16 Things to do in New Orleans at Night
New Orleans knows how to “pass a good time”, and the city’s nightlife is true to its reputation as one of America’s premiere cites for fun and leisure. There are many ways to enjoy the temperate Gulf Coast nights, and whether your preference is music, dining, theatrical entertainment or communing with the spirits of old, New Orleans at night has something to temp your playful side. Laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll) with these 16 Things to do in New Orleans at Night:
SPECIAL – Starting December 9th, we will be offering our French Quarter Creole Christmas Tour on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Listen to live acoustic jazz at Preservation Hall. Serving as a music venue, a touring band, and a non-profit organization, Preservation Hall is dedicated to preserving one of New Orleans’s unique music contributions – Jazz. Established in 1961 and located at 726 St. Peter, in the heart of the French Quarter, Preservation Hall offers multiple show times per night, seven days a week. General admission tickets are $15-$20 at the door, or you can reserve tickets with “Big Shot” seating for $35-$50.
Experience a piece of history with dinner and a river cruise aboard the Steamboat Natchez. Revived in 1975, the Natchez is one of only two true steam powered sternwheelers in operation on the Mississippi today. Let the sounds of her calliope take you back in time as you enjoy stunning views of the New Orleans skyline from the waters of the Mighty Mississippi. A ride on the Natchez (or her competitor the Creole Queen) includes an Evening Jazz Cruise only, or the option to dine aboard, buffet style, with the Evening Jazz Cruise with Dinner selection. Adult tickets for Jazz only are $48 and $79 if you choose the dinner option, discounted rates are offered for children age 2-12. Both cruises run twice nightly, and provide a unique experience the whole family can enjoy!
Take a Ghost Tour. The French Quarter is rich in spooky tales and mysterious happenings of days gone by. Stories of hauntings abound in the Vieux Carre. Fact or fiction, these tantalizing tales of loss, love gone wrong, torture, and souls returning to claim their due are sure to delight even the most steely nerved horror fans. If a little spook is what you’re looking for, the New Orleans French Quarter, with it’s rich ghostly history is sure to satisfy. Free Tours by Foot New Orleans offers Ghost Tours nightly, beginning at 7:30, at name your own rate prices.
Enjoy unique New Orleans cocktails at one of its vintage or historic bars. Sip on a Sazerac (rumor has it, the Sazerac is the world’s first mixed drink) in the bar of the same name. Located inside the Roosevelt Hotel, The Sazerac Bar was the favorite New Orleans hangout of it’s most infamous governor, Huey P. Long. Long’s favorite drink? The Ramos Gin Fizz, another New Orleans original. Invented by Henry C. Ramos in the 1880s, this frothy gin drink remains a notable classic. Making this classic cocktail is a labor intensive process, so if you order one, be sure to patient and tip your bartender generously. If a more casual setting is your style, be sure to make a stop at Jean Lafitt’s Blacksmith Shop – one of the oldest standing structures in the French Quarter. Built between 1722 and 1732, Jean Lafitte’s has survived two fires, and is rumored to have been the headquarters of the notorious pirate and smuggler, Jean Lafitte and his brother John. Take our self-guided New Orleans’ Cocktail Tour.
Shop the Frenchmen Street Art Market. Located on the east side of Esplanade Avenue, just steps away from the French Quarter, Frenchmen Street is a favorite among New Orleans locals. The Frenchmen St. Art Market is the city’s only weekly nighttime art market. Open Thursday to Monday, the open air market hosts a variety of unique, local and regional artists. Purchase original art, jewelry and crafts, and meet the artisans who make them.
Before or after browsing the market, step into one of Frenchmen Street’s many music venues and listen to live, local music. There is no shortage of great music options along Frenchmen Street. A favorite among local residents, Frenchmen Street features two blocks of New Orleans’s most talented local musicians seven nights a week. If music is on your itinerary, Frenchmen Street is a must see for an authentic New Orleans music experience. Many venues are free of cover charge, and also serve up some of New Orleans’s finest culinary treats. Frenchmen Street is located in the Marigny neighborhood, just steps from the historic French Quarter.
If New Orleans is anything, she is permissive, risqué, and a bit naughty. What better way to enjoy New Orleans cheeky side than with a classic New Orleans burlesque show! Like the Crescent City herself, the New Orleans Burlesque scene ranges from classic to the truly outrageous. Lucky Pierre’s Flim Flam Variety Hour on Sundays and Wednesdays is a 1920’s vaudeville style show featuring comedy, magic and burlesque. Bustout Burlesque takes the Main Stage at House of Blues monthly with their 1950’s style show, including a comic emcee and a live jazz band. No taboo is off limits to Bella Blue and her team of burlesque babes. They break all the rules a couple times a month at the All Ways Lounge and Theatre. Burlesque tickets will cost, on average, $10 – $20 per person.
See a traveling production of your favorite Broadway musical at the spectacular Saenger Theater. Built in 1927 for an unprecedented $2.5 million, the Saenger received a complete renovation and reprisal after being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The interior of the theatre features Greek and Roman statuary, decorative columns and molding, and arched entryways. The Italian garden feel is capped by a spectacular domed “sky” roof complete with twinkling stars. A trip to the Saenger is a night of theater you’ll never forget! The Saenger Theater is located at 1111 Canal Street in the heart of the Downtown, Central Business District and features the Broadway in New Orleans series, as well as dance, music, and comedy performances.
Have dinner at one of New Orleans’s premier restaurants. New Orleans is well known for its unique cuisine, and now more than ever serves as a mecca for those who are serious about dining out. Since 2005, the number of restaurants in the Crescent City has doubled, offering something for every taste and budget. Whether your tastes are for the freshest seafood, authentic French cuisine, Cajun, Creole, or a fusion of flavors, there is a dinner spot sure to tantalize your taste buds. If an unforgettable dining experience is what you’re looking for, consider venturing out of the French Quarter and into one of New Orleans’s popular residential neighborhoods. Commander’s Palace in the Garden District and Cafe Degas in Faubourg St. John are just two examples of what you’ll find if you’re willing to venture out.
Enjoy dinner, drinks, and music in the French Quarter. Many French Quarter establishments offer dining, cocktails and musical entertainment all in one spot. Richard Fiske’s Martini Bar and Restaurant (RF’s), located inside the Chateau LeMoyne Hotel, offers award-winning Creole cuisine, cocktails and live music seven nights a week. Tucked away at 830 Conti Street, you’ll find the rich atmosphere of The Bombay Club of New Orleans. With an extensive collection of fine liquors, wines and cigars, and a variety of unique New Orleans dishes, The Bombay Club of New Orleans provides a luxurious environment for dining, drinking and enjoying live music. Both of these establishments provide curtained private booths for an intimate, romantic evening out with your special someone.
Tipitina’s, located on the corner of Napoleon Avenue and Tchoupitoulas (pronounced: chop-a-too-las) Street in New Orleans’s Uptown neighborhood, stands as a testament to the care and love within New Orleans’s tight-knit music community. Established in 1977, by a group of young music fans, Tip’s was founded to serve as a performance venue for one of the Crescent City’s most loved and influential musicians, Professor Longhair. The venue hosts world-class musical performances in an intimate, standing room atmosphere, but that isn’t all. Tipitina’s Foundation works year round and statewide to offer support for Louisiana’s irreplaceable music community by providing instruments to Louisiana school band programs, offering workshops and internships for aspiring musicians and music professionals, and maintaining a state-wide network of workforce development and job skills training centers for professionals in music, film, and other forms of media.
If you are visiting during Carnival Season take in some of the city’s most popular, nighttime Mardi Gras parades. Carnival season begins at Twelfth Night on January 5th each year. The length of the season varies from year to year, concluding with Mardi Gras, 41 days before Easter. Krewe du Vieux serves up the raciest, most irreverent satire in their annual, motor free parade through the French Quarter. This Krewe of naughty carnival traditionalists doesn’t hold back, if you have children with you, you might want to skip this one in favor of one of the city’s more family-friendly events. Krewe of Muses rolls on the Thursday night before Mardi Gras and is New Orlean’s original all-female Krewe. Krewe of Endymion provides the largest parade of the Mardi Gras season, with masked revelers and an impressive array of LED lighted floats. Both Muses and Endymion are family friendly. Dress in costume and Mardi Gras like the locals do!
Celebration in the Oaks, in New Orleans City Park, is one of the country’s premiere lights festivals. If you are traveling during the Christmas season, you’ll want to take the Streetcar up to City Park for this light show spectacular. With the park’s hundreds year old oaks covered in thousands of lights, and light displays scattered through 25 acres of the park’s beautiful, natural landscape, you will feel as if you have been transported into a magical wonderland of lights. Take a train ride through the glittering light exhibits and enjoy the animated Cajun Night Before Christmas display. New Orleans City Park’s Celebration in the Oaks is a holiday tradition for the whole family. Pre-purchased tickets are encouraged and will run you about $8 per person.
Listen to music, dance and…bowl? Yep! New Orleanians take live music wherever they can get it, even at the bowling alley. Rock N Bowl is a unique New Orleans establishment serving up a combination of activity and entertainment. Take a break from bowling a few frames with a couple spins around the dance floor. Take a taxi or Uber over to Carrolton Street on a Wednesday night for live Swing or on Thursday night for Zydeco. Weekend nights you’ll find mostly rock music up on the stage. Whatever night you choose, you won’t find a bowling experience like this anywhere else!
Make your celebration al-fresco. While New Orleans gets pretty steamy in the summertime, most of the year the subtropical climate along the Gulf Coast makes for the perfect mix of warm air and light breezes. Enjoy New Orleans’s temperate nights by taking your party outdoors. Many establishments throughout the city offer outdoor patios and hidden courtyard spaces. Enjoy a famous New Orleans Hurricane at Pat O’Briens Courtyard Restaurant on Bourbon Street or grab a beer or cocktail and take it to the streets. That’s right, there
are no laws against open containers in New Orleans. Browse the sights or do a little people watching as you sip and stroll. Do be smart though, no glass containers are allowed, so be sure to ask your bartender for a go-cup and enjoy this unique New Orleans tradition.