Accessibility Tools

Bourbon Street, New Orleans: Ultimate Guide

Bourbon Street, New Orleans: Ultimate Guide

Mention New Orleans and you’re sure to hear the words “Bourbon Street” follow next. As one of the most famous streets in the world, its reputation proceeds itself as the ultimate party destination. On any day of the year, Bourbon Street is full of locals and visitors celebrating bachelor parties, Mardi Gras, or just a plain old Wednesday.

Take a step back from the nightlife scene of Bourbon Street, and you’ll find that it’s also full of rich history and unique spots, from historic jazz clubs to iconic New Orleans restaurants. It’s a street that knows no borders: no matter who you are, where you come from, or why you’re there – you’re invited to join the celebration.

What are you waiting for? Book your Nola vacation rental and come experience what all of the hype is about. We’ve got the ultimate Bourbon Street guide right here for you!

The History of Bourbon Street

Photo Credit: GTS Productions

As one of the oldest streets in America, Bourbon Street has an extensive history that makes it what it is today.

Located in the heart of the French Quarter, the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans, Bourbon Street, was laid out in 1721 by French engineer Adrian de Pauger. He named the thirteen-block street after the reigning house of France, Rue Bourbon. While the original architecture along the street reflected its French roots, Spanish-style buildings replaced them following a fire in 1794.

Bourbon Street was designed as a residential street conveniently located near the center of the Big Easy, the French Quarter. Over the next two centuries, Bourbon St. evolved into an entertainment hub of its own, opening jazz clubs, bars, restaurants, and strip clubs all along the street.

It became known as the nightlife epicenter of the city, offering people of all backgrounds a place to let loose, listen to live music, and partake in the celebrations of New Orleans. Today, Bourbon Street may cater to tourists more than locals, but it remains one of the most iconic streets in the world for a reason.

What to Expect on Bourbon Street

The Geography of Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street spans 13 blocks through the French Quarter, running parallel to the Mississippi River, starting at Canal Street and ending at Esplanade Avenue.

Starting from Canal Street, the first seven blocks of Bourbon St. are perhaps the most well-known. As soon as you cross over from Canal Street, you’ll see bars on every corner, neon lights, people greeting you from balconies, and hand grenades in the hands of happy customers. Here, you’ll find iconic bars like Cat’s Meow, the Old Absinthe House, and Maison Bourbon. These first seven blocks are also home to well-known local restaurants such as Galatoire’s and Olde Nola Cookery.

The intersection of St. Ann Street and Bourbon St. is known as the Lavender Line, marking the beginning of a strip dedicated to the LGBTQIA+ community. These lower blocks of Bourbon St. are home to gay dance clubs, drag queen street performances and even the oldest gay bar in America.

The “To-Go Cup” Culture

Photo Credit: Dave Johnson via Flickr CC 2.0

What you’ve heard about New Orleans is 100% accurate: there’s no open container law. And there is no area in New Orleans that takes more advantage of this freedom than Bourbon Street.

In fact, many of the bars along Bourbon Street aren’t full bars at all, just corner shops ready to put a drink in your head as you head to the next spot. Tropical Isle is home to the original Hand Grenade, a sweet concoction of liquor served to you in a stadium-sized hand grenade cup. Perhaps the most famous Bourbon drink of all, you won’t go a block without seeing them all over. If that’s not your thing, there are plenty of New Orleans classics, like daiquiris and hurricanes, also gracing the street in to-go cups.

Safety First

While Bourbon Street is always a good time, it can also get a bit rowdy. Strolling Bourbon Street as a family can be done by day, but it is not a place for children after dark. Beyond the restaurants, all bars and clubs are 21+.

It’s also not uncommon to experience pit-pocketing on this busy street. We recommend traveling in groups, keeping your belongings on you at all times, and leaving valuables at home.

Where to Eat and Drink on Bourbon Street

Pat O’Brien’s

Photo Credit: Andriy Blokhin
  • Address: 718 St. Peter Street (600 block of Bourbon Street)
  • Price Point: $$

Pat O’Brien’s is a bar and restaurant that is well-loved by everyone in New Orleans. While technically on Peter Street, they have a second entrance on Bourbon Street that is easy to spot while you’re walking the block.

This iconic spot is known for its quintessentially New Orleans courtyard, infamous piano lounge, and of course, their specialty drink – the Hurricane.

Whether you come for the dueling pianos or linger in the courtyard over Cajun food, you’re in for a treat.

Fritzel’s European Jazz Club

Photo Credit: Marco Metzler via Flickr CC 2.0
  • Address: 733 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA
  • Price Point: $$

Fritzel’s European Jazz Club is the place to go if you’re looking for live jazz music. A popular destination since 1969, Fritzel’s is known for its daily jazz performances and laid-back, intimate atmosphere.

No matter what time of the day you’re on Bourbon Street, Fritzel’s is ready for you. Their daily Dixieland jazz performances start at 12:30 pm, and the bar turns into a swing jazz performance by night. It’s one of the few places on Bourbon Street where you can find plenty of seating, a relaxing atmosphere, and live music daily. With an extensive drink menu as well, it’s got everything you need after a long day of exploring!

Cafe Lafitte in Exile

Photo Credit: Tony Webster via Flickr CC 2.0
  • Address: 901 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA
  • Price Point: $$

Cafe Lafitte in Exile is famous for its claim to be the oldest gay bar in America. Open 24/7, Cafe Lafitte welcomes locals and visitors year-round to enjoy its lively atmosphere. Here, you’ll find karaoke nights, disco parties, and special events year-round.

And if you’re looking for a more laid-back atmosphere on Bourbon Street, Cafe Lafitte’s upstairs balcony is the perfect spot for you.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop

Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr CC 2.0
  • Address: 941 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA
  • Price Point: $

Ready for another American history lesson? Opened in 1722 (yes, you read that right), Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is said to be the oldest structure operating as a bar in the USA. Legend has it that Jean Lafitte and his brother once used this building as a New Orleans base for their smuggling operations.

Lafitte’s is known for its specialty drink menu, with options like frozen Voodoo Daiquiris and Hurricanes at the top of the list. The atmosphere is dark and moody, and you’ll be graced with live piano music any given night you’re there. Pull up a seat at this cozy dive bar and enjoy taking part in history.

The Old Absinthe House

Photo Credit: Jenni Konrad via Flickr CC 2.0
  • Address: 240 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70112
  • Price Point: $$

The Old Absinthe House is located on the corner of Bienville and Bourbon Street in a Spanish building dating back to 1806. This historic bar has welcomed many celebrities throughout the generations, including legends like Franklin Roosevelt.

While the interior of this old bar hasn’t changed much over the years, they have perfected their specialty drink menu. Most famous is, of course, the Absinthe Frappe. Made with absinthe, simple syrup, and soda water, it’s a crowd favorite among locals. Add this iconic bar to one of your must-visits along your Bourbon Street walking tour.


Photo Credit: Wayne Hsieh via Flickr CC 2.0
  • Address: 209 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130
  • Price Point: $$$$

Galatoire’s is unlike any other spot on Bourbon Street. This award-winning restaurant offers a reprieve from the busy street with an upscale atmosphere fit for any celebration. While the elegant decor is noteworthy, the food itself is the star here.

Having won multiple culinary awards, Galatoire’s is celebrated for its sophisticated take on classic French-Creole cuisine. The menu features Louisiana classic dishes, such as shrimp remoulade, oyster rockefeller, turtle soup, and a seasonal selection of fresh fish.

Galatoire’s isn’t a casual drop-in spot along your Bourbon Street adventures. Reservations are recommended, and business casual is required. We promise it’s well worth it!

P.S. Be sure to check out our other favorite restaurants in the New Orleans French Quarter.

A Day on Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it sure lives up to its reputation. From the live jazz clubs to the historic bars to the award-winning restaurants, Bourbon Street knows how to celebrate and does it well.

No matter what time of the year you visit, Bourbon Street is worth a trip. Stay at one of our vacation rentals and experience the most famous street in the world! We promise you won’t regret it!

Latest Articles

How to Get a Commercial Short-Term Rental Permit in New Orleans

The Big Easy is an over-the-top experience for the senses. Spectacular live-music scene, mouthwat…

Why Summer is The Best Time to Visit New Orleans

When you Google ‘Best time to visit New Orleans,’ you’ll likely get an answer that says ‘February…

What to Know About Acquiring a Short-Term Rental Permit in New Orleans

Photo by Kool C on Unsplash  Over the last few years, vacation rentals have become a more…