Horn players on a street corner at night

Music on Frenchman Street in New Orleans will soon be a direct flight away from PDX.

Alaska Airlines plans to begin direct service in December to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and Tampa International Airport in December, offering two shortcuts to sunnier climes during Portland’s bleak winter.

Please excuse us if we’re a little more excited about this than the new nonstops to Grand Rapids and Idaho Falls. Known for its live music, Creole cuisine, and lack of open-container laws, New Orleans was doing to-go cocktails well before the pandemic. With its po’boys, muffulettas, and more, it’s arguably the Sandwich Capital of the World. If you need more coaxing, you could watch Girls Trip, commit some serious hours to the HBO series Treme, or just review the animated and live-action versions of Homer's eating itinerary on The Simpsons.

It may not be quite the bucket-list destination New Orleans is, but Tampa offers Gulf of Mexico beaches, the happening Sparkman Wharf and Ybor City districts, Busch Gardens, and a chance to boo Tom Brady.

Tampa is also close to trendy St. Petersburg and cultured Sarasota, home to a charming and award-winning city magazine, we hear. (Disclosure: Sarasota Magazine is one of our sister publications, but this blessed union still has not led to an all-company beach meeting there in darkest February. What gives, boss?)

Running through April 18, Alaska’s direct flight window will cover Mardi Gras but not the usual late-April timing of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Frog Ferry enthusiasts can check out New Orleans's Algiers river ferry service. Portlanders eager for MLB to come to town could use the nonstop flight to catch spring training in Tampa or a little of the Rays’ regular season.