Welcome to the Big Easy! Visiting New Orleans During Mardi Gras
New Orleans is a great place to enjoy food, music and culture, especially during Mardi Gras. So when we just so happened to be close to New Orleans, Louisiana for Mardi Gras 2016 we had to stop and experience this festival for ourselves! New Orleans is a melting pot of different types of food and cultures ranging from French to German to Creole to African and many more. It is known for producing some amazing food like Gumbo, Jambalaya, Po-Boys, Kings Cake, Muffulettas and Beignets… just to name a few. It also has a reputation for being a party city, as you are able to take an alcoholic drink to go at almost any restaurant or bar. We spent the greater part of our time in the French Quarter where we enjoyed all of the above.
Campground(s) we stayed
Three Oaks and a Pine RV Park is located 15 minutes from the French Quarter. The campground is on a large lot with about 30 full hookup spots. The campground manager Dave is great, extremely accommodating and willing to assist with any question or concern. The campground backs up to a train so it can be a bit noisy at times, but we’ve found that if you want to be close to the city, specifically the French Quarter, all campgrounds in that area are close to the train. The campground and restrooms are very clean and it was a great park for our two-week stay during Mardi Gras.
Things to do
Mardi Gras – The traditions of Mardi Gras date back to the 17th and 18th Century in Medieval Europe, but the Mardi Gras celebration didn’t start in New Orleans until the 1730’s, when the Louisiana’s Governor, Marquis de Vaudreuil, held elegant society balls. Not until the 1780’s did the Mardi Gras “Carnival” start, when club and carnival organizations started to form in New Orleans. In the 1830’s street processions began; where maskers with carriages and horseback riders celebrated the event, and gaslight torches called “Flambeaux” led the way for Krewe members. In the 1870’s a group of business man started the first day time parade to honor the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff introducing the family colors of Purple, Gold and Green as the Carnivals official colors. In 1875, Governor Warmoth singed the “Mardi Gras Act” making Fat Tuesday a legal Holiday in Louisiana. To this day Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday is developed and funded by private social clubs and is known to be the “Greatest Free Show on Earth!” How could we miss that?!
So, we went and watched a few parades, got our face painted, drank in the street, and got some free trinkets that were thrown to us off parade floats. The experience can be as crazy or as wholesome as you decided, the choice is yours, but if you are leaning toward the wholesome side we suggest leaving the city before it gets dark ;). If you want to learn more about the history, traditions and dates of Mardi Gras carnivals to come, check out the above link. It is filled which tons of information answering just about any question you may have.
Food Tours – For a city that is known for it’s great food we wanted to try it all, and what better way to do that than a food tour. There are several food tours to choose from but the one that we choose was Doctor Gumbo Food Tours. The tour was guided by a gentleman called “Doctor Gumbo” and yes, everyone around town actually calls him by that name. His tour was filled with fun and informational facts about the city, origins of the culture and a detailed explanation of what exactly is in Gumbo. Check out the link above if you want to learn more about the tour or watch our video to see some of the places we visited and ate at.
Psychic Readings – Many consider New Orleans to be one of the most haunted cities in America known to have a high spiritual presence of ghosts and voodoo magic. While I’m not a huge believer in this area nor very knowledgeable on this topic if you’re into Psychic Readings and spiritual guidance, New Orleans may be the place for you. I’ve never had a physic reading before so while meeting up with fellow blogger and friend, Julie, she asked if I wanted to go with her and get my cards read I just couldn’t say no! Julie did the research and found a spot called Glass Magick located on Toulouse Street in the French Quarter. The readings are about 45 minutes long and cost $40 per person. It was a fun and enlightening, I recommend trying it at least once in your life, you might be surprised at what you get out of the experience, I know I was.
Bourbon Street – This is where all the crazy party stuff happens. This road is located in the French Quarter and blocked off from cars. It is lined with bars, shops, restaurants and oh yeah strip clubs. You will also find the street filled with performers of all kinds. Some performers dance or play music, others wear crazy costumes or paint faces, and some just stand like statues waiting for a kind person to walk by and give them a cash tip. Since New Orleans doesn’t have restrictions for drinking in public you will find people walking around with different colored and sized containers. Some of the popularly knows beverages of choice are Hurricanes (slushy drinks that can be found in several locations down Bourbon St.), Hand Grenades (can be ordered on the rocks or blended, this sweet and tangy alcoholic beverage can be purchased at Tropical Island bar), fish bowls (like the name implies, this strong alcoholic drink is served in a large plastic fish bowl) or massive beers (beer can be found at almost any bar but a few sell them in huge cups at a very reasonable price). Whatever your poison of choice maybe – it can be found on Bourbon Street, just be careful as most of these colorful and tasty concoctions are made with grain alcohol (up to 90% proof) so please drink responsibly and always have a safe way to get home.
Frenchman Street – If you are looking for a more “authentic” New Orleans experience, we suggest going to Frenchman Street. Frenchman is known as the entertainment district where live music is played at almost every venue. The street is filled with sketch artists, poets, and of course musicians. On the weekends there is an outdoor nighttime Frenchman Art Market. We happened to stumble upon this art market on our way to the Spotted Cat Music Club. The market was filled with a large array of art, from jewelry to paintings, to original forms of artwork made from recycled bottles, silverware and shadow pictures made from wire mesh. All of the art was very neat and unique. We continued on our way to the Spotted Cat Music Club, it was a cozy venue with a $5 cover to see a live Jazz band. They packed a good number of people in but the music was good and overall our brief visit to Frenchman street was definitely worth it.
Places we ate
Muriels…We ate at several locations during our food tour but Muriels was the one place we had a full sit down dinner one evening accompanied by our friends Marc and Julie from RV Love. The restaurant is located in Jackson Square and the building has true New Orleans feel, with raw iron balconies and a cobblestone street around the front entrance. Their pre-fix dinner option was the main reason why we picked this restaurant – appetizer, dinner and dessert for $39.95. Erik and I had the Sea Food Gumbo for appetizers, the Double Cut Port Chop and Pecan Encrusted Baby Drum for mains and Bread Pudding and Crème Brulee for dessert. The food was good, it definitely fulfilled our New Orleans/southern food craving. Most of all it was an awesome night because we got to spend time with our RV friends in a new and fun place – one of the great perks of the RV lifestyle, meeting your friends anywhere for a night out!
Overall New Orleans was a great experience. Spending time with friends, trying all different kinds of food and listening to live jazz music was a great time. And of course if you do happen to visit during their Mardi Gras celebration it will be a celebration you won’t forget. We would definitely recommend visiting NOLA aka The Big Easy to experience the easy-going way of life for yourself.