Back-to-Back bachelor and bachelorette parties, divorce celebrations, liquor fueled train wrecks in the making – New Orleans' Bourbon Street welcomes any and all reasons to celebrate. With bars open around the clock, spend some time on the Big Easy’s main drag and you'll see tipsy conventioneers, street performers like the guy who kneels with a (thankfully fake) horse's head, exotic dancers in various states of undress, religious protesters preaching perdition. The later the hour, the more these rambunctious groups converge into a carnival of questionable choices all to be slept off in the morning. Rinse and repeat.
Want to get in on the action? Here’s your guide to partying on the iconic Bourbon Street.
Let Your Drinks do the Walking
New Orleans has no legal restrictions against drinking in the streets if the cup is plastic, so Bourbon Street's bars take full advantage. One not to miss? The self-proclaimed “New Orleans’ strongest drink.” Tropical Isle's electric green Hand Grenade in to-go cups fashioned to look like an actual hand grenade. Look for the can't-miss guy in a dancing hand grenade costume to find the bar. It’s a hangover in a cup, but probably worth it. Everywhere you pass with Big-Ass Beers signs does indeed offer big-ass beers. And for a break in navigating the crowds, Pat O'Brien's signature hurricane is served in one of the most expansive courtyards on Bourbon Street. For some live music, check out their dueling piano show.
Ready for Your Solo Act
If you’re ready to live in the limelight, The Cat's Meow karaoke bar offers you the chance to belt out “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to your heart's content. The downside is that you'll have to hear everyone else's version but a good alcohol buffer should soften the flat notes.
Saints and/or Sinners
No one visits Bourbon Street for the food, but there are options if you need a late-night bite. Channing Tatum didn't just star in Magic Mike; the Louisiana native also opened a real life version of the man candy spot on Bourbon Street. Saints and Sinners is a bordello-style club where you can live out your fantasies amongst delicious Creole dishes that include crawfish mac and cheese and alligator bites. It's billed as a place “where the red light is always on,” so bring your singles (dollars and friends).
Bourbon Street is lined with tee shirt shops, trinkets, masks, and made-in-China voodoo dolls so almost nothing you buy will cost more than $5. It's not a terribly regrettable shopping decision aside from the fact that anything you purchase will very likely be forgotten somewhere along the streets on the long stumble home.
Words to the Wise
Your concierge will likely give you the standard Bourbon Street warnings, but a quick recap is that as much as it feels like Disneyland for Adults, it isn't. Be smart and stick with the people you came with. Take a cab back to your hotel if it’s extremely late, no matter how short the walk seems. Consider having a designated walker, or at least a less loaded walker to keep the good times safe and rolling.