Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • New Orleans is the most popular travel destination in Louisiana, and while it is a beautiful city, her reputation overshadows the rest of the state. There are so many places off the beaten path in Louisiana. I do love taking short road trips with my family, but I sometimes go away by myself to drive the river roads or along the path less traveled. One of my favorite places to visit near home is Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, Louisiana.

    I’ve visited a few times with the kids for a family trip in Louisiana, and we always have a good time playing games as a family in the arcade, swimming year ’round in the heated, indoor lagoon-style pool, or just watching the alligators in the main hotel lobby. Well, this time, I hopped into RedBugg all by my lonesome and set off along the back roads of Louisiana to meet some gal pals and other Louisiana travel writers for a spa visit and gaming lessons. The timing was perfect – I needed some gaming lessons before my upcoming visit to BlogWorldExpo in Las Vegas.

    Blackjack Lessons at Paragon Casino (c) Shannon Hurst Lane

    The Property: Paragon Casino Resort is located in Marksville, Louisiana in the central part of the state. It’s owned and operated by the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and provides income for the reservation. This resort has a casino, hotel, RV park, golf course, indoor and outdoor pools, onsite movie theater, restaurants, bars, workout center, supervised arcade, KidQuest, and a very fabulous spa.

    The Rooms: There are many choices for lodging, including the newest rooms in the Atrium Tower, older rooms (yet undergoing renovation) in the South Tower, an RV resort and cabins at the RV area. I stayed in the Atrium in a King Room. It was spacious and clean with an indoor windoow overlooking the lobby/atrium area. The bathrooms are nice with standard tub/shower combo. Bath amenities are basic, but the alligator soap is a fun, local touch. I appreciated the FREE snack amenities available in every room.

    The Food: I shouldn’t admit this, but I enjoy the diner style food inside the casino so much that I’ve even made stops here while passing through, just to get one of those delicious shakes and an order of sliders at Roxy’s. Legends is a popular, fine dining restaurant that I’ve yet to try out. I did get to sample almost all of the appetizer items on the menu at Big Daddy E’s Oyster Bar and Grill. I have to admit, the fried alligator is probably the best I’ve ever tasted, as it was tender and had a good flavor. There is also an onsite buffet and room service is offered in the hotel. Roxy’s has a great kid’s menu, but since it is in the casino area, there is a bit of smoke in the air.

    Amenities: The golf course is part of the Audubon Golf Trail and had healthy, rolling greens. The pool and workout facility is available for lodging guests through room key access.  Of course, I’ve already mentioned the pools, kid areas, and possibly the best spa resort in Louisiana. There are a few shops in the atrium area, but I really enjoyed the Tribal museum area showcasing baskets and history. There is also a large conference area.

    Pros: This is a one stop getaway conveniently located in the middle of Louisiana, making this a good choice for a family reunion, girlfriend getaway, or conference. It’s also great for a romantic weekend.

    Cons: Well, it is a casino, which means there’s smoking, drinking, and gambling going on. No surprises here.

    My Mama Moment: I was really surprised at Spa la Vie, the onsite spa at Paragon Casino Resort. It was much larger than expected and can handle groups of friends or busy weekends. Fortunately, my visit was during the week and not too busy. I enjoyed my treatment, but I really enjoyed chatting with other writers in the relaxation room.

    Website: ParagonCasinoResort.com

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  • The other night I was thinking about how long it’s been since I had really been out of the house. I wanted a change of scenery and just one night of relaxing and not having to worry about feeding the dog, scrounging up change for my daughter to take to school, or looking at dirty dishes.

    Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, Louisiana is less than a two hour drive from my home. I’ve been there a few times with the family and always lusted after the spa. I just never had a chance to check it out. The PR firm that represents the casino has always had an open invitation for me to visit, at my convenience. I took them up on the offer of getting away for a few nights and met them at the casino.

    Lucky for me, a spa experience was included. I had the swedish massage, because I didn’t need anything too fancy. They do have a few signature treatments, including the Southern Comfort Massage, Crushed Pearl Facial, and even a 6 1/2 hour Full House package. The spa was much nicer than I expected and gave me a chance to relax.

    Paragon Casino Resort has onsite childcare , and arcade for the bigger kids, lots of shops, an indoor heated pool, outdoor pool, golf course, a movie theater, and lots of dining options. Of course, there is a casino, but for those who aren’t into gambling, this Louisiana resort is a great spot for a quick getaway.

    www.ParagonCasinoResort.com

    Special thanks to Paragon Casino for hosting my relaxing mama getaway.

    http://cocktails.travelingmamas.com/mama-ran-away-to-the-spa

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  • Is your family looking for a place to get away from it all and still enjoy family time with their children? Do you want vacation where you can enjoy the beach, stay active and enjoy local attractions?

    Ocean Isle Inn on Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina has been named one of the Top Atlantic Coastal Destinations.  Children love it.  Families love it.  The location is great and the property keeps calling guests back again and again. 

    “Ocean Isle is the way beaches use to be. Uncrowded, Unhurried, and Unforgettable. All this and more await you at the Ocean Isle Inn. Ideally situated a short distance from the historic riverfront town of Wilmington, North Carolina, Southport NC, Holden Beach NC, Sunset Beach NC, and North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach South Carolina, the Ocean Isle Inn provides the perfect accommodations for a vacationer, business traveler, family reunion or wedding.”

    Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina

    Ocean Isle Inn is a beautiful ocean front property on the quiet Southern beaches of North Carolina.  Enjoy the quiet of the beaches where you can get away from it all.  Yet,  you can drive an hour to the trendy and popular Myrtle Beaches of South Carolina where wonderful restaurants, shopping and local activities abound.

    Enjoy the local attractions:

    1)  Ocean front beaches for families;

    2)  Ten minutes from the wonders of South Carolina like  Myrtle Beach and famous Callabash Seafood;

    3) Ingram Planetarium – where the Stars Always Shine!

    4) Museum of Coastal Carolina

    Enjoy this view each morning – after a complimentary breakfast and gourmet coffee, step out poolside and enjoy the ocean views.  When it’s breezy or it rains, take in the indoor heated swimming pool and jacuzzi!  Life is good in North Carolina.

    Are you ready to get away from it all?  Take your children on a vacation they will always remember! Book your trip to Ocean Isle Inn today!  Ocean Isle Inn is offering Traveling Mamas Readers a 15% Discount if you Book with the Discount Code: CarolinaMama. Book your trip and enjoy the anticipation until you experience the pure delight of the ocean at Ocean Isle Inn.

    *CarolinaMama is an Ocean Isle Inn Ambassador.

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  • An aspect of travel that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside is giving back to communities I visit. I’ve written about my wonderful friend, Nancy Schretter, many times and how her idea with TogetherforGood.org has brought joy and much needed items to communities all over the globe. Here is a video recap of our port stop in Costa Maya, Mexico on the Norwegian Spirit, our giving back cruise.

    The Costa Maya region was flattened by Hurricane Dean in 2007 and has slowly been rebuilding. Uai Nat Ze is a non-profit organization that has been serving the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico since Hurrican Dean hit the region. The Foundation supports community outreach programs and youth initiatives to assist those in need. If you’re interested in volunteering in Costa Maya, contact the Uai Nat Ze Foundation for help and ideas. School supplies are needed for kindergartens in Mahahual and Cancun.

    Needed Items include: pencils, pencil sharpeners, crayons, colored markers, colored pencils, paper, children’s scissors, glue sticks, erasers, paper, construction paper, backpacks, activity books, educational toys and games, puzzles, sports equipment, arts & crafts supplies, band-aids, children’s tylenol, children’s vitamins, and other supplies. It’s very easy to include a backpack of school supplies to bring ashore during your port stop.

    Also, beach clean-up opportunities may be available in this area. Because of the tidal currents, large quantities of plastic garbage wash up in this area. Approximately 85 percent of the litter that washes ashore comes from countries other than Mexico. For current information on needs in the area, contact Kevin at Uai Nat Ze at kevin@uainatze.org or visit the Uai Nat Ze website at www.uainatze.org.

    High School in Mexico

    The local high school

    While you’re in the area, be sure to stop at the restaurant 100% Agave for authentic area cuisine. During our visit there, Kevin, his friend Nick, and local representative Cesar introduced us to this lovely open-air dining spot. It is very rustic and absolutely fabulous. The owner gave me a lesson on Tequila tasting the correct way.

    The beaches and area are beautiful and inspiring. At the time of our visit, there were no hi-rise buildings to be found along the shoreline. If I had the money, I’d invest in beachside property and build an eco-friendly seaside home in this area. It’s just that beautiful.

    Special thanks to NCL for hosting us during our cruise. Also, thanks to the community of Mahahual for their welcome and hospitality.

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  • Maui, one of the most popular Hawaiian Islands for visitors, offers more than just beaches. I discovered the beauty of Maui’s Upcountry by taking a day tour to Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, in Kula. This lavender farm and garden is located about 4,000 feet above sea level and offers more than 55,000 lavender plants, as well as olive trees, hydrangea, and protea blooming on more than 10 acres. This beautiful land’s curator is Mr. Ali’i Chang, and he is more of a guardian than gardener of this spiritual land. If you’re looking to experience the true beauty of Maui, then you can’t go wrong with this wonderful stop along your route.

    AKL Maui Lavender Garden by Shannon Hurst Lane of TravelingMamas.com

    Daily walking tours are available throughout the day at specified times and are currently $12 per person. If you make your reservation in advanced, you can save $2 on your admission. I took the walking tour, set up by the Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau, and honestly didn’t know what to expect. At first, my travel companion and I thought we might be lost, because we went from paved road to dirt road. Finally we realized we were at AKL Maui, and our journey of relaxation in lavender had begun.

    We arrived a little early for the tour, but that was quite okay with me. I enjoyed a lavender scone, with lavender lilikoi jell (delicious), and lavender tea. Just smelling all the goodies and fresh lavender put me in a calming and chilled-out mood. And did I mention the view? It was wonderful to sit and enjoy the lavender treats from such a high point on Maui.

    AKL Maui Lavender Farm Walking Tour by Shannon Hurst Lane of TravelingMamas.comCookie was our tour leader and we were joined by a family with the cutest twin girls. As we walked along, Cookie pointed out plants of interest and handed out cuttings of each as we walked along the path. The girls really enjoyed the adventure, and I could see how this lavender farm walking tour would be a fantastic choice for families, friends, or couples to experience. At the end of the walking tour, we each had our own fresh lavender bouquet!

    After the tour, I had to step into the gift shop and wish that I had more room in my luggage to bring home lavender food and bath items for my entire extended family. I especially loved their dragonfly logo. Should you decide to visit the lavender garden and farm, here are some directions from the AKL website:

    From Kahului, take Hana Hwy 36 towards Haleakala. Turn right on to Haleakala Hwy (Hwy 37 South); you will stay on this highway for 30 minutes or so, entering into Kula, you will pass Kula Elementary School on the right. You will soon approach Rice Memorial Park on the left. Slow down after Rice Park and take a left turn up onto Junction 377 East. Drive about 1/4 mile, rounding a bend, taking a quick right up Waipoli Road. There is a Warrior sign at the bottom of Waipoli road with our name on it. Proceed to the top of the road, going up about 1 mile, pass over the cattle guard and through the open yellow gate. Follow the signs to the Garden parking area. Please park where indicated. If necessary, call 808-878-3004 to receive automated direction information at any time. Mahalo! 1100 Waipoli Road, Kula, Maui Hawai’i 96790 phone 808-878-3004 Fax: 808-878-2645 Reservations: 808-878-3004 If you need assistance call 878-3004.

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