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Road Trip Around (But Avoiding) New Orleans 2/15 - 2/18

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I hope there's no offense in my saying my boyfriend and I recently booked a trip to New Orleans, having no idea the dates coincided with Mardi Gras -- we'd already booked the flights before noticing how highly the hotel priced and full were the hotels, then we figured it out.

After discovering the flight change fees, we decided to take the flights and rent a car in New Orleans and drive around nearby areas for a few days. He'd like Baton Rouge to be on the list -- I'm not sure if it's better to stay there all three nights, but perhaps using Baton Rouge as a base would be better than going to 2 - 3 different hotels.

We thought a riverboat trip or swamp tour might be great -- suggestions?

I have a kind of dumb notion that back-road jazz or blues houses might still exist somewhere (like the far from town locations) -- but maybe I'm dreaming. Does such a thing exist in the area (or anywhere--just out of curiosity)?

WE LOVE

Cajun/Creole food
Barbecue
live jazz, blues (not zydeco so much)
interesting downtown areas
vintage-y cocktail bars
atmospheric restaurants
scenic drives or water travel
smaller or mid-sized, classy or historical hotels (though B&Bs tend to seem expensive for not having a television)
wildlife, aquariums
natural history/ science museums

NOT SO MUCH

crowded places
parades
art museums
historical home tours
hunting
shopping destinations
big, flashy hotels
cheap hotels

I would love any suggestions anyone would have for places to stay, where to drive to -- or just a rundown of what you'd do.

Thanks so much!

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