5 Reasons to Skip Bourbon Street in New Orleans

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View of bourbon street new orleans louisiana

The City of New Orleans has a reputation for Creole cuisine, jazz music, and a party-like atmosphere all year round. The city’s unique character attracts shy of 20 million annual visitors.

Many of the visitors to the city fill the infamous Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. Unfortunately, Bourbon Street isn’t all it seems to be and disappoints many people.

Today, we’re sharing five reasons we think you may want to skip Bourbon Street while visiting New Orleans. Let’s dive in!

Where Is Bourbon Street?

Bourbon Street is 13 blocks running through the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. It runs from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue.

It’s a few blocks from the famous New Orleans attraction of Jackson Square, the New Orleans Jazz Museum, and the Steamboat Natchez on the Mississippi River. 

Why Is Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana So Famous?

Bourbon Street has a reputation for its year-round party atmosphere. While the rest of the city comes alive during the Mardi Gras season, Bourbon Street is a party any time of year.

There are many bars and strip clubs along this 13-block stretch of road. The city’s liberal open-container laws make it easy for people to drink their way down Bourbon Street.

Since the street becomes a party scene almost every night, it’s earned a pretty negative reputation. Regarding being family-friendly, we’d give Bourbon Street a rating of 2/10.

It only makes those two stars because, during the day, the atmosphere is pretty tame. However, if you’re looking for a place to party in New Orleans, Louisiana, Bourbon Street is the place to be.

What Else Happens On Bourbon Street?

During the day, Bourbon Street is open to vehicular traffic. You can drive your car down the road and see all the bars and clubs that attract people at night.

You’ll likely find some shops and restaurants open, and delivery trucks will resupply each establishment with products. However, during the late afternoon and evening, the street closes down. They only allow pedestrian traffic on the road at that time.

Until typically 1:00 AM, the tourists rush to experience all Bourbon Street offers. It’s common to see people carrying expensive drinks in fancy glasses, street performers busking, and some behavior that makes you blush.

While it has an anything-goes-type feel, the New Orleans Police Department establishes its presence nightly to help ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time.

Close up of the bourbon street sign in new orleans louisiana

5 Reasons to Skip Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

While there are many incredible things to see and do in The Big Easy, some think that Bourbon Street is the least pleasant part of the city.

Let’s look at five reasons we think you should skip Bourbon Street on your next visit. Let’s get started!

1. It Can Get Really Wild 

There’s a reason why the tv show C.O.P.S. would head to New Orleans to film practically every year. Bourbon Street can get out of hand quickly, especially during Mardi Gras.

People indulge in alcohol and then throw themselves into a massive crowd of others doing the same. Some people make relatively poor decisions once the alcohol starts flowing.

It’s not uncommon for fights to break out in the middle of the street. Law enforcement often follows the attitude that “showing anything above the waist” is permissible. The entire road can get wild, especially late at night.

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People walking around bourbon street new orleans louisiana

2. It’s Expensive  

After you battle the rough crowds and immoral behaviors, the food and drinks are costly. Mixed drinks are likely to cost upwards of $16+ per drink.

If you’re only coming for a glass or two, that’s one thing, but this could make for a costly evening if you want multiple drinks going from bar to bar. Bring plenty of money to cover your tab if you’re visiting Bourbon Street.

3. It Smells

With so much alcohol, it’s only a matter of time before someone has to go to the bathroom. While most people have the common sense to find the nearest restroom, that’s not everyone’s choice.

While it’s illegal, seeking a dark corner along the road becomes a popular spot for many individuals. However, urine isn’t the only stench you’ll likely experience on Bourbon Street.

If you stay later in the night, once people have a drink, two or six, another smell starts to become relatively common. You guessed it, vomit. Not everyone can handle their alcohol, or they go past their threshold while enjoying themselves. Between the mixture of two smells, you’ll likely want to plug your nose while visiting Bourbon Street.

View of bourbon street new orleans louisiana with trash on it

4. It’s Not Family-Friendly

If you’re traveling with a family, you can visit Bourbon Street during the day. There will still be plenty of people drinking and going about enjoying themselves. However, the road is open to vehicular traffic.

You can quickly drive through so you and your family can say you’ve experienced Bourbon Street.

While Bourbon Street is relatively family-friendly during the day, you’ll want to leave the closer it gets to the evening. Once the street closes to vehicular traffic, it becomes a wild party scene. You’ll be covering your children’s eyes and ears. 

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5. The Food Is Just OK

You’re not paying for the food or drinks while on Bourbon Street; you’re paying for the experience. We’re not trying to insult the restaurants or the chefs on Bourbon Street, but the food is just ok.

It’s not the quality that the premium price tags would indicate. If you want to experience authentic New Orleans food, there are better places in the city for it. You can taste the delicious Creole cuisine without paying the high tourist price tag of Bourbon Street.

Close up of food on bourbon street new orleans louisiana

Is Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana Safe?

We talked with a local about the safety of Bourbon Street, and she shared that despite what you might think, Bourbon Street is safer during prime events.

The city pays for a higher police presence to monitor the street. The last thing the city wants is for tourists to feel unsafe and take their money to another city.

Our local friend shared that Bourbon Street is much less safe during the down seasons when fewer people are on the street. With fewer crowds, law enforcement doesn’t maintain nearly as much presence. This opens up the potential for seedy behavior.

People with too much alcohol in their system may not react how they would otherwise, which can often lead to violence and erratic behavior. 

Personally, We Love Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street has a unique vibe. We’ve been to Mardi Gras twice and were there for Halloween once.

It was a super fun experience that we’ll cherish forever. It’s an excellent opportunity to cut loose and enjoy life in such a unique and beautiful city. 

Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, Isn’t for Everyone 

While we love Bourbon Street, we understand it isn’t for everyone. If you don’t like the wild and unpredictable nature of the street, it might be worth skipping.

You can still enjoy this incredible city without exploring Bourbon Street. This is one city where you can easily experience the city with your eyes, ears, and taste buds. 

Do you think Bourbon Street is worth visiting? Let us know! 

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