20 Things To Do In New Orleans At Night

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A Mississippi River city and the former capital of Louisiana when it was a French colony, New Orleans is a city with character, mystery and charm. You’ll enjoy exploring this historic city during the day, but the city is an ideal destination for night owls and there are plenty of exciting things to do in New Orleans at night.

From tapping your feet in a jazz bar to tasting delicious Creole cuisine or learning about voodoo while exploring spooky cemeteries, New Orleans is a city that continues to excite. Admire Spanish architecture and watch the steamboats cruise past in the French Quarter, or mask up and join the revelry at a masquerade ball during Mardi Gras. Here are the best things to do at night in New Orleans.

New Orleans At Night

Top 3 New Orleans Tours

20 Things To Do In New Orleans At Night

streets of new orleans at night
A streetcar in downtown New Orleans is a charming sight at twilight.

1- Scare Yourself On A Ghost Tour

With a rich tapestry of history, New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in the USA.

One of the best ways to discover more about the city’s history is to join a spooky ghost tour, visiting cemeteries and other haunted spots.

These tours are affordable, and the history, culture and legends of New Orleans add to the atmosphere.

There is such a rich tapestry of historical happenings that the city is the perfect backdrop for a range of different types of ghost tours.


Take your pick of vampire tours, haunted pub crawls, cemetery tours, haunted carriage rides, haunted pub crawls and voodoo tours.

These tours are hosted by knowledgeable locals who show you secret spots where ghosts hang out. Check them out here:

2- Catch A Burlesque Show

In the early 20th century, burlesque shows in New Orleans were popular in the Storyville red-light district, providing racy entertainment that combined comedy and striptease with glittering costumes.

Today, burlesque shows continue to be popular, and top spots to watch a live burlesque show in New Orleans at night include the Burlesque Ballroom, Royal Sonesta Hotel and One-Eyed Jacks.

The latter also hosts other live music events and theatre shows.

Some popular venues like House of Blues have in-house troupes that perform regularly.

3- Cruise The Mississippi River

new orleans skyline at night paddle steamer on the Mississippi River with buildings in the background
Floating aboard a paddle steamer on the Mississippi River is one of the fabulous things to do in New Orleans at night.

Cruising along the Mississippi River onboard a steamboat is an iconic thing to do in New Orleans, night or day.

The Steamboat Natchez is a 1975 steamboat built to resemble the old sternwheelers that cruised the Mississippi River during the 19th century.

Steamboats transported passengers and freight up and downriver, contributing to the economy of New Orleans.

Natchez has an authentic copper and steel steam whistle, a wooden paddle wheel and is powered by 1925 steam engines used in another historic steamboat, the U.S. Steel Corporation’s sternwheeler Clairton.

The cruise lasts two hours and offers the chance to watch the sunset, enjoy a buffet, and listen to jazz while New Orleans lights up at night. Book your cruise here.

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4- Admire The Floats At Mardi Gras World

Colorful Mardi Gras mask on white background
As this is a party city and visiting Mardi Gras World is one of the fun things to do in New Orleans at night.

If you can’t make it to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, the next best thing is to visit Mardi Gras World.

The art museum is in a large warehouse-style space and is the place to admire old Mardi Gras floats in storage and watch artists working on next year’s creations.

This building is part of the studios of Blaine Kern, a prominent local artist who is renowned for creating floats and props.

Unlike many other museums, you can visit Mardi Gras World in New Orleans at night for free.

Join a one-hour studio tour to see master float builders at work and peek into the technology that brings the floats to life.

The fun part is trying on authentic Mardi Gras costumes and getting your photo taken to remind you of your visit.

There’s a free shuttle service to and from Canal Street.

Mardi Gras World is at 1380 Port of New Orleans Pl, New Orleans, LA 70130.

5- Admire the View From The Hot Tin Rooftop

new orleans at night
New Orleans skyline at night.

Unwind with a Wolf in Lambs Clothing (a gin-based cocktail with lemon, basil, honey and Lambrusco) at the Hot Tin Rooftop Bar.

The bar was named after the Tennessee Williams play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and its 1940s loft-style decor makes it an atmospheric place to party in New Orleans at night.

Tennessee Williams lived at this historic hotel while writing A Streetcar Named Desire.

Besides offering sweeping views of the city skyline, there is a range of refreshing and original cocktails.

Hot Tin Rooftop Bar is at 2031 St Charles Avenue, New Orleans, and should be part of your cocktail crawl.

For more exciting cities at night, read:

6- Take A Thrilling Night Helicopter Tour

One of the most memorable things to do in New Orleans at night is to take a helicopter ride.

Soar above the city and see the twinkling lights below as you sweep past the French Quarter and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Even a short flight will give you a bird’s-eye view and an opportunity to get your bearings.

Book your spot on a night helicopter flight here.

7- See A Jazz Show At Preservation Hall

what to do at night in new orleans woman in tuxedo and top hat playing blues on a trumpet
As a jazz city, one of the top things to do in New Orleans at night is to hit the jazz clubs.

The historic Preservation Hall is one of the great live jazz venues in the heart of the French Quarter.

Jazz music has been played at the hall since the 1950s when art gallery owner Larry Borenstein began inviting musicians to rehearsal sessions in his gallery.

Legendary New Orleans jazz musicians like The Humphrey Brothers, George Lewis and Punch Miller have performed here.

The intimate venue has more than 50 rotating acts on the program.

You can dance and watch jazz shows almost every night of the year.

Preservation Hall is at 726 Saint Peter Street, New Orleans, LA 70116.

8- Drink Cofee at Café du Monde

bourbon street new orleans at night
Trying local treats is something you must do when visiting New Orleans, night and day.

Cafe du Monde is an iconic place for coffee and beignets, a square French doughnut powdered with sugar.

The Original Cafe Du Monde coffee stand dates back to 1862 and was a traditional coffee shop in the New Orleans French Market.

Coffee is traditionally served black or ‘au lait’, mixed with hot milk.

There are now a few locations throughout the city; the most popular one is at the French Market on Decatur Street.

The eatery dishes up delicious meals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Cafe du Monde is at 800 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116.

9- Drink With Ghosts At Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop

Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is a bar in a historic building in the French Quarter that opened in 1772.

It’s believed to be the oldest bar building in the United States and was built in the old French Provincial Louis XV style popular in Louisiana during that era.

The property was the based of the Lafitte brothers, Jean and Pierre, who ran a smuggling operation.

The ghost of Jean Lafitte haunts this bar and is as much of a drawcard as the cold beers and cocktails.

It’s one of the cool spots to drink in New Orleans at night and is a must-visit on a bar crawl.

Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is at 941 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116. Book this haunted pub crawl.

10- See The City On A Segway Tour

new orleans ghost tours at night bridge reflected in the river
Crescent City Connection Bridge in New Orleans reflected in the river.

Tackle the streets of New Orleans at night on a Segway, which is a fun way to explore and save your weary feet.

Segway tours are geared more towards sightseeing than learning history, passing popular places like Jackson Square, Louis Armstrong Park and Bourbon Street.

Segway tours run till 8 pm most days.

11- Go Bar Hopping

things to do in new orleans at night pubs and bars with neon lights
Wandering around the pubs and bars in the French Quarter is one of the fun things to do in New Orleans at night.

The list of night activities in New Orleans would not be complete without visiting some bars on a pub crawl.

There are several New Orleans pub crawls you can join, including haunted pub crawls and live music bar crawls, that will give you the chance to party at some of the city’s best spots with new friends.

Most popular bars are on Frenchman Street and Bourbon Street, where the neon lights, jazz music and decorated balconies create a unique atmosphere that New Orleans is famous for.

12- Join A Cocktail Tour

fun things to do in new orleans for couples at night colourful cocktails
Going on a cocktail tour is a fun thing to do with friends in New Orleans at night.

There’s a story that the cocktail was invented in New Orleans by Antoine Peychaud, who opened an apothecary shop in the French Quarter in the 1830s selling homemade bitters mixed with sugar, water and cognac.

Although the word ‘cocktail’ was used way before 1830, many popular ones were concocted in New Orleans, including The Hurricane, Ramos Gin Fizz, Sazerac and Brandy Milk Punch.

Joining a cocktail tour is a fun nighttime activity in New Orleans and a great way to ensure you don’t miss any hot spots. This cocktail and food history tour is a fun activity to book.

13- Taste The Cuisine Of New Orleans

what to do in new orleans at night traditional New Orleans cuisine
Tasting traditional New Orleans cuisine is a must-do and the restaurants in New Orleans come alive at night. Try gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice.

New Orleans’ famous Creole cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, French, West African and Native American influences.

Food to try includes jambalaya, gumbo, po-boys, red beans and rice.

Treat your taste buds while you try étouffée, muffulettas, beignets, bananas foster, pralines and king cakes as you learn about the city’s culinary history.

This Cajun and Creole cooking class is a fun way to spend half a day and, during the evening, whet your appetite on this food and history walking tour.

14- Head Out On A Night Swamp Tour

new orleans bayou at night baby alligator on a log
Seeing wildlife like this baby alligator in a swamp is one of the interesting things to do near New Orleans, even at night.

Exchange city attractions for peaceful waters and the chance to spot some native wildlife on a tour of the swamplands and marshes around New Orleans.

Exploring the swamps at night in a flat-bottomed boat is one of the exciting New Orleans activities.

While zooming through the swamps, hear the exciting tales of the legendary Honey Island Swamp Monster and keep an eye out for snapping wild boars, owls, gators and snakes.

New Orleans night swamp tours run from June to October. Book your spot on this swamp tour here.

15- Explore Gravestones On A Cemetery Tour

As the city has a swampland foundation, many of the region’s graves are in above-ground vaults.

These vaults are fascinating to explore, especially on tour with a knowledgeable guide telling you all about the graves and the historical figures they belong to, such as Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau.

If you don’t like going with large crowds and tour groups, private tours are also available.

It’s a fun way to explore the spooky side of New Orleans at night. Book a cemetery tour here.

16- Explore Bourbon Street

things to do at night in new orleans paddle steamer on Mississippi
A paddle steamer on Mississippi in New Orleans at night.

You cannot visit New Orleans without exploring Bourbon Street, the hub of the party town.

The main street of the French Quarter is lined with beautiful 19th-century buildings and dates back to 1718, when Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville founded New Orleans.

This street in the heart of the French Quarter comes alive at night with jazz music playing in bars, restaurants and clubs.

Bourbon Street has century-old restaurants and is home to the country’s oldest gay bar. It’s a great spot to grab a cocktail, a bite to eat and dance the night away.

17- Stroll Along Frenchman Street

french quarter new orleans at night
Red streetcar line in New Orleans.

Frenchman Street has a vibrant nightlife scene and is a few blocks away from Bourbon Street.

It has many intimate live venues like the Blue Nile, DBA and the Spotted Cat Music Club, where you can watch local bands and D.J.s.

Venues can get busy and the lines are often long, so skip the line and party like a VIP by booking this music pub crawl on Frenchman Street.

There is also an outdoor art market to explore between performances and casual street performances for those who want to avoid paying a cover charge.

18- Watch An Opera

Since the first opera was performed on 22 May 1796, when Sylvain by André Ernest Grétry wowed the audience at Théâtre St. Pierre, New Orleans has had a resident opera company.

Opera in New Orleans has a distinctively American style and performs famous operas throughout the year like Carmen and The Magic Flute.

New Orleans Opera performs at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, a theatre named after a hometown gospel singer.

19- Play The Escape Game

For a fun activity that will test your mental ability, try the Escape Game.

There is a collection of themed escape rooms like heists, special ops and prison breaks in New Orleans to challenge players to work together to find clues and solve puzzles to escape the room.

Escape Rooms are entertaining for the whole family, and you can book a slot as late as 11.55 pm.

20- Enjoy A Haunted Horse and Carriage Ride

bourbon street, new orleans at night horse carriages lined up
Horse carriages outside Jackson Square in New Orleans at night.

Walking around New Orleans can be hard on your feet, especially on the cobblestone pavements.

Riding a horse-drawn carriage through the French Quarter and the Marigny neighbourhood is a charming way to enjoy the city’s historic ambience.

You’ll ride past spooky spots and listen to ghost stories about the places you pass, such as St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square and Napoleon House.

Book a carriage ride here.

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Christina Pfeiffer
Christina Pfeiffer is a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia. She has lived in three continents and her career as a travel journalist has taken her to all seven continents. Since 2003, she has contributed travel stories and photographs to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. She has won many travel writing awards and is a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.