Monday, October 29, 2012

Go Gogobot Before You Go #GogobotTravel #travel #neworleans

My husband's in the TV industry and he was on a shoot in New Orleans just a few months ago, in June of 2012.   These are a few of his photos.

We dig traveling and do a lot of it, with and without our family along.  We're savvy when it comes to sussing out deals and interesting places to check out.   That said, most of our best leads have always been word of mouth--either from friends of ours who have been somewhere before or from people we met during our travels.  We like to check out the big "must sees" then drop off the tourist grid and explore like locals.  The best feel of a place is in the magical little places, off the tourist track.

So, we were pretty jazzed to hear about Gogobot, the award winning site that puts the social in social travel.  This week we gave it a spin for New Orleans, a trip that's high on our current wish list.  My husband and I have both been there a number of times BC--before children.  We used to go to the annual Jazz and Heritage Fest every other year and we even got engaged there.

Here's the very bench, on the picturesque banks of the Mississippi River, where my best friend and now husband of 12 years shocked me speechless by  dropping to his knees and proposing while we were on vacation in New Orleans!   On our 12th wedding anniversary this year, he was called to shoot a TV show there and took a photo of "where it all began".   I was dying to go with him, but the scheduling didn't work out.

New Orleans' music, food, art, and culture are so vital and unique, it's always been one of our favorite cities.   We've been considering a romantic, kid free escape, but our 9 & 11 year olds have been clamoring to check it out, too.   So we're leaning toward taking them with us this time.

Gogobot made it easy to log in and begin to plan our dream vacation.   They have loads of photos, suggestions for places to see and stay, and ratings and input from real people who have been there and done that.  It was fun to flesh out my passport on Gogobot.   Just off the top of my head I filled in 4 countries and 37 cities I've been to, before I quit procrastinating and reliving fond travel memories and got back to work.

Know Before You Go...Gogobot
Gogobot, a social travel site that launched in 2010, is a place on the web you should know about. The company has racked up accolades including being named one of Time’s top sites of 2011 and winner of the 2010 Crunchie award for Best Design.

Our 9 year old daughter has become particularly interested in New Orleans since last year's release of the American Girl historical dolls Marie-Grace and Cecile who are from 1853 New Orleans.   She's read a number of their books and has both dolls.  

In our New Orleans vacation plans, we're considering a steam boat ride, museums, and other historical sites that were around back then, since the books brought history to life and sparked the kids' imaginations.   We also love checking out New Orleans' cemetaries.   They're rich with history and art and are so different from our own, since the swampy land and high water table mean all the graves are above ground.

Here are the top hotels we're considering via Gogobot:

  • New Orleans Marriott
  • The Marriott Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel
  • JW Marriott Hotel New Orleans

A Marriott related hotel would be our first choice, since our family is in a network of their properties and the kids enjoy a place with a pool.  Although, we would also certainly consider a kid friendly bed and breakfast.  Location is key, since we'd like to walk and take the street car whenever possible, although with children we don't want to be in the heart of 24/7 drunken revelry.   We did include some parents' night out hot spots for live music, more adult dining and drinking, but well rested kids will be key for an enjoyable vacation.   

Gogobot is broken into easy to search categories including overview, hotels, vacation rentals, things to do, and restaurants which are further broken down into useful subcategories.  I was a bit surprised to click on the children's activities filter under things to do and find a completely blank page staring back at me.   There are loads of great, family friendly things to do in New Orleans, they just didn't get categorized there, evidently.   Otherwise, the site was remarkably easy to use, with one touch buttons to add possible places to a trip plan.

Here are a number of New Orleans Vacation things to do and places to eat we're considering, broken down into family friendly fun and parents' nights out.

On Gogobot, they're all easy to find, along with maps, reviews, and links.   The asterisks below are places we've personally been and recommend checking out.   New Orleans is full of character and characters!

With Tweens:
  • *Musee Conti Wax Museum (highly recommended)
  • Natchez Steamboat
  • Audubon Zoo
  • Audubon Park
  • Audubon Insectarium
  • Aquarium of the Americas
  • Lousiana Children's Museum
  • Old U.S. Mint
  • *Riverwalk Marketplace
  • *Riverwalk
  • *Woldenberg Riverfront Park
  • *French Market
  • *Mother's Restaurant
  • *Pat O' Brien's 
*Cafe Du Monde (Chicory coffee for the adults and the best beignets for all ages!   One of our frequent favs.)

  • *Jackson Square
  • *Lafayette Square
  • *The French Quarter
  • *New Orleans City Park
  • *New Orleans Jazz Festival (Highly recommended!)
  • Haunted History Tours
  • *St Charles Street Car (Street cars are cheap, fun, historical and a great way to get around town.)
  • New Orleans Musical Legends Park
  • Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour
  • The Spice and Tea Exchange
  • Ninth Ward Rebirth Bike Tours
  • *PJ's Coffee of New Orleans
  • Voodoo Authentica
  • Voodoo Experience
  • New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
  • New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
  • American Aquatic Gardens
  • Cajun Pride Swamp Tour
  • Louis Armstrong Park
  • Ogden Museum of Southern Art
  • Magic Walking Tours
  • Esplanade Ave.
  • Elms Mansion
  • *Lake Pontchartrain Causeway
  • *Lake Pontchartrain
  • *St. Louis Cemetary #1
  • *Metairie Cemetery
  • *Lafayette Cemetery
  • Southern Candymakers
  • Orleans Levee District
  • Long Vue House & Gardens
  • *Bourbon Street Restaurants
  • Contemporary Arts Center
  • Canal St.
  • New Orleans Botanical Gardens
  • Mardi Gras World
  • *Magazine Street

Without Tweens:
  • *Snake & Jake's Christmas Club Lounge
  • *House of Blues
  • *Tipitinas
  • *Preservation Hall
  • Old Absinthe House
  • *Lafittes Blacksmith Shop
  • *The French Quarter at Night
  • *Dragon's Den
  • Louisiana Music Factory
  • Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro

Depending on the time of year, we'd also consider going down for the Jazz and Heritage Fest or the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival.

Try on the fly...Gogobot 

The best laid plans...often change once you're actually on location.   Sure we book the big things and travel with a "must see" list, but we love the flexibility and freedom of dropping the agenda and just exploring.   Some of our most serendipitous travel discoveries were places we hadn't planned on and never knew existed.   Gogobot works in real time, too, not just for the uber organized advanced planners.   I can't wait for our next vacay to do an on the fly check in.

Gogobot’s big win is that it allows you to connect with your friends to get their advice on where to visit, what to eat, and where to stay when you travel. You can use the service to plan things ahead of time, or you can poll your friends on the fly.

Gogobot allows you to tap into the knowledge of your friends when planning a trip anywhere. You can find like-minded travelers and inspiration for your next vacation, creating easy-to-use wishlists you can return to again and again.
And when you are not in vacation mode or planning a trip, you can discover hidden gems in your own neighborhood for entertaining guests or a weekend as a local tourist in your own town.
The best part? Every page on Gogobot is personalized. You can see reviews from your friends and people you are following at the top, which allows you to weed out the noise and fraudulent reviews that become a problem on other review sites. Check out Gogobot today!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gogobot. The opinions and red text are all mine.

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