The infamous Bourbon Street, also known as Rue Bourbon, conjures up images of endless partying, drinks of all shapes and sizes, strips clubs, bachelorette parties, and of course, Mardi Gras. Outside of Mardi Gras season, visitors flock to this playground of the South for its Creole restaurants, live music venues, souvenir shops, and well-known drinking establishments.
It would be a shame to visit New Orleans and not spend at least a little time on Bourbon Street, and the experience can be vastly different by day and night. Many walking tours of the French Quarter make a stop along the famous street, including voodoo, literary, music, and heritage tours. Those who’d like to see the street at its debaucherous best can opt for an evening pub crawl to some of the city’s most legendary party venues.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bourbon Street is a must-see for first-time visitors and partiers.
- Daytime walking tours show off a much different vibe than nighttime pub crawls.
- It’s legal to consume alcohol while walking on Bourbon Street.
- Visit by day and by night to get the full experience.
- Even by day, Bourbon Street can be R-rated, so it may not be appropriate for children.
How to Get There
It’s easy to walk to Bourbon Street from just about any place in the historic French Quarter. Visitors coming from Uptown can ride the historic St. Charles streetcar to Canal Street and walk a few blocks.
When to Get There
While it’s possible to catch beads from Bourbon Street’s famous balconies throughout the year, peak season lasts from February to May, when mild weather and festivals like Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival pull in visitors from far and wide. Another popular time to visit is over Labor Day Weekend, when the street hosts the LGBTQ-friendly Southern Decadence Festival.
Boozing on Bourbon Street 101
Many visitors comes to Bourbon Street, one of the most famous streets in America, to drink, and there are numerous options to do so. Well-known watering holes include Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (one of the oldest buildings in the French Quarter), the Old Absinthe House (sample the Absinthe House frappe), Cafe Lafitte In Exile (the oldest gay bar in the country), and Pat O’Brien’s, home of the hurricane cocktail.