Bourbon Street at Night
New Orleans has a long history of being the place with the best nightlife in the U.S. This comes from its long history as a port city where the pirates would come to hang out after a long voyage and continues to this day. The abundance of 24 hour live entertainment at clubs and bars adds to the excitement. There is also the famous open container laws, which allow you to carry alcohol on the street, lending the streets of New Orleans a party town atmosphere. There is no better place to enjoy this action than on the infamous Bourbon Street New Orleans.
Bourbon Street New Orleans is named after the House of Bourbon, the ruling family at the time New Orleans was founded. Today it’s the place to see and be seen with plenty of tourist attractions, clubs, bar and restaurants. Bourbon Street New Orleans runs the length of the French Quarter, but the upper portion of the street is the most popular section and often packed with people sipping on Hurricane cocktails and celebrating the open container laws in New Orleans. In the center of Bourbon Street you can find some popular bars like Pat O"Briens, Razoo, the Cat’s Meow and The Famous Door. When you get to Canal Street on the upper end of Bourbon Street, there are plenty of strip clubs and a section of gay bars including one of the oldest gay bars in the country, Café-Lafitte-In-Exile.
There are plenty of restaurants to be found on Bourbon Street as well. For traditional Louisiana Creole and Cajun food try Tricou House Restaurant, casual dining with live music. For a famous New Orleans po-boy sandwich (like the barbeque shrimp, yum!), try the fancy upscale Red Fish Grill or the more causal dining of Bourbon House. Or the Clover Grill is a good bet for typical American food with a Louisiana flair. This Bourbon Street grill offers delicious burgers, and waffles for breakfast!
Bourbon Street hotels are a great place to stay if you want to be in the middle of the action. The Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street is a great way to soak up the history and languish over the wrought iron balconies while watching the action below. Famous for its gorgeous courtyard and pool area, as with most Bourbon Street hotels, if you want to get any sleep get an inside room to avoid the noise. There is also the more affordable lodging at the Ramada Plaza Inn on Bourbon Street. This hotel is in the middle of the action, and can be noisy, especially on weekends. Some Bourbon Street Hotels stretch on one side of Bourbon Street and the other a quieter street like the Wyndham Hotel, which seems to be big on location and boasts the flair of old Louisiana. If you are looking for a party, try the Bourbon Street hotels. If you want quiet, try another French Quarter location so you can rest in peace after a nightlong session of drinking and dancing.Bourbon Street is largely quiet during the day, coming alive after the sun goes down. If you want a quiet stay in New Orleans, be careful which hotel you use, as Bourbon Street can be pretty noisy at night, especially during festivals. Bourbon Street is also the main location to experience one of the many events and festivals New Orleans offers. Since Bourbon Street is the epicenter of the famous Mardi Gras, the Mardi Gras Bourbon Street parade snakes down the street with interesting entertainers in lavish costumes. Another Bourbon Street parade is the Irish-Italian parade and the Southern Decadence parade which is a gay festival. The Food and Wine Festival also hosts a small Bourbon Street parade, but what you are most likely to see is a parade of people milling about and drinking to the wee hours of the morning.
A note to the more conservative traveler, there are often displays of public nudity and debauchery during the Mardi Gras and Southern Decadence parades. The New Orleans police has been cracking down on it lately, due to complaints. To be safe, leave the kids at home if you want to experience the nightlife action on Bourbon Street.