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. d.b.a

    Faubourg Marigny | Bars/Pubs

    At this southern outpost of a popular pair of bars in Brooklyn and Manhattan's East Village, the selection of drinks—including international...Read More

  • 2. Maple Leaf

    Carrollton-Riverbend | Music Clubs

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

  • 3. Preservation Hall

    French Quarter | Music Clubs

    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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  • 4. The Spotted Cat

    Faubourg Marigny | Music Clubs

    Jazz, old-time, and swing bands perform nightly at this rustic club right in the thick of the Frenchmen Street action. Sets start at 4 pm on...Read More

  • 5. AllWays Lounge & Theatre

    Faubourg Marigny | Music Clubs

    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 | Music Clubs

    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. Bayou Beer 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

  • 8. BJ's Lounge

    Bywater | Bars/Pubs

    This gritty corner bar is a beloved neighborhood joint. Sometimes it hosts music, like Little Freddie King (most Fridays) and King James and...Read More

  • 9. Bullet's Sports Bar

    Tremé | Music Clubs

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

  • 10. Candlelight Lounge

    Tremé | Music Clubs

    This small, old-school joint draws a crowd on Wednesday night to hear the Treme Brass Band. Uncle Lionel Batiste, a club fixture of legendary...Read More

  • 11. Carrollton Station

    Carrollton-Riverbend | Music Clubs

    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 | Music Clubs

    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 | Music Clubs

    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 | Music Clubs

    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 | Music Clubs

    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 | Music Clubs

    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 | Music Clubs

    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 | Music Clubs

    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 | Music Clubs

    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. Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse

    French Quarter | Music Clubs

    Serious music lovers converge on this intimate lounge with a modern aesthetic. Irvin Mayfield, one of the city's great musicians and winner...Read More

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