11 Things to do in New Orleans during Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras also known as Fat Tuesday, is a carnival full of life and color celebrated in Southern Louisiana. It begins on or after the Catholic’s feast of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and ends on Ash Wednesday right before the Lenten Season. Originally meant to be as a last day of celebration, eating fatty food and lots of meat, before fasting during Lent! In modern day, Mardi Gras in Louisiana has little to do with the Lenten season, and more to do with drinking, and just partying in general.
1. Visit the World War II Museum
I know what you’re thinking, I came to New Orleans to drink and partayyy why should I go to a museum? Don’t worry, I’ll let you know where to drink in a second. As I like to say, mix your alcohol with some knowledge, culture and history. It’s a museum that focuses on the United States’s contribution to their allies during World War II. It’s a somber place but definitely a great place to learn some history and the architecture is very cool! Get your ticket here.
2. Walk around The Garden District
This neighborhood is home to so many gorgeous villas. The Robinson House (1415 N Third St) is one of the most impressive ones with over 10,000 sq ft! It is currently on the market, for 8 millions dollars, in case you’re looking for a vacation home! I would also recommend walking down Magazine street, it’s full of boutiques, hand made jewelry stores, restaurants, and very cool coffee shops.
3. Scroll through Saint Charles
Saint Charles Avenue is one of the most popular street on New Orleans, and I can definitely see why. It’s full of gorgeous architecture, reminiscent of the 19th century. It stretches from uptown to downtown passing through the Garden district. And for $1.25 per ride or $3 per day, you can ride the famous streetcar on Saint Charles!
4. Explore The French Quarter
If you heard anything about New Orleans, you’ve heard of the French Quarter, also known as, Vieux Carre. It is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans and full of beautiful homes. And around Mardi Gras, many of these homes are decorates for the festivities. Lalaurie Mansion, featured in American Horror Story Season 3, can be found here as well (1140 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116). Here I also found the absolute best Oysters I’ve ever had. ACME Oyster House is one of the few places that live up to the hype. Everyone told me to go there, so I thought it wouldn’t be so good, and I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. Order the chargrilled Oysters, they aren’t slimy at all, fully cooked, and will bring you joy and happiness. 10/10 would recommend every time.
5. Check out Jackson Square
Jackson Square is a historical site because in 1803, Louisiana was made US territory by purchasing the Land from France. It’s a beautiful park located in the French quarter near the Mississippi River but my favorite part was the street performers. Right in front of the park, street artist will perform one at a time, although unrelated performances. My favorite performance was from Marcus, an amazing acrobat from Seattle, and just really a funny guy. As odd as it may sound, I’d recommend spending a bit of time around here with some cash of course to tip your favorite performers. Support individual, self driven entrepreneurs with great talents!
6. Take photos on Royal Street
Royal Street is one of the most well known street in the French Quarter full of art galleries, antique shops, beautiful homes, and fancy hotels. Walking down this street I stopped over 10 times just to snap a photo.
7. Shop at the French Market
The French Market was one of my favorite finds in the French Quarter. It is a great place to shop for souvenirs, clothes and FOOD! I had a Muffulettas sandwich, and although the name sounds funny, it was so good! And then I also had a praline beignet and it was completely out of this world. Make sure to find the stand with the PRALINE beignets and thank me later. And for souvenirs, I found a stand (A124), a woman that is so very talented paints using oyster shells as canvas, and nail polish only. She was also so warm to talk to and not pushy with her sells whatsoever. Even if you’re just going to admire the art, you’ll enjoy it. She’s there on Saturdays only!
8. Pray at the Saint Louis Cathedral
Saint Louis Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in the United States, also located in the French Quarter. It is quite a beauty inside and out. It is an architectural beauty, and I know this might be the 100th time I’m saying this, but truly it is. It’s so very simple, but yet gorgeous. I went inside for a short meditation and was able to appreciate this place more.
9. Drink on Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street is arguably the most popular street in New Orleans. If you want to be drunk, be surrounded by drunk people, and see madness and mayhem, this street is for you. It is legal to drink on the street in New Orleans but do NOT have glass bottles because you will get a $50 fine! Personally, bourbon street was a bit much for me, I felt like the only remotely sober person around and did not enjoy the madness. I’m glad I walked through it to see what all the hype is about, but I couldn’t get myself to enter any of the bars or clubs.
10. Party on Frenchmen Street
If you love live music, jazz, a good time, or all three, you’ll love Frenchmen Street! In my opinion, it’s 100 times better than Bourbon Street and unarguably cleaner. It is located in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, right next to the French Quarter. You must pay to enter most bars but it’s well worth it because these musicians are extremely talented. Also, unlike bourbon street, people aren’t overly drunk, and it’s a spot where locals hang out! You can find specific event here.
11. Watch the Parades
You absolutely can not go to Mardi Gras and not attend a parade. And for your convenience, there are parade all day nearly every day starting the first Friday of January until Mardi Gras Day (Fat Tuesday). So if you want to sleep in, go ahead, but you must go check out one of the many parades later. The parade schedules for 2017 can be found here. I loved watching different floats pass by and playing a one way game of catch for beads! Bring some snacks, drinks, and enjoy!