Plan Your Meals Ahead

Restaurants on the parade route are usually full on the nights of the most popular parades and on Mardi Gras day, so make your plans early with those that accept reservations. If they don’t accept reservations, plan to wait a while to get a table, purchase food from a street vendor, or pack your own snacks and sandwiches. It will be a long day, so plan ahead. Also, bring wet wipes or tissues with you to clean up before and after eating. Your hands will get very dirty, and it won’t be easy to find a sink and soap. Public bathrooms are available, but they are crowded and not usually very clean.

Practice Ladder Safety

Ladders are a popular way for parents to ensure their kids a good view. Many people have built seats on the top of their ladders so their children can enjoy the parade. If you bring a ladder, it has to be at least six feet from the curb in the event that the ladder is knocked over.

Have A Meeting Place

Mardi Gras is huge. Thousands of people are on the street, and it is very easy to get separated. Make sure everyone knows where to meet in case anyone gets lost. Give your children notecards with your name, address, hotel phone numbers and a pre-arranged meeting place on them just in case. Instruct your children to go a police officer if they become lost. Don’t rely on mobile devices since service is not always guaranteed in large crowds; plus, phones die.

Do Not Take Your Children To The French Quarter During Mardi Gras

Although this is the area highlighted by the news media, it really has nothing to do with the big-picture Mardi Gras celebration. Those of us who grew up here loved to go to parades when we were children, and get excited when we have our own because it gives us a good excuse to go! Unfortunately, the media often presents Mardi Gras from the French Quarter angle, where no parades occur.

At this time of year, the French Quarter is simply an adult area where the risque’ behavior of many visitors is tolerated; i.e., revealing costumes and flashing for beads. You do NOT have to visit the French Quarter to enjoy Mardi Gras in New Orleans like us locals do.

Be Careful

If you visit the French Quarter at night during Mardi Gras, hide your wallets well. Even your front pocket isn’t safe. Wear shoes that can get dirty. Don’t wear expensive jewelry, and don’t carry a purse. Make sure you get a bathroom pass or wear your wristband if you’re staying in a French Quarter hotel.

With the rise of iPhones and other valuable smartphones, it’s important to be aware of theft. Phones are easily stolen from unsuspecting parade-goers while they walk and text. Keep your phone tucked away when possible.

Watch The Parades

The best part of the celebration takes place on the parade route, where you can watch the crowds and the floats pass by. You can also enjoy special packages put together by businesses along the parade route that offer food and a front-row spot for the passing parade. Or, enjoy celebrity entertainment parties after some of the biggest parades, which travel along beautiful St. Charles Avenue, where the parade first rolls.

No Risqué Behavior Elsewhere

You may see some people get carried away outside of the French Quarter, but this is not a good idea. The police will politely remind them that they are in a family area, and if they don’t stop, they can be arrested. You should also be careful: it is distracting to kids and some adults. We know a man very well who was hit in the head by a float when he stopped to take a picture of something he probably shouldn’t have! Remember, you can be arrested for flashing.

(Information from