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Great Southern Cities Worth a Long Weekend

 There are many tremendous cities in the South.  While many Americans travel to them for business, we oftentimes overlook the magic of taking in a great American city for a weekend of leisure and the South is particularly great for fall and winter visits with mild weather, a fantastic food scene and a welcoming good time! One can find a different perspective when seeing a city as a leisure guest – people watching from a local park, taking in the scene from a sidewalk café or bar, visiting the art museums, or attending a concert.

Some of my favorite stops South of the Mason-Dixon Line:




The Vibe – Southern, Waterfront, Grand yet Casual, Gardens, Food-centered

Favorite Hotel: Belmond Charleston Place, where it is said you can see three church steeples from every window & Planters Inn a boutique Relais & Chateau with the classic Peninsula Grill.

Not to miss restaurants: Chez Nous, Edmunds Oast, Minero, The Ordinary

Some fun: Rent a bike and check out all of the incredible private homes and gardens or drive out to Kiawah to play the famed Ocean Course. Book a private driving or walking tour with Ian Sanchez to experience the finest Charleston has to offer: Rhett Butler’s Old South. Rainbow Row, cobblestone streets, historic homes and gardens, the French Quarter, Slave Mart, waterfront mansions along the Battery, and Catfish Row. The Charleston Saturday Farmer’s Market is always a fun time, where you can find grown produce, herbs & flowers, handmade jewelry & crafts by local artisans, gourmet food stands with some delicious crepes! The market is open Saturdays, mid-April through December, 8:00am to 2:00pm at Marion Square. Also, while in Charleston, visit Candlefish store, they have lovely locally made candles, or you can create your own scent and take it home!




The Vibe – Fit, Artsy, Multi-Cultural, Good Time, High Energy, Sun-Seeking

Favorite Hotels: Faena is the brand new luxurious and beautiful resort and “universe” developed by Argentine hotelier and fashion designer, Alan Faena. It is the place to be! The Metropolitan is my favorite boutique hotel for those that want to be near the action but not in it. The setting is art deco and serene.

Not to miss restaurants: Alter, Pubbelly, Joe’s Stone Crab.

Some fun: Charter a yacht for a day to explore Key Biscayne or just relax on Miami Beach. Try amazing Cuban sandwiches throughout Miami, or visit one of my favorite spots – Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop. Art Basel stages the world’s preeminent Modern and contemporary art shows, and next one is December 1 – 4, 2016. Enjoy a stroll in the Art Deco District starting where 5th Street dead-ends into the beach at Ocean Drive and head north.


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New Orleans:

The Vibe – Music, Food-focused, Laid back, Good Time, Creole, One-of-a-kind

Favorite Hotel: The Windsor Court for great service and a lovely outdoor pool for sunning and a burger on the grill at lunch. The Roosevelt for a girls or guys trip, though, since it has great bones and one of the best bars in the city – The Sazerac, named after the drink.

Not to miss restaurants: Peche, Annunciation, Gautreaus

Some Fun: Hire a second line jazz musician to lead your parade down to a favorite lunch or dinner spot with your Bloody Mary’s in hand. It’s a great way to kick off a surprise birthday or celebration.  Better yet, rent an entire trolley car to take your party for a spin. Enjoy beignets and chickory coffee at the renowned Café du Monde (open 24 hours).




The Vibe – Powerful, Multi-Cultural, Artsy, Museums, Historic, Stately, Educated

Favorite Hotel: St Regis for the outdoor pool and walking distance to the Shops of Buckhead, Four Seasons for service and Midtown location walking distance to the High Museum, Woodruff Arts Center and equidistant to the best dining neighborhoods in town – Westside and Inman Park/Old Fourth Ward/Edgewood.

Not to miss restaurants: Staplehouse (voted best in the country!), Cockentrice, Little Bach,

Something special: A day walking on the beltline with stops at the bars and restaurants at Krog Street and Ponce City Market. Enjoy a picnic at Piedmont Park, visit the Botanical Gardens. Sign up for a cooking class, foodie tour, or bicycle street art tour. There are some incredible pop-up dinners, all under the radar – ask for the secret passcode for more info. Atlanta loves their festivals and parades, a not-to-be-missed one is the Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade, the next one is September 10, 2016 – all are invited, provided you bring a lantern!


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The Vibe – Music, Fun, Food, Southern

Favorite Hotel: Hermitage Hotel – elegant and old word, near Vanderbilt University.

Not to miss restaurant: Chauhan Ale & Masala House, Biscuit Love, AVO, Union Common

Some fun: City Winery Nashville always has fun shows and of course wine (and a restaurant) on-site, Nashville’s full of some pretty awesome breweries, including Jackalope Brewing Company, Fat Bottom Brewing and Yazoo Brewing Company, just to name a few. Enjoy a beer or two on site (Fat Bottom has an awesome outdoor garden) and take a growler to go. Enjoy Dinner and a show at Sambuca, Pucketts or The Listening Room (upscale bar food).

Live Music: There are over 35 live music venues downtown. Most of them are free. Honky Tonk Bars –  The bars on the north side of the street, on Broadway between 4th Ave and 5th Ave, do not charge a cover. The music starts as early as 11a.m. and goes until almost 3a.m.  Below are a few venues to get you started. Legends, Tootsies (two bands in one bar with a history lesson upstairs), Robert’s Western World (ask what the happy hour special is. Not something you might eat, but it’s funny to ask), Stage (a few scenes from the new movie Country Strong were filmed here) and the Wild Horse Saloon. And you must visit Grand Ole Opry, for a show or a tour at least!




Washington, DC – (not exactly the deep South but I could not resist!)

The Vibe – Powerful, Multi-Cultural, Artsy, Museums, Historic, Stately, Educated

When to visit: Spring and Fall

Favorite Hotel: Rosewood Georgetown – an artsy boutique hotel with a rooftop pool in a great location for the waterfront and the shops and restaurants of Georgetown  & Four Seasons – The city’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel and the place for service, power breakfast, and terrific fitness club – perfectly located between Georgetown and the White House.

Not to miss restaurant: This is the best city in the United States for ethnic food and the largest population of Ethiopians outside of Ethiopia live here. Dining at an Ethiopian restaurant is incredibly delicious and addictive, and please note that this it is a communal affair so plan to share and use your hands! My favorites are – Meskerem, Dukem, or Ethiopian. Don’t miss out on Lebanese and Vietnamese too! We can suggest the absolute best!

Something special: Virtually all the Museums are free, it is a great cycling city and rent-a-bikes are everywhere, pack a picnic and paddle down the Potomac.


Clients of Resort to Laura Madrid are always VIP’ed and receive extra amenities from breakfast to spa or food and beverage credits, a possible upgrade and always a very warm welcome! An excellent travel advisor will know what is going on during your visit and will encourage you to get a few things booked in advance of your arrival to ensure you don’t miss any fun!


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