To most of us, the Big Easy has come to be synonymous with Fat Tuesday, as Mardi Gras is known in social parlance. That is an association that’s more than a hundred years old. And for a good reason. Like football which began in England but found a different distinctive flavor in the Latin American country of Brazil, the history and evolution of the Mardi Gras in continental America shares similar parallels. This will come as a surprise to many, but the Carnival did not begin in New Orleans. Fifteen years before New Orleans was founded in 1718, the city of Mobile, Alabama, had played host to the first Mardi Gras. New Orleans would later come into the picture and completely remold the Carnival in its own desired image.

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But, as we’ll show, the New Orleans spectacle has not been very family-friendly. It’s the reason we suggest Mobile, Alabama—as the destination that’s more family-friendly.

Why You Might Need To Reconsider New Orleans If You Want To Enjoy Mardi Gras With Family

For many, it’s a no-brainer. New Orleans is just the ultimate Mardi Gras venue. Every year, more than a million find their way to the capital of Louisiana to take part in the celebrations. That’s unlike any other venue in the United States. And to be honest, it rarely disappoints. New Orleans is just the place where the celebration exudes its soul and spirit, its charm and allure. This is the place where its pulse beats. And while other places may have their attractive aspects, no venue in the United States seems ready to dislodge New Orleans from its perch as the country’s favorite venue for the Carnival. But there’s a caveat.

It’s not about being overly prudish. We all know that this is not a procession of bishops. However, the truth is that the celebrations in New Orleans can be uncomfortably raunchy, unrestrained, and, in some places, unpretentiously lewd. Make no mistake; many families will find it OK. What kids should be exposed to is an issue that’s always subjective. Of course, this grossness takes different tones and textures—depending on particular spots within the city—as well as the specific day.

Related: Mardi Gras Like A Local: What Not To Do Your First Time.

For those who want to skirt around the problem areas, the French Quarter will be a place that many might want to avoid. This is where craziness finds ultimate expression. And few would say that it’s appropriate for kids. It’s also important to note that Mardi Gras usually begins on the 6th of January—and runs through to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. That’s anywhere between four to eight weeks—depending on the arrival of Ash Wednesday. In most cases, it never gets that crazy except during the week and weekend when the jamboree climaxes. Also, the neighborhood parades in NOLA are always up to the mark. Of course, unlike Mobile, Alabama, one may want to come to New Orleans for its other array of attractions.

Here’s Why For Mardi Gras, Mobile, Alabama Is A Better Venue For Families

As we’ve seen—Mobile, Alabama, is the true birthplace of Mardi Gras in the United States. Even the two elements that have come to define Fat Tuesday were established in Mobile. The first is a parade. How would the celebration be without its wildly popular parade? The second is a ball, a formal party hosted by a specific krewe to celebrate its members. Although Mobile boasts rich history and tradition relating to Mardi Gras, it's not just history. The celebrations in Mobile have, to a large extent, retained this carnival as a family affair. And that’s where it slightly edges out New Orleans.

And don’t imagine that Mobile is not popular as a Mardi Gras destination. This year (2022), estimates by the Mobile Police Department (MPD) put crowd attendance at an impressive 958,308. Even in previous years, attendance has always grazed the one million mark. That’s just about the same number as those that attend New Orleans. So yes, while many would shirk at the prospect of enjoying Mardi Gras in the Heart of Dixie, the celebrations in Mobile are just as well attended and convivial.

Related: Rediscovering Alabama: Why This State Should Be On Your Bucket List.

The gay aura is bolstered by the more than forty parades that feature during the celebrations. All these take place over multiple routes through the many days that Mardi Gras wafts the celebratory air aloft in the Southern skies. And then there’s the 14-gallery Carnival Museum. This is a history museum that chronicles over three centuries of Carnival and Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama.

  • Where Is Mobile Carnival Museum Located? The physical address of Mobile Carnival Museum is 355 Government St, Mobile, AL 36602, USA.
  • How Much Is The Admission Fee To Mobile Carnival Museum? The admission fee is $8 for adults and $3 for children.

Mounting the papier-mâché float and marveling at historic Mardi Gras exhibits and memorabilia will be quite a treat for history buffs at the Mobile Carnival Museum. Of course, they’ll be plenty of food, including Moon Pies and King Cakes.

That’s it. The truth is that while New Orleans is a fine destination for Mardi Gras, Mobile, Alabama, is more family-friendly.