History in New Orleans runs deep (almost 300 years), and there’s no place as storied as Bourbon Street.
One of the most famous (or, uh… infamous) streets in the world, Bourbon achieved notoriety when it became a center of prostitution, drugs, heavy drinking and partying. Not much has changed in the past 100 years—most of the buildings are original—and it’s still the go-to spot for bar crawls, strip clubs and full-on debauchery.
Thanks to its colorful past and notoriety, Bourbon Street is an essential place for bachelor parties to stroll, knock back a drink—a Hurricane, a Hand Grenade or a ‘huge-ass beer’ (all of which were conceived here)—and experience one of the most historic streets in America.
As much as Bourbon Street is the ultimate party strip, you shouldn’t spend all your time here. In fact, several other streets are gaining popularity, offering jazz clubs, cheap eats, a string of bars and hordes of people partying after hours. These can’t-miss party streets are less touristy (they’re primarily favored by locals), and they have become bona fide staples of the nightlife scene.
Frenchmen StreetFrenchmen Street, New Orleans, LA, United States
In the 1980s, Bourbon Street reached a saturation point with tourists and unruly behavior. So, to steer clear from the madness, locals made Frenchmen Street in the Marigny their designated “Bourbon Street.”
Chockfull of live jazz bars, restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and even an outdoor market where local artists sell hip, one-of-a-kind crafts, Frenchmen Street is more laid back than Bourbon—but at only three blocks long (meaning a heavier concentration of partiers) it’s still considerably wild.
Just a short, ten-minute stroll from Bourbon, Frenchmen Street reached national fame with the Saints Super Bowl win in 2010 hosted one of the largest, craziest celebrations here. Ever since, it’s crawling with both locals and tourists, all of whom hit up live music venues, like The Spotted Cat and Snug Harbor, and watch all the action from balconies like Dat Dog.
FreretFreret Street, New Orleans, LA, United States
For the longest time, Freret Street in Uptown was a wasteland. There were dingy bars that were too dive-y even for the crunchiest hipster.
But in 2009, a group of local tastemakers opened Cure, a high-end bar that introduced the craft-cocktail movement to New Orleans. It became an instant and successful destination bar, and soon enough, the crowds came and invaded the street. Locals made the dingy bars cool again while other entertainment venues opened, and the perfect storm created one hell of a scene.
Now, the eight-block street is constantly flooding with nightlife revelers on the weekends, especially college students since Freret is near Tulane University.
Franklin AvenueFranklin Avenue, New Orleans, LA, United States
The Marigny neighborhood (on the other side of Esplanade, the street that divides the French Quarter) attracts huge waves of visitors who, almost a decade ago, felt unsafe here when the sun set. Other than Frenchmen Street, there wasn’t much to see at night. Marigny is mostly residential with dim streets and sporadically placed businesses, not to mention a history of robberies and burglaries.
But since Hurricane Katrina, Marigny along the Bywater went through a major renaissance in which notable restaurants, bars and galleries started opening, and a cool artist community began to thrive.
One of the most well known streets on which local hipsters, artists and blue-collar workers alike converge is Franklin Street, between Dauphine and Chartres. There are only a handful of low-key bars here (Big Daddy’s, The Franklin, Lost Love Lounge, Cutter’s Bar and, the most well known, Mimi’s) but after midnight the street gets crammed with nightlife revelers knocking back that one last nightcap until 4 am.
Canal StreetCanal Street, New Orleans, LA, United States
Canal Street used to be the Fifth Avenue of New Orleans but now it’s more like Broadway, with its tourist traps, fast-food restaurants, street performers and souvenir shops. It’s home to most chain hotels in New Orleans (JW Marriott, Sheraton, etc), and the streetcar runs along this wide street, so there’s tons of foot traffic, especially at night. While it’s definitely not a place you want to hang out for hours, it’s worth a stroll considering the flashing neon lights, the crowds and all the somewhat trashy madness that makes it a beautiful trainwreck you can’t miss. There are tons of bars you can pop into, but it’s best to order a cocktail to go and cruise the street, where the real entertainment happens.