New Orleans is one of the most fun cities in America, especially during Carnival, but like any city it can also be dangerous and its crime is well publicized. New Orleans can be a very safe city if you just take a few precautions and treat it as you would any large urban area. You wouldn’t walk through Central Park alone at 3 a.m., so why would you wander around unlit streets in New Orleans after a few Pat O’Brien’s Hurricanes? Follow these four tips from a New Orleanian to ensure that your New Orleans Mardi Gras trip is a safe and joyous one that inspires you to come back for one of the city’s many other festivals, or maybe even make your home in America’s most unique city.
Use the Mardi Gras Buddy System
New Orleans’ muggings are well publicized but, just as in any city, there is strength in numbers. Don’t wander around alone late at night. You’re making yourself a target for criminals and degenerates of all sorts, especially if you’ve had a few too many Hand Grenades from Tropical Isle. If your group of friends has a hard time deciding between the tame Uptown parades and the rowdy French Quarter scene, make sure that you separate into groups. Plus, it’s not fun to take in Mardi Gras alone. Your wolf pack grew by one a long time ago, so make sure that you always keep at least two in your wolf pack when roaming the bayous of New Orleans looking for whatever it is you’re looking for.
Pace Yourself During Carnival
All kinds of sketchy characters flock to scenes where people might be intoxicated and not using their best judgment. This occurs everywhere – surely, you’ve experienced the creeper at your local bar who thrives on these scenarios. Remember that New Orleans drinks tend to be mixed stronger than what you are probably accustomed to and that many of the city’s most iconic drinks contain lots of sugar which makes that alcohol rush to your blood stream. New Orleans Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t want to wake up in a puddle of Bourbon juice.
Follow the Lights
The bright lights of Bourbon Street are like a seedier version of the Las Vegas strip and you might find yourself wanting to explore some of the French Quarter’s other offerings, or even expand your horizon to the Marigny or Uptown. Feel free to enjoy all that the city has to offer. In fact, I encourage you to get past the tourist traps of Bourbon Street, but if you are hiking it on foot, use diligence and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid unlit streets and alleys. Nothing good happens in an unlit alley at 4 a.m. Anywhere.
Choose Your Open Containers Wisely
Most adults know not to take drinks from strangers because there is no telling what they put in those beverages. Sometimes, people seem to forget this when they come to New Orleans because of the friendly nature that permeates the Big Easy during Mardi Gras. Don’t be unfriendly or a party pooper, but use your head and keep your guard up. Would you let a stranger hand you a mixed drink in your hometown? The same rules apply in the Crescent City.
More from this contributor:
The 25 Essential Mardi Gras Songs: The Soundtrack to New Orleans Carnival
5 Essential Free Mardi Gras Apps for Your Android and iPhone Devices
Mardi Gras Defined: The 12 Terms You Should Learn Before Heading to New Orleans