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Visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras can be a bit of a culture shock if it’s your first time. Or maybe you’ve decided to stay in a more local than touristy venue than your last visit. Either way, it helps to know there are private house rentals to fit your needs. It also benefits you to know the neighborhoods with the best places to stay during Mardi Gras. Your choice all depends on when you’ll be in New Orleans for the festivities, if you’ll be there with or without family and what you’d like to experience when you’re in town. All of those considerations will help you decide which neighborhood has the right Mardi Gras vacation rentals to suit your personality and your agenda. There are four neighborhoods to consider for private house rentals in New Orleans before, during and after Fat Tuesday.

A little knowledge helps: Many vacation rentals (hotels or homes) require a minimum stay of four to five days, so plan ahead by booking around the summer before Mardi Gras. If booking late in the game, you may be lucky thanks to numerous cancellations, so stay persistent in your search.

Always check on the schedule and routes of Mardi Gras parades, balls and outdoor concerts before and on Fat Tuesday (the last day of the festival). Mardi Gras typically falls in February or March of each year, and many of the most popular parades, which are usually child-friendly, begin a couple of weeks before Fat Tuesday. By the way, Mardi Gras celebrations happen all over town, close to the French Quarter, but there are no parades that go through the Quarter. Bourbon Street in the Quarter is simply an adult area many party revelers enjoy at night during Mardi Gras.

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French Quarter

Though there are more private apartments, townhouses and condominiums (many are two-story) than private single-family houses available for vacation rentals in the French Quarter, if you’re lucky to snag a spot during Mardi Gras, you’ll be right in the middle of the festivities, minus parades. If you’re traveling to Mardi Gras with young children, you may want to steer clear of this area at any time during Mardi Gras. It’s here, especially on Bourbon Street and neighboring avenues, where it gets a bit tawdry, loud and boozy day and night. By the way, there are private apartments for vacation rentals right on Bourbon Street. Private apartments come in all sizes with any number of bedrooms you may need. If you’re looking for upscale accommodations, consider a vacation rental located in a mansion. A number of mansions have apartments on each floor with access to courtyards, gardens and patios to make you feel like you’re in your own private Big Easy paradise.

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Lower Garden District

The Lower Garden District is closer to the festivities than the residential Upper Garden District, which is filled with majestic mansions, the traditional architecture of which deserves a look between parades. The Lower Garden District is much more eclectic than it’s sister district, and here’s where you’ll find private homes to rent for your Mardi Gras vacation. You’ll still find stately neoclassical mansions lining the streets, as well as antique shops where you’ll find vintage Mardi Gras costumes, tiny parks and hip cafes. It’s also a family-friendly area for child-centric festivities and parades near St. Charles Street. You’ll find charming whole houses with numerous bedrooms for rent, though it may come with a steeper price to stay in a single-family home, but plan on traveling with a group and divvy the bill.

If you have small kids and your family is staying in this neighborhood, you may prefer to view parades from the street, joining in the fun with other families. A ladder with a built-in seat is a traditional way parents help their kids view the floats as they come by. Ladders should stay at least several feet away from the curb so they’re not at risk of tipping.

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Faubourg Marigny

This remarkably quiet neighborhood, though quite close to the French Quarter, has a tongue-twister of a French-inspired name. It’s filled with cozy Creole cottages, small enough for a couple but large enough for a family to stay for Mardi Gras. The neighborhood is conveniently located near trendy areas with jazz clubs, restaurants, coffee shops and a sprinkling of street musicians. You’ll also find there are a number of quirky, off-the-beaten-path parades that travel through the Faubourg Marigny. Check to see when krewes and their floats will meander their way through the neighborhood.

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Central Business District/Warehouse District

The CBD/Warehouse District is part of what’s termed Uptown (many quibble over Uptown’s boundaries), but the French Quarter and Lower Garden District are considered adjacent neighborhoods. As the name implies, this neighborhood is quirky and distinctive with brick buildings, trendy restaurants and art galleries. It’s also called the New Orleans Arts District, or, NOLA, and it’s a busy, bustling place that’s inherently historic. Many of the Mardi Gras parade routes twist and turn throughout Uptown.

Since this is more of an urban neighborhood, you’ll find single-family apartments and condominiums to rent rather than more suburban-style single-family homes. But you’ll be close to the Mardi Gras activities. Luxury apartments and condos for vacation rentals are typically located in historic New Orleans buildings, many renovated, but dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Regardless of which neighborhood you decide to find a vacation rental, try to make sure your vacation rental has a balcony so you can see the festivities and parades from above.