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. Maple Leaf

    Carrollton-Riverbend | Live Music

    The phrase "New Orleans institution" gets thrown around a lot, but this place deserves the title. It's wonderfully atmospheric, with pressed...Read More

  • 2. Preservation Hall

    French Quarter | Live Music

    At this cultural landmark founded in 1961, a cadre of distinguished New Orleans musicians, most of whom were schooled by an ever-dwindling group...Read More

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  • 3. The Spotted Cat

    Faubourg Marigny | Live Music

    Jazz, old-time, and swing bands perform nightly at this rustic club right in the thick of the Frenchmen Street action. Sets start at 2 pm and...Read More

  • 4. Tipitina's

    Uptown | Live Music

    Rub the bust of legendary New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair (aka "Fess") inside this Uptown landmark named for one of the late musician...Read More

  • 5. AllWays Lounge & Theatre

    Faubourg Marigny | Live Music

    This lounge-theater combo has become one of the centerpieces of the local indie, avant-garde, and art scenes. Evoking 1930s Berlin, the lounge...Read More

  • 6. Banks Street Bar and Grill

    Mid-City | Live Music

    This comfortable Mid-City nightspot has become one of the city's most reliable venues for local music, with live shows—sometimes several a night...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Blue Nile

    Faubourg Marigny | Live Music

    Soul Rebels, Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers, and Corey Henry & The Tremé Funktet are among the talented local acts that regularly grace...Read More

  • 9. Bullet's Sports Bar

    Tremé | Live Music

    For a real taste of New Orleans, drop by on a Thursday night, when Kermit Ruffins is playing. Not just the soul of the city, but the soul food...Read More

  • 10. Candlelight Lounge

    Tremé | Live Music

    This small, old-school joint draws a crowd on Monday for jazz by Corey Henry and Friends (and free red beans and rice), and local brass bands...Read More

  • 11. Carrollton Station

    Carrollton-Riverbend | Live Music

    This cozy neighborhood bar keeps unfolding the farther back you go—from the front bar to the stage to the backyard. The regular schedule of...Read More

  • 12. Checkpoint Charlie's

    Faubourg Marigny | Live Music

    This bustling corner bar draws young locals who shoot pool and listen to blues and rock, whether live or from the jukebox—24 hours a day, seven...Read More

  • 13. Chickie Wah Wah

    Mid-City | Live Music

    Right on the Canal Street streetcar line, this neighborhood music club is unassuming from the outside but hosts some of the city's most popular...Read More

  • 14. Circle Bar

    Warehouse District | Live Music

    Like something out of a Tim Burton film, this teetering old Victorian house that straddles the concrete jungles of downtown and the Warehouse...Read More

  • 15. Davenport Lounge

    French Quarter | Live Music

    These swanky digs in the Ritz-Carlton are home to their namesake, Jeremy Davenport, an old-school crooner in the mold of Sinatra and Crosby...Read More

  • 16. Dos Jefes Uptown Cigar Bar

    Uptown | Live Music

    A 20-minute cab ride from downtown, this popular Tchoupitoulas Street hangout for grown-ups is a lively den of blue smoke. The selection of...Read More

  • 17. Fritzel's European Jazz Pub

    French Quarter | Live Music

    An old-school gem in the midst of Bourbon Street's many venues with bad cover bands, this Dixieland music club, built in the style of the old...Read More

  • 18. House of Blues

    French Quarter | Live Music

    Despite its name, blues rarely makes the bill at this Decatur Street link in the national chain. The midsize venue embraces rock, country, soul...Read More

  • 19. Howlin' Wolf

    Warehouse District | Live Music

    This New Orleans favorite has long been a premier venue and anchor of the Warehouse District club and music scene. With a great corner location...Read More

  • 20. Kermit's Tremé Mother-in-Law Lounge

    Tremé | Live Music

    Local personality and jazz legend Kermit Ruffins now reigns at this brightly colored club that once belonged to R&B singer Ernie K-Doe....Read More

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