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Where to Find the Best New Orleans Jazz Clubs

The best of the best in the city that jazz calls home.


Music pours out of every door in the Big Easy. Don’t worry about finding good jazz in New Orleans. The jazz will find you! This is a city that absolutely loves its music, and while it’s hard to go wrong, here are some of the unmissable spots.


a jazz band playing at The Spotted Cat in New Orleans

#1 - Spotted Cat Music Club (623 Frenchmen St)


The Spotted Cat is one of the most well-known jazz clubs in the city, and it has earned every ounce of its rep. There’s always someone excellent playing at “The Cat”, and the live music flows every day of the week from 2pm to 2am. The venue is tiny, so expect standing room only. But by that same logic you can also expect the most intimate jazz experience of your life. Expect to leave the Cat Go. You won’t regret it.


#2 - Bamboula’s (514 Frenchmen St)


a jazz band playing at Bamboula's in New Orleans

Another Frenchman Street staple, Bamboulas is my recommendation if it’s too crowded at the Cat! Just like the Spotted Cat, they’re open seven days a week, with live music going from open to close. Plus, Bamboula’s has a full food menu, so it’s an amazing place for lunch or dinner with a side of jazz. My quintessential Bamboula’s experience was sauntering in on a Monday afternoon (a Monday afternoon) and finding an incredible three piece jazz combo playing with a vocalist who wore tap shoes and punctuated her crooning vocals with astounding rhythmic dance breaks. On a MONDAY AFTERNOON.


#3 - Royal Street


While not technically one of the New Orleans jazz clubs, there will be an astounding amount of great music on Royal Street. New Orleans is full of buskers and street musicians, but the best of the best of them gather on Royal Street. It’s an unwritten rule among that community that you can’t just set up on Royal, you have to earn your place there. Take a stroll up and down this street and you will experience an astounding amount of talent and beauty.


Bring small bills or have your Venmo code scanner ready. If you stop and listen or take a photo or video, they deserve a tip. Tip well, tip often, and be amazed.


a famous clarinetist busking on Royal Street

#4 - Musical Legends Park (311 Bourbon St)


If you’re looking for genuine jazz amid the press of Bourbon Street, Musical Legends Park is where you want to go. This garden and patio boasts beautiful cafe tables, a full bar, and delicious beignets. There’s live jazz every night, and there are statues and memorials to jazz greats scattered around the courtyard. It’s truly an island in the chaos of Bourbon Street, and perfect if you’ve already walked too much today and don’t want to leave the center of the Quarter.


#5 - River Cruises with New Orleans Steamboat Company (boarding at 400 Toulouse St)



For a different experience of NOLA music, book a river cruise on the Riverboat City of New Orleans! You can book a sightseeing-only ticket, or opt for one with a meal involved. But meal or no meal, you get to ride on an old-fashioned paddlewheel steamboat with a jazz trio playing on the upper deck. While not the most scenic river cruise I’ve been on (ya gurl has been spoiled by the Chicago River and the Seine), the historic boat combined with the excellent music made for an incredible experience.


Ready to chase down your best New Orleans jazz club experience??


a funny sign in a jazz club in New Orleans reading "no drinks or drunks on the pianee"

And there you have it! In a city bursting with jazz, you get to be one step ahead. Prepare to be amazed and enjoy every minute!


Looking for more guides to New Orleans? Check out my full catalog of them here!


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Love and Shenanigans,


Andi


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