A few words of caution here. You’ll probably need to buy a ticket to watch a parade from a grandstand or balcony. If it’s a hotel or restaurant balcony, you’ll likely need to be a guest to watch the parades from there. Research your chosen parades and routes ahead of time, and make reservations or buy tickets so you won’t be caught off-guard.
You’ve probably seen ladders set up along main parade routes. Attendees have been known to stake out their spots and set up ladders hours, sometimes even days, in advance. But these don’t always go over well, since they can obstruct others’ view, and city officials have sometimes taken steps to remove them.
All that said, here are some of the best viewing spots for New Orleans parades:
1) Lee Circle. It’s the only traffic circle on New Orleans city streets, and many major parades pass right around it.
2) Polymnia at St. Charles. A key spot on many routes, it’s known for a bit of a rowdy crowd, so expect a lively atmosphere here.
3) Napoleon at St. Charles
4) Lafayette Square at St. Charles. A popular spot for grandstands. Tickets usually required.
5) Jackson at St. Charles
6) Tchoupitoulas near Poydras
7) St. Charles at Poydras
8) Canal Street. Many parades pass through several blocks here, but the intersection near St. Charles is a key spot.
9) Garden District and Magazine Street. Many spots usually available throughout the area.
10) The comfort of home. Maybe you want to be Mardi Gras-adjacent and not fight big Carnival crowds. Several websites (including nola.com) have live parade cams, so you can see the floats and excitement from your couch. On Fat Tuesday, if you’re in or around New Orleans, local TV stations air live coverage of the parades as well.