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Staycation inspiration: Itineraries available for weekend getaways

LAPLACE — Affordable weekend getaways can be planned close to home, according to Buddy Boe, executive director of Louisiana’s River Parishes Tourist Commission.

Boe recently joined Kim Bourgeois, director of business development and community outreach with Louisiana Federal Credit Union, to discuss cost-effective vacation ideas within driving distance for locals.

Governor John Bel Edwards’ recent decision to lift occupancy restrictions on restaurants and other establishments is a win for Louisiana tourism stakeholders and travelers, according to Boe.

Locals submitted their tourism and travel questions prior to the virtual meeting, with some asking how much a vacation will cost in 2021.

“You can do a day or two-day trip for very cheap or very expensive. That was the case before COVID, and that’s the case now,” Boe said. “Right now, people are taking advantage of places that you can drive if you have a car or an RV. We have lots of campgrounds in Louisiana, tons of state parks and low cost but high-quality hotels on major highways throughout the state.”

According to Boe, moderately priced hotels are currently averaging $76 a night in Louisiana, putting a two-night stay at approximately $150 to $175.

He suggests locals planning a trip visit lariverparishes.com, selagumbo.com or laisatrip.louisianatravel.com to find sample two-to-three-day itineraries. Lariverparishes.com focuses on St. John the Baptist, St. James and St. Charles parishes, and about 1/3 of the events included on the local itineraries involve free bike trails, outdoor spaces and recreational areas.

“All of our attractions are moderately priced ranging from $10 to $25 per person depending on the attraction,” Boe said.

Local restaurants range from fine dining at Ormond Plantation in Destrehan and Petra in LaPlace to mom and pop style hidden treasures all along the river.

Selagumbo.com itineraries stretch across 10 parishes for Southeast Louisiana families looking for getaways within a 2 ½ hour radius. Additionally, state park offer discounts for Louisiana residents. There are also a number of museums within driving distance dedicated to Civil Rights history, Italian culture, Britney Spears and everything in between.

Bourgeois said Louisiana Federal Credit Union likes to remind its members that budgeting is key to planning a successful vacation.

“Have a set budget. That way, you’re not planning a trip that’s out of your means,” Bourgeois said. “The key is to communicate too, especially if you’re taking a family vacation. Communicate with your children as long as they are at an age to understand so they know this is the budget and this is what we are planning to do, so they don’t ask for anything that isn’t included in the budget.”

Bourgeois enjoyed finding creative outings during the COVID-19 quarantine. She and her family took advantage of a free 31-mile bike trail on top of an old railroad system in St. Tammany Parish. There are also 40 miles of paved bike paths on top of the Mississippi River Levee in the River Parishes.

According to Boe, couples looking for a romantic getaway could consider a trip to Natchitoches, downtown St. Francisville, Thibodaux or Lafayette. Creative thinking and willingness to explore can lead couples to a cozy bed and breakfast, Cajun cooking classes, scenic garden tours or a smores date under the stars at a campground.

“You don’t need to go rent a cabin in Tennessee and fly there. You can do that in Louisiana,” Boe said. “Go take a day-trip anywhere in the state. They need your money. They need your business. They need your support.”

Louisiana’s River Parishes Tourist Commission can be reached at 866-204-7782.