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So, I guess I’m going to Mardi Gras/New Orleans

My spontaneous ‘just do it!’ best friend just used points to book a trip to New Orleans for Fat Tuesday the 25th to the 28th.

I’ve never been except to drive through and that was on the freeway.

No idea where to even start looking. He’s a pastry sous chef so I’m sure he’s got the restaurant ideas already taken care of.

My interests include art, music (maybe some jazz?) and history. I’m from Chicago, is it likely to be warm enough for me to walk around?

Guess it’s time for a crash course, I’m sure Tuesday will be taken up with the usual debauchery although we’re both gay so we won’t have any interest in bare breasted women! I’m sure the gay bars will be crazy and expensive.

Posted by
6775 posts

This is all you need ( or hit the library and borrow a book. It's really not hard to plan a short trip there, even last minute on your plane ride over. I like Fauburg Marigny (lots of music venues) and Garden District (mostly residential with streetcar running through it) best, and Bourbon Street least. The French Quarter is nice but too touristy. Can't imagine what a zoo it will be like during Mardi Gras.

I would recommend this place for a casual meal, it was delicious:

Posted by
855 posts

We were on Bourbon Street for Mardi Gras two years ago - didn't see any bare breasts but watch out for the mob of "Christians" trying to save you :) . The parades are amazing - just make sure you watch for bags of beads coming flying at you. But we did collect some pretty cool souvenirs. Take a cooking class at the Cooking School of New Orleans. It was a highlight. Pastry Sous Chef or not - hit Café DuMond for beignets.

Posted by
1702 posts

hey hey dale
love your "just do it" friend. have a friend like that, she wanted to go and found a deal (hotel/airfare - 5days $500) after hurricane katrina, in of all months August! one of our best and fun trips till this day. yes things have changed over the years but you'll love it.
took a cocktail/history tour with grayline, 6 or 7 bars with cocktail famous at that bar, our guide even took us, two best female friends, to cafe lafitte in exile, poured us some crazy named shots, the carousel bar at hotel monteleone, napoleon house and had their famous pimm's cup, tujague's bar where we had their famous grashopper and whiskey punch, another place learning the history of southern comfort. took the street car ride, went to algiers to a voodoo shop (very interesting) and once was where museum center was. took tour around the city, the cementaries, garden district.
music was everywhere, i'm an aaron neville and neville brothers fan for years and years, sat at some bars/restaurants with live music, rented car for day and went across lake pontchartrain to slidell then onto abita springs brewery.
ate all things new orleans and was so yummy. walked all along bourbon street and side streets, just go with the flow and ENJOY!! don't forget to eat beignets on shrove tuesday, in hawaii we call it malasada day. you'll see bare breasted men everywhere. you don't have much time to plan but who cares, it'll be all "eye candy" to you orleans gay bars guide.
please come back and let us know how your "just do it" adventure was

Posted by
11275 posts

I've never been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. But something I read, that was confirmed by people who have been, is that there are many ways to experience Mardi Gras. The one that makes the national news (bare breasted women, drinking, etc) is only one way. And, that stuff is largely confined to the French Quarter, and even more localized to certain streets.

For instance, there are no parades actually through the French Quarter since the streets are too narrow. But some parades go near it, and others do not. The ones that do not are much more watched by local families, and are not about drinking and nudity. Gay friends of mine stayed near the Garden District during Mardi Gras, and saw one of these "tamer" parades, which they enjoyed (partly for the surprise of how different it was from what they were expecting).

There are historic house museums, but I don't know if they're open before Mardi Gras. Some things in town do close due to logistics.

Posted by
16878 posts

I hope he used points to book a hotel and not just plane tickets. (I hate the way an expensive hotel can spoil a good airfare deal.)

Posted by
328 posts

I have been to Mardi Gras many times. My best advice is to stay away from Bourbon Street for anything more than one obligatory stroll just to see what its like. And ... ah, you're gay ... then you will want to see Bourbon St. between St. Ann and Esplanade, not between St. Ann and Canal.

The parades are awesome. Be sure to catch at least some of them. I don't know how long you will be there. By the Thursday before Mardi Gras (tonight), parades will be rolling pretty much non-stop. Endymion, on Saturday night, is the biggest (the most throws and floats) and is pretty family-friendly. (Actually, the only parade that is not family friendly is Krewe de Vieux, and it rolls through the Quarter several weeks before Mardi Gras.) Endymion rolls through Mid-City. Most of the other parades are on St. Charles and Canal. Bacchus -- another big parade -- is Sunday night. Proteus is an old-line parade on Monday night. They still use the old wagons from the 19th century, and so the floats are smaller and they don't throw as much (the wagon can't support the weight of the throws). I find Proteus the most beautiful -- the floats just shimmer as they go down St. Charles. Proteus is followed immediately by Orpheus, another big parade. Zulu, a predominately African American krewe rolls early on Mardi Gras morning, followed immediately by Rex, which is the most most prestigious/formal of the parades. Zulu is a riot. It's completely politically incorrect to an outsider (you'll see), but I love it. Rex is probably worth seeing once -- it's pretty. The issue with parades on Mardi Gras day is that there is so much other stuff going on that the parades may not be the most interesting options ...

I usually head to the Backstreet Cultural Museum in the Treme early on Mardi Gras morning. I grab some red beans and rice for breakfast there and hang out with skeleton gangs and baby dolls. If you're lucky, you'll see some Mardi Gras Indians, too. (Mardi Gras Indians are absolutely amazing!) Late morning I head toward Frenchman St. and the Marigny. You will usually see the best costumes around the R-Bar -- at Royal and ??? (I don't remember the crossing street) in the Marigny.

Oh, and be sure to come up with some kind of a costume for Mardi Gras day. You will fit in much better with a costume.

And I almost forgot ... Zulu sponsors a festival at Woldenberg Park, on the bank of the Mississippi on Lundi Gras (Monday afternoon). It's a nice place to hang out, and they usually have some top notch musicians. And it's free.

You should be prepared for any kind of weather. I have been there when it's 75 degrees and sunny, and I have seen it 35 degrees and pouring down rain (which made for a very miserable Mardi Gras).

One more thing --- the local news stations have free apps with parade maps. Grab one. The parades don't always run on time, and the apps will have up to the minute info.

Museums will be open through Sunday. The Louisiana State Museum might be open on Monday -- I'm not sure. All museums --- and many (but not all) restaurants --- will be closed on Mardi Gras day.

I'm jealous. Have a great time! I usually go every year, but I am headed to Egypt in a few weeks. I couldn't do Mardi Gras and Egypt back to back.

Posted by
328 posts

Harold, this is absolutely true:

But something I read, that was confirmed by people who have been, is
that there are many ways to experience Mardi Gras. The one that makes
the national news (bare breasted women, drinking, etc) is only one

I don't drink and I don't care about Bourbon Street, and I still have an incredible time whenever I go to Mardi Gras. Of course, one does need a certain tolerance for weirdness.

Posted by
1128 posts

@Laura it must be Corona travel paranoia but I got the Wyndham Garden Hotel Baronne Plaza king suite for $364 for 3 nights and that includes tax.

I am Wyndham Rewards platinum but that’s amazingly low in my opinion for any big city hotel.

I was stunned to see any availability, to be honest.

Posted by
1641 posts

Take a look at Time Out New Orleans if you want suggestions. I’ve hit most of the list, usually on foot using local transportation. The only place I’d really use a tour is one of the cemeteries - they’re unique but used to be a little sketchy. Another website to check out is, which has Mardi Gras alerts about routes and info about fare options. In my experience, when there are crowds, try to board as close to the beginning of the route as you can, especially around Canal St.

You’re in for one helluva party!