Mardi Gras World#19 in Best Things To Do in New Orleans
Even if you're not in town for the actual festival, don't miss your chance to go behind the scenes of one of America's most renowned (and most raucous) celebrations. Mardi Gras World offers a close-up look at some of the flamboyant floats and costumes used during New Orleans' famous party. One thing to know upfront: This isn't a museum – it's a warehouse workshop where current floats are in the process of being completed and old floats are stored. Take the guided tour through the maze of props or sit in on one of the multimedia presentations to learn more about the festival's history. According to recent visitors, it's fascinating to see artists hard at work creating the floats. Just make sure to bring your camera: Before the tour, visitors are invited to try on authentic Mardi Gras costumes. After the tour, visitors are treated to a piece of king cake.
Some recent visitors said the museum is a nice surprise and the learned all sorts of things they didn't know about how floats are built. They also appreciated the free shuttle to and from the attraction.
Perched on the edge of the Mississippi River in the lower Garden District, Mardi Gras World is open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with hourlong tours offered every 30 minutes. Admission costs $22 for adults, $17 for seniors and $14 for children ages 2 to 12. Your ticket purchase also includes a free shuttle ride from several points downtown and in the French Quarter. There are no designated pick-up times; you'll have to call Mardi Gras World when you're at one of the shuttle's pick-up locations (detailed on a map on its website) and the bus will meet you. For more information, check out the official website.
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#1 Frenchmen Street
If you want an authentic New Orleans experience more removed from the touristy areas of Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, head to the lively Frenchmen Street. A popular spot for locals, Frenchmen Street is a four-block stretch of live music, bars, restaurants, night clubs and art galleries. Here, not only will you find fewer crowds (albeit not by much), but you'll also encounter cheaper eats and drinks, and better music – it's kind of like Bourbon Street's hipper, trendier cousin. If you don't consider yourself a night owl, the Palace Market (open daily 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.) is a shopping haven where locals sell homemade art and jewelry.
Recent visitors agreed that a trip to New Orleans isn't complete without stopping by Frenchmen Street. Some even suggest skipping the more crowded and touristy Bourbon Street and instead meandering along Frenchmen Street where you'll find live music, specifically jazz, and great bars. Travelers and locals alike love The Spotted Cat, Three Muses and d.b.a thanks to their extensive beverage selections, fun atmospheres and, of course, talented musicians. "Frenchmen Street is what Bourbon Street used to be ... it's about four blocks of more laid-back, old-style jazz clubs. Nothing fancy to them, very local with great music. A much more laid-back area to stroll from bar to bar and listen to music," said Isabelle Van Bockel, a concierge at the JW Marriott New Orleans for 10 years.
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