It is Mardi Gras, thus I had to share our recent visit to New Orleans and our experiences on Bourbon Street. It is a place that you can’t really explain unless you have been there. It’s extremely LOUD (volume and color), but nobody seems to mind and everyone has a good time. Before I share my thoughts, I wanted to share a little history on how Bourbon Street became the icon it is today.
Being in one of the oldest cities in America, Bourbon Street is rich with historic venues, social talks and iconic buildings. The street dates back to 1798, when New Orleans was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. Also known as “Rue Bourbon,” this monumental street sits at the heart of the French Quarter extending 13 blocks from Canal St. to Esplanade Avenue. I think we pretty much walked all of it, but mostly between Canal and St Ann which is still about 7-8 blocks.
With a walk down Bourbon Street you are bound to hear music on every corner that will make you want to dance the night away. We had some of the most fun at the Masion Bourbon Jazz Hall. It was great and I actually met a woman there named Jordan who looked a lot like my niece. It was nice talking to her several times we visited throughout our trip. The jazz was great and the beers were cold. What more can you ask for?
How about a parade? We were there on the first day of Carnival and we were actually able to join in one of the marching parades that made its way down Bourbon Street. It was so much fun and I was amazed at how much energy these guys had while walking and playing instruments for blocks and blocks without taking a break. It was truly incredible to be a part of the parade, and so much fun. Of course I had a Hand Grenade as I was walking along, so I was good to go.
So what is a Hand Grenade? It is a wonderful drink but they won’t give up the trade secret. A lot of the bartenders say they had no idea what’s in it. However I did have a couple that said they had some idea, but couldn’t share what they knew. :(. Whatever is in it was great. You buy the first one and it comes in a long skinny cup. Once it’s empty you can keep refilling (for a discount) at the several Tropical Isle bars along Bourbon Street. What I can tell you is that it is a melon flavor drink with lots of liqueurs. If you are more into beer, you can get a fish bowl or a Big Ass Beer at other local bars that do the same thing. There is never a shortage of drinks, lol
There is also never a shortage of street musicians and “panhandlers” along Bourbon Street. I say panhandlers, but they are actually giving away something (usually beads), or dressing up to take pictures with you. Just make sure to have a few dollar bills handy to give to the truly worthy ones. These are the ones that offer at least some service, music or dance. It was nice to at least see them working for their money. I was happy to help those who were helping themselves.
While we did spend some time on Bourbon Street at night, it is definitely different and had a different vibe during the day. Once the sun goes down it gets more loud (if that’s even possible, lol) and more rowdy. We did walk around some, but usually found a bar to listen to music and drink a few beers. The other thing I wanted to note, is that you can’t be too weird or too out there. Everything seems to be tolerated on Bourbon Street. The weirder the better it seemed, lol.
We had a great time and definitely want to come back to spend a few more days visiting the area. We were there for a week and did get out of the area by going to Baton Rouge to see the Louisiana State Capitol and Jackson, MS to the Mississippi State Capitol for a couple of days. I highly suggest a break between the craziness of Bourbon Street then come back and enjoy it some more. In my opinion it’s kind of like Las Vegas. It’s great for a few days, but take a break and come back. We will be back one day for sure.
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