My First Mardi Gras experience
What I would do differently

A float at one of the many parades in New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

A float at one of the many parades in New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

I love New Orleans! New Orleans is definitely one of my favorite places to visit. I even went there for my honeymoon. I decided to go visit this year to celebrate the Mardi Gras holiday, and I had a great time. I plan on going again next year, but when I do I will certainly do some things differently.

Book a hotel sooner

This should be an obvious one. Where you stay in New Orleans is so important—not because of the hotel room or service, but the location. Our hotel was about 15 minutes away from the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, which made it hard to find parking and also get to the parades in a timely matter.

Also the prices when I booked were ridiculous! Hotels bump up the prices during the Mardi Gras holiday already, and the later you book the harder it will be to find a hotel in a nice location for less than $400 a night.

Next time I will book a hotel sooner, maybe in December, and make sure the parking at my hotel is not too pricey. I want to be able to park my car and not see it again until it’s time to depart.

Me with some of the beads I collected on Bourbon Street.

Me with some of the beads I collected on Bourbon Street.

Go to more parades

There are tons of parades during the days leading up to Fat Tuesday, but during my visit I only attended a measly two.

The parades were lively and filled with amazing floats and tons of beads and other free gifts. I just wish I could’ve made it to more parades. They really are one of the most exciting events you’ll ever attend in the U.S.A.

Not to mention I missed the famous Zulu parade on the morning of Fat Tuesday. Zulu, named after the fiercest of the African tribes, presents one of the season’s most anticipated and remarkable parades. The parade starts at an unbelievable 7 am, and my body just wasn’t ready to wake up then after a long night of celebrating.

Wear old shoes

If you plan on going to Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, don’t wear shoes you care about (and if you’re a lady definitely don’t wear heels.) With the excessive crowds and bead throwing, your shoes are likely to get stepped on—not to mention how dirty the streets are. On the first day of my trip I wore my Timberland boots on Bourbon Street, and after an hour they were filled with black streaks and spots. Fortunately the stains came out but just imagine if I had worn my all white Converses that I’d plan on wearing.

Stay longer

Each time I visit New Orleans, I don’t want to leave. This time was no exception. I spent a total of four days in New Orleans, but honestly I wouldn’t have minded staying a day or two more. There were more restaurants I wanted to go to, more memories I wanted to make, and more things I wanted to do. I saw a couple while I was down there who had been in New Orleans for a week already. They were staying a couple days longer. I instantly envied them; they did it right. You need to have time to experience all of what New Orleans offers around the Mardi Gras holiday, and I know that now. There are so many events, parades, and activities to do and see. A weekend is just not enough time. I also want to stay long enough to experience Fat Tuesday, so my next trip I will plan accordingly.