Have friends or family coming in this Mardi Gras that have never been to the city? Pretty much everyone has at least one friend who asks to crash on their couch this time of year.
If your visitors have never been to New Orleans before or only that one time in college, there’s even more pressure. You’ve got a lot more than just Mardi Gras to squeeze in! This is your chance to show off the city beyond Mardi Gras. Lucky for you, we’ve got your back. Even if you have to be at the office Friday and Monday, send over the link to this handy dandy guide and your guests will feel like they are getting the local experience whether or not you can be there to show them around the entire time.
First of all, pick up a king cake (or two) from one of these bakeries to have at the house for the weekend. You will want to stock up on booze as well. Once the weekend starts, getting to the store will be a hassle. Pro-tip: wine in a can is everywhere these days, a super easy option to take along on the parade route.
Brunch at Willa Jean
There’s just no going wrong with Willa Jean brunch. This is one of our favorite places to take visitors because they get a taste of New Orleans combined with one of the trendiest restaurants in town. The perfect place to kick off the weekend!
The Friday afternoon before Mardi Gras is one of the best times to hit the quarter. It won’t be nearly as packed as the rest of the weekend since it’s still a week day, but there’s plenty of fun to keep entertained. Some of the best, lesser known walking parades march through the streets in elaborate costumes the Friday before Mardi Gras, and krewes are throwing beads from balconies after getting a buzz at their Friday luncheons. Come check out our walking parade, Diva Day, beginning outside of Arnaud’s at 1PM on Friday! We will walk from Arnaud’s to St. Peter down Royal to Bienville then back to Arnaud’s. Look for the Popeye’s girls!
After strolling the quarter, head Uptown to catch the Krewe of Hermes at 6 p.m. Superior Grille is a fun place to watch the parade and have easy access to margs and bathrooms on Saint Charles. Expect to wait in line for a bathroom here though. If you’d like something a little quieter, head to the start of the route on Napoleon near Ms Maes. The lines for drinks and bathrooms will not be quite as hectic here.
Is you can handle more booze post parade, head to Hot Tin rooftop bar at The Pontchartrain Hotel for a cocktail. We love taking visitors here. There’s a great view of the city from the rooftop, fabulous cocktails and an undeniable Southern charm.
Caffeinate, Claim a Spot & Costume
Grab a coffee and pastry from Gracious Bakery’s adorable new location on Saint Charles Avenue, and stake out a spot for daytime parade watching while you’re at it. Leave a chair or blanket on the neutral ground to claim your spot for a couple of hours while you get ready.
Go get dressed for the fun! Make some form of costume mandatory for your guests. Even if it’s simply a wig, some glitter or a fun headband, pull out your costume box and help your guests feel festive (and look less like tourists ;)).
Parade & Popeye’s
Being prepared for a full day is key on Saturday. Fill up your ice chest, and stop by a Popeye’s drive through on the way to post up on Saint Charles at your staked out spot. We aren’t just saying this because we are dressing as Popeye’s this year;) Eating Popeye’s on the parade route is the local way to do it! Iris and Tucks will roll by in the afternoon followed by one of the biggest parades of the year, Endymion. It’s a long one, so don’t feel obligated to stay through the entire thing.
If your group starts to get tired, head somewhere a little quieter to recharge with a cocktail and small plates. Try DTB on Oak Street to get away from the madness for a bit. This place is at the top of our list right now. It has a chic atmosphere, and some of the most delicious cocktails and food in town.
Once you’re feeling well fed and have a second wind, it’s time to take your guests out for some live music! Want to stay Uptown? Check out the Galactic Show at Tiptina’s. Of course, Frenchman Street is an option if you are feeling super motivated.
It’s parade time again! But, let’s be real you guys are probably exhausted at this point. If your are down to go all out, your guests prob are in need of food and are def in need of classic New Orleans experience while here. Head to Commander’s Palace for brunch and a cocktail to get your group prepared to take on another day. You will probably want to make a reso asap if you are going to opt for this on Sunday!
Bacchus and Happy Hour
Take a scenic walk down Magazine Street to the CBD post brunch and stop in some fun dive bars like Tracey’s and Rendezvous along the way. Once you hit the CBD, you’ll need to sit down and refuel once more before the parade. Grab a drink at Seaworthy’s happy hour on their charming patio. Get the Holy Water – it’s literally served on fire.🔥 Then find a spot to watch Bacchus nearby in the CBD. If you are about the madness, you can venture into the quarter for this one, but the CBD will be a little more manageable.
Chances are you’ve got to head back to the office on Monday and your guests will appreciate the morning to sleep in and rejuvenate.
Lunch at Central City BBQ
Send them to lunch at Central City BBQ, and go and meet up if you can. It’s casual so there’s no pressure, but they’ll get to taste the best BBQ in town.
Beignets and Coffee
Of course, you can’t come to New Orleans without doing beignets. Head to Cafe Du Monde in the quarter if you are up for it, or Morning call in City Park for something sweet and a dose of caffeine to get everyone through the rest of the afternoon!
Parade and Sleep More
Catch Proteus and Orpheus Uptown, but don’t stay out too late because you’ve got an early morning tomorrow!
Wake everyone’s asses up at the crack of down! Yes, it’s cold, yes it’s early, but you will not regret catching Zulu and Rex. They are both such amazing and iconic New Orleans parades.
After this it’s up to you to take on the rest of the day. If your krewe is in the mood to get weird and see the true Mardi Gras day, head to the quarter and stroll through the Frenchman Street area all day. You will see some amazing costumes. Or, take it easy and catch some truck parades.
Good job! You showed your guests the food scene, you showed them the nightlife, and you showed them the Mardi Gras!
Check out more Mardi Gras hacks here, and let us know what your fave place to take tourists is in the comments.
Have a happy and safe Mardi Gras babes!