kingcakeThere are signs of Mardi Gras all over the south.  In the stores, you can see piles and piles of beads in the traditional royal colors, purple, green, and gold.  King cakes have been ordered and Krewe members are decorating floats.  It is time to get our Mardi Gras on!

That being said, my Mardi Gras now is a much different Mardi Gras than it was when I was 19.  My first Mardi Gras experience involved a large group of college pals piling in several cars, driving the 3 hours to New Orleans and sharing a hotel room with bunk beds, but not really needing the extremely expensive room because we didn’t get home until 5am when the street sweepers were kicking everyone off of the street.  It is one of those trips that you never forget.  Anytime I get together with a friend that was on that trip, the conversation inevitably turns to “Do you remember that one time we drove your piece of junk car to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and…”

Even though I didn’t grow up surrounded by Mardi Gras, that Mardi Gras experience stuck with me and it is something we celebrate every year.  Now that we have children, our Mardi Gras might end a bit earlier in the evening but we still order our King Cake and head to parades to catch beads and moon pies thrown from the floats.

So where can you find a family friendly Mardi Gras?  These are our three favorite spots to enjoy a Mardi Gras event.

New Orleans, Louisiana – The parades and parties through New Orleans can be family friendly.  Stay away from Bourbon Street and other areas of the French Quarter and check out the parades near the beginning of their routes.  The parades are often long and go in to the night so if you find a seat near the beginning, you will get home sooner.  See the 2012 Mardi Gras Parade Schedule and Route for New Orleans Mardi Gras.

.Mobile, Alabama – I once had a friend who was born and raised in Mobile and she insisted that was where Mardi Gras began.  I don’t know all the history surrounding Mardi Gras’ origination, but Mobile certainly throws a good party!  There are a lot of afternoon parades in Mobile where families can eat moon pies by the pound.  Mobile is also the home to the Moon Pie Drop on New Year’s Eve!  See the 2012 Mardi Gras Parade Shcedule and Route for Mobile Mardi Gras.

Pensacola, Florida – Pensacola, my current hometown, is my favorite place to celebrate Mardi Gras.  It is full of events that welcome the whole family and the official Mardi Gras parade is something we rarely miss.  This year, Pensacola Mardi Gras, Inc. is introducing the Mardi Gras March Off, a high school marching band competition.  The performer Cupid will be at the parade where Pensacola will attempt to beat the world’s record for line dancing when everyone in and at the parade will simultaneously do the Cupid Shuffle.  See the 2012 Event Calendar and Parade Schedule for Pensacola Mardi Gras.

If you are headed to a Mardi Gras parade with your children, be sure to read my seven tips for enjoying Mardi Gras with the kids.

Photo courtesy of syvwich via Flickr.