Great Alternative to Traveling During the Event
Although I'd love to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras, you can try to envision the colors and festivities year-round by visiting Mardi Gras World.
The tour starts with a video of the history of Mardi Gras and of the studio itself. It's actually pretty interesting. Then you can try on some of the costumes and pose for silly photos, which is another highlight. They also serve king's cake, but it's nothing special. Still, it's a nice touch and a good way to get you in the mood.
For me, the best part of the visit, is walking through the area with all the big floats. You also walk through an area with old props, and can see some of the artists hard at work creating props and floats. It takes an unbelievable amount of effort to get these floats ready for the parade. Our tour guide was tremendously interesting and was obviously very proud of her city and the tradition of Mardi Gras.