How To Celebrate Mardi Gras in The Motherlode

California's Gold Country is obviously a far stretch from The Big Easy, but if you prefer mountain scenery over drunken parades and bayou escapades then you'll probably appreciate this guide on how to celebrate Mardi Gras in the Motherlode. So go ahead and throw on that bright purple, green and gold shirt you've been asked not to wear to work again, pack a few doubloons and head up to the mountains for some Mardi Gras fun in the fresh mountain air.

There's no parade so keep your shirt on and just buy yourself some beads
Before heading out on the town, swing by The Dollar Tree for some affordable Mardi Gras accessories. They typically carry a variety of masks, boas and (of course) beads for the occasion and won't break the bank ... or cost you a citation for indecent exposure.
Enjoy New Orleans-style Creole inspired cooking for lunch
Lighthouse Deli is located on Sonora's historic Washington Street and has several delicious dishes on their menu that are inspired by the flavors of New Orleans. Whether you're in the mood for some flavorful Jambalaya or a Fried Shrimp Po' Boy, you'll find the perfect Mardi Gras lunch at this friendly small town restaurant. I highly recommend the BBQ Bayou Burger with its 1/3 pound beef patty topped with slow roasted southern pulled pork, barbecue sauce, fried onions and all the fixings. Delicious.

Forget the King Cake and get yourself a Mardi Gras Mocha Smoothie
Why risk choking on a little plastic baby trinket in a slice of cake, when you can sip a cold, sweet, delicious smoothie instead? For one day only (Fat Tuesday!), Swirlz Smoothies and Frozen Yogurt will be offering a special Mardi Gras Mocha Smoothie... complete with a card good for a free mini frozen yogurt and one topping. So unlike the traditional King Cake that surprises one poor sucker with a choking hazard that obligates them to buy the next cake, every single Mardi Gras Mocha Smoothie drinker will be lucky enough to receive a free treat instead. I'd say that alone is worth skipping the Bayou for the Motherlode.

It might not be Bourbon Street, but you can definitely get some bourbon
Bourbon Street is considered the heart and soul of the French Quarter and home to one of the craziest party parades in the country. What Sonora is lacking in parades however, it makes up for in bourbon thanks to The Bourbon Barrel. Drop in on Fat Tuesday to check out their Mardi Gras drink and food specials or enjoy one of their more than 100 available bourbons.

Dance the night away with live music
Mardi Gras doesn't have to end after Fat Tuesday. The Blues Box Bayou Band will be playing their biggest Mardi Gras show of the year on the following Saturday (February 13th) in the Willow Creek Lounge at Black Oak Casino Resort. The show starts at 9PM and promises to be a dance party worthy of New Orleans, complete with drink specials that include "Old School Daiquiris", the "French 75" and "BOC Hurricanes". Plan to join the fun ...and don't forget your beads!

Ann Milligan is a California native as well as an artist, author, blogger, wife and mother. She enjoys living and exploring the Motherlode where she has successfully adapted to pushing strollers uphill without spilling her coffee. Her other skills include interpretive snow tubing, screaming at frogs and nom nom nomming (not on frogs).