I suspect that most readers of this website know that I live in New Orleans, a city that I love. Today is Mardi Gras day in New Orleans, the culmination of many weeks of parades, parties, and other fun events. If you are not down here enjoying the festivities this year, hopefully you have done so in the past or will have a chance to do so in the future. Many folks outside of New Orleans associate Mardi Gras with drinking and debauchery, and I won't deny that you can find that. But Mardi Gras is also a great time for friends and families, including children, to come together, watch parades, and have a good time. That's the Mardi Gras that I love.
Speaking of New Orleans, I should note that this is a a great time to come visit because all throughout 2018, the city is celebrating its tricentennial. The city was founded in the Spring of 1718.
New Orleans started as a French colony (La Nouvelle-Orleans), was then under Spanish rule from 1763 to 1802, was then briefly under French rule again in 1803, and was then sold by Napoleon to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The city survived a huge fire in 1788 (which is why most of the oldest buildings in the city reflect Spanish architecture, not French architecture), a British invasion during the War of 1812, pirates, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Hurricane Katrina.
New Orleans is famous for its fascinating architecture, amazing music (including the birthplace of Jazz), delicious restaurants, and incredible cocktails. My favorite way to celebrate a Sunday is to enjoy all four of those at once — Jazz Brunch at Commander's Palace in the historic Garden District. The National World War II Museum is frequently ranked as one of the best museums in the country. Jazz Fest in late April / early May is one of my favorite events of the year, with great music and even better food — or vice versa, just depending upon your point of view. Kids and adults love the amazing Aquarium, Insectarium and Zoo. On a sunny day, we have refreshing snowballs at places like Hansen's Sno-Bliz, where you can spend only $1.50 to savor something worthy of a James Beard Foundation award. On a breezy day, riding a streetcar down St. Charles Avenue with the window open is a great way to relax and see some beautiful old houses. And because this year is the tricentennial, there are special events planned all year long.
New Orleans is unlike any other city, and the New York Times recently named New Orleans the #1 place to visit in 2018. If you missed coming here for Mardi Gras this year, I encourage you to make plans to visit the Big Easy at some point before 2018 comes to a close.