Beginner’s Travel Guide: Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras

Where to catch your beads

Delicious king cake, over-the-top costumes, and beads. Lots and lots of beads. Mardi Gras (translation: “Fat Tuesday”) is the day before Ash Wednesday—one last day to indulge and celebrate before Lent. And celebrate we do, with parades and parties taking place all across the country.

If you’re ready to throw (or catch) some beads, here’s where to go for the best Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S.

  • Galveston, TX

    Believe it or not, the city known more for its charming beach vibe than Fat Tuesday shenanigans is home to the third-largest Mardi Gras celebration in the country. In fact, the oldest Krewe in town (Knights of Momus) has been throwing the biggest parade since 1871.

    Galveston’s celebrations include lively parades, creative floats, and some good old-fashioned Southern cuisine.

    And the best part? You’ll be doing it all just a short walk away from its warm, sandy shores. A warm weather getaway plus Mardi Gras? Galveston’s a slam dunk choice!

  • Mobile, AL

    While not nearly as famous as its New Orleans counterpart, Mobile is actually the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the U.S., waaaaay back in 1703. In keeping with tradition, its most iconic float is still drawn by… a mule.

    In sharp contrast to most other Mardi Gras celebrations, Mobile actually features some family-friendly activities. Instead of beads, these parade floats throw stuffed animals, candy, and the ultimate Mobile tradition: Moon Pies.

    Oh and if you’re a foodie, be sure to hit up the food trucks that line the parade routes. You guys can get your fill of po’boys and delish cajun cuisine!

  • New Orleans, LA

    The Big Easy is practically synonymous with Mardi Gras! It’s by far the largest celebration in the U.S., with close to 1.4 million attendees vying for beads.

    But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Mardi Gras only happens on, well, Mardi Gras.

    The infamously boisterous crowds spill out into the streets, drinking Hurricanes and dancing to the tunes of the local street performers at least two weeks before Fat Tuesday. That’s when local Krewes (the social groups leading the festivities) start rolling out the parade floats. All told, roughly 70 parades take place during the city’s epic celebrations.

  • Orlando, FL

    If parades aren’t thrilling enough for you, how about throwing some roller coasters into the mix? You can do just that if you spend Mardi Gras in Orlando, where Universal Studios throws a fantastic party that lasts for almost two months.

    For 50 days, the theme park hosts a lavish parade featuring stunning floats, costumed dancers, and musical guests. Weekends include massive concerts with headline acts. During the day, you can take a break from the rides and catch dancers, stilt walkers, and other street performers around the park.

  • St. Louis, MO

    Not quite up for the infamous debauchery of Mardi Gras in New Orleans? Then check out St. Louis, the next biggest Fat Tuesday celebration in the U.S. The festivities are centered in the Soulard district, a historic French neighborhood, which hosts many of the parades, balls, and other parties.

    St. Louis is a great foodie town, and Mardi Gras makes the most of it with its annual Taste of Soulard. The popular pub crawl offers up a New Orleans-style tasting menu, with enough po’boys, crawfish, and jambalaya to make your stomach think you’re in the French Quarter.

    And if you’re traveling with your furry BFF, this is the Mardi Gras place to be. The city’s annual pet parade boasts 70,000+ pet participants!

Ready to catch some beads? Spend more time at parades and less at the airport by shipping your stuff with LugLess. We’ll get your luggage to your hotel or Airbnb, so you can skip baggage claim and get straight to the Fat Tuesday festivities!