The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare and three nights' accommodations from $339 per person — plus taxes of about $30.
When: Through Dec. 29, 2007, June 1-Sept. 14, 2008; add $36 for Jan. 9-May 31, Sept. 15-Nov. 30. Blackout dates apply.
Gateways: Houston, Nashville; add $39 for Dallas, D.C., Orlando; $75 for Chicago, Fort Lauderdale; $89 for New York City; $109 for Phoenix; $150 for Las Vegas.
The fine print: Hotel taxes, service fees, and a nonrefundable $99 administration charge are included. Airport taxes and surcharges are an additional $30 per person. Breakfast is not included. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $225 during low season and $249 during high season. Since airport-hotel transfers are not included, count on spending $25 for a cab ride each way. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: Dec. 27 for travel through Dec. 29, 2007; May 15 for travel through May 31, 2008; Aug. 31 for travel through Sept. 14; Nov. 15 for travel through Nov. 30.
Contact: Online Vacation Center, 800/780-9002, onlinevacationcenter.com.
Why it's a deal: In comparison, a recent search on Kayak yielded the following lowest round-trip airfares to New Orleans for late December: $185 from Nashville (Northwest) and $188 from Houston (Continental). The fares in early June start from $160 from Houston (Continental) and $177 from Nashville (Northwest). For an additional $151-$179, or about $50-$60 per day depending on what time of year you travel, Online Vacation Center also covers a three-night stay at a centrally located luxury hotel.
Trip details: The New Orleans package includes round-trip airfare on a major airline carrier, such as American, Delta, or Continental, and three nights at the 707-room Astor Crowne Plaza hotel, on the edge of the French Quarter where Bourbon and Canal streets meet.
The hotel features an outdoor pool, a whirlpool, a fitness center, valet parking, 24-hour room service, and concierge and bellhop services. It's home to the seafood and Cajun restaurant Bourbon House, the latest venue opened by local restaurateur Dickie Brennan, who also owns Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse in the French Quarter.
The Astor Crowne Plaza is within walking distance of downtown and nearby attractions like Harrah's New Orleans Casino & Hotel, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Riverwalk Marketplace, and the Morial Convention Center.
The French Quarter, the city's cultural heart, came through Hurricane Katrina largely unscathed, but more than two years later, other neighborhoods are still making a slow, block-by-block recovery. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Katrina Krewe are great resources if you're interested in volunteering during your stay.
Want to spend more time in the Big Easy? Additional nights at the Astor Crowne Plaza are $65 per person during the low season and $79 per person during the high season. For more tips on what to do in the area, visit the official tourism Web site of the city of New Orleans and its hip sister site, 24nola.com.
January is the coolest month in New Orleans, with an average temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The possibility of hurricanes increases from June through November. Before you go, check the weather forecast at BudgetTravel.com.