New Orleans is more than Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras brings people to New Orleans from all over the country. Economic reports estimate that Mardi Gras generates about $1 billion dollars in annual spending. That’s a lot of crawfish and King Cake! The party-heavy aspects of the Fat Tuesday celebration are well-documented, but visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras is actually fun for adults and families. Traffic regulations mean parades steer clear of the raucous French Quarter, and there’s so much more to the Louisiana city than Bourbon Street and beads. We’ve discovered the five best things to do in New Orleans this spring.
Take a streetcar to the Garden District
The Garden District is a sensory feast — well-preserved plots of antebellum mansions and lushly landscaped gardens. Celebrities like Anne Rice, Nicholas Cage, and Sandra Bullock own homes in the stunning neighborhood. Architecture ranges from Victorian to Italianate to Greek Revival, giving the Garden District a dreamy, unique feel all its own. Walking tours are available, and many include a tour of Lafayette Cemetery #1, a place celebrated in movies and literature. Hop on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar — children, in particular, will enjoy seeing New Orleans sites from the bright red transportation option.
Get lucky at Harrah’s
Laissez les bons temps rouler! The Cajun French phrase is translated as “let the good times roll,” and it’s an informal city motto of New Orleans. One place you can literally let the dice roll is Harrah’s Casino. With table games and slots galore, you can get lucky on the casino floor or check out one of Harrah’s nightlife offerings. The Hoodoo Cocktail Lounge has even been blessed by voodoo clergy.
Listen to live music in the French Quarter
New Orleans is a renowned city of Jazz, but the French Quarter is bursting with live music options that run the gamut from country to Salsa. Explore the French Quarter on foot and let your ears guide you to the bars and clubs that sound the most enticing. If you’re unsure where to begin, these 30 options will give you a place to start. Even street musicians will amaze you with their musicality and talent in New Orleans.
Brush up on your French and order beignets
Grab a sugar high in a brown paper bag at Café Du Monde. Café Du Monde has been a New Orleans fixture since 1862, offering beignets — square, French-style donuts covered in powdered sugar — and various beverages. Enjoy your delicious beignets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and pair them with traditional Coffee and Chicory — milk and orange juice are also available if you have kids with you or don’t need the caffeine rush on top of your sugar high.
Wander Market Street for unique finds
Shoppers will find much to love in New Orleans. Boutiques and little shops abound in the city, but Market Street is a must-see destination if you’re browsing for unique items. Antique shops and boutiques are bursting with treasures that are waiting to find their way into your suitcase.
Enjoy the revelry of Mardi Gras
Fun and adventure fill New Orleans. In addition to the five fabulous finds we’ve listed here, swamp tours and the aquarium are thrilling for kids. Ghost and voodoo tours speak to the spine-tingling excitement many crave. Most of all, if you’re traveling to New Orleans around Mardi Gras, simply enjoy the revelry of the celebration. Residents prepare all year for parades and parties and costume extravaganzas, and Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a truly unique experience.
All photos courtesy of Elaine Alguire of The Miss-Elaineous Life.