Nowhere in the world is debauchery so common place than the streets of Bourbon in New Orleans. Day or night, 365 days a year you can find people on this street looking for a party.
The mother of all nights to be on this street is Fat Tuesday, where at midnight, the streets are actually shut down, and the firetrucks come through to wash the streets away and clear out the remnants of one of the world's largest parties.
Here is a picture of the weekend before Fat Tuesday on Bourbon Street.
Dress Code: For men.... beads.
For women.... beads or loose clothing.
Before I went to New Orleans, I had this picture in mind of Bourbon Street being all about bachelor parties and Girls Gone Wild, so I wasn't exactly planning on spending much time there. However, I soon realized there was much more to Bourbon Street than that, and the biggest draw for me was the live music. Bands start playing failry early in the evening, so even if you have plans for the next morning you can still get a pretty good taste of what Bourbon Street has to offer. As you walk up and down the street, you get to pick between rock, blues, jazz, country, pop and bluegrass bands - there truly is something for everyone! And of course, you can add to this already vast selection a fair amount of nightclubs, stripclubs, karaoke bars (Cat's Meow was pretty cool!) and even a dueling piano bar (Howl at the Moon). Most bars don't mind if you walk in already holding a drink - my guess is they figure if you enjoy the music, you'll stay long enough to order another drink anyways. My two favourite spots on Bourbon Street were "The Famous Door" and "Bourbon Street Blues Company". Both had great rock & blues bands playing, and I loved the lively but casual atmosphere: we made plenty of friends on the dance floor!
We don't drink, I can't stand on my feet for more than about 15 or 20 minutes without being in pain, and being old folks we go to bed early. So I probably can't evaluate the New Orleans nightlife with any degree of credibility. I did think we ought to walk around the French Quarter and do some eating even if we didn't do any drinking.
So on our first night, we started off from our hotel, crossed the neutral ground, and struck off into the French Quarter. After going around several corners, we came to this scene and realized we were on Bourbon Street.
Since the last time I was in New Orleans, I was in 7th grade, I did not realize that Bourbon Street was like a progressive dinner, except with drinking instead of eating. Nor had I expected people to be drinking out in the street.
We walked on down past the Hustler, and then went around a couple of more corners ending up at the place we intended to eat dinner.
This was the last time during the week that we did any walking on Bourbon Street in the evening.
When asked..."Select An Appropriate Theme For This Tip"...GEEZ...I can't just pick one! It's pretty much an adult spot with eating, DRINKING, night clubs, live music, dancing and definitely people watching.
Bourbon Street is possibly, by far, the most famous and popular tourist attraction in New Orleans. About 9 blocks of Bourbon Street, between Canal and St Philip Sts, are open twenty four hours a day and there always something going on whether it's a party, a parade, a funeral march, or just some looney dancing down the middle of the street.
Bourbon Street was named after one of Europe's most enduring and powerful French Royal family. Primarily residential at the time of it's inception, the face of Bourbon St changed with the hey day of strip clubs, retail and decadent entertainment with all vices.
***Parents who have kids***
Yes, I have brought my 5 year old onto Bourbon St in the day as well as in the night (and not unless it gets completely out of hand, I still plan on taking her on future excursions down Bourbon Street's night life). So how do I rate Bourbon Street?
PG-13? R? Or XXX?
All of the above.
I cannot deny that I have shielded my daughter's eyes at certain spots or averted her eyes towards a different direction. However, the jazz music that comes from there is intoxicating (as well as the drinking), the food, the vendors, shops, dancing, beads, and people watching. There is no place quite like Bourbon St.
Dress Code: Casual to Elegant...
Modest to Outrageous...
Clothed to Barely There...
Fun fun fun. I recommend a good time to all. Hey, you can drink on the street - what more can you ask for in a party city? (See my tourist trap entry for other Bourbon Street tips)
Dress Code: Dress Code? Are you kidding me?
Totally casual. However please beware if you intend to be a flasher. Although Bourbon Street's claim to fame is the ease in which women bare it all on the famed street, recent police crackdowns have landed more females in jail then on 'Girls Gond Wild'. Don't say I didn't warn you!!
Bourbon Street is the heart of French Quarter nightlife, but in my opinion it is way over rated. The area is full of tourists, mostly college kids getting so drunk they are incoherent and would spend the night in jail most other places. The end of Bourbon near Canal Street is filled with seedy strip clubs and sex shows. The restaurants here are just average, often specializing in serving touristy food like pizza to drunks. I think you can have more fun in the other areas of the French Quarter without the Bourbon Street sleaze. I like Decatur Street myself...it has a variety of options from local dives like Coop's to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville and a Microbrewery.
There is no bigger "must" when visiting New Orleans than a walk down Bourbon Street at night. Notice I didn't specify what night, because it doesn't matter! Every night (to varying degrees) the madness that "is" Bourbon has to be experienced first-hand. From the peep-shows, "novelty" shops, Karioke bars, dance clubs, strip clubs, etc., etc. this place is a madhouse! Very fun for the delinquents of the world. That means YOU!! ;-)
Dress Code: There is not much that will ever be out of place in New Orleans. Wear whatever is most comfortable with the current weather. I can't think of a bar on Bourbon that requires more than "jeans" level.
Some wild stuff going on. Stay sober (or relatively so) and you'll be amazed at what you see.
As everyone knows, gentleman (?) stand on the balconies and throw beads or money to ladies (?) on the street who then lift their shirts. The amazing part is that this is not a spontaneus act, but the end result of a complex negotiation that can take up to 5 minutes depending on the attractiveness of the lady and the amount of beads or money the gentleman has to spend.
My husband pointed out that if you stand on the curb under the balcony you get a better view and spend no money or beads.
Dress Code: Anything goes. And I mean anything!
Check out Bourbon Street... there are wall-to-wall bars and clubs here, and you won't find a lack of something to do. Go dancing, sit and drink, listen to some jazz. They've got it all here. It's a party here every night.
Typically Tourist but a must see. Full of people, bars, music, huge police horses and clubs that will provide adult amusement the Street can be quite an experience. Difficult to keep track of people but worth the fun.
This place is wild - 365 days a year, music is blaring and people are partying all night. I've never seen anything like it. It's crazy, but something everybody should experience. Even if you don't like to 'party,' there are great venues where you can sit and listen to live music. My family likes to go to the Cajun Cabin, to hear cajun music of course :-)
Dress Code: Absolutely anything. This is another great thing about New Orleans - nobody will stare if you wear something crazy, and many people do!
Bourbon Street is, by far, the most famous and popular tourist attraction in New Orleans. Bourbon Street is like no other street in the world. On Bourbon one will find everything from five star hotels to strip joints.
Dress Code: You can wear anything you want,but if you are going to a fancy restaurant you probably will have to dress better.
There are too many bars and clubs to even be believed. Just head down to Bourbon Street and prepare to be swept away! I was in one place dancing on the dance floor with the sax player who was still playing at the time!!!!!
The doormen will try to convince you to come into their club to check it out. Go with an open mind and just pop into each one to check it out and soak up the atmosphere inside.
Nobody really stays in one club or bar all night.
Dress Code: Casual but comfortable.
Bourbon Street! and the French Quarter.
You've got tourist gift shops, next to expensive (coat & tie) restaurants, next to strip clubs, with Music blaring from everywhere. A very happenin' place regardless what night of the week you're there.
Dress Code: At some restaurants be prepaired to have coat and tie. Most every place else it's casual attire.
New Orleans is also known for its raunchy nightlife. There are quite a few strip joints along the main drag, you can't miss them. Inside, it's your standard burlesque entertainment in a smoky environment.