With New Orleans closed for Mardi Gras, experience Mardi Gras, beach style!
It's hard to imagine New Orleans without its fantastic yearly revelry of all that Carnival has to offer. Unfortunately, this year Mardi Gras in the Big Easy is going to look a bit different. Last Week a Mardi Gras lockdown was issued by Mayor Cantrell city-wide, which will run from 6 AM on Friday, February 12 until 6 AM Ash Wednesday, February 17. All bars will be closed during that time, including takeout options. Even restaurants are banned from selling the iconic "to-go cup" alcoholic drinks.
Although Mardi Gras certainly looks very different, I mean...no parades, no to-go cups, no takeout food? That can't stop the resilient New Orleanians from having a good time. Houses all around the city and up and down St. Charles Avenue have taken to dressing their homes up as decked out "house floats" and some light displays at local parks.
With all the current restrictions in place, it's hard to think of the Mardi Gras that could have been in Nola this year. So, why not pack up all your purple, green, and gold and head on over to Destin, where our local Mardi Gras is still in full swing. To be honest, when is it not a good time to head to the beach for a little getaway, especially with the kids off school and lots of days and hours to fill!
Here are some top tips to keep you busy and get you into the Mardi Gras spirit:
The Village of Baytowne Wharf Mardi Gras Parades
First, get dressed up in all your Mardi Gras finery, and head to The Village of Baytowne Wharf, aptly described as "Nouveau" New Orleans due to the authentic French colonial architecture and charming surroundings. This family friendly version of the original, almost Disneyesque in appearance, by being picture-perfect in every way. The Village of Baytowne is known for not one but two renowned Mardi Gras Parades. The day parade will be filled with costumed dogs and their humans, starting at 2:00 PM on February 14, 2021. Catch some beads, treats, and more, and see all the fantastically decorated golf carts in this family-friendly day parade. Restaurants on site are open and ready to serve food for takeout, dine-in, and of course, those must-have "to-go cups" for the adults. Make sure to get there early and grab a front-row spot!
Next, come and get in on all the Fat Tuesday fun at the Baytowne Mardi Street Pardi. On the final day of the Mardi Gras fun, come dressed to impress, including the pets for this evening event. The festivities start at 6 PM, February 16, for this Village Street party, complete with music, street performers, delicious food, and drinks on offer. The good times will continue to roll well into the night with a post-parade celebration with parties at various Baytowne bars and restaurants. So break out the costumes for one and all and get ready for a full night of revelry. Prepare to let your hair down on what many call the most festive day of the year, Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.
Sandestin Gumbo Festival
All of this parading and partying can work up quite the appetite. Good thing you are spoiled for restaurant choices in town. But any good Mardi Gras lover knows the only thing that will do post parade is a big ol' bowl of gumbo! Or maybe 4?
Why not check out one of the largest food events we have year-round along the Emerald Coast; The Sandestin Gumbo Festival! Over the weekend, Friday, February 19, 2021, the event is with a delicious Seafood Boil at Hammerhead's Bar & Grill. On Saturday, February 20, from 12 - 4 PM, guests can enjoy live cajun music from Dikki Du and the Zydeco Krewe, family activities & truly the best gumbo cook-off along the Gulf Coast. This event is great for all ages, big and small, and you won't want to miss this!
Black Bear Bread Co. King Cake
I know our family's favorite part of Mardi Gras, besides catching beads and parade watching is King Cake! We have you covered here in town for all your King Cake cravings. Check out Black Bear Bread Company for one of the best slices of King Cake you'll ever eat! You can also order a whole king cake if you call ahead. They offer the traditional king cake and a few filled varieties too. Lucky for you, there are two locations now to better your odds! One along the gorgeous Scenic Highway 30-A in Grayton Beach and another convenient new location in Grand Boulevard. Get there early so you can get your hands a slice! Local grocery stores like Publix, Whole Foods, and Winn-Dixie are also offering King Cakes right in the store.
Mardi Gras Seafood Boil
Let's talk about another Mardi Gras must-have; boiled seafood. Crawfish season is officially upon us, being from mid-January to about mid-July! And you don't need to stay in New Orleans to get your hands on these tasty mudbugs. There are a few options to check out in town. If you want to place an order for freshly boiled shrimp or crawfish to go and eat at a local park or, better yet, in one of our Destin vacation rentals overlooking the emerald-hued waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Check out Destin Ice Seafood Market and Deli located in the heart of Destin. These guys are the best for all things fresh seafood and steam to order for all your seafood boil needs. Another great option for those staying at a South Walton vacation rental along Scenic Highway 30-A is Goatfeathers Seafood Market & Cafe. This Emerald Coast staple now has four locations to serve all your seafood needs. Just call ahead and place your order. Want to throw a genuinely authentic seafood boil experience at your beautiful vacation rental? Call up Emerald Coast Boil Company and have everything delivered, including the giant pot, burner, propane tank, and all the fresh seafood you can want. This crowd-pleaser is entertaining and delicious all at the same time – it will not disappoint!
Related article: Where to Buy Fresh Seafood in Destin?
Emeril's Sunday Jazz Brunch
Another option for an incredible local seafood experience is Emeril Lagasse's local establishment, Emeril's Coastal in Grand Boulevard.
You'll find some of the best oysters, crab legs, and other seafood delicacies Destin has to offer, with a seasonal menu and fresh specials each night. If you really want to kick up your trip, check out Emeril's uber-popular Sunday Jazz Brunch, complete with a live jazz band playing some of the best New Orleans jazz, all while you drink mimosa and enjoy the fantastic atmosphere, not to mention the food. Be sure to book a reservation for the Jazz Brunch as it is quite the thing to do on Sundays in town.
As you can see, there are so many things on offer for families during the Mardi Gras season right here along the gorgeous Emerald Coast. Destin will always leave you wanting more, no matter what time of year it is. Be sure to book your Destin or South Walton vacation rental for an incredible Mardi Gras experience and a little beach getaway you will never forget!