The Big Easy turns the Big 3-0-0 this year, and in this city where the good times roll, the parties will be epic — think citywide art shows, supersized Mardi Gras parades, and a festival of lights using landmark buildings as backdrops. Thirteen years after Hurricane Katrina, there is much to celebrate: The Central Business District, once a dead zone after dark, now crackles at all hours thanks to four new hotels (the Ace, Troubadour, Catahoula, and NOPSI), each with its own rooftop bar. The neighborhood is also home to new restaurants like Maypop — a Vietnamese-Creole joint from acclaimed chef Michael Gulotta. Another area coming to life is the three-mile riverfront, where a renovated Spanish Plaza will reopen this spring. More riverfront updates, including a new Four Seasons Hotel, will roll out in the next few years. Toast the tricentennial at the Sazerac House, a French Quarter museum dedicated to the official cocktail of New Orleans, opening later this year. —Allison Entrekin
Vacation Packages: More hotels, resorts and inns offer romantic, family, wedding, honeymoon and other packages than people realize. If your heart is set on a particular getaway, check their web site for current offers. In some cases, the property will offer a romantic package that you can add on to the cost of your stay, such as flowers or a gift that can be prepared ahead of time. In other cases, the romantic package will include the room rate as well. When you are researching the best places to vacation, it pays to check for packages.