Purple, green and gold: Travel from San Francisco to New Orleans for Mardi Gras

Don your best carnival attire -- along with the ubiquitous colorful beads -- and get ready for this year's Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans.

Though the holiday, also known as Fat Tuesday, is celebrated in various locales across the globe, Mardi Gras has become a quintessentially New Orleans event.

The parades and celebrations typically kick off in January, but most visitors tend to arrive March 1 and stay through Ash Wednesday (March 6). The biggest -- and most popular -- events culminate with the end of Carnival on Tuesday, March 5.

The largest parade is the Krewe of Endymion, which boasts more than 37 floats and finishes its march through town at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the Endymion Extravaganza party. This year's performers include Lionel Richie, Flo Rida, Chicago and more.

It's more doable than you think. According to travel site Skyscanner, there are plenty of flights from San Francisco to New Orleans in that time frame, and the prices aren't too shabby.

So if you're looking for a change of scenery, here are some deals to put on your to-do list.

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Cheapest New Orleans flights

Currently, the cheapest flights between San Francisco and New Orleans are set to depart on March 2 and return from Louisiana on March 9. Frontier Airlines currently has tickets for $308, roundtrip.

There are also deals to be had earlier in March. If you fly out of San Francisco on March 1 and return from New Orleans on March 7, Frontier Airlines can get you there and back for $377 roundtrip.

Top New Orleans accommodations

Regarding where to stay, here are some of the city's top-rated hotels, that we selected from Skyscanner's listings based on price and customer satisfaction.

Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

If you're looking to treat yourself, consider theHotel Monteleone, which has a 4.7-star rating on Skyscanner. Rooms are currently available for $179.

The Hotel Monteleone stands in the French Quarter, within four blocks of Jackson Square, the Canal Street Shops, Harrah's New Orleans Casino and lively Bourbon Street. Dating from 1886, the hotel was a favorite haunt of Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner and Truman Capote, and is known for its rotating Carousel Bar.

The Columns Hotel (3811 St. Charles Ave.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

If you're looking for an inexpensive place steeped in history, there's The Columns Hotel, which has rooms for $100/night.

"Built in 1883 and listed in the Registry of Historic Places, The Columns grips you from the moment you spy the white columned building and step onto the path toward the porch, which has been the site of many a sultry summer, mint julep-sipping cocktail hour or wedding party," wrote visitor Barbara.

The Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans (300 Bourbon St.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

For top quality, try The Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans. The 4.6-star hotel has rooms for $189/night.

Set in the heart of New Orleans, this hotel is close to Bourbon Street and the Riverwalk Marketplace, as well as Jackson Square.

Local restaurant picks

Don't miss New Orleans' food scene, with plenty of popular spots to get your fill of local cuisine. Here are a few of the top-rated eateries from Skyscanner's listings.

Cafe Du Monde (800 Decatur St.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

First things first: a classic beignet. For a popular option, check out Cafe Du Monde, which has an average of 4.6 stars out of 405 reviews on Skyscanner.

This French cafe serves its patrons a mean cup of dark-roasted chicory coffee. Pair your cup of joe with one of its famous beignets, fried doughnuts gratuitously topped with powdered sugar.

"Beignets are definitely worth the hype, and this is the place to go to get them," wrote visitor Kay.

Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

One of the city's most popular restaurants is Commander's Palace, with 4.8 stars from 94 reviews.

"Jazz brunches are a tradition here in the garden room overlooking the courtyard. It's the traditional place in New Orleans to celebrate a special occasion, and the staff goes over the top to make you feel like a king or queen," wrote reviewer Michelle.

Jacques-Imo's Cafe (8324 Oak St.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

Also worth considering is Jacques-Imo's Cafe. Located in uptown New Orleans, Jacques-Imo's has become one of the hottest food tickets in town, known for its eclectic mix of Creole and Cajun specialties at reasonable prices.

What to see and do in New Orleans

Not sure what to do in New Orleans, besides eat and drink? Here are a few recommendations, provided by Skyscanner.

The French Quarter

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

First up is The French Quarter, the heart of New Orleans as far as tourist attractions go.

The venerable quarter near the city's waterfront features the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the legendary Cafe Du Monde and hundreds of historic homes. Countless restaurants and bars reside here, and finding jazz is as easy as catching multi-colored beads.

"The place for nightlife, social scene and overall fun," wrote visitor Kay. "The French Quarter is always full of life and good vibes. Make sure to stop here when you are in town."

Jackson Square (700 Decatur St.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

Then, there's Jackson Square. The pleasant green square located near the waterfront of New Orleans serves as the home of a statue of Andrew Jackson. Originally called the Place d'Armes, it was renamed in honor of the United States general in 1815, after his victory in the Battle of New Orleans. Bars and restaurants border the park.

Audubon Zoo (6500 Magazine St.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

Finally, consider checking out the Audubon Zoo. From the critter-filled swamps of Louisiana to the grasslands of Africa, you can explore some of the Earth's most intriguing habitats and the creatures that dwell within them at this world-class zoo. Rated one of the top zoos in the United States, it features two rare white tigers, as well as Komodo dragons.

This story was created automatically using flight, hotel, and local attractions data, then reviewed by an editor. Click here for more about what we're doing. Got thoughts? Go here to share your feedback.