New Orleans

No American town places such a premium on pleasure as New Orleans. From swank hotel lounges and refined jazz halls to sweaty dance clubs and raucous Bourbon Street bars, this city is serious about frivolity—and famous for it. Partying is more than an occasional indulgence in this city—it's a lifestyle. The bars and clubs that pulse with music are the city's lifeblood, and are found in every neighborhood. Like stars with their own gravity, they draw people through their doors to belly up to their bars or head feet-first onto their dance floors. Blues, jazz, funk, R&B, rock, roots, Cajun, and zydeco—there are many kinds of music and nightlife experiences to be had in New Orleans. On any day or night of the year, the city is brimming with musical possibilities.

The French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny are the easiest places to find great music and nightspots. The venues are numerous and all within easy walking distance of one another. In the nearby Warehouse District, New Orleans institutions like Howlin' Wolf, Mulate's, and Circle Bar have been joined by scores of new bars, clubs, and restaurants. Moving upriver through the Garden District and Uptown, you'll find some of the most famous music spots in the city, such as Tipitina's and Maple Leaf. Bywater, Mid-City, and Tremé are residential neighborhoods with fewer commercial strips, but they too have their crown jewels, like Vaughan's, Bullet's, and Rock ’n’ Bowl.

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  • 1. Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits

    Bywater | Bars/Pubs

    In the far reaches of the Bywater, Bacchanal is part wineshop, part bar, part music club—and 100% neighborhood hangout. Enter the old building...Read More

  • 2. Cane and Table

    French Quarter | Bars/Pubs

    With its elegant, understated Caribbean decor, dim lighting, and low volumes, this rum house is a refreshing relief from the general chaos of...Read More

  • 3. Carousel Bar

    French Quarter | Bars/Pubs

    A favorite New Orleans drinking destination since 1949, the revolving bar has served the likes of Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, and Ernest...Read More

  • 4. Cat's Meow

    French Quarter | Bars/Pubs

    Before you see it, you'll hear this Bourbon Street landmark, New Orleans's most popular karaoke bar. Given an ideal corner location, the bar...Read More

  • 5. Columns Hotel's Victorian Lounge Bar

    Uptown | Bars/Pubs

    One of New Orleans's most traditional drinking experiences, enjoy an old-fashioned or a Sazerac here on the expansive front porch, shaded by...Read More

  • 6. Delachaise

    Uptown | Bars/Pubs

    A long, slender room with plush banquettes in a charming sliver of a building on a busy stretch of St. Charles Avenue looks as if it were air...Read More

  • 7. French 75

    French Quarter | Bars/Pubs

    This is a must-visit for any who love to submerge themselves in old-time elegance. Adjoining Arnaud's, the classic New Orleans Creole restaurant...Read More

  • 8. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

    French Quarter | Bars/Pubs

    Perhaps the most photographed building in the Quarter after St. Louis Cathedral, this 18th-century blacksmith shop was once a front for the...Read More

  • 9. Napoleon House Bar and Café

    French Quarter | Bars/Pubs

    It's a living shrine to what may be called the semiofficial New Orleans school of decor: faded grandeur. Chipped wall paint, diffused light...Read More

  • 10. Bar Marilou

    Central Business District | Bars/Pubs

    An evening at this dimly-lit venue begins with an aperitif hour and ends with burlesque, a jazz trio, or other entertaiment appropriate for...Read More

  • 11. Bar Tonique

    French Quarter | Bars/Pubs

    An eclectic spot on North Rampart Street, this brick-walled room with private nooks and intimate corner booths looks like a cross between a...Read More

  • 12. Bayou Beer and Wine Garden

    Mid-City | Bars/Pubs

    Claim a seat on the sprawling multilevel outdoor patio at this low-key neighborhood pub and sip a pint from the great selection of beers. Multiple...Read More

  • 13. Bellocq

    Warehouse District | Bars/Pubs

    Pre-Prohibition drinks are all the rage, but this Lee Circle lounge goes deeper into the past with a menu focused on the cobbler, a popular...Read More

  • 14. BJ's Lounge

    Bywater | Bars/Pubs

    This gritty corner bar is a beloved neighborhood joint. Most weekends it hosts music, like Little Freddie King, who blows the top off the place. ...Read More

  • 15. Bourbon Pub

    French Quarter | Bars/Pubs

    It's impossible to miss this 24-hour video bar at the corner of St. Ann and Bourbon streets, especially in early evenings, when the doors are...Read More

  • 16. Buffa's

    Faubourg Marigny | Bars/Pubs

    This simple neighborhood spot has been popular for live music and festive vibes since 1939. The burgers are famous in their own right, as are...Read More

  • 17. Café Lafitte in Exile

    French Quarter | Bars/Pubs

    This Bourbon Street stalwart attracts a somewhat older and very casual group of gay men. The second floor has a pool table, pinball machine...Read More

  • 18. Cellar Door

    Central Business District | Bars/Pubs

    Travel through the narrow doors of this cocktail bar to rooms full of wood-panelled walls and exposed brick, dimly lit chandeliers, and a general...Read More

  • 19. Chart Room

    French Quarter | Bars/Pubs

    Unpretentious even by New Orleans standards, this little dive not far from Canal Street draws a good number of locals from the Quarter and beyond...Read More

  • 20. Cooter Brown's

    Uptown | Bars/Pubs

    This rambling tavern across from the Mississippi River levee boasts 400 different bottled beers and 45 on tap. That, along with the excellent...Read More

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