Gator by the Bay is one of the largest Cajun festivals outside of Louisiana and a must if you love live music, good food, and everything Southern. My husband and I just went to Gator by the Bay for the first time in 2022 and loved it. As newbies to the festival, we made a few mistakes and thought it might be helpful to share our top tips for visiting Gator by the Bay Festival with you, so you can be more prepared than us.
Come Early To Get In Fast
Gator by the Bay opens at 10 AM, but concerts don’t start until 11. Get there early anyway to avoid long lines at the entrance. Yes, the line moves quickly, but you don’t want to waste time standing in line. That way, you can walk around, get a lay of the land and see where the stages are, and hatch a plan of which concerts you want to see. Another advantage is that parking will be a lot easier as well.
Bring Chairs or a Blanket
You will find only limited seating at Spanish Landing Park, so I highly recommend bringing some camping chairs or at least a blanket to set up a base during the festival. We brought our older camping chairs and left them unattended for several hours at a time and no one messed with them. Of course, do this at your own risk.
Setting up a base is great if you are visiting Gator by the Bay with multiple people and plan to split up to see different concerts. Greg and I went with Greg’s mom, her boyfriend, and one of our neighbors and it was a great way to easily reconnect and find each other again.
Gator by the Bay is a Cajun festival and is also nicknamed Mardi Gras in May, and if you feel like dressing for the theme, try to find some fun outfits or accessories like these here.
However, whether you prefer to dress up for the festival or just wear a regular outfit, I highly recommend dressing in layers. San Diego weather in May can go from cool and overcast to sunny and hot in a matter of an hour. If the wind from the bay hits and the sun goes down, it can get uncomfortable fast if you are dressed too summer-y. Greg and I had to cut our Saturday evening at Gator by the Bay short because we were freezing, even in our sweaters. Learn from our mistake!
Pro Tip: Wear comfy shoes! The festival is pretty large and you’ll be doing a lot of walking between stages, food booths, restrooms, as well as getting to and from the festival.
Parking & Getting To Gator By The Bay Festival
Gator by the Bay is a popular festival and parking is limited. There is dirt parking lot when you turn from Harbor Drive to Harbor Island and it costs $20/day. It fills up fast though, so get there early. If you can, I recommend using public transportation to get to Gator by the Bay. From downtown, you can hop on bus 992. Alternatively, you can take the trolley to Old Town and then take the free airport shuttle and just walk over. It is about a 1/2 mile walk though, so wear some comfy shoes.
Try All The Food!!!
I have to say, the food was one of my favorite things about Gator by the Bay. Yes, the music and atmosphere was great, but eating my way through my favorite Cajun foods was simply the best. Some of my eats of the weekend were spicy crawfish (twice!), aligator gumbo, fried frog legs, shrimp creole, fried catfish, jambalaya, red beans and rice, andoille sausages, more gumbo and of course beignets. Oh man, it was a feast!!!
Pro Tip: Bring more people with you to Gator by the Bay, so you can share food and try more dishes!!!
Gator by the Bay Festival is definitely going to be a yearly thing for me and Greg moving forward. We had such a fantastic time and can’t wait to go back.
Disclaimer: I received complimentary tickets for 2 days to cover the event and research this article. My opinion is my own and not influenced by this invitation.
Last Updated on January 13, 2023 by sandiegoexplorer
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