There’s a vivid tapestry that runs through the country roads and city streets of Louisiana – the music.
No one can deny that Louisiana is a sensory delight: The architecture, history, culture and phenomenal cuisine are all standouts. What ties it all together is the music, whether it’s jazz, brass, heartbreaking blues or an energetic Cajun tune. Go ahead, tap your feet, jump up and dance or sing along. In three of the state’s most musical cities – New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette – they wouldn’t have it any other way.
New Orleans: Essential Jazz on Every Corner
The sounds of music naturally waft through New Orleans’ French Quarter. Follow the tunes of local buskers (street musicians) from corner to corner along Bourbon and Royal streets before settling on a venue to hear more. Want a music and dining combination? Make your first stop The Court of Two Sisters for a brunch buffet laden with Cajun and Creole-inspired goodies accentuated by a jazz trio performing in the courtyard. For the best view of Jackson Square and the perfect vantage point to listen to street musicians, pop into Tableau. It’s an elegant, three-story Spanish Colonial building serving classic French-Creole cuisine. As night falls, The Maison should be your go-to spot with three stories of entertainment: a bar, restaurant and a live music venue located on Frenchmen Street. Top the night off at d.b.a. New Orleans, a hip offshoot of the famous New York City club, for live music every night and tasty craft beer.
Street musicians playing in Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter
Baton Rouge: Where Locals Groove to the Blues and More
A vibrant college town and Louisiana’s capital city, Baton Rouge is home to one of the oldest blues festivals in the USA. The city is also a great place to hear country, swamp pop, rock and more. Start your local music tour on Government Street in the Mid-City neighborhood. Stop by Pop Shop Records, a funky, playful record store showcasing a top-notch selection of vinyl. Buy an album reminiscent of Baton Rouge as a keepsake. Nearby, get your live blues fix at Phil Brady’s Bar & Grill, a rustic and respected local institution with a hefty rotation of performances and a tempting menu of bar food favorites. For something a little unconventional, check out the quirky Bee Nice Concert Series, which takes place right in the event founders’ spacious backyard in the Capital Heights neighborhood. It’s kind of like a neighborhood block party turned live music venue outfitted with retro trailers, lawn chairs, tables and, of course, a stage.
View from the backyard stage at the Bee Nice Concert Series
Lafayette: Moving to Cajun and Zydeco Jams
Stumble upon a steady lineup of lighthearted Cajun and Zydeco bands in Lafayette, a festive, friendly city known as the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun & Creole Country. You can’t fully appreciate Lafayette’s musical vibes without learning the Cajun two-step and there’s no better place to take a lesson than Glide Studios. Learn simple steps from an experienced instructor while live music fills the air. Got the moves down? You’re ready for Cajun Jam night at the Blue Moon Saloon – a live music and dance party bound to delight. You can also test out your newfound moves at Grant Street Dancehall, the Grouse Room or Artmosphere – all featuring live music luring you to the dance floor. While you’re sampling authentic Lafayette, swing by Dwyer’s Café for a homespun plate lunch special. This staple dish often features a meat and starch covered in gravy, accompanied by a side or two of vegetables and a piece of bread. After all that dancing, you’ve earned it.
Dancing the Cajun two-step at one of Lafayette's many annual cultural festivals
Fly into Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY) in New Orleans then rent a car to explore the city. Next, drive an hour northwest to Baton Rouge; from there, you’re only another hour’s drive to Lafayette.