Among many other claims to fame, New Orleans is world renowned for its lavish and decadent Mardi Gras celebration. It just happens that our recent visit to New Orleans coincided with this annual event.
Neither Karen nor I enjoy crowds and we are not party animals so we weren't too disappointed that our short visit did not allow us to take part in many of the festivities. One of the traditions of Mardi Gras in New Orleans is women flashing their breasts - which I probably would have enjoyed more than Karen. We missed the bare breasts - however we did see signs of Mardi Gras everywhere - including this tomb which was all decked out for the celebration.
Yes, you might see naked people in the streets. Yes, you might see street-fornication. Yes, there are many bars that never close and yes, Bourbon street can be a madhouse. But people are very friendly in NOLA, and they're fun. My best experiences were a result of meeting locals and asking them to show me good places to eat and good bars to hang out in.
During Mardi Gras time...it's party party party!! Not only in New Orleans but all over...parades, barbeques, festivities everywhere. The people are great and the atmosphere in the air is incredible!! Be prepared to gain a few pounds while visiting Louisiana..it's totally unavoidable!! The food is so rich and sooooo delicious! ENJOY
Celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans is arguably something that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. Mardi Gras beads (photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)From the parades to the spirited culture and the zesty Creole food, there’s truly something for everyone who visits New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
Louisiana native Allison Gouaux manages public relations for Southern Comfort in the New Orleans area and has a number of tips and recommendations to share with travelers regarding the Mardi Gras celebration.
Q. Where is the best place to stay? What part of the city?
A. Allison Gouaux - Although there are parades happening all over New Orleans, the French Quarter has an abundance of world-class hotels that put you at a great location to experience the French Quarter festivities while also being close to the Uptown and Mid-City parades. Some hotels that come to mind are the Royal Sonesta (located on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter), the Intercontinental and the W (both located on Poydras in the Central Business District), and the Astor Crowne Plaza and the Marriot located on Canal (these are walking distance to the French Quarter too.) Also, because there are several Uptown parades it may be fun to stay at an Uptown bed and breakfast or rent a local’s apartment who is out of town during Carnival. You will already be in the neighborhood, and can easily walk to parades or any restaurants/bars after the parades are over.
Q. Which restaurants or food hot spots can't be missed?
A. Allison Gouaux - New Orleans food experience is unlike any other. The below listings are local favorites – some dives and some more upscale.
Parasol’s – Local bar with the best roast beef po’boys in the city.
Central Grocery – Fantastic muffalettas! You can also buy your own olive spread to take home with you.
Cooter Browns – Local uptown bar that is known for their freshly shucked oysters and an enormous selection of domestic and imported beers
Café Reconcile – Great spot for lunch during the week
Upperline – An upscale fine dining restaurant known for it’s great food and local character
Commander’s Palace – Known as the grand dame of restaurants in the lower garden district that is a great place to go to brunch
Gautreauxs – Their chef just got recognized by Food and Wine as “Best Chef in 2007”
Dante’s Kitchen – Classic Creole restaurant located in the River Bend uptown with great food
Read the full interview I conducted with Louisiana Native, Allison Gouaux - "Visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras – Tips and Recommendations from a Louisiana Native"
The King cake is a delicacy and a rich pastry that is decorated with sugary icing in the Mardi Gra colors of purple, green, and gold.
Each cake contains one small plastic baby, and the person who finds the baby in her piece will host the next party. A tradition that goes on....
If you hit up NOLA for Mardi Gras season, don't miss Barkus, the annual dog parade down in the Quarter, it's unique, and a great break from the typical crowded parade scene.