Mardi Gras Hot Spots

Galveston offers an array of Mardi Gras activities from parades to masked balls.

Nicole Weaver/Alamy

En español | Mardi Gras is approaching, and if you think that just means “a bacchanal in New Orleans,” you’re wrong. A number of U.S. cities celebrate Mardi Gras — without the kind of crowds and lines you might have to face in the holiday’s best-known city. Here are some examples.

Mobile, Ala.

Raise your hand if you knew Mobile was the first U.S. locale to host a Mardi Gras celebration. (It took place in 1703, when Mobile was the capital of French Louisiana and New Orleans was still 15 years from being founded.) This year’s edition of the city’s multi-week celebration kicked off Jan. 26, but there’s still time to get your boogie on in the Joe Cain Day parade, held the Sunday before Mardi Gras, and the Fat Tuesday finale itself on Feb. 13.

Mardi Gras Hot Spots

Mickey's hometown will celebrate Mardi Gras through early April.

Universal Orlando Resort

Orlando, Fla.

Mardi Gras is already an amusement park of sorts, so it makes sense to head for the massive celebration held at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, which runs through April 7 — nearly two months after the traditional Fat Tuesday. In addition to the expected blandishments — floats, scrumptious Cajun and Creole food, salacious flesh-for-beads throws — you can groove to such artists as Sean Paul, The Beach Boys, Kelsea Ballerini, Macklemore and Fifth Harmony.

Galveston, Texas

This year marks the 107th annual celebration of Mardi Gras in Galveston. It’s the biggest such extravaganza in Texas, and the third largest in the country. In addition to krewe parties, colorful masked balls and 21 exhilarating parades, more than 30 concerts are scheduled. No need to let the revelry ruin your fitness, though: The Galveston Official 5K Run is part of the fun.

Mardi Gras Hot Spots

Head over to Soulard, where this year's Mardi Gras theme honors an anniversary.

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St. Louis

St. Louis throws its own impressively sized Mardi Gras celebration each year. The Gateway City party, which takes place in the historic French neighborhood of Soulard, has a theme this year of “The Muny,” in honor of the 100th anniversary of America’s oldest outdoor musical theater. But with Soulard also home to the North American headquarters of Anheuser-Busch, beer lovers will find plenty of soirees inviting them to pay homage to Bud Light.