10 Things to Do in New Orleans at Night

Going out partying, getting spooked by ghost stories or going up in a helicopter are some of the nighttime activities in New Orleans that I have compiled to guarantee you the most fun during your visit to this beautiful city.

Keyvis Montilva

Keyvis Montilva

11 min read

10 Things to Do in New Orleans at Night

New Orleans by Night | ©manuel secher

This city has been known for its nightlife for a couple of centuries, as it has always been able to adapt to what its population asks for when it comes to entertainment. The plans to see and do in New Orleans that I have compiled for you are a perfect balance between the most unbridled aspects of that nightlife identity and the safety offered to all its tourists.

I invite you to continue reading this list if you wish to have different alternatives for the nights that will be part of your tourist itinerary.

1. Attend a burlesque show in the style of the late Storyville

Storyville| ©Gary Burke
Storyville| ©Gary Burke

For several decades in New Orleans there was a red light district called Storyville. In short, it was a zone of tolerance for prostitution by the authorities and, since its prohibition in 1917, the burlesque shows remained as a reminder of the era.

The Burlesque Ballroom, the Royal Sonesta Hotel and the One-Eyed Jacks Bar are some of the establishments that today lead the way when it comes to offering this type of flashy and erotic entertainment to those who are looking for a live show to party and drink alcohol.

The Latter is another place that usually develops burlesque shows in a more casual way, as well as other live musical events and plays that combine a spicy and comic tone with striptease in glittering costumes. Always in the best style of this nightlife underworld.

The House of Blues completes the list of nightclubs that have a permanent cast to offer burlesque shows with some regularity. You are sure to find one on week ends at any of the above-mentioned venues.

2. Participate in a ghost tour of iconic sites in the city

French Quarter Tour Guide| ©tani.
French Quarter Tour Guide| ©tani.

New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in all of North America and throughout its history all kinds of urban legends have developed. In fact, spiritualism is strongly associated with the cultural identity of this place and the Voodoo subculture is a determining factor of its post-colonial past.

For this reason it is quite logical that one of the best things to do during a night out in the city is to participate in a ghost tour through the haunted corners of New Orleans.

There are different types of tours that focus on different legends and historical myths. For example, there are some that deal exclusively with the Voodoo culture.

Others are guided tours of the most famous cemeteries in New Orleans and there are also tours of bars and houses that have chilling legends among the local population.

These types of packages are guided by experts in this type of topics and most of them do not usually last more than two hours. There is no limitation on the age of the visitor, but you must keep in mind that it is a service focused on an adult clientele.

Book the best cemetery tours in New Orleans

3. See the lights of the city from the air in a helicopter

Night in New Orleans| ©christopher 000
Night in New Orleans| ©christopher 000

For many it may seem too luxurious a plan, while for others it is the perfect opportunity to realize a dream they have had since childhood. Helicopter flights in New Orleans are an excellent idea for couples, although there are some that also allow two children to join the trip.

As for the duration, they usually take between 30 and 45 minutes from takeoff to landing. This is more than enough time to view the city's skyline from the skies, as well as the incredibly illuminated streets of its historic neighborhoods.

As for the starting point, it all depends on the chosen package. Most likely it will be a heliport that is close to the tourist perimeter of the city, so you will not have to move too much to live a special moment like this.

Book your helicopter flight in New Orleans

4. Visit the Preservation Hall and listen to an authentic jazz concert

At Preservation Hall| ©CondeNast
At Preservation Hall| ©CondeNast

When you read the word Preservation Hall you probably imagine a large and elegant amphitheater.

However, the surprise is that this famous establishment dedicated exclusively to Jazz is an aging two-story wooden building that has such a unique charm that it is an architectural heritage of the city.

It is emblematic of the development of this musical genre in this city that has welcomed it with open arms since the beginning of the last century and, lucky for you, it offers concerts most nights of the year.

It is located on St Peter Street just a few steps from Jackson Square. This proximity is quite convenient due to the fact that this square is a good place to walk around with your children if you are thinking of plans to do New Orleans with kids.

In fact, if your kids enjoy this genre of music, this can be a life-changing experience for them, as there is no age restriction at the entrance of Preservation Hall.

VIP tickets are the only tickets that entitle you to a seat during the musical show, which can be instrumental in ensuring visibility for a child who has not yet reached their teenage years.

Practical information

  • Address: 726 Saint Peter Street
  • Hours: 12:00 to 17:00 and 20:00 to 23:00. The last session is usually at 10:00 p.m. and lasts approximately 45 minutes.
  • Price: about $25 for a regular ticket and about $40 for a seated ticket.

5. Have a coffee and a beignet in the early morning at Café du Monde

Café du Monde| ©Daniel Lobo
Café du Monde| ©Daniel Lobo

Beignets are a staple but very important element of New Orleans cuisine and can best be described as a balanced combination of a churro, a doughnut and a beignet.

Café Du Monde is an establishment that has been making them since 1862 and is so emblematic of the city's dining scene that it operates 24 hours a day.

When you visit it you will notice that it is crowded with people, both tourists and locals, at unusual hours of the day. It is therefore recommended that you visit during the early hours of the morning if you are in the area, to live a very authentic moment of the nightlife of New Orleans.

The coffee is served black American style or with milk, always very hot to guarantee the taste of the most demanding diners.

Branches have opened all over the city, but the one you must visit is the one located on Decatour Street, near the French Market and Latrobe Park, both two iconic stops in the city's French Quarter.

The chicory coffee is another iconic menu item at this establishment. It is recommended that you try it if you like to experiment when drinking beverages in other parts of the world.

Practical information

  • Address: 813 Decatur Street
  • Price: depends on what you order

6. Drink a cocktail at Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

Preparing Cocktails| ©Magda Ehlers
Preparing Cocktails| ©Magda Ehlers

A night out on the streets of New Orleans is an experience that offers you the opportunity to have a drink in historic buildings at every turn along your route.

In the case of Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, the plan is even more interesting, as it is one of the oldest bars in the country, having opened in the 1770s.

The history of this place is anything but boring, as it is believed to be haunted by the ghost of Jean Lafitte, who was basically a smuggler during the first half of the 19th century and who lived for a decade in this old structure.

As for the reinvention of the structure as a bar, everything gets more captivating. This is because the business has its foundations in the mid-1940s, when it was an epicenter of the city's bohemian clientele, as well as the gay community that at the time lived as a subculture.

The accumulation of this interesting historical precedent and the ancient architectural beauty of the place made it a national historic landmark.

Visiting it for a beer after finishing one of the gastronomic tours of New Orleans thattake place in this part of the French Quarter is an excellent idea. Then you dare to be in one of the establishments that top the list of the most haunted corners of the city.

Practical info

  • Address: 941 Bourbon Street
  • Price: depends on what you order
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.

Book a culinary tour of New Orleans

7. Take an authentic Bar Hopping along Bourbon Street

Bar Hopping| ©Kathleen Thorpe
Bar Hopping| ©Kathleen Thorpe

Bar Hopping is the term used by Americans to describe the action of going from bar to bar throughout a night out to experience different atmospheres and to try different cocktail menus.

In New Orleans the perfect place to do this is Bourbon Street, as its streets are a real treasure trove when it comes to nightlife activities.

Some of the tours of the French Quarter of New Orleans can tell you which are the most iconic establishments of this famous street to party when night falls. However, from this very moment, you can go knowing that there are places like Café Lafitte in Exile, which is the oldest gay bar in the United States.

Maison Bourbon offers live music in the best Jazz Club style and is a historical landmark, knowing that most of the most famous musicians of this genre have performed here as a form of consecration at some point in their careers.

Saints and Sinners is another place you can't skip on your Bar Hopping, as this is a place that has been operating since the days when brothels were legal in this port city and represented a strong aspect of the area's culture.

Book a New Orleans Alcoholic History Tour

8. Watch a midnight movie at the Prytania Theather

Prytania Theather| ©Erick
Prytania Theather| ©Erick

Away from the crowded tourist streets of the French Quarter, in the Uptown section, and on a street of the same name, is the Prytania Theather. It consists of a single-screen movie theater that has been in continuous operation since 1914 to the present day.

They offer midnight showings of current commercial movies, along with other iconic elements of the movie subculture such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop of Horrors.

This can be classified as an excellent plan to do in the summer when visiting New Orleans for the fact that it gives you a break from the establishments with the hordes of tourists. It also gives you the opportunity to see an iconic place in the history of this city.

9. Party like a local on Frenchman Street

Frenchman Street| ©DC James
Frenchman Street| ©DC James

Following the theme of nightlife, you should know that Bourbon Street is not your only alternative if you want movement and fun for the nights of your visit in New Orleans.

Your other safe or preferred option is Frenchman Street, a section of the city that stands out for the quality of its nightclubs, for being more crowded by the locals and for offering the best live music establishments of the nightlife.

Varying the musical epicenter, Frenchman Street features R&B, which is another genre that has a very important cultural bond with the African-American community. Even more so with the people of the south of the country.

The food scene is also vibrant in this section of New Orleans and it is recommended that you spend a good part of your evening exploring the nearby streets of the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood.

It is advisable not to stay too late if you have a transfer from the New Orleans airport booked for the following day , as it is somewhat predictable that temptation will lead you to want to wake up dancing and partying in these fun and friendly bars.

10. Ride in a carriage and ride around the French Quarter

Night Carriage Ride| ©Tiqa
Night Carriage Ride| ©Tiqa

New Orleans is a city that has a colonial charm like no other corner of the United States. For this reason it is not surprising to know that you have the possibility of renting a carriage to give you a night tour around some of the blocks of the French Quarter, while enjoying a cool night with a beautiful starry sky.

Some include live music with a jazz trumpet aficionado playing on every corner of this city, while others offer ghostly tales of voodoo culture and the complicated periods of New Orleans' past.

It's a good plan to share as a couple, but there are no limitations for young children to be included in the same trip.

What kind of clothes should you wear for a night out in New Orleans?

New Orleans Night| ©Geoff Livingston
New Orleans Night| ©Geoff Livingston

New Orleans is a city that maintains a privileged climate within the North American context.

The winters do not have temperatures in negative degrees and the summers are not oppressive, in spite of the environmental humidity that can become very high.

I advise you to always have long pants on hand in case you decide to go to an elegant place, but you can really dress as you want to participate in all the activities that are summarized in this list.

How much money would you spend on an average night out in New Orleans?

Money in Dollars| ©Karolina Grabowska
Money in Dollars| ©Karolina Grabowska

It all depends on whether you are paying only your expenses or those of a whole group of companions. Keep in mind that the budget is adjusted to the amount of things you do in a single night and the level of consumption you develop in each stop of your night itinerary.

If you have a couple of drinks in any of these establishments mentioned, you have to keep in mind that you will spend at least 50 dollars. A beer in a relatively crowded place does not usually go below 10 dollars in low or high season.

Is it a good idea to go out with kids at night in New Orleans?

Enjoying the Night| ©Gary J. Wood
Enjoying the Night| ©Gary J. Wood

Entertainment alternatives exist for all ages and for all types of tour groups when organizing a night out in New Orleans.

Clearly, a bar is not the most appropriate place for an underage person, in fact it is illegal for them to enter. But strolling through a square, strolling through a park, eating at an ice cream parlor and visiting a restaurant are all activities that will be available to you every night of your visit.

Regarding safety, you can take precautions by avoiding lingering around Bourbon Street when the most festive hours begin. That is, after 10 or 11 pm.