Rebuilt with pride after Hurricane Katrina swept through in 2005, New Orleans is one of America’s cultural treasure troves—and the explosion of food and music only gets better after the sun sets.
If you’re planning to visit the Crescent City, make sure to leave time to indulge in the following nocturnal activities—and plan on sleeping in.
1. Tip back a Sazerac (or two).
America’s first cocktail was fittingly born in party-happy New Orleans, when Antoine Peychaud created this drink in a French Quarter bar in 1838.
First made with the French brandy Sazerac-de-Forge et fils, the drink came into its own when bartender Leon Lamanthe added a dash of absinthe in 1873, earning him the title “Father of the Sazerac.” Today the drink is made with Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Herbsaint, sugar, lemon peel, and a dash of absinthe or bitters.
2. Live like a local on Frenchmen Street.
Pop into Bourbon Street on your trip, for sure, but don’t overlook the magic of another, less-traveled NOLA avenue: Frenchman Street.
As a lagniappe, you’ll find sketch artists, poets, and other street performers hanging around these clubs nightly. And with New Orleans’ much-celebrated open-container law, you can take your cocktail with you.
3. Visit the Maple Leaf in Uptown New Orleans.
Open since the ’70s, the Maple Leaf Bar is a NOLA institution, featuring musicians ranging from fledgling students to national acts (Bruce Springsteen is rumored to have made drop-in appearances). With live music seven nights a week, the Maple Leaf is a can’t-miss for great New Orleans jazz, blues, R&B, and funk.
Be prepared to pack in with locals who bop and dance to their favorite bands, especially if you go on a Tuesday night, when the popular Rebirth Brass Band performs. If poetry is more your speed, visit on a Sunday afternoon, when the venue’s outdoor courtyard hosts readers of prose and poetry, honoring famous Maple Leaf patron poet Everette Maddox.
4. Eat yourself silly.
We’d be remiss not to mention the soulful dining scene of NOLA. From po’boys to beignets to oysters on the half-shell, New Orleans’ spicy, flavorful food is a point of pride for the people who live there—and a must-eat for the people who visit.
You can make a night out of dining out, especially if you ask your waiter to keep the Abita flowing. Try the gumbo at Mother’s Restaurant, or visit the Garden District for upscale Cajun favorites at Commander’s Palace. Once you’ve had your fill of boudin, try the excellent sushi at Chiba.
Interested in soaking in the New Orleans nightlife? Gather friends and family and check out our New Orleans vacation rentals!