Mardi Gras! New Orleans, The Weekend Trip to the Ultimate Party
Known for flavorful southern food, parties in the street, and soulful jazz music, New Orleans delivered on all accounts and then some. While there, we visited the French Quarter, Garden District, City Park, and Frenchmen Street. Each area of New Orleans has a distinct character and atmosphere.
The French Quarter is the place to party and people watch. Balconies decked out with beads, garlands, and masks, inundated with people dancing and drinking. Making your way down Bourbon Street was a challenge. The street was crowded by impromptu processions of corset clad women, street vendors selling boob makeup, and tourists stumbling about with drink in hand. Many tourists main focus was drinking and catching beads. The bright necklaces covered women's necks and littered the street, creating a slip hazard for the unwatchful. For those looking to party, this is your stop.
A few streets away, there is a beautiful outlook of the riverfront. Right next to the river is the famous Cafe Du Monde, home of beignets. Their classic beignet comes piled high with powdered sugar and has a slightly denser texture than the American doughnut. It was a delight to consume and I especially liked dipping the fluffy pastry into chicory coffee. Looking around the cafe, I noticed a few kids with more powdered sugar on their clothes than on their empty plates.
Traveling up the river, you come to the Garden District. Lined with grand oak trees, the streets are filled with gorgeous Southern mansions. The air was thick with moisture and the oaks provided welcome shade to all who wandered. Walking under such grandeur was a unique experience. Along one street was Miel, an industrial warehouse turned brewery, which had a sumptuous Peanut Butter Stout.
In the center of the city, lies City Park, boasting an art museum and botanical garden. Unfortunately, both sites were closed due to Mardi Gras, but the park was still open. Strolling under vast oaks, their boughs weighed down by moss, over bubbling creeks, and alongside picturesque ponds brought serenity to the few visitors.
Hungry after a day of walking around the city, we happened upon 30/90, a small jazz club on Frenchmen Street, featuring a crawfish boil. The crawfish, covered in classic spices, tasted like baby lobsters and had the best seafood juices locked in their small heads. The combination of good food and melodic jazz was the perfect end to the day.
During Mardi Gras there were many road and business closures due to the festivities. Traffic was a chaotic, various streets were closed throughout the day due to parades, which made bus schedules inaccurate and Uber drivers frustrated. I’m glad I got to experience Mardi Gras firsthand, but if you’re there to experience all the city has to offer, I would go at a less crowded time of year.