New Orleans knows how to celebrate, so this year I spent Easter weekend in The Big Easy. I ran in the Crescent City Classic, one of the country’s largest 10k races that is held the Saturday before Easter every year. The race was a beautiful tour by foot through the French Quarter and City Park, but it was also a great way to work up an appetite for Easter brunch.
There are three parades through the French Quarter on Easter Sunday, so I started my day with the Historic French Quarter Easter Parade. The parade started at Antoine’s (and from what I’ve read, it used to start at Arnaud’s) and was made up of women dressed in their Easter finest, which includes those fabulous hats. Rather than use floats, the women traveled in the back of convertibles and carriages drawn by mules. While they made their way to church at Saint Louis Cathedral, I made my way to brunch.
There are a few places in the French Quarter for a classy creole Easter Sunday jazz brunch (reservations are always recommended). I chose Arnaud’s because I love the food and service, and because it’s along the parade route of the second parade of the day. I started out with a mimosa made with fresh orange juice, then savored oysters, filet, and my favorite dessert in the world, Strawberries Arnaud. As with all of their jazz brunches, there was a jazz trio taking requests around the dining room. And on this day, the Easter Bunny was handing out sweet treats to everyone.
Arnaud’s also has a Mardi Gras museum upstairs that’s free to enter (just as the hostess). On the way to the collection of ball gowns, you’ll see a collection of Easter hats from past historic parades to your right.
After brunch, I walked outside to Bourbon Street just in time to catch the Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade. It’s full of floats, entertaining acts, and plenty of bead throws. And like the official Mardi Gras parades, this is a family-friendly event, so only hands were being raised for beads (tourist tip: flashing is frowned upon by the locals and grounds for arrest despite what you’ve seen on tv!).
There was also a Gay Easter Parade in the afternoon on Easter Sunday that I heard is fantastic, but I was ready for an Easter nap by that time. Overall, I thought New Orleans was a great place to celebrate the holiday weekend. You can get more information here to plan next year’s Easter adventure.