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Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Bourbon Street in New Orleans

By Edited May 15, 2015 0 2

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street - Street Sign(91477)


 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a lot you can do if you're looking to have a good time when visiting New Orleans, but if this is your first time to party in the Big Easy, this guide will give you a huge jump-start on where to go and what to do to maximize your time in the Crescent City and get the most out of your first visit to world-famous Bourbon Street located in the heart of the French Quarter.

New Orleans is a party city and Bourbon Street is at the center of it all.   This guide will tell you about a secret place to find the best drink special on Bourbon Street, what bars to visit to sample New Orleans' signature drinks, which is the best nightclub to find a packed dance floor and will discuss the top locations to grab some grub while you're out partying.

Bourbon Street's Best Kept Secret

The Upstairs Drink Special at BBC

So you've arrived in New Orleans, made your way to the French Quarter and found your way down to Bourbon Street, the party capital of the Big Easy ... now what?

Bourbon Street Blues Company - Bourbon Street, New Orleans(91478)
Going to Bourbon Street is a lot like going to the movies, everything is going to be priced a little higher and there will definitely be something to see.  To ease yourself into the experience, begin by heading to The Bourbon Street Blues Company or BBC as its known to the locals. 

When you enter this bar you'll find live entertainment on the first floor.  Walk right past the stage and look for the nearly concealed staircase in the corner that leads to the upstairs bar and access to the BBC balcony.  Don't worry about the action you passed going on downstairs, this is Bourbon Street, you'll be able to easily hear all the music from upstairs.

The reason to start your night off at The Bourbon Street Blues Company is because the upstairs bar has an all-night drink special that can't be beat.  All drinks are 3-for-1.  Take advantage of the best drink special on Bourbon Street at the BBC upstairs bar and then head out onto the balcony while you enjoy your favorite beverage (times three) and do some people watching ... there's always something interesting going on in the street down below.

Enjoy a Hurricane in the Courtyard

Pat O's Signature Drink

Once you've had your fill of people watching on the balcony at BBC, grab a 'go cup' and head back down to Bourbon Street.  The 'go cup' (or large plastic or styrofoam cup) is necessary because New Orleans has a city ordinance against having bottles or glass containers on the street.  Make sure not to skip this step.

Pat O'Brien's Courtyard - Bourbon Street, New Orleans(91479)
Once you exit The Bourbon Street Blues Company, take a left up the street until you see the entrance to Pat O'Brien's on your right.  Once you enter, make your way straight back to the courtyard and grab a table, a server will be with you shortly.  If you can, try and grab a spot near the large fountain located in the center of the courtyard.

While at Pat O's you'll want to order a Hurricane, their signature drink.  This frosty beverage comes in a souvenir glass that you can take with you (for a price).  If you're planning to do a lot of dancing later in the evening you may want to skip this souvenir opportunity, but if not, it's a great keepsake from your visit to the Crescent City.

New Orleans' Most Powerful Drink

The Hand Grenade from Tropical Isle

So by now, you've done some people watching at BBC and enjoyed beverages hanging out in the courtyard at Pat O's, but now its time to kick this party into high gear.

Tropical Isle - Bourbon Street, New Orleans(91480)
Head back out onto Bourbon Street and take a right.  Walk to the far end of Bourbon Street (opposite Canal Street) and stop in at Tropical Isle.  Tropical Isle makes the most powerful drink on Bourbon Street, the Hand Grenade.

The Hand Grenade comes in a long, neon green tube garnished with none other than a plastic hand grenade.  This drink is strong and has a syrup like consistency.  It's sweet which makes it easy to drink, but watch out because the effects are powerful even for the biggest drinkers.

Tropical Isle is not really a destination for entertainment as much as it is a mandatory stop on your checklist to sample one of New Orleans' most signature drinks.  Grab a Hand Grenade from the convenient walk-up window on Bourbon Street and be on your way, there's still plenty to see and do.

Make sure when ordering your drink the bartender knows you want the long tube and not just a plastic cup.  Many people keep the branded, neon green tube as a souvenir and since its plastic, its okay to take with you as you further explore Bourbon Street. 

Getting Lucky on Bourbon Street

Lucky Dogs are Must Grab Grub

After all that drinking it will likely be about time to put a little extra food in your belly to offset all that alcohol. 

Lucky Dog Vendor - Bourbon Street, New Orleans(91483)
Lucky Dogs are the most popular street vendor on Bourbon Street.  Their portable stands can be found on almost every street corner.  This is typically a great time during the night to grab a hot dog from one of these local entrepreneurs because if you followed the advice about Tropical Isle not being a destination, you're already on the move with a drink in hand ready to wash down the items you purchase from the Lucky Dog vendor.

Most nights you won't have to go much further than the corner Tropical Isle is located on to find a Lucky Dog stand.  Just walk up to the portable stand shaped like a hot dog and grab some grub.  Afterward, just stand or sit on the curb near the Lucky Dog stand and watch the spectacle as all types of people walk past as they enjoy their evening on Bourbon Street.

Catch Your Breath at the Piano Bar

Pat O'Brien's Hidden Jewel

After you enjoy your Lucky Dog and are refueled for the rest of the night, head back down Bourbon Street toward Canal Street.  Your next stop is technically 'off Bourbon', but it's within a stone's throw and is a must visit.

Pat O'Brien's Piano Bar - Bourbon Street, New Orleans(91484)
As you head toward Canal Street be on the lookout for St. Peter Street.  When you arrive at St. Peter take a left.  About halfway down the block you'll see Pat O'Brien's side entrance on your right which gives you access to their piano bar.

The piano bar at Pat O's is the perfect spot to let that Lucky Dog settle in your stomach.  When you enter the piano bar (to the right of the Pat O'Brien's side entrance) you'll notice very quickly that the place is packed and seating is at a premium.  Grab the first table available (no matter where it's located) and sit down.

When your server comes around, this is your opportunity to sample another of Pat O'Brien's signature drinks, the Mint Julep.  The Mint Julep is a southern favorite.  Its that perfect drink to sip on as you listen to the great tunes coming from the grand piano on stage. 

The live performers at Pat O's piano bar are always wonderful.  Some French Quarter visitors will spend an entire evening here just sipping on Mint Juleps and listening to the music.

New Orleans Original Daiquiris

Home of the Knock-Your-Socks-Off 190 Octane

Now that you've had some food and mellowed out to a tune or two at Pat O'Brien's piano bar, it's time to jump back into the crowd on Bourbon Street and fire things back up to full throttle.

Leave the piano bar the same way you came, take a left out of the Pat O's door located on St. Peter (the secret side entrance) and head left to get yourself back on Bourbon Street.  Once on Bourbon, take another left and about halfway down the block you'll see New Orleans Original Daiquiris on your right (directly across from the Bourbon Street entrance to Pat O'Brien's you used to access the courtyard and enjoy that Hurricane earlier in the evening).

New Orleans Original Daiquiris - Bourbon Street, New Orleans(91485)
New Orleans Original Daiquiris is home to one of the most potent drinks on Bourbon Street, the 190 Octane.  The 190 Octane is their best-selling daiquiri made from orange juice, orange flavors and 190 proof grain spirits (which equates to 95% alcohol)!!! 

You'll want to be extra careful when consuming this delicious frozen beverage.  Your best plan of attack here to is to get your 190 Octane in a 'go cup' and then head back out onto Bourbon Street.  Definitely drink this daiquiri slowly. 

This is the perfect opportunity to wander up and down Bourbon Street making a mental list of other establishments you'll want to visit later in your trip.  There are plenty of bars, dance clubs, New Orleans hotels, top-notch restaurants, sex shops, gentlemen's clubs, hole-in-the-wall eateries, souvenir shops, etc. for you to choose from.

Best Place to Party on Bourbon Street

Razzoo Bar & Patio - Top French Quarter Night Club

Once you've finished your 190 Octane and tour of Bourbon Street, head down to the 500 block and be on the lookout for Razzoo Bar & Patio.  Razzoo's, as its known locally, is the premiere night club on Bourbon Street. 

Enter Razzoo's through either door that opens out onto Bourbon Street.  Regardless of which door you enter, you'll find yourself a few short steps from a bar and elevated platform that looks down on the dance floor which is always packed. 

Razzoo Bar & Patio - Bourbon Street, New Orleans(91486)
Between the two front doors is the main stage where you'll find live entertainment playing nightly or on Friday and Saturday nights you'll find an MC on stage hosting the party.  On the weekends. the stage is open for all the ladies to get up and "shake their bootay", sorry guys, only females on the stage these nights you'll have to watch the action from the packed dance floor.

By this part of the evening you may find yourself wanting to slow down on the alcohol consumption or simply stop altogether.  Whether you want to drink water for the rest of the evening or keep the party going with more alcohol, the bartenders at Razzoo's can accommodate you.

For those who want to ease themselves into the wild, party atmosphere at Razzoo Bar & Patio you can do so by hanging out along the railing that overlooks the crowd on the dance floor.  There are railings on both sides of the dance floor and you'll find people lined up and down the rail all evening long checking out the action down below.  If a spot comes available, grab it immediately as it won't be available long.

If you're ready to jump in the mix or climb on-stage (ladies only) head down to the dance floor.  It's advisable to finish your drinks before heading to the dance floor.  Once you're out there you'll find yourself among a sea of people and spilled drinks are fairly common.

After you've worn yourself out on the dance floor or simply need a break from the party, head further into Razzoo's and through several sets of double doors you'll find an amazing courtyard.  The ambiance of the courtyard is great.  The decor and architecture really provide a good feel of what it would be like to live in the French Quarter in downtown New Orleans.

The outdoor courtyard at Razzoo Bar & Patio has plenty of seating, a full bar, several locations for grab-and-go beer sales, a large fountain with a flame feature and multiple flat screen TVs to catch your favorite sporting event.  This is the perfect place to really wind down from an incredible night on Bourbon Street before heading back to your accommodations in New Orleans which hopefully is one of the hotels close to Bourbon Street.

One Final Stop on Bourbon Street

Grab a Greasy Slice at Mango Mango Daiquiris

Mango Mango Daiquiris - Bourbon Street, New Orleans(91487)
After dancing your tail off at Razzoo's and trekking all over Bourbon Street you'll likely find yourself hungry as you head home or back to your hotel for the night.  Unless you've partied so far into the wee hours of the morning that they are actually closed (which is very possible), take a right as you head out the front doors of Razzoo's and walk down to Mango Mango Daiquiris which is at the far end of Bourbon Street closest to Canal Street.

After sampling several of New Orleans' most signature drinks and partying at the French Quarter's premiere night club nothing caps the night better than grabbing a greasy slice of pizza at Mango Mango Daiquiris.  Sure the pizza's a little greasy, but nothing's better at the end of a long night of hard-core partying and soaking up a seemingly endless evening of Bourbon Street nightlife.

Final Tips for a First Night on Bourbon Street

To ensure you get the most out of your first night on Bourbon Street make sure to follow these final few tips:

  • Eat a big meal before you start drinking.  You will be eager to start partying immediately once you arrive in New Orleans, but it's important to grab a fairly large dinner to help with all the alcohol you plan on consuming.  New Orleans has some of the best cuisine in the entire world, take the time to try out some of the local flavors.
  • Get started early.  Most of the locals won't even head downtown until around 11:00pm, but it's not their first trip to Bourbon Street and they won't be trying to squeeze as much in as you will.  Get your evening started early so that you can get the full experience of Bourbon Street, but won't find yourself trying to shoe horn your entire journey into only a couple of hours.
  • Book hotel accommodations in New Orleans, preferably at one of the hotels close to Bourbon Street.  This way you don't have to worry about driving after you've sampled several of New Orleans' most signature and potent frozen beverages.
  • Carry cab fare or designate a driver.  If your hotel is not in downtown New Orleans and you can't walk to it at the end of the night, make sure you either still have enough cash on hand to catch a cab or make sure someone in the group is made the designated driver at the beginning of the night.
  • Pace yourself!  Enjoying a night on Bourbon Street isn't a sprint, it's a marathon.  Take your time.  Enjoy the experience fully at each destination.  Know your limits and stay within them.  Regardless of whether you're on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans on anywhere else, you should always drink responsibly.

Bourbon Street Wrap Up

Now that you know what to do, go do it.  New Orleans is one of the most exciting, thrilling and entertaining cities you will ever visit.  By following the steps in the Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Bourbon Street in New Orleans you are now armed with the knowledge necessary to make a memory and create an experience that will last a lifetime.

Get out there and do as they say in New Orleans ...

Laissez les bons temps rouler ... Let the good times roll!!!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide - Map to Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street Blues Company Get Directions
441 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Pat O'Brien's Courtyard Get Directions
624 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Tropical Isle Bourbon Get Directions
721 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
Pat O'Brien's Piano Bar Get Directions
718 St Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
New Orleans Original Daiquiris Get Directions
633 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
Razzoo Bar & Patio Get Directions
511 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
Mango Mango Daiquiris Get Directions
201 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

If you enjoyed this article or have any other great advice for beginners visiting Bourbon Street, I'd love to hear from you.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Comments

May 24, 2012 10:54pm
aberdelle
Now that sounds like a great day/night. Pretty sure I would need to be carried home by the end! Never been, but always wanted to hit up Bourbon Street. Someday!Thanks for the rundown. I will keep it bookmarked for when I finally make it to the "Big Easy".
May 25, 2012 11:33am
Senterprises
Thanks aberdelle.

This little formula makes for a great first night on Bourbon Street for first timers. The absolute key is to PACE YOURSELF!

I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for reading!
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Bibliography

  1. New Orleans Original Daiquiris "Drink Menu." http://www.fat-tuesday.com. 4/03/2012 <Web >
  2. "Everclear (alcohol)." http://en.wikipedia.org. 4/03/2012 <Web >
  3. "Razzoo Homepage." Razzoo Homepage. 8/03/2012 <Web >

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