* Taking your family to Mardi Gras. What you need to know.

Mardi Gras is traditionally associated with the scandal of Bourbon street and all that comes with it. Taking your family and kids to a place like this could turn out to be rather… shocking. That is unless you know where to take them. For the Louisiana locals, Mardi Gras is considered more of a big block party with parades and prizes.  Here are a few tips that will help you to enjoy the fun and keep it clean for the little ones in New Orléans.

1. Know where to go. m6Bourbon street and the French Quarter can be fun but there’s a lot of stuff that you might not want to see there, especially if you have children with you. There is, however, much more to New Orléans than the bad rap. At the center of the city, there is a large round about known as Lee Circle. Most of the Parades pass through it. To the NorthEast of Lee Circle, you’ll find the French Quarter and some scantily clad woman. To the SouthWest you will find St. Charles Ave. A place full of families with children, picnics and BBQ grills. At http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com you can find a list of all parades including time, date, and a map of the route. Anything marked as an “uptown” parade is located in this family friendly part of the city.

 2. Get up early and be in before dark. m5Daylight hours are usually less risqué than after sunset. So… explore the city during the day. The night crowd will be tired (even hung over) from the night before. The morning parades are less crowded which means there are more throws and prizes to go around.  If you just have to see the French Quarter and  Cafe du Monde, do it in the morning when the city’s still waking up. Listen to the performers in the street. Walk along the boardwalk and see the Mississippi River. Eat dinner early and get back to your hotel before night fall. Bring some board games, movies, popcorn, etc. so that you will have fun things to do as a family back at the hotel.

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 3. Know when to go and where to stay. While Mardi Gras itself is only one day, the season and the fun begin about a month before hand. The parades start and the city comes alive in mid January. If you get there early, the city is still exiting but you miss the sex and scandal. If you plan to stay downtown, make sure to book a hotel as far in advance as possible. The city fills up fast this time of year and prices will get higher and higher the longer you wait. Baton Rouge is only about an hours drive, so if worst comes to worst, you can book a hotel there and make the drive into the city. If this is your plan, just know that traffic will be horrendous if you hit it wrong. So, make sure to get on the road nice and early to avoid the rush.

4. Have a good time. ImageEnjoy your adventure in “the big easy”  It’s a great place with a lot of culture and fun. The food in New Orléans is amazing and the atmosphere at Mardi Gras is unlike anything else.  Take a camera, dress in costume, and save space in your bags for all the treasures you are sure to acquire.

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