To celebrate Mardi Gras, today’s post is a recap of our Spring 2015 trip to New Orleans. We’re bringing you 5 recommendations of fun things to do and see.
Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel bar
Café du Monde and Jackson Square
Mardi Gras World
The French Quarter & Hurricane’s at Pat O’Brien’s
The French Market
Hotel Monteleon’s Carousel Bar
After seeing Hotel Monteleon’s Carousel Bar on a travel channel show, I knew I wanted to go there during our trip.
The carousel bar is a real functioning revolving carousel that moves at a pace more comparable to the Earth than a carnival ride as not to displace the bottles & drinking glasses. The carousel completes one rotation every 15 minutes.
Being a popular location it was very crowded and at first it was hard to find a seat. We ordered our drinks at another bar area that was farther back from the carousel. Luckily, an older couple was kind enough to wave us over to their table as they were leaving. We sat at a small, round table for two and crunched on Gardetto’s snack mix that was served with the drinks.
The Sazarac – the official cocktail of New Orleans: whiskey, sugar, bitters and absinthe
Café Du Monde
No trip to New Orleans would be complete without a visit to Café du Monde. It’s an open air café with lots of tables close together under a green and white striped awning. The lines for to-go orders and for seating seemed equally long and we wanted to have the experience of eating at the famous café. The menus are printed on the napkin holders and it’s best to be ready to order when the waiters come by. Napkins are essential – as you can see in the photo, these airy doughnuts are covered in piles of sweet powdered sugar. Yum!
Café du Monde is found near Jackson Square, which is a park located in the French Quarter. The St. Louis Cathedral, a well-known New Orleans landmark is surrounded by beautiful greenery and gardens.
Mardi Gras World
At Kern Studios’ Mardi Gras world – it’s Mardi Gras all year long. For a family friendly activity, you can tour the factory where floats are made. As soon as the current year’s Mardi Gras parade is over, float builders are back to work creating for the next year. It’s amazing to see how large-scale the floats are along with the talent and intricate attention to detail it takes to decorate them.
Before the tour begins, there is a short presentation about the history of the holiday and traditions of the parade. King Cake is a coffee-cake like iced pastry served only during Mardi Gras season (but of course Kern Studios has it specially made for every tour group). Following tradition, each King Cake has a small plastic baby baked inside. Whoever gets the piece with the baby is the host of the next year’s Mardi Gras party.
The French Quarter
The French Quarter is the fun, touristy area known for nightlife on Bourbon Street. The truth is that New Orleans is a party even during the daytime. One afternoon we sat on the patio enjoying the sunshine at Pat O’Brien’s Courtyard. While the Sazarac takes the title of official New Orlean’s cocktail – I would argue that the hurricane is a more well-known drink outside of NOLA. The hurricane was created at Pat O’Brien’s Bar in the 1940’s and many would say they still make it better than anywhere else. Pat O’Brien’s hurricanes are sweet and strong. Ours were served in plastic cups instead of the namesake glass – which is fine because unlike the Midwest, New Orleans allows alcoholic drinks to-go and it’s not unusual to stroll down the street with a drink in hand.
The French Market
The French Market is lined on both sides with vendors selling all kinds of souvenirs, novelties, food & drinks. We enjoyed a piña colada and a frozen daiquiri from Organic Banana – they offer a variety of daiquiri flavors along with non- alcoholic fruit smoothies.
You can find a variety of items ranging from the expected tote bags, shot glasses, and keychains (many of which were covered in the fleur de lis) to alligator head bottle openers. Most vendors offer low prices, making The French Market the perfect place for souvenir shopping before you return home.
Have you visited New Orleans or celebrated Mardi Gras?
Tell me in the comments!