Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t take the entire family to Mardi Gras! It’s really a very family-friendly event, with TONS of fun during the almost non-stop parades and celebrations the two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday!
Know Before You Go
Check the schedule before you go, and make your plans so you don’t miss any of the festivities!
Dress Up! Shop for crazy hats, mask or complete costumes! You can be ANYTHING at Mardi Gras, there is NO DRESS CODE!!
Most activities take place on the weekends, and during the week it’s mostly locals, which is a fun change of pace in this touristy town!
Beads! When it’s all over, She (or he) with the MOST beads wins! Everywhere you go, people will give you beads, and it’s WONDERFUL! At least until you get home and wonder what to do with 79 lbs of Mardi Gras beads!
Jolly Jester Jaunt 5K (and why you should do it) Mardi Gras is ALL about decadent celebrating, so I don’t know why they added the 5K run, but we love a fun 5K, and the first 300 runners registered receive a FREE 1/2 day Balcony Party Ticket!!! Like everything else at Mardi Gras, the more you dress up, the more fun you have!
The BIG parades, such as the Krewe of Aquarius and the Knights of Momus Grand Night Parade, all start on the Seawall and go through the city to the Strand, which gives you plenty of places to watch the parade! The entire parade is family-friendly, but I’d recommend staying off the Strand for the large parades because it’s SO crowded.
The Knights of Momus Grand Night Parade was our favorite, with lights and beads everywhere!! We watched just off the Strand, (outside of the paid Entertainment Area) and we got SO many beads we couldn’t carry them all! We found parking right down the street, and were surrounded by families!
Best tip is DRESS UP!! Wear something that attracts the people on the floats, a crazy hat, a mask, or just look super cute (which is why my kids always have 3 times as many beads as me!)!
Police are EVERYWHERE, mainly just for crowd control!
Deck your little kids in lights, glow sticks or whatever you have, so the floats and other people can see them!
Sunshine Kids Parade
Shriners Hospital for Children’s Parade
Krewe of Barkus and Meowus
Mardi Gras Children’s Parade
The “Family Parades” all take place in the Downtown Entertainment District, and were SO much fun! Our favorite was the Krewe of Barkus and Meowus, which wasn’t just limited to dogs and cats! We saw ferrets, chickens, ponies and many pot-bellied pigs, too! Also, this takes place on Sunday, when access to The Strand is free.
As a jeep owner (that hasn’t driven in years), my favorite moment of the parade was when all the jeeps from the South Coast Jeep Club did THIS!!!
The Golf Cart Parade
I’m beyond wanting to just WATCH the Golf Cart Parade, I’ve already been hitting up my golf cart owning friends to see who will loan me one next year so I can ENTER the parade! Why? Golf Cart parade entries receive FREE entry into the Entertainment District & Best Decorated Golf Cart gets FREE Balcony Party Passes! That’s good enough for me!
During the Childrens Parades, the balconies are fine for kids! They’ll love getting to throw beads out into the crowd of people below begging for them! At night and for the larger parades, leave them in the hotel room with Grandma!
Remember, Mardi Gras is about celebrating, and over-celebrating the beginning of lent, so there is FOOD (and drink) everywhere! The local restaurants all over the island have specials and parties, too!
The shops along the Strand are open during Mardi Gras! Your first stop should be my favorite shop, Nautical Antiques on Mechanic! Then get your palm read at The Witchery on Post Office, or grab something sweet at La King’s Confectionery or Hey Mikey Ice Cream. The Peanut Butter Warehouse has revived this old warehouse from my youth into a fun shopping destination with numerous vendors. Hendley Market, on the Strand, is where “bare feet and dogs are welcome”, and is has a fun assortment in an 1858 building. The Strand Emporium has sandwiches, ice cream and gifts to take back home! The crab cakes at The Shark Shack on The Strand are my most recent food obsessions!
More Things To Do in Galveston
Some people may say it’s too cold in February to play on the beach, but there are plenty of other things to do in Galveston, no matter the temperature!
Beat the heat and the summer crowds at the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier! Click HERE for more information!
Moody Gardens has three pyramids filled with Discovery, Aquatic and Rainforest creatures! Click HERE for more information!
Duck Tours is where education meets fun, on this island tour that goes through the streets of Galveston and then plunges into Galveston Bay! Click HERE for more information.
In a town filled with touristy restaurants, one of our local’s favorites is Shrimp ‘n’ Stuff on Avenue O! The O is for “O, this taste incredible!”!
I love the Galveston Hilton year round, but especially during Mardi Gras, when the parade route goes right in front of the hotel.
If you have your own crewe, then check the parade route (which is subject to change year to year) and try to find a vacation rental on the interior streets on the route, and your party never has to stop!
The Tremont House on Ships Mechanic Row has a bird’s eye view of the Downtown Entertainment District, and rooms book quickly for Mardi Gras, but if you are planning ahead….
Mardi Gras (for families)
Click HERE to visit their website.
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