Ghosts, Tigers and Gumbo – oh, my! An Away Game Visit to the NFC South
Added by Alessandra S. on September 25, 2012.
Bourbon Street is a main attraction in New Orlensa, LA.
It’s time to take the away game traveling RV to the Gulf of Mexico, and drop off our beer cooler in New Orleans, LA and Tampa, FL.
Ahh, the NFC South. There is no shortage of excitement on the fields where these teams play. But what about their local stomping grounds? Let’s take our away game journey to the Gulf of Mexico and set down the travel-sized barbecue in New Orleans, LA and Tampa, FL.
New Orleans, LA is a city that has had severe tragedy, but has had enough heart to keep its spirit afloat. Apart from the obvious physical damage, Hurricane Katrina couldn’t touch the culture and vitality upon which NOLA is founded. With a nod to both its history and multicultural makeup, the architecture in New Orleans is enchanting and unique.
A wonderful example is the French Quarter, which has shopping, tours, music clubs and restaurants for the visiting team’s fans to explore and enjoy. The French Quarter is also home to the world famous Bourbon Street—no doubt contributing to Nawlins’ status as one of the top ten most visited U.S. cities.
Although often considered a wonderful Spring Break destination, NOLA actually has a lot to offer during the fall. For the thrill seeker with interest in the paranormal, New Orleans is considered the “Most Haunted City in America,” and is an ideal spot to check out during Halloween and other chillier months of the year. Plenty of tours and expeditions are offered for those with interest in being spooked or breaching the line to the other side. Not into ghosts? The Voodoo Music Festival, featuring Skrillex, Green Day and a multitude of local artists is October 26-28, and will feed even the most eclectic musical appetite. Fortunately, music events in NOLA can be found all year long.
Speaking of festivals, the Louisiana Seafood Festival is October 12-14 and it is a fantastic representation of NOLA culture and cuisine, with proceeds benefitting the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation (LHF). What’s a trip to New Orleans without gumbo, po-boys, jambalaya and beignets? Without a doubt, visitors should be advised to bring their Thanksgiving Pants to binge comfortably and efficiently. Featuring all the wonderful southern culinary hospitality imaginable, the festival also attracts artist booths where jewelry, woodwork, textiles, hats, apparel and posters can all be browsed and purchased.
October 11-18 marks the New Orleans Film Festival, with full-length films, shorts, animation and music videos from local talent all being featured and viewed. The festivals fully characterize the culture, entertainment and art within New Orleans, and all those attractions can be found year-round and season long in the city. So pack your mardi gras beads and a few big belts, and let NOLA’s charm win you over.
The Big Cat Rescue is a must-see when visiting Tampa, Florida.
On the west coast of Florida is Tampa. A sports-centric city in beautiful weather, Tampa is certainly a desirable destination. Tampa, of course, proves to be a unique and vivacious city, and is also surprisingly similar to New Orleans in terms of attractions to the Gulf of Mexico.
The music buff will be pleased to know that there is no shortage of live music on Tampa’s side of the Gulf. Elton John, Florence & The Machine, Brad Paisley, Journey and Rascal Flatts all made tour stops in Tampa this fall. For the friend who can’t get enough of ghost stories or paranormal encounters, There are ghost tours of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay, and many of the candlelight walking tours are accessible for all ages. Afraid that your younger companions will keep you up all night with ghostly night terrors? The Florida Aquarium has “Swim with the Fishes” and “Dive with the Sharks” programs, and also has penguins for those looking to be a little less hands-on.
Naturally, the ultimate vacationer will have an easy time finding a golf course for a few rounds once the tailgating-induced bodily aches and damages have begun to fade. Want to turn an away game into seriously epic vacation? Tampa is also a cruise port, and Carnival cruises are an affordable and liberating getaway that the whole family and/or group can enjoy. Just make sure you don’t lose your passport in the bleachers!
The Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay both offer a plethora of water sports, and there’s no shortage of waterskiing, jet skiis or sun for active and passive beachgoers alike (although there’s nothing passive about intently working on a seriously dark and even suntan.)
One of the most fascinating places to visit in Tampa is Big Cat Rescue. Established in 1992, it is the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated to rescuing abandoned or abused big cats, all supported by their non-profit organization. All visitors partake in guided tours which are heavily informative and enlightening. Did you know that white tigers are a genetic mutation, and therefore are nearly non-existent in the wild, and are heavily inbred to draw in profit as a spectacle? Big Cat Rescue works diligently to inform visitors about facts that are withheld and hidden from the public, and its beautiful tenants (the cats) are without a doubt the most convincing element. Jaguars, Cougars, Lions, Bobcats, Tigers (including a white tiger resuced from a circus named Zabu) and many more types of Big Cats can be seen, and also helped. Donations and volunteers are always needed at Big Cat Rescue—why not turn your away game experience into something so much bigger and more meaningful? Surely volunteering for such a wonderful organization would be an unforgettable experience.
Whether you’re a fan of the paranormal, a music buff, a foodie or looking for something you can’t get anywhere else—the Gulf of Mexico will certainly have something for you in either New Orleans, LA or Tampa, FL. So bring your suntan lotion, listening ear, ravenous appetite and adventure seeking drive—let these enchanting locations change up your vacation playbook, and enjoy the memories that are sure to last a lifetime.