New Orleans is known for its vibrant nightlife scene, attracting visitors from all over the world. From jazz clubs to burlesque shows, there is something for everyone in this lively city. Bourbon Street is perhaps the most famous area for nightlife, with its neon lights, live music, and party atmosphere. However, there are many other areas to explore for those looking for a different experience.
Frenchmen Street is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, offering a more laid-back atmosphere than Bourbon Street. Known for its live music and street performances, this area is perfect for those who want to dance the night away to jazz, blues, and other genres of music. Other areas worth checking out include the Marigny and the Warehouse District, which offer a variety of bars and clubs to suit different tastes and preferences.
In this guide, you’ll find comprehensive information on the best places to experience New Orleans nightlife, tips and advice for a safe and enjoyable night out, as well as an overview of the costs involved. So, gather your friends, polish your dancing shoes, and get ready to embark on a memorable journey through the vivacious and captivating world of New Orleans nightlife.
Where to Party in New Orleans
The New Orleans nightlife scene is concentrated in several key areas, making it easy to hop from one venue to another. Here are some of the most popular districts to explore during your night out in New Orleans:
French Quarter: The city’s historic heart is home to a myriad of bars, clubs, and restaurants, including the world-famous Bourbon Street. This area is perfect for those who enjoy lively atmospheres and traditional New Orleans cocktails like the Hurricane or Sazerac.
Marigny: This neighborhood, especially the area known as Frenchmen Street, is known for its incredible live music venues, ranging from intimate jazz clubs to lively dance halls.
Warehouse District: This trendy district offers a range of stylish cocktail bars and gastropubs, making it a popular choice for a more upscale night out.
Uptown: This area is known for its cool dive bars and music clubs, where you can listen to everything from blues to funk and modern pop.
New Orleans Nightlife Tips and Advice
New Orleans is a relatively safe city, but like any major urban area, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings and take sensible precautions. Keep your personal belongings secure, and avoid leaving your drink unattended.
The legal drinking age in the US, including New Orleans, is 21. Be prepared to show ID at bars and clubs.
Tipping is customary in the US. A standard tip for good service is around 15-20% of the total bill.
Public transportation in New Orleans, including buses and the iconic streetcars, runs until late, but the service is less frequent after midnight. Taxis and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are readily available.
Most bars and clubs in New Orleans have a casual dress code, but some high-end venues may require smart-casual attire.
Cost of Partying in New Orleans
Here is a basic overview of what you can expect to pay to enjoy the New Orleans nightlife
Drinks: Expect to pay around $5-7 for a beer, $8-12 for a glass of wine, and $10-15 for a cocktail at most bars and clubs in New Orleans. Prices can be higher at more upscale venues.
Cover charges: Many music clubs in New Orleans charge a cover fee, typically ranging from $5-20, especially when there is a live band performing.
Taxis and rideshares: Fares will vary depending on the distance, but a short ride within the city center generally costs around $10-20.
Best Bars in New Orleans
1. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar is one of the oldest continuously operating bars in the United States. Located in a historic building on Bourbon Street, this bar is famous for its signature purple voodoo daiquiris and the candlelit ambiance.
2. Sazerac Bar
Located in the legendary Roosevelt Hotel, the Sazerac Bar is an upscale venue known for its signature cocktail, the Sazerac. Its classy atmosphere and classic art deco decor make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
3. Pat O’Brien’s
Home to the original Hurricane cocktail, Pat O’Brien’s is a must-visit bar in New Orleans. With its beautiful courtyard and dueling piano shows, it’s the perfect spot for a fun night out in the French Quarter.
4. The Spotted Cat Music Club
Located on Frenchmen Street in the Marigny neighborhood, The Spotted Cat is a beloved local venue for live jazz and blues. The intimate space and fantastic music make it a staple of the New Orleans music scene.
5. Avenue Pub
Avenue Pub is a 24-hour bar located on St. Charles Avenue in the Lower Garden District. It offers one of the city’s best selections of craft beers, both local and international. Its balcony overlooking the historic avenue is a great place to enjoy a beer and people-watch.
Best Nightclubs in New Orleans
A staple of the New Orleans music scene, Tipitina’s is a famous uptown music club known for its funk, blues, and rock concerts. Named after a song by Professor Longhair, this club has hosted many renowned musicians and continues to be a launching pad for local artists.
2. Republic NOLA
Located in the Warehouse District, Republic NOLA is a versatile venue that serves as a bar, nightclub, and event space. The club regularly hosts top DJs and performers, making it a hotspot for dance and electronic music lovers.
3. The Metropolitan Nightclub
The Metropolitan is one of the largest nightclubs in New Orleans, featuring two levels, several bars, and VIP areas. The club regularly hosts themed nights and guest DJs, ensuring a high-energy dance environment.
4. Dragon’s Den
Dragon’s Den is an iconic two-story club situated at the end of the Frenchmen Street music corridor. This venue offers a unique blend of cultural influences, featuring live music, DJ sets, and special events that range from jazz and blues to reggae, electronic, and more.
Upstairs, you’ll find an intimate space hosting some of the best EDM and techno DJs in town, while downstairs often hosts Latin nights, making it a melting pot of rhythms. Its outdoor patio is a bonus for those who need a little break from the dance floor. Dragon’s Den is well-loved for its diverse music, welcoming atmosphere, and its commitment to supporting local artists.
5. The Willow
The Willow, situated near Tulane University, is a popular spot among college students and young adults. This club is known for hosting a range of events, including live music concerts, comedy shows, and dance parties. The Willow has a great dance floor, a pool table, and a large bar area serving up all your favorite drinks. It’s the perfect spot for those seeking a laid-back atmosphere with a lively crowd.
New Orleans Nightlife Conclusion
New Orleans is a city that never sleeps, and its nightlife is a testament to that. With its vibrant music scene, unique party culture, and a plethora of bars and clubs, it’s no wonder that New Orleans is considered one of the top destinations for nightlife in the United States.
From jazz clubs to burlesque shows, New Orleans offers a diverse range of entertainment options for night owls. The city is also known for its delicious cocktails, with classics like the Sazerac and Hurricane being popular choices among locals and tourists alike.
One of the highlights of New Orleans nightlife is undoubtedly Mardi Gras, a festival that attracts millions of visitors to the city every year. The festival is known for its colorful parades, elaborate costumes, and lively parties, making it a must-see for anyone looking to experience the best of New Orleans nightlife.
In addition to Mardi Gras, New Orleans also hosts numerous other celebrations throughout the year, including Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest, and Voodoo Fest. These festivals showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage and offer visitors a chance to experience the best of New Orleans music, food, and art.
Overall, New Orleans nightlife is a unique and unforgettable experience that should not be missed. Whether you’re looking for live music, delicious cocktails, or a lively party scene, New Orleans has something to offer everyone.