Few things are more valuable than a friend with a home and a working bathroom on a parade route. Hell, even a parade-side portable toilet with crowds bumping into its side and water sloshing about can be a blessing as long as you can find one still stocked with toilet paper.  What no friend on the route and portable potties not your jam? Options do exist. Read on.

With its deep, sweeping front porch under a canopy of oak trees, the Columns Hotel (3811 St. Charles Ave., thecolumns.com, 899-9308) is a favorite destination for many parade-going enthusiasts on the Uptown route. Starting tonight for the Krewe of Babylon parade rolling at 5:30 (followed by Chaos and Muses) wristbands will be available for seating, entry into the bar, and use of the restrooms. The cost is $15 today, tomorrow, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday; $30 on Sunday when the porch party starts with the Krewe of Okeanos, rolling at 11 a.m. and runs on through Bacchus, rolling at 5:15.

Nolé Restaurant (2001 St. Charles Ave., nolerestaurant.com , 593-9955), located at the center of Mardi Gras parading, is availing itself as a home away from home. Several packages are available: Parking passes including two bathroom passes; all-day and one-time restroom passes ; and a comprehensive package with with exclusive buffet dining tickets (one the menu: grilled fajitas and a nacho bar, roasted turkey, cheese enchiladas, mini quesadillas, poblano mac and cheese, hola y’all meatballs, roasted vegetables, black beans, red beans, red rice and house salad). For parade-goers looking for just a drink or a quick bite to eat while staying out on the parade route, Nolé will operate sidewalk food and beverage vending with a daily $4 taco special and $5 house rocks, beer and frozen margaritas.  The restaurant is also celebrating  National Margarita Day (this Saturday) throughout the month of February with a new mango margarita. Ticket prices vary by day and are available at eventbrite.com.

A few blocks away and also on St. Charles Avenue, Lula Restaurant Distillery  (1532 St. Charles Ave., lulanola.com, 267-7624) is hosting its annual LulaGras throughout Mardi Gras Day. Tickets to LulaGras include access to Lula’s parade-facing Barrel Room, an all-you-can-eat buffet, VIP private balcony for parade viewing, access to bathrooms all day and a private cash bar. Tickets range  from $45-$65 depending on the parade days, and parking passes are also available for purchase. Call 267-7624.

Celebrating in the French Quarter?  Bourbon Vieux  (501 Bourbon St., 586-1155, bourbonvieux.com) still has some Mardi Gras Balcony Party Tickets available for Lundi Gras.  Located right in the midst of the craziest of the crazy with a sumptuous atmosphere and a large wrap-around balcony over Bourbon Street, the party package Bourbon Vieux a premium open bar, 130 feet of balcony space, private restrooms (yes!) and gourmet local cuisine.  Day and evening rates vary. Check it out at bourbonvieux.com.


Have a great week, everyone. Use it to celebrate the people and the community you love. Be safe and have fun.