Mardi Gras in New Orleans is one of the most exciting and popular festivals in the USA and one of the best trips I’ve taken in my 20’s. Popular traditions of the festival include masks, costumes, dancing, parades and, of course, lots and lots of beads!
I’ve had Mardi Gras on my bucket list since before I could remember and was lucky enough to have a friend living there when I decided to go. To everyone who is celebrating this February, have a blast! For those of you planning to go in the future, I’ve created a 20-Something’s Guide to Mardi Gras below in hopes you’ll be able to make the trip one day.
♢A 20-Something’s Guide to Mardi Gras ♢
– Catch the Parades –
The parades were my favorite part about Mardi Gras and something I wasn’t really expecting to see. This year there are over 60 parades around the city and each of the parades are thrown by “krewe’s”, which are social clubs that work on the floats and themes all year round. Beware of getting hit in the face with bags of beads (this happened to my friend twice!) Haha! Things fly out at you all from all over the place and they don’t just throw beads!
My favorite parades were:
Krewe of Muses
Pro Tip: Try and scope out bathrooms or go to the bathroom before you hit up the parades. There aren’t usually many options!
– Eat the FOOD –
The food in New Orleans is fantastic. The mix of Cajun, Creole and southern food put me in a foodie paradise. I can’t wait to go back and eat my way through the city. Here’s what to try:
Kings Cake – It’s a colorful pastry/cake that is only sold during Mardi Gras time. Make sure you try one. If you get the ‘baby’ inside of the cake the tradition states you get to buy the next cake! I got the baby when I went! 🙂 You can get another cake at the famous Adrian’s Bakery.
Po-Boys – These are the best, greasy and delicious sandwiches. Be sure you ask for your Po-Boy “dressed”. You can get these at most restaurants in New Orleans.
Shrimp Etouffette – I’d never had this dish before coming to New Orleans, but fell in love with it. Sometimes I still crave it! It’s a spicy Cajun stew typically made with veggies and seafood. YUM.
Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake – Sounds weird, but it was amazing. Order this at the very popular and delicious restaurant Jacques-Imos. Try and make a rez before you get to NOLA.
Creole Jambalaya – You can’t leave the city without trying the Jambalaya.
Beignets – Your trip is not yet complete without a trip to Café Du Monde to get their soft beignets. They are open 24 hours so you’re set after a night of partying!
– Drink the Drinks –
The best part of New Orleans is that you can take your drinks to-go. Literally ask the bartender to make your drink to-go and walk right outside of the bar. Here were some of my favorite drinks.
“Dirty” Bloody Mary – One of the best bloody’s I’ve ever had was at Corner Oyster House
Watermelon mojito– Refreshing and light drink found at Jacques-Imos.
Hurricane – If you asked me to drink this right now I’d probably vom because I don’t like sweet drinks, but this is one of the most popular drinks in NOLA and especially Mardi Gras time. It’s got a LOT of rum in it and will make you tipsy all night. Get your fill at Pat O’briens on Bourbon St.
Moonshine – Why not try some moonshine from the southern brewers? This will make your hair stand on end!
– Join the Party –
Bourbon St. – It’s wild, crowded and grungy, but his is where the Mardi Gras parties happen and you’ve got to experience it. I recommend trying to find a balcony party to go to and party from above. That way you’ll be able to pass out the beads to the people below! All of the bars on Bourbon are really fun and some have great karaoke!
Frenchman’s District – I loved this area because of the bars filled with live music. Almost every bar was playing live jazz/cover band music and it was so cool. This area is a lot more laid back and hipster-y NOLA which was a nice change from the craziness on Bourbon!
French Quarter – Walk around here for cute shops, balcony’s, street art and a big market by the water! This is a great spot to check out after brunch!
Pro Tip: Everyone gets thrown beads regardless of if they flash you or not. The feather boas are meant for an actual flashing 🙂