How to Make the Most of This Famous Celebration
Written by: Nicole Fera
My whole life I’ve grown up watching year after year of Mardi Gras celebrations going on without me in New Orleans. This year my dream becomes a reality as I will be heading down south to absorb the culture and as much booze as I can handle! As thrilled as I am I also know that a festival this big, drawing in as many people as it does, needs to be handled with care and some preparation. Here are some tips and places that anyone attending this year’s party should follow and visit for a guaranteed good time.
Head Over to the Parades as Early as Your Hangover Allows
With so much drinking and partying going on in the streets of NOLA it can be easy to get distracted or find yourself sleeping in from the night before. However, if you’re looking to catch some famous parades (which is a must) do your best to get an early start to the day and secure a spot down in the French Quarter. Plus the earlier you get down there the less lines there will be at the bar so try that for some morning motivation.
Designate A Meet Up Spot
If you’re traveling with a group of friends or just a partner in crime it’s important to designate a meet up spot in case you get separated, which seems easy enough in the huge crowds. Of course this is the 21st century and everyone has a cell phone, but with large amounts of people cell phone service can be tricky. Designate a spot just in case and show up with a shot for your bud when you’re reunited.
Invest in a Flask
NOLA law allows open containers of alcohol in the streets, (just no bottles or glass) so I recommend bringing a good old-fashioned flask to the celebration. Prices of alcohol can be high during the festivities so having your own personal stash for the road is a big help! Plus you don’t have to worry about keeping an eye on your drink while in the big crowds of people. Definitely something to invest in before making the trip.
Dress to Impress
You’ve seen the photos and heard the stories from this amazing New Orleans’ tradition so go all out while you’re there! You’ll encounter your fair share of beads, whether you choose to show off your goodies or not, but dress up with masks, wigs and all the crazy clothes sitting in the back of your closet from old college-themed parties. This is your chance to let loose, and down there anything goes!
Hang With the Locals
This is a huge party and celebration of this great city that people from all over the country attend, but that doesn’t mean the locals aren’t in on the action. Try and make friends with people who know the area and can point you in the right direction. They’re the ones who are going to know of that cool dive bar open late or the band that’s going to be in the pub late night that you have to see! Don’t be afraid to venture beyond Bourbon Street and submerge yourself into the culture and local favorites.
Hydration is Key
I’ve been to enough music festivals to know that the simplest trick to surviving all of the booze, food and partying is to drink as much water as possible. This is easier said than done because I know that once I crack open a beer, water is the furthest thing from my mind. However, if you remember to chug a water at least every hour you will be able to have longer days and earlier mornings, ensuring that you make the most out of this trip and possibly even remember it!
Where to Go
Although there are tons of amazing places to go during any time of the year in New Orleans, these next few spots are a must do while visiting during Mardi Gras. They offer a little piece of the NOLA culture to visitors and you can be sure that I won’t be passing any of these places up while there!
Cafe Du Monde
800 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116
504.525.4544 | www.cafedumonde.com
First up is Cafe Du Monde, located right in the French Market. This place is a little piece of New Orleans history and the amazing thing is that you can visit any time of the day or night! They’re open 24 hours and only close on Christmas day or if there happens to be a hurricane passing through the city. That means that you can enjoy their delicious beignets (square style doughnuts covered in powdered sugar) and a cup of coffee to keep you going any old time you like!
536 Frenchmen St
New Orleans, LA 70116
504.252.4801 | www.3musesnola.com
Great food, speciality cocktails, lots of locals and live music! You really couldn’t ask for anything more than what Three Muses has to offer. Located right in the French Market, this restaurant and bar is a nice escape from all the chaos to enjoy some real New Orleans flair. They feature local bands that play everything from swing to classic jazz with some real soulful sounds that are good for the heart. Their food is an elevated mixture of the classics with some unique twists and their craft cocktails offer something deliciously different to guests coming for the first time and the regulars who have discovered them and never left!
Muriel’s Jackson Square
801 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA 70116
504.568.9795 | www.muriels.com
This historic building has been around since New Orleans was founded in 1718 and survived countless factors throughout the years. It was renovated in 2000 and opened its doors as Muriel’s, a new restaurant with an old history! With four different dining areas inside this one restaurant it’s variety of ambiance, great food and drinks offer something for everyone. Come grab a drink and head up to the balcony to enjoy the views of this beautiful city and learn all about the ghosts that linger around this historic site!