Bourbon St.—a pedestrian mall shimmering with neon lights beckoning revelers into its risqué night venues. We’re often asked if locals really go there? Well…not really. Regardless, millions of people descend upon Bourbon Street annually to get their kicks into the wee hours of the morning. Jazz aficionados tend to avoid Bourbon and head to Frenchmen Street. In the last couple of decades Frenchmen St. has developed into the most popular jazz corridor in the city. We frequently make recommendations on Frenchmen, however there are a few jazz clubs on Bourbon Street that shouldn’t be overlooked. Here’s a breakdown of Bourbon’s jazz club scene looking down river from Canal St.
Our first stop is one of the hottest jazz clubs in the Quarter. Just off of Bourbon St. at 725 Iberville you'll find 21st Amendment. They offer handcrafted cocktails in an upscale venue that has the visual appeal of a speakeasy. Take a step back into the 1920’s and enjoy the sights, taste, and sounds of a time when New Orleans was the “wettest” city in American and early New Orleans jazz wafted through the air.
As you continue down Bourbon one of its hidden gems is inside the Royal Sonesta hotel. As you enter the hotels main entrance on the 300 block of Bourbon, The Jazz Playhouse will be accessible from their main lobby. This plush jazz lounge offers handcrafted cocktails along with a selection of Creole inspired small plates. When you sit in the Jazz Playhouse you won't even think that you’re on Bourbon. The musical lineup varies from New Orleans brass bands to local contemporary jazz favorites.
Proceeding downriver to 641 Bourbon you will encounter the Maison Bourbon boasting its dedication to the preservation of jazz. This is one of the jazz clubs where the young jazz protege Harry Connick Jr. cut his musical teeth playing piano with the Dixieland jazz band. There is always a lively local musical lineup…and who knows? You may just get to hear New Orleans’ next musical superstar.
Across the street from Maison Bourbon at 726 St. Peter is a New Orleans landmark. Enter Preservation Jazz Hall! Established in 1961, Preservation Hall started as an art gallery where rehearsal sessions would be held. The likes of jazz legend George Lewis would show up to these sessions. Eventually the gallery would become a venue dedicated to traditional New Orleans jazz. This is also a family friendly venue that is open to children of all ages. The shows happen nightly at 6,8,9, and 10pm.
One block down from St. Peter is Orleans Avenue. Right on the corner of Orleans and Bourbon is the Bourbon "O" Bar. This Jazz lounge offers seasonal and classic cocktails...along with great local talents that will swing you into the night. Showcasing local jazz bands that emphasize the roots of traditional dixieland jazz, Bourbon "O" provides an oasis of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of the revelry.
Last but not least is Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub. The house band is fantastic and so is the line up of both visiting and traveling bands that perform here. Located in a historic 1831 building at 733 Bourbon, it has a welcoming and cozy atmosphere. Fritzel’s also has an emphasis in dixieland for those looking to hear traditional New Orleans jazz.
If you are a jazz connoisseur, like many of us here at Flambeaux Bicycle Tours, don’t readily dismiss Bourbon Street. It can be obnoxious, smelly, and sometimes to be avoided at all cost. But being that you're in New Orleans you have to visit Bourbon Street at least once. Use this guide to help you sift through the crowds and visit its jazz locales on your stroll.
To explore the source of the music and to visit the haunts where jazz was created join our Heart of the City bike tour. It leaves our French Quarter location at 626 N. Rampart St. at 9:30am. Learn about Congo Square, Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and others. Advance booking for our bike tours are recommended and you may do so by clicking here.