MARDI GRAS IN NEW ORLEANS is fast approaching-Mardi Gras day is Tuesday, February 21. Are you thinking of coming to town to see the world's greatest free show? There are all kinds of things for you to consider. Where will you stay? If you live close by, and are planning to drive here, where will you park?
Unfortunately, all the hotels, motels (including the flea bags), flophouses, bunkhouses and camp grounds are all filled up. And if you are lucky enough to find a parking spot, you'll wind up walking a good distance to the parade routes.
So are there alternatives? Yes. You might get lucky and find a room in town, but beware-you're going to pay a lot for it. Try New Orleans Craiglist.com, or contact a travel agent and ask her if she knows if any of the locals are offering their homes, or rooms within their homes-for rent.
Although Mardi Gras day is Tuesday, the serious partying starts the Friday preceding. It's a long weekend: Friday until Wednesday morning (Ash Wednesday), there are lots of parades and festivities. And all of them free!
I recommend finding a spot on St. Charles Avenue, between Louisiana and Jackson Avenues. Canal Street will be packed solid. If you get there early enough, you'll be able to stake out a claim. I usually go early in the morning the Sunday before Mardi Gras, find a spot on the "neutral ground" (median), and pitch a tent. I bring food (food along the parade routes is abundant, but not cheap), scaffolding (to better see the parades, and catch more beads), and plenty of cold beverages in the cooler. There are abundant Port-a-Potties along the parade route on St. Charles, especially between Louisiana and Jackson Avenues. Parking is usually available in the adjacent neighborhoods, but be careful of restrictions (just look for any signs that restrict or forbid parking).