I’ve written about my love of baseball travel, and my son’s growing passion for all things related to the games we watch, particularly basketball. With that passion to watch sports in person in mind, our family is off on a mini-sports road trip this basketball season. Beginning in Atlanta, we will visit three Southern cities that are all home to NBA franchises. We will watch the game we love, experience arenas, taste the food and drink of the home teams, and see what fun we can discover. It’s our own NBA road trip and I hope you’ll follow along in the fun.
I’ve always loved taking baseball road trips, visiting new ballparks, trying the unusual concession options and checking out a new city. Living in Memphis, we’re big fans of our hometown Grizzlies. And now that my son has become a partner in crime of sorts in sharing his love of travel on Trips By Lance, I decided it was time we hit the road to enjoy his favorite sport in a couple of unique cities.
Over the next couple of months, we will visit Atlanta and New Orleans and be hometown visitors in Memphis. It’s our NBA road trip, and beginning Feb. 7 in Atlanta, we will visit these three uniquely Southern U.S. cities to get a taste of what they have in store for NBA fans. We’ll check out a game, enjoy the pregame festivities, and dive right into how local fans cheer on their team.
But in addition to the NBA action, the series will be about exploring these cities, discovering the unique local food and drink, and visiting some cool attractions that aren’t too far from the arena.
My wife and I have visited Atlanta many times, but have never experienced the world’s largest aquarium or the World of Coca-Cola and CNN Studio Tour. All three of those attractions are within walking distance of Phillips Arena and our hotel, Omni Hotel at CNN Center.
I’m excited about checking out the Omni Hotel at CNN Center. We only recently started staying with Omni Hotels, but so far we’ve really liked what we’ve experienced at the Omni Severin Hotel in Indianapolis and the brand new Omni Nashville Hotel. This is a brand that prides itself on being family friendly, and we’re going to see how they live up to the reputation in Downtown Atlanta.
Atlanta is a great food and shopping city, so we will dive into plenty of great local restaurants and hit a bit of the shopping scene. But this is a family trip, and our 7-year-old son hates shopping. So he and I might check out Zoo Atlanta while Stacey visits Ikea and some of the cool thrifts and boutiques in Little Five Points. This trip will be about making everyone happy. We believe a child is never too young to experience art, so we plan to also visit the outstanding High Museum of Art. I just hope a three-night visit is long enough to explore these awesome attractions, visit all the great restaurants we have in mind, and do a little shopping, all while experiencing the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks.
We will visit New Orleans a few weeks after the madness of Mardi Gras, over the weekend of March 28-30. In New Orleans, we have spent plenty of time walking the streets of the French Quarter, but never with our son. Attending the University of Memphis, my wife and I made plenty of “social” visits to the Crescent City during our college years. We spent our one-year wedding anniversary in New Orleans.
But we’ve never really visited for the cultural side of things, unless culture means great food, lots of drinks and all the fun the French Quarter has to offer. So in addition to experiencing a New Orleans Pelicans game and all the fun that comes with being a sports fan in the city, we’ll confirm how family friendly New Orleans and the French Quarter are. I’m confident we can find just as much fun as a family as we did in our younger days before becoming parents.
Before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, we visited what was then known as the National D-Day Museum. I loved it. I’m excited about visiting what’s now known as the National World War II Museum. In addition, back when we visited the city on all those college trips, Stacey and I visited the city’s Aquarium of the Americas two or three times. I think our son would love it. We might visit the zoo, will definitely stop in at all the galleries on Magazine Street, have our share of po boys, and just in general discover what makes New Orleans so original.
If I’m counting correctly, I’ve visited New Orleans seven times. Of those visits, I’ve stayed in hotels on the fringes of the French Quarter four times. This visit will see us calling the Omni Royal Orleans home, getting us deep in the heart of the Quarter. What has me excited about this property, other than its cool historic building, is its great location. Just a couple blocks west of St. Louis Cathedral, I can’t think of a better spot to be located for some French Quarter fun. I’m excited about proving New Orleans is a great destination for a family getaway, and I believe the Omni Royal Orleans will be a good base of operation.
Yes, we live in Memphis. My son and I have a mini-season ticket package to the Memphis Grizzlies. So we’re well aware of how fun the Bluff City is for basketball fans. In fact, Memphis might just be the best basketball city in the country with the amazing high school ball, Top 25 college action with the University of Memphis and the 2013 Western Conference Finalists Memphis Grizzlies.
But with help of the Westin Memphis Beale Street hotel, we’re going to experience our hometown as visitors. In all the years I’ve called Memphis home (at least 22), I’ve never stayed even one night in a hotel in Downtown Memphis. So I’m really excited about the weekend we are planning at the Westin. The only Westin property in Tennessee, it’s located perfectly for a weekend of NBA fun. The hotel is across the street from FedExForum, and it’s the home away from home for all but two of the league’s teams when they play in Memphis.
There also are plenty of attractions nearby to keep us busy. The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and Gibson Guitar Factory are across the street, historic Beale Street is one block away, and the National Civil Rights Museum and Sun Studio are within walking distance. And who knows, maybe we can get away to catch a Broadway show at the nearby Orpheum Theatre, too.
We’ll be heading out on this awesome trip on Feb. 7. Please follow along on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #NBARoadTrip for all the family fun. And after the Atlanta action in early February, check back later this season for our fun in Memphis and New Orleans.