Where are the best bars in New Orleans? To coincide with its world-famous Mardi Gras, HomeToGo has released a guide to the Top 20 Most Instagrammed Bars in New Orleans. Ranging from the extrovert to the extravagant, NOLA's vibrant nightscene has something for every traveler! We used Instagram's location tag feature to identify hundreds of trending venues in the city, and created a final shortlist based on total tags. Scroll down to discover the New Orleans' most popular bars and dance floors to check out after hours!
Experience the Thrill of Mardi Gras in New Orleans
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New Orleans has more bars per capita than any other major U.S. city. Bars are also allowed to stay open all night.
New Orleans is considered to be the birthplace of jazz music, which emerged at the end of the 19th century.
It is legal to drink in public in New Orleans, so many choose to get their drinks to go.
More than 18 million tourists visit New Orleans every year, spending around $9 billion between them.
The Most Instagrammed Bars and Clubs in New Orleans
12) The Oz: Open 24 hours a day from Thursday until Monday, this small bar more than compensates for its size by offering round-the-clock dancing. If you’re looking for something less hedonistic, The Oz also hosts top-quality drag performances and bingo nights during the week.
11) Bayou Beer Garden: Famous for its huge crawfish bowls that will surprise even the hungriest visitor, this laid-back venue is the ideal location for sampling an impressive array of beers, while enjoying some seriously delicious seafood. Feel free to ask their attentive bar staff for recommendations.
9) Cats Meow: If your idea of a great evening is singing your heart out to a raucous crowd, then Cats Meow is the place to go! The on-stage entertainers excel at getting the entire place rocking, so it’s no surprise that there’s usually a long line of performers itching to get behind the mic!
6) Carousel Bar & Lounge: As the name suggests, this unique venue always draws the crowds looking to sit at the revolving carousel itself and sample the delicious drinks on offer. Be prepared to dress up and wait a little for what is one of New Orleans’ more elegant spaces.
5) Bacchanal Wine: You’d never guess from its dilapidated exterior, but this wine bar located away from the tourist buzz has become a destination in itself. Bacchanal Wine boasts an unbeatable selection of vino, delectable small bites, and even cheese plates. Live jazz is also served up on a daily basis.
4) Ace Hotel: This refurbished office block is now a popular mixed-use space, including five bars and restaurants, an elegant rooftop pool, as well as its own live music venue called the Three Keys. If this sounds on-brand and you’re looking for a young crowd, you can even stay the night.
3) Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop: One of the oldest bars in the United States, this historic venue has managed to remain popular with visitors over the last 250 years! Its menu has naturally evolved with the times, and these days, it’s Lafitte’s Hurricane cocktail that draws the crowds.
1) Pat O’Brien’s Bar: Home of the hurricane cocktail, this iconic venue has been charming visitors since 1933. Pat O’Brien’s boasts three different bars for patrons to choose from: A laid-back courtyard, a piano lounge, as well as a main bar area. Be sure to get a snap with the flaming fountain!
Methodology: Search data was used to identify 100 bars in New Orleans. The top 20 are the bars from this shortlist with the most Instagram geotags (from all time). Data was collected on the 1st of February 2020.
Must-Try Foods at Mardi Gras
No celebration is complete without an array of fantastic foods and Mardi Gras is no exception. Tuck into a delicious beignet, a type of warm pastry, for breakfast then feast on jambalaya for lunch from one of the numerous street food vendors which are scattered across the city.
1. King Cake
The undisputed culinary highlight of Mardi Gras is King Cake. This cinnamon flavored treat is colored with green, purple, and yellow icing, which are the traditional colors of the celebration, and has a small plastic baby hidden inside. It's thought that the person who finds the 'baby' has to bring the cake to the festivities the following year.
This native Louisiana dish, inspired by Spanish cuisine, is not only delicious but packed with rice, meat, and seafood and is the ideal street food to keep you powered up for the weekend-long Mardi Gras celebrations. Sold all over town at restaurants and vendors, tucking into a plate of Jambalaya is a must.
3. Po Boy
America loves sandwiches and the Po Boy is Louisiana's contribution to the lengthy culinary canon. The sandwich is made with classic French-style bread and topped with fried seafood such as oyster, shrimp, and sometimes beef, served with lashings of mayonnaise.
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Best Mardi Gras Parades in New Orleans
Mardi Gras in New Orleans hosts a number of fun-filled parades. Some have been happening for many years while others are a fresh addition to the parade itinerary. From early in the day to late at night, there are wonderful displays to enjoy all over town when you book Mardi Gras hotels in New Orleans.
The Rex parade is the most established and well-attended parade in the Mardi Gras calendar. First seen in 1872, this colorful parade is dedicated to preserving the local culture of the celebration using its classic song “If Ever I Cease To Love You'' and displaying the traditional colors of purple, yellow, and green.
Zulu if famed for being one of the most opulent of the many Mardi Gras parades and features fantastic African influences which date back to 1909. Despite its morning start time, the early rise is more than worth it to witness this fantastic display of New Orleans's cultural heritage.
3. Krewe of Bacchus
Considered the most showbiz of all the parades, Bacchus is famed for its huge and intricately designed floats. The parade is normally held late afternoon on Sunday and has featured numerous celebrities as the 'King of the Parade' over the years; including the Hollywood actor Will Ferrell.
Great Places to Stay Near Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras with Kids
Despite the talk that Mardi Gras is a hedonistic affair, there are plenty of child-friendly activities for all the family to enjoy. Come prepared with snacks and a warm jacket if the weather changes, secure yourself a prime spot to watch the parades, and enjoy the fabulous spectacle with your children when you book Mardi Gras hotels in New Orleans.
1. Watch the Parades
Kids will love watching the parades and there are some areas which are well suited to those with little ones. Head to Napoleon Avenue for the best experience. It's at the start of the route so children won't get bored and it's one of the safest areas with plenty of family-friendly facilities. Another top spot is the Garden District.
2. The Zulu Lundi Gras Festival
This free festival held the Monday prior to Mardi Gras is a fun day of crafts, arts, and music on the waterfront in Woldenberg Park – the perfect kid-friendly celebration before the whole event kicks off.
3. Hints and Tips
Plan your day out carefully when attending the festivities with kids. Some great ideas include getting there early, securing a good spot with a picnic blanket, drinking lots of water and procuring snacks. Use the diversity of the city and the festival to teach kids about different cultures, and remember to pack for changeable weather.
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The Weather in New Orleans
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