New Orleans is rich in flavorful food, colorful music, and unique cultures, but you need not be rich to experience the best of the city. In fact, for just $50 a day you can soak up the magic of New Orleans. Mardi Gras season is a great time to visit, with favorable temperatures, nonstop parades, and king cake! Check out our itinerary below for an ideal day in New Orleans during Mardi Gras season. Visit our Ultimate Mardi Gras Guide for more.

*Editor’s Note: Totals for all food and beverage purchases include tax and gratuity. Please always remember to tip your servers and musicians.

Parades take place all over the city during the months of January and February, but the two weekends before Mardi Gras Day (February 13, 2024) is when they really ramp up. On parade days, we recommend walking, using rideshare, or taking the bus to get as close as you can to the parade route. Use the transportation tips here throughout your itinerary.

Royal Sonesta
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Start your day with breakfast at Backatown Coffee Parlour, right outside of the French Quarter. This coffee shop is a slice of relaxation before a day full of revelry ahead. We ordered the crawfish quiche plus a hot coffee, totaling $10.03 with tax and tip.

It’s time to take a walk and do some people-watching. Mardi Gras is the best time of year to be in the French Quarter and witness the costumes, celebrations, and foot parades common during Carnival season. There’s annual events like the Greasing of the Poles (Feb. 9) and the Bourbon Street Awards (Feb. 13). Or how about catching the walking parades Mystic Krewe of Barkus (Feb. 4) or Krewe of Bosom Buddies (Feb. 9)? Even a spontaneous walk around the Quarter will get you into the Carnival spirit. On any given day you can witness the Mardi Gras magic.

Making a King Cake
King Cake in New Orleans


King cake time! Visit King Cake Connection at The Historic New Orleans Collection this Mardi Gras season for your pick of festive treat. Many of the treats at King Cake Connection are from local Black-owned businesses. While you can grab a whole cake, one slice is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up at just $5.

It’s time for lunch and we’re headed to the Popeye’s on Canal Street. Popeye’s fried chicken is a New Orleans classic, especially during Mardi Gras season. Grab the two-piece chicken combo that comes with a biscuit, side, and small drink—all for $13.49 with tax and tip. Be sure to tip the hard-working folks in the hospitality industry as you enjoy Mardi Gras.

Time for parades! Most of the big parades follow a similar route, beginning in Uptown New Orleans, going down St. Charles Avenue, turning onto Canal Street, and ending downtown. During this time of year, parades roll one after another, with floats, marching band, dance groups, and lots of New Orleans culture. It truly is a marathon, not a sprint. On the final two weekends of Mardi Gras, you’ll experience upwards of six parades on this route alone in a single day. Check out our parade schedule here, and remember, pace yourself!

By the time dinner rolls around, you may be exhausted but the party is just getting started. Hopefully you’ve been able to cross a few items off your Mardi Gras Bucket List before dusk. There are plenty of options on the street for grab-and-go food, but there are also great restaurants along the route. Stop into Cleo’s, a Mediterranean restaurant with late night hours located in downtown NOLA. Order the beef shish kebab, two skewer of charbroiled tender beef sirloin cubes which comes with two sides: hummus and pita, salad, or rice. Our total with tax and tip was $26.13. 


Backatown Coffee Parlour: $10.03

King Cake Connection: $5

Popeye’s: $13.49

Cleo’s: $26.13

Grand Total: $54.65

If you can’t make it to Mardi Gras this year, find our future Mardi Gras dates here and plan to come on down!