|ray devlin photography
If you’re going my route, you are looking at airbnb, VRBO and other vacation rental sites months in advance (we’re talking October/November to be exact). Great! Adorable houses and affordable prices, but how the heck do you know whether your rental is going to be in a prime location? This isn’t a hotel touting details about their distance to Bourbon Street and providing an exact location on Google maps.
First of all, and most importantly, you’ve got to consider the parade route of each krewe (find those here or download the parade tracker app). On most days, you’ll be interested in the Uptown or French Quarter parades. The routes all vary slightly but in general you can catch them along St. Charles (between Napoleon and Jackson) or along Canal.
You want to stay in a rental as close to the parade route as possible because once the floats are out, grabbing a taxi can become tricky business and if you don’t know the city, you could very well end up getting yourself into an hour long taxi ride through parade traffic. When you stay close, you can walk!
If you ask me, the primest of prime locations is on or below St. Charles in the Garden District which is exactly why I reserved an adorable little rental in that area (by the way, how cute is that map above).
You may be wondering why I’m not suggesting the Quarter if you’ve never been before. And if that’s the case, you haven’t been, then definitely consider the Quarter. Just be prepared for the high prices and large crowds. Since I’m more of a friendly-tailgate-crowd type of a girl than a packed-in-a-sardine-can-called-Canal-Street kind of girl, I much prefer catching the parades on St. Charles, and I save the Canal Street madness for the Endymion parade.
Rentals and hotels go fast so you’ll want to book well in advance. This is the same no matter where you’re traveling to. For example, I spent ages searching for holiday villas in Madrid a few months back. A few months passed and by the time I was ready to book, the one I wanted to go to had sold out. I was gutted! Luckily, I found another gorgeous villa but it’s really important that you book in advance if possible. If you’re not finding reasonable options in the Garden District, the Lower Garden District or the Quarter, don’t panic! There are still other options. I lived in Uptown (by Audobon Park) for two years and made the 20 minute walk down St. Charles to the parades along with hundreds of other Tulane and Loyola students making the same journey each day. The street cars don’t run during the parades but it’s an easy walk. Just hop on the neutral ground (middle of the road where the street car runs) and walk towards downtown.
Further downtown from the Garden District you can find option in the Warehouse District and the Central Business District. The beauty of New Orleans is that it is a fairly small city and when the weather’s nice it’s a great place to walk. Thankfully for us, Mardi Gras happens before the deathly heat and humidity of summer set in.
A good rule of thumb is that the closer you stay to St. Charles or Canal, the easier it will be for you to get around. Other great streets to stay on or near include Magazine, Royal Street and Decatur.
Now without further ado, here’s a list of tried and true accommodations that I have either stayed in myself or received recommendations for.
Have you ever been to New Orleans for a festival? Where did you stay?
Planning your own trip to Mardi Gras? Be sure to read my guide for what to pack, the perfect Mardi Gras itinerary and my tips for enjoying Mardi Gras without breaking the bank.
Heading to New Orleans on another weekend? Check out my New Orleans 3-day itinerary!
Looking for other budget friendly options? Check out this article. from Budget Travel.
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