Mardi Gras is a celebrated holiday all over Louisiana but especially in New Orleans, or Nola for short. The celebrations last on average about two weeks and each day have at least one major parade if not more! Tourists all over the world flock to Nola to join in on the festivities.
If you are planning on getting in on the action and fun during Mardi Gras here in New Orleans this year, make sure you enjoy all that the city has to offer. We’ve rounded up our top things to see, eat, and do while visiting during Mardi Gras.
What To Eat:
There’s nothing like filling your belly with a bucket full of boiled crawfish. Louisiana Natives enjoy this succulent treat all year round but especially during the spring and summer months (aka crawfish season) where neighbors gathered elbow to elbow on newspaper-covered picnic tables and enjoy ripping off the heads of these tiny lobster-like crustaceans in their backyards.
It might seem daunting and perplexing to any first-timer on how to go about eating one, but you’ll be an expert in no time. The technique is to hold the crawfish between your thumb and index fingers; twist the head off; unwrap the top of the shell; pinch the tail; pull out the meat, and then enjoy stuffing your face.
Beignets are essentially miniatures donuts. Deep-fried donuts that are covered in powdered sugar. So small in size, no one would dare bat an eye if you consumed 5, 6, or 10 in one sitting.
A trip to New Orleans is not complete without enjoying some hot, fresh and pillowy beignets; especially since they were created here. Café du Mondé is one of the top places to go to get yourself some. Make sure that you do!
A hand grenade is a specialty cocktail drink sold frozen or on the rocks at only 5 specialized bars in New Orlean’s French Quarter. This drink may even be considered by some the signature cocktails of the city, with a hurricane cocktail following close behind.
It’s not Mardi Gras unless there is some alcohol involved. In New Orleans, the city has an open container policy so patrons can enjoy sipping on their cocktails while dancing down the streets and absorbing all the rich history stored away in the cobblestones.
But, drink at your own peril. The hand grenade packs a punch and even comes with its own warning guide:
Drink #3 “ Will result in complete loss of your inhibitions.”
Drink #5 “You’re on your own! We don’t recommend drink #5”
You may be asking: fried chicken, really? Yes, really! There are many other items I could have listed that one should try, such as the Jambalaya, étouffée, gumbo, or po-boys. They are all amazing in their own rights and you should definitely try some. But you haven’t had fried chicken until you had some in Nola.
I thank the Lord every day that my Uber driver recommended my friend and I try Willie Mae’s fried chicken in Treme. It wasn’t just a meal it was an experience!
What To See:
The Presbytére Museum
The Presbytére features two exhibits showcasing the fun of New Orleans and also it’s resilience.
The first exhibit ‘Mardi Gras: It’s carnival time in New Orleans’ offers a window into the celebration and rituals of Mardi Gras. There are floats to climb, costume to see, and history of the Mardi Gras Krewes (social clubs) that started it all.
The second exhibit ‘Living with hurricanes: Katrina and beyond’ shares a story of rescue and renewal. Learn about what happened during Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath of this devastating storm that became one of the deadliest natural disasters in our history. See how the city was and continue to be impacted by Katrina and the residents who fought and continue to standby their city.
World War II Museum
The World War II Museum located in the warehouse district of New Orleans receives thousands of visitors daily. Spend a day touring and learning about this significant time in world history through intricate details leading up to, during, and after the war ends.
Here you will find personal accounts from eyewitnesses, large narrative exhibits featuring many memorabilia and artifacts that bring history to life.
What To Do:
Visit The French Quarter
The French Quarter is the center of all things Mardi Gras in New Orleans. At one point the city was ruled by the French- so rightly named the French Quarter, but it’s architecture you see up and down the city, is originally from Spain.
Explore popular tourist places like Jackson Square, Bourbon Street and Café du Mondé for all your Instagram-worthy pics. The area is lined with storefronts, restaurants, bars, and even some voodoo. There is so much to see, eat, and do both during the day and especially at night. This city never sleeps especially during Mardi Gras. Take that New York!
Take A Haunted Ghost Tour
Hear chilling tales of the city’s paranormal activity by foot in New Orleans. Often referred to as one of the top haunted places in America-and rightly so. Nola is filled with stories of ghosts and vampires and has a rich history seeped in voodoo.
Take a night off from all the debauchery on Bourbon Street and opt to take a walking ghost tour at night through the streets and learn about all the haunted history of this city. You might even spot a ghost or two!
Go Shopping At The French Market
In the French quarter lies an outdoor flea market filled with back to back local vendors selling their home-made trinkets, clothing, and art. Stroll the tables and snatch up unique items while supplies last.
If you need a break from all the shopping, further down the market there is a wide variety of pop-up food shops selling tantalizing foods and beverages. Everything is made fresh and with lots of love here in Nola.
The French market is a one-stop during Mardi Gras you don’t want to miss out on. Friends and family will be eager to hear about all the excitement of your trip and what better way to bring back the taste of the city with little trinkets found at the French Market.