. 

What’s Happening at the Egyptian Motor Hotel

Starting this Labor Day Weekend, there’s a whole slew of activities at the Eygptian Motor Hotel‘s slew of free, upbeat events in the pipeline—

Kick off the three-day Labor Day weekend by channeling your inner Barbie with a Life is Plastic Pool Party at the Egyptian Motor Hotel on Friday, September 1 from 7-11pm.

This historic motor hotel, located in the heart of Phoenix’s historic Grand Avenue, combines the best of the past and the creative, innovative present. General admission for Friday’s event is $40, a price that includes two free drinks from glittery cocktail bar, a DJ spinning tunes, Go-Go dancers, and a swimwear auction. And remember, don’t forget to dress in Barbie theme outfit.

Also, the Egyptian is bringing movies to its outdoor cocktail bar & pool scene with free Film Fridays the second Friday of each month! Experience the perfect blend of entertainment at Film Fridays; a free movie night hosted at the electrically enchanting outdoor cocktail bar, Egyptian LIVE in downtown Phoenix.

As the sun sets over the city, slip away to an evening of cinematic delight airing next to the hotel’s splash pool, so bathing suits are encouraged! Chilte, the famous local food truck and now brick-and-mortar at the Egyptian, is now serving Chilte To-Go, serving spiced popcorn, chips & guac, a green chili burger, and more for guests to enjoy during the film. Whether you’re seeking a cheeky movie date or a fun outing with the gang, the eclectic ambiance of Egyptian LIVE is sure to be a highlight you look forward to every month. 

The upcoming lineup is ‘Polyester’ September 9, ‘Beetlejuice’ October 13, ‘Mambo Italiano’ November 10, and ‘Rent’ December 8. 

Egyptian Motor Hotel is located at 765 Grand Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85007. As always, we’d love to host you in-person to experience what makes the Egyptian such a standout hotel and stylish watering hole. Feel free to let us know if you’d be interested!

 Peru: An International Culinary Star

With Lima’s Central winning the coveted Best Restaurant in the World Award for 2023, the culinary spotlight is shining brighter than ever on Peru. But the Peruvian capital isn’t the only city to boast extraordinary dining. 

Cusco and Arequipa also offer standout opportunities to savor Peru’s unique and distinctive gastronomy. It features traditional Peruvian dishes; chifa and Nikkei cooking influenced by a 19th-century influx of Chinese and Japanese immigrants, respectively; and Peruvian cooks who trained and apprenticed abroad before coming home to Peru as seasoned chefs ready to succeed at running their own kitchens. 

Here’s a guide to where to sample the best of Peruvian cuisine in Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa.


Since first opening in the Miraflores district in 2012, Central has been a hotspot, making the Fifty Best Restaurants list every year since 2013. Virgilio Martínez has long been known for his impressive tasting menus but also for constantly experimenting, researching native ingredients, and raising the bar with his partner and co-chef Pía León, who happens to be his wife.

With their 2018 move to a culinary complex they built in Barranco to house Central, León’s first solo restaurant Kjolle upstairs, and their research lab Mater Iniciativa, the couple unveiled a new concept that altitude dictates the way an ingredient should be used. Central’s 17-course tasting menu whose dishes each feature ingredients that are all grown at the same elevation — from sea level at the Pacific coast to the Amazon rainforest and higher elevations in the Andes. It’s about more than exceptional food. 

Relying on ingredients sourced only from Peru — such as tubers including yucca, olluco, and local potatoes — Kjolle has also racked up accolades. This year León’s restaurant made the Fifty Best Restaurants in the World list at No. 28 after earning the No. 1 spot on the Fifty Best Restaurants in Latin America in 2019, and León being named best female chef in Latin America in 2021. 

Two additional Lima restaurants made the Fifty Best list this year, Maido at No. 6 and . Lima-born Japanese chef Mitsuhara Tsumara studied culinary arts in the U.S. before moving to Japan to train in sushi-making and izakaya (Japanese tapas) in kitchens all over the country. In 2009, he came home to Lima and opened Maido to showcase a fusion of Peruvian ingredients prepared with Japanese techniques. That’s how Tsumara became Peru’s Nikkei master chef. 

Another Peruvian chef among the best, Jaime Pesaque apprenticed in Michelin-star kitchens in Italy and Spain before opening his contemporary Peruvian restaurant and pisco bar Mayta that relies on produce grown at his family’s pisco vineyard two hours south of Lima. 

Le Cordon Bleu-trained Rafael Osterling chose an old Art Deco townhouse in Miraflores for his first restaurant, Rafael, opened in 2000. Elegant meals ranging from pasta and pizza to ceviche, sashimi, and carpaccio served in intimate art-filled dining rooms have made Osterling a favorite. It’s the kind of place that calls for savoring every bite and lingering. 

Dining choices in Lima would have a big hole without Gastón Acurio. The influential chef led the way for the next culinary generation by rejecting law school in Spain for training at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and returning to his homeland with his German pastry chef wife Astrid. Once in Lima, the couple focused their elegant menu at their flagship restaurant Astrid y Gastón on the beloved traditional Peruvian dishes Acurio grew up on, honed to perfection with his refined training and French cooking techniques.

Located in a restored 17th-century mansion in the San Isidro neighborhood, Astrid y Gastón serves an ambitious 45-course tasting menu. Acurio has received a score of honors and worldwide credit as an ambassador who popularized Peruvian cuisine abroad. He also created a handful of other restaurant brands including Tanta and La Mar, his Miraflores cevichería (an eatery that specializes in ceviche). In a historical home on a corner near the plaza in Barranco, José del Castillo found the perfect spot for his restaurant named after his mother, Isolina, whose Lima cevichería La Red was an early training ground for him. There always seems to be a line for Peruvian comfort food at Isolina with a menu designed for sharing generously sized stews, saltados, and other traditional dishes.


Due to roadless isolation from the rest of the country during its first few centuries, Arequipa developed an independent character and unique spicy cuisine. Known for a wide selection of original dishes such as rocoto relleno, a spicy rocoto pepper stuffed with minced meat, cheese, eggs, raisins, peas, and carrots typically served with pastel de papa, layers of thin-sliced potatoes with eggs and cheese; and adobo, a pork chop stew cooked in a clay pot on an open fire. Arequipa is a happy place for those who enjoy spicy food and rich flavors.

With a barrel-vaulted stone ceiling and circular iron staircase said to be designed by Gustav Eiffel, Zig Zag rates as a cool place for Swiss and Peruvian fusion — small plates, fondue, plus fish, alpaca, ostrich, and beef cooked and served on a sizzling volcanic slab. 

Near Mirador de Carmen with an impressive view of three towering volcanoes (Chachani, Misti, and Pichu Pichu), Salamanto serves contemporary Peruvian food cooked with modern techniques, imaginative style, and ingredients sourced from the Arequipa region, such as 
octopus slow-cooked in olive oil with native potatoes. Integrated into the massive Santa Catalina Monastery, La Trattoria del Monasterio has three dining rooms with views into the interior of Arequipa’s oldest cloister. The menu offers a mix of traditional Italian and Arequipa cuisine: pastas, lasagna, pizza, risottos, and Arequipa-style soups and stews; Old World wines from Italy and Spain; and New World wines from Peru, Chile, and Argentina. 

Another restaurant with a mix of Italian and Peruvian specialties and fine wines, upscale Sambambaias has been a favorite in Arequipa for 30 years with live music in the garden on weekends. Off the courtyard of an old mansion, Chicha puts an inventive spin on regional cuisine by star chef Gastón Acurio, whose menu here focuses on regional dishes, seasonal products, and corn-based breads.

For hearty home-style cooking and the most authentic local specialties, dine at picanterías, which are typically open only for lunch, especially in the countryside and Arequipa’s Yanahuara district. Here are three standouts: For regional dishes such as grilled alpaca, shrimp soup, and stuffed ricoto, try La Nueva Picantería. Named for the owner’s mother, Laurita Cau Cau serves family recipes handed down for 50 years. In the cloisters of the Church of La Compañia, La Benita de Characato has been passed down from mother to daughter for eight generations of picanteros.


There are two reasons for great dining in Cusco: a wide variety of cuisine you wouldn’t expect to find here, such as chifa (Peruvian/Chinese fusion), Indian, Israeli, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, and vegetarian, and restaurants close enough to organic farms in the Sacred Valley to receive just-picked produce every morning. Almost any ingredient chefs want is grown or raised in the area. Several Cusco restaurants even operate their own farms. Anywhere you eat you’ll probably notice that produce has so much more flavor than it does at home.

One of the best restaurants in town, Cicciolina is a fine-dining spot near Plaza Nazarenas and the Plaza de Armas. It’s a swanky tapas and wine bar that serves Italian-style dishes and Peruvian favorites. The chef is a biochemist who understands the science behind adapting recipes that are cooked at high elevation, such as different methods for making light croissants, al dente pasta, and crisp baguettes than at sea level. Cicciolina Café, two blocks downhill, is a wonderful casual spot for breakfast, lunch, and delicious baked goods.

On the West side of the Plaza de Armas, dine on the balcony at Calle Del Medio and be mesmerized by the magical lights around the cathedral and the hillside San Blas neighborhood while savoring classic Peruvian dishes or international fare. Two favorites are the 24-hour lamb shank and pumpkin risotto. 

On the north side of Plaza de Armas, Inka Grill serves flavorful modern versions of Peruvian dishes inspired by the Inkas with a vibe to match — high ceilings, large windows, stone walls, and spicy scents wafting from an open kitchen. Also on the north side of the square, Morena sticks to classic Peruvian fare but also offers vegetarian options that include some pastas and risottos and excels at appetizers and sauces such as uchucuta, a creamy spicy sauce made from hot rocoto peppers served on sauteed pork belly, and creamy huancaina sauce made from mild yellow chiles. 

In San Blas near the church, Pachapapa occupies an old colonial house with small dining rooms and courtyard tables. Expect classic Peruvian dishes such as lomo saltado and rocoto relleno, plus pizzas, calzones, and dinner rolls cooked in a wood-burning oven on the terrace. 

Just below Plaza Nazarenas, Uchu Peruvian Steakhouse may specialize in steak but it’s not a classic chophouse. Uchu’s sophisticated, whimsical design sets the mood for enjoying alpaca, beef, chicken, fish, and shrimp that are still cooking/sizzling on a volcanic stone when brought to the table. 

Gastón Acurio has two restaurants in town, Chicha for a modern twist on Peruvian classics, and Papacho’s, which specializes in huge, juicy burgers.

Yearning for Chinese? Go to Kion for chifa cuisine (a fusion of Cantonese techniques and Peruvian ingredients) whose colorful Chinese décor sets the mood for ordering off a menu with 43 dishes. 

Let the Count Begin: Six Months to Mardi Gras!

We may be in the midst of prime summertime, and there’s still fall and the whole holiday season ahead, but we’re getting ready and counting the days to one of the most exciting cultural events in the country. Yes, you guessed it.  Mardi Gras, the iconic Carnival celebration, is just six months away and thus it’s not too early to mark your calendars and make your plans for this incredible, weeks-long event filled with music, parades, costumes and the true spirit of the South.

In 2023, Mardi Gras lands on February 13.
We wanted to get the word out before your inboxes are completely full of haunts, harvests and holidays … because we feel compelled to remind you that all the fun of Mardi Gras extends well beyond New Orleans. We represent six destinations along the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Louisiana, all of which have a story-worthy (and family-friendly!) Mardi Gras celebration just waiting to be shared with you. (Please note that these websites will be updated with details in the coming months, so keep referring back to them as you work on stories.) 

  • Mobile, Alabama (the true home of America’s first Mardi Gras!) 
  • Year-Round Reasons to Visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

    The sun will soon set on peak summer season in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, and though the destination is known for its pristine beaches and fun in the summertime, we’re excited to share the many reasons why it’s also a great place to visit in all the OTHER seasons. If we listed out all those reasons, we estimate that you’d be reading a short novel … because there’s an incredible array of experiences available outside the summer season. So instead, we’re sharing two big reasons to visit each season. We hope you’ll want to learn more, and we encourage you to connect with us if the idea of hitting the beach outside of June, July and August appeals to you. 

    Fall: Mild temperatures, fewer crowds, and fantastic festivals give Gulf Shores and Orange Beach autumn appeal. 

    • Easy Access to Sand & Sustenance: With its colorful sunsets, fall is an amazing time to enjoy 32 miles of sugar-white sandy beaches and the clear – still warm – waters of the Gulf of Mexico without the summer crowds. There’s also less competition for reservations and shorter wait times at the destination’s long list of incredible restaurants. Sure, you could say this about any destination’s “off” season, but it’s especially important here because there are so many fabulous and beloved culinary offerings. One such standout is Jesse’s Restaurant, which opened its second location on Fort Morgan this year. Offering casual fine dining, Jesse’s on the Bay is known for its steaks, fresh local seafood and signature entrees.
    • Festivals & Events: While Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are home to great events throughout the year, there are a few standout festivals worthy traveling to each fall.
    • The 50th Annual Shrimp Festival, which features 50 local and regional vendors, will be held October 12-15 in Gulf Shores. Festival attendees will find shrimp just about any way you can think of it.

    Winter: With monthly averages between 50 and 60 degrees, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offers mild winter temperatures so you can still enjoy the great outdoors.

    • Birding: Thanks to its prime location along the Mississippi Flyway migration route, Gulf Shores is a popular destination for birders. During the winter migration, birders might spot bald eagles in Gulf State Park and other sites. As part of a larger statewide birding initiative, the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail features six birding loops totaling 200 miles along the Gulf Coast. With snowbird clubs, events and deals, the destination welcomes flocks of human snowbirds, too!
    • Golf on the Gulf: With mild winters and great shoulder-season rates, golfing on the area’s 15 courses is a year-round sport. Course terrain ranges from lush foliage of nature preserves to courses that overlook the Gulf. Among the course designers are such legendary names as Arnold Palmer, Bruce Devlin, Jerry Pate and Earl Stone.

    Spring:The temperatures in this season often make it feel like summer, but visitors can beat the summer crowds and prices by going to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach between March and May. 

    • Spring Break: Planning ahead for spring break, the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach community caters to families in a variety of ways:
    • Rules: The destination truly caters to families … so much so that alcohol has been banned on the beach during the spring break schedules of most major colleges and universities for the past seven years. 
    • Accommodations: The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton property, is one of the world’s leading eco-friendly hotels. It’s also family-friendly, with one-third of its guestrooms featuring built-in bunk beds.
    • Activities: A can’t-miss family activity is Sand Castle University, where families can build a sand castle under expert supervision.
    • Explore Gulf State Park: This is one that can (and should!) be explored any time of year, but spring is an especially good time. Each April, in celebration of Earth Day, the park hosts special programs and celebrations to showcase its incredible sustainability efforts. This park is an especially good place to get a handle on this fascinating coastal region that’s home to nine different ecosystems. In the past few years alone, the 6,150-acre park has restored its sand dunes; expanded its Backcountry Trail to 28 miles; and constructed an Interpretive Center.

    9 Culinary Festivals make Louisville an appetizing destination this August

    Three new food and drink festivals plus six annual culinary events celebrate the gastronomy of Louisville.


    Louisville Black Chef Showcase | August 13

    Taking place on Sunday, August 13th, at the historic Henry Clay in Downtown Louisville, the inaugural Black Chef Showcase will celebrate some of Bourbon City’s top culinary talents with delicious tastings of a variety of dishes. Each chef will bring their own unique perspective and flavors to the table, creating an unforgettable tasting experience. The event supports the Louisville Urban League, with 100% of profits going to the local nonprofit organization.

    Louisville Wing Week | August 21–27

    Known for its famous fried chicken, it only makes sense that one of the South’s tastiest towns has a week dedicated to chicken wings. The inaugural Louisville Wing Week pays homage to the wing for seven days this August. Each participating Wing Week restaurant will fry up its own take on the wing — from signature sauces to secret menu specialties. Download the Wing Week App to take you on a Louisville exploration; help map out your week, try new restaurants, challenge your taste buds, and share your experiences on social with other Louisville wing lovers. 

    American Whiskey Festival | August 26

    Known for having one of the world’s largest collections of American whiskies, Watch Hill Proper Bourbon Bar & Kitchen will host its inaugural American Whiskey Festival on Saturday, August 26, at the Norton Common’s North Village Square. The event will take place from 3pm to 10pm and offers three different ticket options.

    Free admission includes access to live music and food trucks, while a $35 Whiskey Garden Ticket includes access to all whiskey samples from participating distilleries. A $150 VIP Ticket includes all-inclusive food and adult beverages and access to Watch Hill Proper and the Whiskey Garden. 

    Other Food or Drink Festivals in Louisville This August

    Experience Nature: Vacation in a Floating Lodge in Arctic Sweden



    Designed for an off-the-grid immersion in the beautiful nature of Arctic Sweden, a new holiday program offered by Off the Map Travel invites guests to spend two nights on a floating lodge on Lake Degerselet combined with one night in a land safari camp 10 minutes away. Just south of the Arctic Circle, the Floating Safari Camp and the Aurora Safari Camp are designed for relaxation in complete seclusion.

    Offered through September, the three-night program offers a unique opportunity to experience two “off-the-grid” sites, each surrounded by the brilliance of the changing foliage of the Swedish forest. Beginning late August, guests can witness the return of the Northern Lights with long sunny days and dark nights.  

    While on the lake, up to six guests will stay in the Floating Safari Camp with two safari-style tents with double beds and one double room furnished in Scandi style with night tables and a seating area with views across the lake.

    The camp also includes toilet and shower facilities plus a traditional wood-fired sauna.   Possible Floating Safari Camp activities include lake swimming, fishing, canoeing, paddle-boarding, with all sports equipment provided on site.

    Despite its Arctic location, lake temperatures reach a comfortable 64-77 degrees Fahrenheit. For true relaxation, guests are encouraged to kick back and soak up the beauty and sounds of the lake and surrounding wilderness or relax in the sauna.

    An Off the Map Travel exclusive, a sunset BBQ on a private island is a highlight of the program. Meals, including the sunset BBQ and an “under-the-stars” dinner on the Råne River, are provided by a private chef who also serves as the personal tour guide for the stay.   Images can be found here.  

    “With the hustle and bustle of modern life, it’s a rarity that we get to completely switch off and immerse ourselves in nature and this program gives us that opportunity,” says Alex Minnis, COO, Off the Map Travel.  

    The four-day, three-night Floating Safari Camp itinerary is priced at $2825 USD* (£2199), per person, based on double occupancy, and includes all meals, two nights at the Floating Safari Camp and one night in the Aurora Safari Camp, boat and canoe transfers, and activities. Flights are not included. Additional activities such as forest cycling, foraging and a guided canoe trip can be arranged.

    A reduced-rate self-catering option is also possible for those who wish to cook themselves.  *at the time of this writing   As with any itinerary from Off the Map Travel, the Floating Safari Camp program can be tailor-made to fit the wishes and requirements of the guests.

    Detailed itinerary: Day 1 Upon arrival at Luleå Airport, you will be greeted by your private guide who will accompany you on a transfer to the Floating Safari Camp reception. From there, a boat transfer will take you to the captivating Floating Safari Camp itself.  

    Before dinner, indulge in a rejuvenating sauna session to unwind and relax. As the day winds down, a four-course dinner awaits, prepared by a private chef who doubles as a host and guide, for a personalized and memorable dining experience.


    The night is spent in the Floating Safari Camp, where the tranquility of the surrounding waters creates a soothing ambience for a comfortable and restful overnight stay.  

    Day 2

    Breakfast and lunch will be prepared by your private guide. After that, there are a variety of options for activities to immerse yourself in the beautiful Swedish surroundings: canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and fishing. For an additional fee, guided canoeing, foraging and forest cycling tour can be arranged through Off the Map Travel.   In the early evening, you can enjoy a sauna session before your evening boat trip to a private island for a BBQ dinner, an exclusive experience from Off the Map Travel.  

    Day 3

    In the morning your guide will prepare breakfast for you before a canoe transfer from the Floating Safari Camp to the Aurora Safari Camp where you will have lunch with a glass of bubbly. The rest of the afternoon is yours to relax or enjoy a forest sauna session before a four-course dinner.  

    Day 4

    After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport via a guided forest tour. You can opt to extend your stay here or in another location such as Stockholm or the forests of Swedish Lapland – all can be arranged with the Off the Map Travel adventure specialists.  




    The team at Off the Map Travel works with experiences and destinations that allow people to explore hidden wonders of our planet. Specializing in the Nordic region, OTMT creates tailor-made itineraries offering authentic experiences not offered by many larger travel companies.  For more information on Off the Map Travel holidays visit; call 1-646-701-0041; email  or join in the conversation on Facebook or Instagram.  

    For more information visit, call 1-646-701-0041 or email