Vibrant Urban Nightscapes in New Orleans by Alan Zakem
Aside from other exciting things coming up in February like Nutella Day and Valentine’s Day, we also have Mardi Gras to look forward to! For those who are looking to celebrate Mardi Gras, this year, Mardi Gras will be on February 9th but the festivities began as early as Wednesday, January 6th in New Orlean’s French Quarter. We’ve listed a brief itinerary of the events below for those planning to make the trip out to Louisiana this year.
Plus, while you’re in town, make sure to check out these popular destination to make the most of your trip. New Orleans is all about celebrations so if you don’t know what to do in New Orleans (French Quarter is great but it's not the only place you should visit!), take a look at our guide for some suggestions below. Be prepared for a world of jazzy tunes, inspired Creole and Cajun food, street performers and most of all, good times.
No more dilly dallying…
The parade has already begun for Mardi Gras but thankfully it stretches out till the actual day itself. Mardi Gras parade is celebrated early in January with over 50 “krewe” parade through the big day. According to visitlakecharles.org,
Over 50 krewes! No wonder the festivities kick off at such an early date. These merry makers march their way through different neighborhoods from the French Quarter to Uptown New Orleans. Check out which krewe you’ll be partying with during your visit:
French Quarter: Krewe of Cork at 3:00pm
Uptown New Orleans: Krewe of Oshun at 6:00pm and Krewe of Cleopatra at 6:30pm
Metairie: Krewe of Excalibur at 7:00pm or Krewe of Athena at 7:30pm
Mandeville: Krewe of Eve at 7:00pm
Slidell: Krewe of Paws at 10:00am or Krewe of Titans at 6:30pm
Westbank: The Mystic Knights of Adonis at 11:45am
Chalmette: Knights of Nemesis at 1:00pm
Uptown New Orleans: Krewe of Pontchartrain, Choctaw and Freret starts at 1:00pm, Knights of Sparta at 6:00pm and Krewe of Pygmalion at 6:15pm
Marigny: 'tit Rəx at 5:00pm or Krewe of Chewbacchus at 7:00pm
Metairie: Krewe of Caesar at 6:00pm
Covington: Krewe of Olympia at 6:00pm
Uptown New Orleans: Krewe of Femme Fatale at 11:00am, Krewe of Carrollton at 12:00pm, Krewe of King Arthur and Merlin & Krewe of Alla follows after
Slidell: Krewe of Dionysus at 1:00pm
French Quarter: Krewe of Barkus at 2:00pm
Metairie: Corps de Napoleon at 5:30pm
Uptown New Orleans: Krewe of Druids at 6:30pm and Krewe of Nyx at 6:45pm
Uptown New Orleans: Knights of Babylon at 5:45pm, Knight of Chaos at 6:15pm and Krewe of Muses at 6:30pm
French Quarter: Krewe of Bosom Buddies at 11:30am
Uptown New Orleans: Krewe of Hermes at 6:00pm, Krewe d’Etat at 6:30pm and Krewe of Morpheus at 7:00pm
Slidell: Krewe of Selene at 6:30pm
Metairie: Krewe of Centurions at 7:00pm
Mandeville: Original Krewe of Orpheus at 7:00pm
Westbank: Krewe of NOMTOC at 10:45am
Uptown New Orleans: Krewe of Okeanos at 11:00am, Krewe of Mid-City at 11:45am, Krewe of Thoth at 12:00pm and Krewe of Bacchus at 5:15pm
Uptown New Orleans: Krewe of Proteus at 5:15pm and Krewe of Orpheus at 6:00pm
Metairie: Krewe of Pandora at 7:00pm
Uptown New Orleans: Krewe of Zulu at 8:00am, Krewe of Rex at 10:00am followed by Krewe of Elks Orleans and Krewe of Crescent City
Metairie: Krewe of Argus at 10:00am followed by Krewe of Elks Jefferson and Krewe of Jefferson
Covington: Krewe of Lyra at 10:00am
Each krewe has different members, themes and history so we advise you to check on Mardi Gras New Orleans and learn a little about the krewes you’ll be banding with for the day! You can also subscribe to their official schedule and check out the parade route maps during your journey.
Another exciting event happening soon (if you’re in town early) is their Family Gras which takes place from Friday January 29 through Sunday January 31, 2016. This is a free celebration that will take place on the neutral ground of Veterans Memorial Boulevard across from Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie, Louisiana.
Chances are, you’ll be in town for more than a day so aside from joining in on Mardi Gras parade, plan some alternate destination to make the most of your trip! There’s definitely more to New Orleans than beignet and coffee from Cafe du Monde but those should absolutely be on the top of your to-do list too of course.
You should definitely drop by Cafe du Monde in the morning and stock up on your fill of fresh beignet dipped in powdered sugar and a warm cup of classic New Orleans coffee. Depending on your choice of beverage, this breakfast will cost you only about $5.
Alternate choices include Spitfire Coffee, a small cafe that offers quality coffee from small batch roasters from Portland, San Francisco and more.
Had your fresh cup of joe? Take a stroll down these three side-by-side neighborhood. Start from the famous French Quarter (or which ever starting point/route best fits you) where you’ll find history 18th century French homes among other historic landmarks like the St. Louis Cathedral, St. Augustine and Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Next, visit the Riverfront/Warehouse District. This area has since been reformed and you’ll now find tons of little shops, art galleries and good eats plus more sights to take in as you weave your way through to the Garden District. You can also find this handy self-guided tour map from the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau if you plan to do some exploration on your own.
Get those dolls with weird pins stuck into them out of your mind because voodoo is nothing of the sort. Voodoo is a form of religion and spiritualism practiced by ancient Africa. Similar to most religion, Voodoo followers believe in one God and value the understanding of spiritual aspects of life. You can check out The Voodoo Bone Lady Haunted Tours for a tour through the French Quarters where tour guide will impart some history on the city’s Voodoo related past. In the mood for something spooky? You can also check out the Ghost Tour from Haunted History Tours.
If you just so happen to be there between Tuesday to Saturday, we recommend checking out the Crescent City Farmer’s Market for fresh local grocery, cuisine demonstrations and more local treasures.
Check out the Besthoff Sculpture Garden at New Orleans Museum of Art featuring over 60 sculpture and artworks from Sydney and Walda Besthoff.
Explore kayak, boat and more group tours and venture to the swamps. You’ll see alligators, mossy cypress trees and other wildlife out there.
After your bayou visit, take a walk and around the Oak Alley Plantation, another historic landmark rich with history. Enchanted oak tree cloaks the path toward Oak Alley. You can either walk along and around the plantation or book a tour and even stay overnight. Nearby plantations include Laura, Houmas House and St. Joesph.
Drop by the National WWII Museum. It's a tad pricey but definitely a must see. One reviewer said you can spend an entire day in this history filled museum with various buildings to walk through. Take a look at what the “Greatest Generation” experienced.
Wanna beat the crowd and get some authentic eats from the curious blocks of New Orleans? Here’s some top hole in the wall picks we found + insight reviews from fellow Yelpers:
A must eat from Parkway is their famous authentic Po Boy sandwich.
A grungy treasure, you can try some classic Cajun fares at Coop’s place from fried chicken, rabbit sausage, Jambalaya and more. Had your fix? End your evening at Perestroika at Pravda for a nice drink also conveniently placed next to Coop’s.
For more restaurants under the radar, NOLA Eats also has a Heat Map frequently updated with up and coming restaurants.
Specializing in fine dining of the Cajun/Creole variety, you can get gourmet dishes like the bread pudding souffle with whiskey sauce, 5 hour poached egg, stuffed trout, foie gras and more. Don’t forget their $0.25 martinis.
Dine in a seductive ambience surrounded by brick walls and feast on fried favorites and fusion renditions of the classic Po Boys.
Not exactly fine dining but it comes highly recommended by travelers and local for those looking for fresh seafood fares along with traditional NOLA eats.
We hope you found this informative and enjoy your stay in New Orleans!