The following are all things that I did in my recent visit to New Orleans. I would recommend you experiencing these if you plan a visit to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Check the dates and make sure you do not leave until after Fat Tuesday. Leave on Wednesday or Thursday.
- Eat – a lot. In fact, try to loose 10 pounds before you come. You will put weight on.
- Brennan’s Restaurant (417 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA) – for Breakfast, and save room for breakfast dessert (Banana’s Foster – they invented that dessert… which is my favorite dessert)
- Huck Finn’s Cafe (135 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA) – try the Fried Catfish, or for breakfast eat their crabcake eggs benedict
- Creole House Restaurant (509 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA) – you can eat dinner and watch the parades go by. I loved their Creole Shrimp Po Boy and their Shrimp and Grits . Also had their Bread Pudding with Carmel sauce. Delicious.
- Mother’s Restaurant (401 Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA 70130) – Try their famous Fried Shrimp Po Boys, or the Fried Shrimp and Oyster Po Boys. Everything on the menu is great.
- Dooky Chase Restaurant (2301 Orleans Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119) – I didn’t get to go here, but a good friend who comes to New Orleans often said the food is amazing. So I will have to definitely go next time in New Orleans. I checked out the site and their menu and it looked like a must go to place.
- Café Du Monde (800 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116) – The original French Market Coffee Stand since 1862. You must taste their wonderful famous Beignets (French Doughnuts topped with tons of powdered sugar) and Cafe Au Lait (Coffee with Milk).
- CC’s Coffee (941 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70116) – Great place to get a King Cake and try their special King Cake flavored coffee to drink there and take a bag back home. I did.
2. Drink – Bourbon Street had tons of bars with wonderful imaginative drinks. I usually go for the fruity frozen ones. Hurricane is the most popular drink. But there are so many others also.
3. Check out the many Parades. The largest one are: Endymion, Rex, Tucks, Zulu. There are so many other Krewes that they are running together. Go to the official Mardi Gras New Orleans site for parade listings and routes.
4. Collect Beads and Trinkets from your trip – Try to catch the float throws (beads, Mardi Gras footballs, stuff animals, special float items given out each year by different Krewes). Big on my list this year was to catch some Zulu Coconuts that are handpainted, and the authentic ones have a special painted gold stamp on them. Best place to get Zulu coconuts are near the Claiborne Avenue Bridge area. Stand next to locals who sit with lawn chairs in the street and you can stand close to the floats as they slowly pass. They will hand them to you, but don’t throw the coconuts for obvious safety reasons. We got about 6 or 7, where last time I was near St. Charles and didn’t get any.
5. Attend local Festivals. This trip we happened upon the Zulu Lundi Gras Festival. There was great food, jewelry and crafts, Music, dancing and at the end of the night there was a fireworks display. This was near the waterfront. They said this festival takes place the weekend before Fat Tuesday each year. First I’d heard about it, but the locals knew all about it and most had their lawn chairs out.
6. Try some of the Pralines – I thought the best place to get them was Magnolia’s Pralines (off Decatur Street, but was in gift shops all over town).
7. Eat some Crawfish. – We got a bag for $5 on the street and a gentleman showed us how to eat them. Pinch the Tail and Suck the Head. It was a little messy but good.
8. Dress up for Fat Tuesday if you dare. Let your hair loose. You will blend in. Everyone is just having fun.
9. Try to stay in (or very close to) the French Quarters. Hotels off Canal and St. Charles are also good, since they are on the main parade routes. I lucked up and stayed at a wonderful family-owned boutique hotel, Bienville House at 320 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA. The hotel is very nice, and the staff is very friendly and professional. I would definitely stay there again, and not just because Cafe Du Monde is just down the street. 😉 In my opinion, the Bienville House is the most elegant hotel in all of New Orleans, and has the friendliest staff. Stop staying in those cookie cutter big chain hotels people.
10. Enjoy the Jazz and Zydeco music which is all over the city.
11. People watch. This is free entertainment. Priceless.
12. Don’t forget to buy yourself a T-Shirt, to remind your friends that you went to Mardi Gras in the Big Easy, and they didn’t.