Let the good times roll, in NOLA and beyond.

Everyone knows New Orleans takes the (ahem) king cake during Carnival, but these five destinations also have plenty of history, interesting architecture, beads, floats, and libations to keep the celebration rolling around the Gulf Coast.


Mobile, Alabama

Mardi Gras heritage here dates back to 1703 (predating New Orleans by over 150 years), and locals still bring the party with elaborate floats, music from the 1883-founded Excelsior Band, and flying moon pies. (The sweet treat remains the most coveted parade “throw” around these parts.) For king cake, don’t miss Pollman’s, Alabama’s oldest bakery and Mobile’s first to sell the traditional confection. And if you need to stock up on beads or other supplies, run, don’t walk to Toomey’s, the 70,000-square-foot Mardi Gras headquarters where Mobilians have procured swag since the 1970s.

If you want to get in on the action and are not a “mystic society” member, arrive on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday for the People’s Parade. And if you want to celebrate like Jimmy Buffet, head to where he watched the parades growing up: the Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa.