12 Great Ways Experience New Orleans Nightlife!
In a city where dinner is more of an event than a meal, you had better be prepared for a big night out. New Orleans is no exception. This riverfront Louisiana city is famous for its round-the-clock nightlife and offers party-goers plenty of opportunities to paint the town red. Whether you are a wine-drinking jazz hound, a beer-guzzling bar crawler, or a burlesque aficionado, the Crescent City has an after hours location for you. From traditional live music venues and local bars to vibrant nightclubs and upscale lounges, we've compiled a list of 12 great ideas to experience NOLA nightlife.
1. Republic New Orleans
Considered the hottest nightclub in downtown New Orleans' Warehouse/Arts District by locals and tourists alike, this sprawling two-story venue boasts three bars specializing in upscale craft cocktails, two dance floors, and a diverse lineup of events that keep this quintessential dance club packed with an enthusiastic and generally young crowd all weekend long. The various DJs playing anything from bounce rap to electronica coupled with the exposed brick architecture and cavernous ceilings adorned with crystal chandeliers make each night at this chic dance club a terrific experience. Be warned though, because of the nightclub's overwhelming popularity, you can always count on waiting in line at Republic. However, the pleasant and efficient staff are more than willing to help quench your desire to dance and drink the night away.
Address: 828 South Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130
2. Bourbon Pub & Parade
Voted one of the top ten gay bars worldwide, this 24/7 French Quarter dance club with an unapologetically rainbow vibe offers plenty of theatricality and variety with its cabaret performances, karaoke nights, retro music video nights, '90s nights, burlesque shows, and drag artistry. The stages and nonstop dance music at this two-story Bourbon Street venue attract a predominantly gay clientele, but it is very straight friendly. The flamboyantly fun atmosphere, personable bartenders, and reasonably priced drinks make this club a go-to venue for a lot of people after they've finished work. Be sure to check out the club's balcony for some thoroughly entertaining people-watching on the street bellow.
Address: 801 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116
3. Maple Leaf Bar
About a $20 cab ride from downtown New Orleans' French Quarter is Maple Leaf Bar, a gritty yet venerable dive bar with a weekly live New Orleans-style music lineup that puts eminent music clubs in other cities to shame. If you're looking to escape Bourbon Street's cover bands or Frenchmen Street's myriad clubs, the acclaimed funk, rock, jazz, and blues bands playing at Maple Leaf on any given night of the week underneath the bar's tin ceiling will make you feel like a local. Since 1974, this joint has maintained a hopping dance floor and a grizzled but affable bunch of regulars. There are usually two performances on most nights––the early shows starting around 8 p.m. and the late shows around 10:30 p.m.––so you have ample opportunity to catch a renowned local band play some incredible music.
Address: 8316 Oak St, New Orleans, LA 70118
4. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar
A dimly lit New Orleans institution, this legendary haunt is one of, if not the oldest, tavern in America, open to pirates and patrons since 1771. This historic French Quarter bar located squarely on Bourbon Street serves beer and frozen drinks in a rough-hewn atmosphere that is worlds away from the bustling crowds and glamor of the street's busiest stretch. With candle-lit tables and a piano, and believed to be haunted, the unrefined ambiance at Lafitte's is a unique experience frequented by intrepid travelers and local after-work drinkers that doesn't draw as many tourists as you would expect.
Address: 941 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116
5. Hotel Monteleone Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge
With celebrated writers and tipplers like Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and William Faulkner choosing to spend their evening hours at this landmark bar, its no surprise that Hotel Monteleone, the French Quarter's largest and oldest hotel, serves some of the best old-fashioned cocktails in the city. This classically ornate upscale establishment is famous for its slow-moving Carousel bar that makes one complete revolution with 25 gilded bar stools every 15 minutes. A distinct late '40s party mood pervades the bar as the patrons frequently dress up, the cocktails are of the highest quality, and there are often live jazz and piano performances. If you are drinking some top notch cocktails, be sure to try the locally revered Zapp's potato chips.
Address: 214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130
6. Ye Olde Original Dungeon
In stark contrast to the elegant lounges of the French Quarter, the Dungeon flaunts a decidedly high-energy Goth dance scene. Opening for business late and closing outrageously later, this darkly lit heavy metal bar is home to emos and bikers with a taste for eerie décor. Drawing inspiration from a mysterious New Orleans ghost story, this truly unique bar sports walls adorned with skulls, cages, secret doorways, and a jukebox that specializes in heavy metal music. Not for the faint of heart, but an unforgettable experience nonetheless, you must don your studded leather jacket and check out the distinct atmosphere and unusual drinks of the Dungeon.
Address: 738 Toulouse St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Now one of the best-known after hours locations in New Orleans, this quintessential Uptown warehouse space, established in 1977, began as a neighborhood bayou juke joint. Since opening, this black-and-white tiled landmark has provided locals with a grungy venue for inexpensive drinks, live music and Cajun dancing. This Cajun roadhouse was named after rhythm and blues legend Henry Roeland Byrd's (a.k.a Professor Longhair) popular song and offers patrons a well-worn dance floor coupled with an extremely relaxed vibe that encourages club-goers to dance, sweat, and sing along with their favorite bands. Internationally renowned Tipitina's hosts many national bands and artists like Bonnie Raitt, Pearl Jam, Parliament Funkadelic, and Lenny Kravitz. It is worth checking the club's calendar for shows as you may just find your favorite blues, jazz, or rock band playing there, especially during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival when Tipitina's hosts its own series of performances.
Address: 501 Napoleon Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115
8. The Sazerac Bar
Named after the iconic cocktail which this bar makes so superbly, this Contemporary Louisianan cocktail bar set inside the Central Business District's landmark Grand Roosevelt Hotel offers patrons a chance to partake in the rich history and tradition of drinking and socializing in New Orleans. Spending an evening sipping on the bar's namesake cocktail and Ramos Gin Fizzes in the glamorous interior with plush banquettes and lovely art deco murals evokes an unmistakably elegant old-world vibe. In juxtaposition to the The Sazerac's grand atmosphere, you’ll find a relatively younger generation of sophisticated tipplers and savvy visitors appreciating the bar’s list of classic cocktails poured by skilled bartenders in the curvaceous wood and tile room.
Address: 123 Baronne St, New Orleans, LA 70112
9. The Metropolitan Nightclub
Located in New Orleans' Central Business District, this massive warehouse style two-story nightclub puts on one of the city's most dazzling and spectacular productions every Saturday night. The unique DJ show in this premier venue offers club-goers the best in hip hop, pop, rock, house, techno, and dubstep as well as multiple bars and a vast dance floor. With loud music, incredible lighting, potent drinks, and 14 VIP sections suited for parties of all persuasions, this popular nightclub is perfectly equipped to handle the biggest and best celebrations. From bachelor or bachelorette parties, girls’ and guys’ nights out, birthdays, and much more, you can't go wrong celebrating a night at The Metro.
Address: 310 Andrew Higgins Dr, New Orleans, LA 70130
10. Jackson Brewery Bistro Bar
Located in the old Jackson Brewery Building––once the largest independent brewing company in the South––in the historic New Orleans French Quarter, this hangout with a full service restaurant that serves great American grub, four bars, interior mezzanines, exterior patios, ironwork balconies, Victorian Industrial style furnishings, a huge dance floor and live musical performances featuring local artists offers fantastic riverfront views and VIP access for a night on the town. Spacious and charming, Jax draws diverse crowds of visitors and local young professionals with its enjoyable atmosphere. For a New Orleans nightclub experience in the French Quarter that is away from the raucous crowds of Bourbon Street, you don't need to look any further than Jax.
Address: 620 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70130
11. Rock 'n' Bowl
Formerly “Mid City Lanes,” this unique venue combines live jazz music with tenpin bowling and deli cuisine all under one roof. Filled with great crowds and fantastic bands, this bowling alley cross jazz entertainment institution allows patrons to eat some no nonsense grub while enjoying a lively game of bowling before hitting the dance floor and appreciating anything from swing to Cajun dancing. This obviously isn't your stereotypical New Orleans night out but the crew at Rock 'n' Bowl have put a unique spin on the live music scene and you will be very happy spending the night at this fun and funky location.
Address: 3016 South Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118
12. Doctor Gumbo Tours
If you are having trouble choosing just one place to spend your evening, consider booking an excellently engaging cocktail or food tour with Doctor Gumbo. Designed to be informative, inclusive, and entertaining, these passionately guided tours take you to sites off the beaten path, tell you interesting facts, and divulge to you local knowledge about the neighborhoods you are cruising through. Dylan O'Donnell and his crew of professional tour guides create a tour experience that is more like a mobile social event than a boring march from one old pile of bricks to the next.
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