The 8 Best Mardi Gras Parties in America (Not Including New Orleans)
From feuding Krewes to the Fat Tuesday parade to the free-flowing booze, the Big Easy represents on Mardi Gras. But, you’d expect no less from a city that gave the world jazz. Its dances, costumes, and multi-colored beads make it one of the country’s most famous parties. It’s immortalized in films like Easy Rider, The Princess and the Frog and Girls Gone Wild: Mardi Gras Invasion. However, New Orleans ain’t the only city to cut loose on Shrove Tuesday.
The end of the Carnival season is a cause for celebration across the globe. There are ancient masquerades in Venice and thicc dancers sambaing in Rio de Janeiro. Even if you can’t make it to these global party capitals for Mardi Gras this year, we’ve got you covered. Here are eight cities that seriously cut loose for Mardi Gras but aren’t New Orleans.
Cover Photo: Pollyana Ventura (Getty Images)
Once the largest city in Texas and known as the Queen City of the Gulf, today the island community is known for throwing a massive Mardi Gras party. The historic center of the community, called the Strands, glows with lights and rings out with tons of good music.
There’s nothing quite like the charm and friendliness of Lafayette, Louisiana. The community hosts two weeks of public celebrations culminating in a Mardi Gras that proves they are true Ragin' Cajuns.
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly Mardi Gras celebration, then Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, has you covered. For over a month, they throw dazzling spectacles with dancing, special effects and sometimes even get major musicians to headline.
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Partying is great and everything, but the World Famous Cajun Extravaganza and Gumbo Cook-Off in Lake Charles is a parade that ends in your belly. This gumbo is some of the best, but don’t worry, there’s more than grub, with plenty of fun events and parades as well.
The coast city of Mobile, Alabama, boasts the longest-running Carnival and Mardi Gras in the country, even predating the one in New Orleans. Check out the Mobile Carnival Museum to learn about all the history, though you might just want to dance on the beach instead.
If you want to party like a pirate for Mardi Gras, there’s nowhere better than Pensacola, Florida. Not only do they have a Krewe of Lafitte Pirate Party on the big day, but there's also street dancing, champagne breakfasts and it’s Florida, so you know it’ll get crazy.
San Diego, California
For those on the West Coast, there’s nowhere better to go marching in with those saints than San Diego. The Gaslamp Quarter — the heart of Sand Diego’s nightlife — hosts parades and parties all throughout Carnival, and you can even go surfing, too.
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri, may host the biggest Mardi Gras celebration outside of the Big Easy in its buzzing Soulard neighborhood. There’s the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball on the day itself, but there are tons of cool events in the lead up, including a Carnival parade for animals, a wiener dog derby and a Cajun cook-off.