When it comes to partying, no city does it better than New Orleans, Louisiana, home to the infamous Mardi Gras celebration which is quite possibly the biggest yearly throw-down in the country. If you are looking for a world-class nightlife destination, you are not going to find a much better city than New Orleans. NOLA is not called the “Big Easy” for no reason; if you want to let your hair down and forget the problems of the world for a weekend, there is no better place to do it than the deep South oasis that is New Orleans.
As the birthplace of jazz, a prominent hub for zydeco, blues, and brass-band music, and the launching pad for trendsetting hip-hop artists such as Lil Wayne, Birdman, Master P, and Jay Electronica, New Orleans is well-known for its rich musical culture. Those looking to catch some live music at night will certainly find no shortage of suitable venues in NOLA. Preservation Hall is a unique New Orleans classic open since 1961 in the famous French Quarter neighborhood of the city. It is a small, non-climate-controlled, no-frills venue which intentionally lacks a sound system and focuses on presenting traditional New Orleans styles of music as you might’ve heard them in the days of yore. For a uniquely cultural New Orleans live music experience, it does not get better than Preservation Hall. The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street might be your best bet if you are looking to catch authentic live straight-ahead jazz in a small venue laden with character. Tipitina’s is one of the more famous and prominent live music venues in the city, featuring an assortment of musical styles depending on the night, while Rock and Bowl is a great option if you want to get your bowl on and catch some of the best rock music the city has to offer.
As far as nightclubs go in New Orleans, the Gold Mine Saloon is one of the better choices in the city, known for hosting a younger, mostly-locals crowd despite it’s proximity to touristy Bourbon Street. Republic, located in the burgeoning Warehouse District, is a local’s favorite NOLA club known for regularly featuring high-quality electronic music acts and DJs, and for drawing an eclectic crowd of young, hip patrons. Oz on Bourbon Street is a gay club which is objectively considered to be one of the better dance clubs in the city, orientation aside. The Maison is an excellent option on Frenchmen Street if you are looking for a live-music oriented dance venue, while the Metropolitan, located in a two-story warehouse and mostly open only on Saturdays is another New Orleans nightclub favorite, often featuring top DJs of the likes of DJ Jazzy Jeff.
Ask just about any local New Orleans denizen and they will tell you that Ms. Mae’s pretty much represents the pinnacle of the New Orleans dive bar experience. Open 24 hours and featuring dollar well drinks, Ms. Maes is absolutely the place to be if you want to experience a taste of down and dirty New Orleans bar culture. Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge is a close runner-up to Mae’s in the dubious pantheon of New Orleans dive bar culture. Snake and Jake’s pretty much embodies exactly what a real dive bar should look like, so if that’s what you are looking for, the Christmas Club should suit your needs perfectly.
As a city which is not shy when it comes to debauchery, it should come as no surprise that New Orleans is home to some excellent strip clubs. Rick’s Cabaret, open since the 1990s, is a Bourbon Street staple which is widely considered to be one of the best strip clubs in America. Rick’s is known for providing only the best in high-end gentlemen’s club entertainment catering to men of discernment, class, taste, and, frankly, wealth (dancers are tipped using “Rick’s Dance Dollars,” valued at $25 a pop). However, you get what you pay for, and the quality of talent on display at Rick’s is unparalleled. The Penthouse Club, Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, and Temptations are other great options for adult entertainment in the city. If you are looking for strip clubs catering to lovers of African-American women (for which NOLA is known), She She’s Gentlemen’s Club and Passions Men’s Club New Orleans are two of your better choices.
Let’s face it; we all know that when you think New Orleans, you pretty much think party, and anyone who’s experienced NOLA nightlife will tell you that the city lives up to its reputation. Whether you are looking for world-class live music, top-notch dance clubs, seedy dives, or whatever else might suit your fancy, the NOLA bar and club scene will not leave you disappointed. Although media coverage will often focus on Bourbon Street, the New Orleans nightlife really has a lot more to offer outside of the common tourist circle. We strongly suggest you stray a little off the beaten path and check out some of the bars and clubs in the Warehouse District, on Frenchmen Street, and elsewhere. You are bound to have a better time and get a better feel for what New Orleans nightlife culture is really all about. Be sure to check out our New Orleans dining section and fill your stomach with some of the best in authentic regional fare to soak up some of the alcohol you will enjoy during your night out, and remember to be safe and drink responsibly.