By Nina Kokotas Hahn
Every month I’m sharing a destination from my overflowing travel bucket list. This February, it’s all about New Orleans—not just because the Baltimore Ravens just won the 2013 Super Bowl, but because Mardi Gras is now in full swing through Fat Tuesday on February 12.
One of my fondest childhood memories are the many New Orleans vacations we took to visit family and celebrate Mardi Gras. A kid from Chicago, I had never seen parades manned by carnival “krewes” or grownups as excited as me about the colorful, tacky loot flying off the floats. I had also never been so proud of the many beads around my neck or in my colorful go-cup, vying year after year for the number one catcher of swag against my expert bead-snagging cousins. The jazz music was brassy and bold, the king cakes a sugary sweet relief from the impossible heat of Aunt Bev’s shrimp creole, the purple-gold-green color of everything so gaudy and grand. It was spectacular.
Today, I’d love to share that same Mardi Gras experience with my own children. Now, I know you’re likely thinking drunken revelry and hoo-hahs flashed for beads is hardly a place for children. And, yep, that happens, especially in the French Quarter, which is absolutely, drop-down bananas during Mardi Gras. But radiate out from there to countless other family-friendly carnival parades for the chance to show your family what Mardi Gras is all about.
If you do make it New Orleans with the kids for Mardi Gras, here are my tips for the full-press family party:
Nina Kokotas Hahn is a travel writer and Chicago journalist whose work appears in Chicago magazine, HuffPost Travel and Condé Nast’s HotelChatter. Globetrotting since infancy, she’s the daughter of a travel agent and considers thrill seeking part of the DNA.