Mardi Gras museums offer a colorful taste of Carnival
Museums dedicated to the history and ritual of Carnival are open for visits year-round. Here are some suggested stops.
So you've planned a visit to Louisiana but it doesn't coincide with the date of Mardi Gras? Well, too bad you'll miss the state's signature celebration, but you can still get a taste of the color and pageantry that accompany this spectacular annual extravaganza.
In New Orleans – the home of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations in North America – don't miss Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World. This huge storehouse along the Mississippi River welcomes visitors for tours of the giant floats, figurines, costumes and Carnival decor used in the parades and balls of the city's most famous Mardi Gras krewes. Take your time, the scenes are breathtaking.
While you're in New Orleans, stop by Arnaud's restaurant in the French Quarter, where you can not only enjoy a fine meal in an elegant atmosphere, but you can also take a free stroll through the Germaine Wells Mardi Gras Museum on the second floor. The display showcases beautiful gowns and memorabilia worn by "royalty" in past Carnival events.
A must-stop in southwestern Louisiana is the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu. Filled with spectacular costumes, animated characters and video displays, it's perfect for a family visit that occurs between Carnival seasons.
In north Louisiana, you'll want to plan a stop at the Ark-La-Tex Mardi Gras Museum in Bossier City. The facility offers an educational and entertaining view of the history of Mardi Gras, with particular focus on the celebrations in northwest Louisiana.
These and other stops around the state will whet your appetite for the annual celebration – a good reason to plan a quick return.