American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
A French Quarter Ghost Tour and a Winner Announced
For the past two weeks, I've been running a holiday travel gift guide and end-of-the year travel guide giveaway. The prize package on offer included signed copies of all four of my Moon travel guides (Moon New Orleans, Moon Michigan, Moon Florida Keys, and Moon Baja RV Camping), a self-guided audio ghost tour of the French Quarter (produced by Audio Ambler, a subsidiary of my travel company, Wandering Soles), and one of 12 different eBooks or hardcover versions published by Patagonia Books. To enter the contest, you simply needed to answer one basic question – “What's the best holiday gift you've ever received?” – by emailing me or leaving a comment below this post by New Year's Eve.
Well, now that the contest is over, I realize that this might be an opportune time to offer you a few more details about the ghost tour, which isn't quite as self-explanatory as the books.
As a New Orleans native, I've always dreamed of creating walking tours of my beloved hometown. So, when my husband, Dan, and I became French Quarter residents several years ago, we began to put a plan in motion. First, we familiarized ourselves with the Big Easy's varied neighborhoods, exploring the town's most legendary attractions, bars, restaurants, shops, parks, and historic sites. Then, after much deliberation about the varied tours we eventually plan to offer (such as one that covers the history of the Vieux Carré and another that follows the St. Charles Avenue streetcar route), we made the decision to start with a ghost tour of the French Quarter – which we finally released last spring.
Essentially, it's a credit card-sized Mp3 player ($20) pre-loaded with “The French Quarter Ghost Tour,” a self-guided audio tour consisting of over 20 spooky stories (complete with narration, sound effects, and music). There's a handy map of the route on the back of each player, pinpointing all 15 of the haunted locations mentioned on the tour, including the St. Louis Cathedral, Muriel's Jackson Square, the Hôtel Provincial, the Beauregard-Keyes House, the LaLaurie Mansion, and Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar. Of course, while the route takes about 2.5 hours to follow, the advantage of this player is that it's possible to listen to any chapter out of order – at your own leisure. So, unlike the walking ghost tours already presented in the French Quarter, ours offers you a lot of flexibility – you can, for example, visit five locations, pause to have a meal, and then continue the tour when ready. Our tour also features more haunted sites and more spooky tales than the average walking tour does. In addition, you can listen to the tour multiple times, take home the player as a souvenir, and even download music, photos, and other media onto the player.
While Dan and I have certainly enjoyed taking group tours in the French Quarter, they can often be a dismaying experience, especially if you're crammed near the back of a large herd, straining to hear the guide. Not only does our Mp3 player provide an alternative to such tours, it can also save you money – if you and a friend, for instance, purchase one of our Mp3 players (each of which comes with two sets of headphones, a headphone adapter, a splitter, a USB cable, and a charger), you can each use one of the two sets of included headphones to listen to the same tour. A normal walking tour, meanwhile, would cost you $20 each. Of course, for $9.95, you can also download the tour directly to your smartphone.
For more information about the Big Easy, take a look at the two author Q&A's that I've prepared for Moon.com: one about exploring New Orleans and the other about discovering authentic New Orleans. Between the two of them, I've discussed everything from must-see sights and the city's best-kept secret to the best places to pick up local foods or nurse a hangover. So, be sure to check them out!
Now, back to my end-of-the-year guide giveaway. I'm happy to report that I've chosen a winner for the prize package: Jenny Husar of Island Lake, Illinois, who selected the 180º South: Conquerors of the Useless eBook from Patagonia Books. In answer to the contest question – “What's the best holiday gift you've ever received?” – Jenny wrote:
One year my husband, Bill, was asking for my Christmas wish list, and I told him to plan a weekend getaway. On Christmas morning, I unwrapped a package with email printouts confirming our reservations to stay at the Hotel Monaco in downtown Chicago (a lovely hotel, but a definite splurge for us) and see the musical Wicked. When the weekend arrived, we took the train downtown on Friday afternoon and checked into our hotel early. We were in the middle of a big snowstorm, and I snuggled up in one of the awesome window seats in our suite and watched people finish out their workdays and bustle around the city. The next day, we wandered around Chicago, went to see Wicked, and enjoyed some good food. It was a very memorable weekend. That's why I love to travel... even if it's only a weekend getaway, the memories you build are irreplaceable.
Well put, Jenny, and congratulations on winning the contest! I hope that you and your hubby will enjoy making new memories with the trips inspired by your prize package.
In the meantime, I hope that 2013 is off to a good start for all of my fellow travelers. So, what travel plans have you made for the new year?
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below, contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com, or connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar courtesy of Daniel Martone / Text © 2013 Laura Martone