Guide To Surviving Bourbon Street In New Orleans

When I forced encouraged my boyfriend to take a New Year’s Eve getaway with me to New Orleans, there was at least one thing that we both had in mind: Bourbon Street.

It’s super symbolic to New Orleans. That thing you think of right away. Like Paris’ Eiffel Tower, or NYC’s Times Square.

There’s definitely A LOT more to New Orleans than Bourbon Street (future blog to come on that), but it’s the initial highlight that comes to mind – especially for first timers.

Bourbon Street is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans – spanning 13 blocks to be exact. It’s bursting with history, architecture, colorful buildings, jazz… and booze. 
There’s no denying the drinking scene that Bourbon Street is known for.

If you find yourself heading to New Orleans, and are maybe a little unprepared for the binging (boozing, bead throwing, boob flashing, and everything else that comes with it), I listed out a few pointers for you.

Take it as a loose guide on how to survive Bourbon Street.

To-Do Checklist:

1. Bar hop: Naturally! See list below with some of the famous drinks that you might want to experience when on Bourbon Street.

2. Enjoy the To-Go Cup: New Orleans, LA is one of the few places (one of only 7 states!) that lack strict open container laws, which means you can drink your cocktail right on the street (as long as it’s in a plastic cup). Didn’t finish your wine at dinner? No problem. Ask for it to-go and sip it as you wander down to the next bar.

3. Listen to live entertainment: Definitely ask around (best if its with locals) for which live music bars to visit. The jazz scene is phenomenal, and there’s nothing like listening to real live entertainment.

4. Explore the history of Voodoo: When you need a break (not IF, because you will need a break) explore the unique history and culture of Voodoo. I’m fascinated by magic, and I may have returned home with some new spells souvenirs.

5. People Watch from the balconies: There is plenty of fun to see from above Bourbon. Most of the bars have second-story balconies, or “galleries” as they’re called, because the buildings and architecture throughout the French Quarter are from the 18th century. Head upstairs, stake out your spot, and watch the drunken crowd below.


guide to bourbon street

Obviously, you’re on Bourbon Street, and you’re going to drink. Potentially from the minute you wake up to the minute you go bed.

The city is known for around-the-clock parties, it’s home to Mardi Gras, and there’s no open-container law (i.e. you can drink in the street, see To-Go Cup mention above).

And Bourbon Street is the epicenter of it all. When it comes to drinking on Bourbon, there are a few “must try” concoctions that everyone will recommend you experience.

I love him, but I hate this drink. #neworleans #handgrenade #bourbonstreet #visitnola

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Drinks you should try and where to get them: 

  • The Hurricane at Pat O’Briens
  • VooDoo Daiquiri at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
  • Hand Grenade at Tropical Isle
  • Huge Ass Beers. The name says it all.

Guaranteed to get you drunk, I wouldn’t recommend consuming all of these drinks in one day.

Our first day in New Orleans, I had one Hurricane – and I don’t remember walking back to our hotel.

My personal favorite was the VooDoo Daiquiri, probably because it was the least sweet out of all these drinks. Those Southerners really like their sugar.


Now that you know what to do and what to drink, here are some generic pointers about Bourbon Street to ensure you have the best time possible.

Explore during the day AND at night. Two experiences, equally as enjoyable. Double the fun.

Watch out for pickpockets and scams. It thankfully didn’t happen to us at all, but we were warned a few times to keep our eye on our things and not keep belongings in our back pockets. A good reminder, no matter what city you’re in.

Hydrate! And not with more champagne (note to self). The key to partying all day and night is to throw a glass of water in between drinks every now and then. And a disco nap never hurt nobody.

Let me know what other tips and tricks you might have to surviving Bourbon Street in the comments. xx

Want more New Orleans? Hear all about my NOLA experience on Unmapped: