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Line brass band performing in the French Quarter
Todd Coleman
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  • States:
    Louisiana

With a larger-than-life personality that all but ensures a good time, New Orleans is an easy place to love.

Whether you’re taking the St. Charles streetcar up to the Garden District, touring the French Quarter or sitting down for just-shucked oysters at a local hangout, you’ll feel the excitement generated from one particular secret ingredient. Yes, in New Orleans, food may be the way to your heart, but music is the pathway to your soul.

Royal Street: The Spirit of Street Music

Don’t just stick to Bourbon Street. Get inspired and venture to Royal Street for authentic local flavor. Here you’ll stumble upon buskers, some of the best musicians in the city ready to share their talents with impromptu street performances. You’ll hear everything from stripped-down, acoustic guitar to avant-garde bands with instruments ranging from the bass and brass instruments to washboards and plastic buckets. They even haul keyboards onto street corners. The largest concentration of performances occurs daily between the 200 and 800 blocks. New emerging musicians intermingle with veteran street performers to create a free-spirited spontaneity that’s contagious. A large influx of musicians tends to crowd around the intersection of Royal and Conti streets, just outside the police station. Eccentric maybe, but this is New Orleans; everyone loves the Blues.

Dancing to street busker rhythms in New Orleans

Dancing to street busker rhythms in New Orleans
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Zack Smith

Frenchmen Street: A Hub for Music Clubs

Within walking distance from the French Quarter, you’ll happen upon the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood and its famed Frenchmen Street. You know you’re in the right spot when you hear it: The live music scene is condensed into a three-block section jam-packed with clubs and lounges. First stop is The Spotted Cat, a quintessential Jazz club that caters to a diverse crowd: locals, tourists and celebrities. A happy vibe emanates from the patrons, musicians and staff. Next walk down to The Maison – a mega club with three floors dedicated to quality live music, drinks and good food. It’s non-stop entertainment seven days a week. If you prefer something more intimate and cozy, visit Three Muses. A tiny enclave, it serves up lively Jazz combos, craft cocktails and original small plates. Scoot in for a cocktail or dinner; stay longer for the enchanting music.

Jazz act at The Spotted Cat Music Club on Frenchmen Street

Jazz act at The Spotted Cat Music Club on Frenchmen Street
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Jazz in the City

If you're looking for top-notch jazz, local-favorite spots are sure to have your toes tapping. Nightly concerts take place in the historic Preservation Hall, with three shows every Monday through Wednesday and five shows Thursday through Sunday. Enjoy your favorite cocktail while taking in amazing music and luxurious atmosphere at The Jazz Playhouse, located on the first floor of hotel The Royal Sonesta New Orleans. Music lovers and musicians alike flock to Fritzel's, one of the oldest traditional jazz clubs in the city where you can catch live shows every day in a building that first opened in 1831.

House band The Preservation All-Stars play a show in Preservation Hall

House band The Preservation All-Stars play a show in Preservation Hall
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Zack Smith

Getting There

Fly into Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans then rent a car, take a taxi or shuttle into the city.