What to do on Bourbon Street?
Bourbon Street is the “Street of thirst” in New Orleans, as it exists in other cities in the United States, and it is world-famous for it. Bourbon Street is the Street of celebration and excess in Nola. Quiet during the day, it comes alive at night and during a whole host of events and festivals (Carnival first). In this article, you will discover New Orleans nightlife tips. If you were wondering what to do in Bourbon Street at night, you will read about the best places to go during your stay in Louisiana.
How long is Bourbon Street and where is Bourbon Street in New Orleans?
Bourbon Street stretches over 13 blocks, between Canal Street and Esplanade avenue, along the French Quarter, the historic old French Quarter of New Orleans, and continues to the Marigny suburb. But the animation is concentrated on the first 8 blocks, until Saint Ann Street.
A history of French kings and brothels
Behind its bars and strip clubs, Bourbon Street hides an important place in the history of New Orleans. It started out as one of the city’s first residential areas, but things changed with the creation of new neighborhoods. The area became “notorious” for prostitution, gambling, crime, and murder. It was here, however, that legend has it that jazz was born, with King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton, who ran the brothels. It is also where the great restaurants were located (one of the most famous, “Galatoire’s”, is still there). In the 20th century, Bourbon became fashionable again. In the 1950s, it lined up entertainment venues, burlesque shows and strip clubs. In the 1960s, the political powers tried to “clean up” and closed many of them. Twenty years later, Bourbon Street had become what it still is: a tourist destination in its own right, with dozens of souvenir stores. Some of its detractors do not hesitate to call it a “Creole Disneyland”. But it has lost none of its acute sense of celebration (to excess).
You should know that the Street, which is pedestrian, only comes alive at night and that it is then authorized to drink in the Street and to walk around with your glass. It’s quite quiet during the day. A time perhaps more appropriate for a more “historical” discovery of the place. Be careful at the end of the evening, the alcohol helping, it becomes a little more craggy. Otherwise, contrary to what you could have read and/or heard, it’s safe there.
Things to do on Bourbon Street
If you are wondering what to do on Bourbon Street, you should start by visiting Lafittes Blacksmith Shop Bar. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar is an institution in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It is the oldest building in the United States to house a bar.
To continue on Bourbon Street tips, each bar or stall on the Street has a history, sometimes more than a century old. Here are six of them that are worth a look in the order of the Street numbers, starting from Canal Street:
- 209: Galatoire’s. This chic restaurant serves New Orleans cuisine, with a dress-code. An institution for over 100 years.
- 240: Old Absinthe house. A bar-institution of two centuries which received the visit of many personalities throughout history. It would have even been played there…
- 627: Channing Tatum’s Saints & Sinners. No joke, it’s the sexy actor who opened this musical bar-restaurant inspired by the decor of the old brothels of the Street. Follow the red light, saints, and sinners!
- 701: Cat’s meow. Self-proclaimed best bar-karaoke in the world, the “cat’s meow” has had the honors of musical purring many stars and personalities, from Depeche Mode to Tori Spelling through Bill Gates.
- 739: Marie Laveau’s house and Voodoo shop. A souvenir store and voodoo temple dedicated to the local voodoo queen, Marie Laveau. You can find souvenirs but also spells, charms, and you can have your palms read. Free entrance.
- 801: the Bourbon pub. The biggest and most famous gay bar of NoLa, in its district. Atmosphere guaranteed.
- 941: Laffite’s Blacksmith shop bar. The famous pirate’s bar, not far from being the oldest in the United States (see above).
Bourbon Street nightlife
You can walk it every night of our stay in New Orleans and you will love it. It looks like a festival with the music coming from the Bourbon Street nightclub. Indeed, the Southern Decadence is considered as the gay Mardi Gras. The first thing to make it to look. The Street is full of restaurants (like the historical Galatoire’s, more than 100 years old), bars, strip clubs (they advertise in the Street), souvenir stores, Street artists… You can drink beers, fluorescent cocktails served in skull-shaped glasses, go to Carnival hats, buy multicolored necklaces, and have a little dance in the Street. Enjoy it if you like to dress up, you won’t shock anyone!