A Newcomer’s Guide to Mardi Gras 

By: Anne Hadaway | Contributing Writer |

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! You may think I’m talking about the holiday season, but in the town of Mobile, Alabama, the most wonderful time of the year comes during the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday. Throughout the season, revelers gather downtown to celebrate with parades, live music, and tasty treats such as king cake, Moon Pies, and even fried Oreos! 

Even though this all sounds so enticing, if you’re new to the city, going downtown for Mardi Gras can be quite overwhelming. Avoiding road closures, fighting the traffic, and finding a parking spot can cause many issues that could make the outing stressful rather than fun. 

Here at The Vanguard, we love Mardi Gras, and we want all of our Jags to be able to enjoy it! That is exactly why we have carefully curated a guide of Mardi Gras must-do’s that will have you celebrating like a local. 

Traveling Downtown 

There are eight different parade routes in downtown Mobile, lettered A-H. A few hours before the parades start, the streets are closed so crowds can safely gather in these areas. To get downtown for Mardi Gras from our university, it’s usually easiest to take I-10 and get off on Water Street. After exiting, there are many parking options that are a short walk from the parade routes.

Where To Park 

For $20, you can park in the parking garage at the Mobile Cruise Terminal or at the Renaissance Riverview Hotel. At the Riverview, their parking garage has an exit to Royal Street on the second level, which is included on most parade routes. For $10, you can park in the overflow parking lot at the Mobile Civic Center. There is also free limited parking underneath the interstate on Water and Monroe Street near Fort Conde and RV City. It is always a good idea to make sure that you are parking in a legal parking zone to avoid the risk of getting fined or having your car towed! For other options on where to park, visit the City of Mobile’s website

Where To Stand 

Once you’re parked, finding a good spot to watch the parade is the next objective. The majority of parade routes include a pass on both Government and Royal Streets. If you’re looking to bring home double the loot, be sure to check out the parade routes here as the parades pass by twice in some sections. Just be sure to bring some bags or a backpack to haul your bounty!

Eats and Drinks

Mardi Gras is all about celebration, and what is a celebration without a drink and some good food? Downtown Mobile is known for its exquisite dining and has plenty of options to offer. If you’re looking to explore the tastes of southern comfort food with some Cajun flare, check out the Blind Mule. They use local Conecuh sausage in their red beans and rice which is the cherry on top of an already delicious dish! If you’re looking for a good alternative to the post-party Waffle House, check out Butch Cassidy’s Cafe! Located in Midtown, Butch Cassidy’s is just a short drive away from downtown and is a great place to get a good meal at an affordable price. Another great place for a late-night bite is Loda Beer Garten. Open until 2 a.m., Loda has the largest variety of beers in the city and the best bar food you will ever have! For other good places to drink, check out Post for crafted cocktails and wine, Wet Willies for some tasty frozen drinks, or Alchemy Tavern if you’re looking to enjoy a beverage with some live music and karaoke! 

Mardi Gras and Mobile 

If you’re looking to get into the spirit of the season, but aren’t quite sure if parades are your thing, there are plenty of other opportunities to celebrate and learn about the city’s history. Be sure to take a stroll around Mardi Gras Park where you can take your picture with the famous Joe Cain, who revived the tradition in our city after the Civil War in 1868. You can also visit the Carnival Museum to admire the artistry that goes into the float and costume designs each season and learn about the beginnings of Mardi Gras- which happened right here in our city! 

There’s absolutely no party like a Mardi Party! Whether you’re planning to celebrate with a parade, or just looking to enjoy some eats and sights, just remember to laissez les bons temps rouler- let the good times roll!