Located on the Mississippi River near the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans’ cultural melting pot can be credited to its French, African and American settlers, which gives the city a wealth of riches reflected in its food, music and inimitable style.

As the birthplace of American jazz, the city spawned numerous electrifying Dixieland, brass bands, Zydeco and funk and soul bands, making the “Big Easy,” a wonderful place to have a good time. Wherever you wander — amid the infamous graveyards, St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, French Quarter or art museums – visitors can find countless bars and restaurants, clubs and thrift shops while music fans will find nearly endless options for crate digging and live music venues.

Here’s some notable nuggets in and around New Orleans.

Chickie Wah-Wah
The Kalamazoo Greensky Bluegrass band at Chickie Wah-Wah.
### Live Music Venues

Chickie Wah-Wah

2828 Canal St.

844-244-2543

Located just a streetcar away from the French Quarter, Chickie Wah-Wah has free live music daily during happy hour from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The club is a mainstay for renown blues pianist Jon Cleary on Tuesdays and a full calendar of local talent performs regularly at the legendary bar. Visitors can make a night of it inside the club’s restaurant, the Blue Oak BBQ, which has a wide selection of mouth watering traditional New Orleans dishes.

Rock 'n' BowlRock ‘N’ Bowl 

3000 South Carrollton Ave.

504-861-1700

Nothing short of a New Orleans institution, Rock ‘N’ Bowl is exactly what its name implies, a bowling alley with a live music. Having evolved since 1988 and forced to move after Hurricane Katrina, Rock ‘N’ Bowl now houses 19 bowling lanes as well as a full kitchen featuring their famous gourmet burgers, jambalaya, gumbo, meat pies and beignets. They certainly don’t skimp on the music either, offering Zydeco, blues, r and a steady stream of classic New Orleans funk. With sightlines from each lane so you can, literally, rock while you bowl.

Circle BarCircle Bar

1032 St. Charles Ave.

504-588-2616

Established in 1999 inside one of the oldest buildings on St. Charles Avenue in the center of New Orleans, Circle Bar hosts a diverse lineup of local, national and international music. Cheap drinks and an old-school jukebox characterize add to the character of this popular spot. With nightly live music, the bar also has popular vinyl DJ nights featuring everything from soul and country to punk rock.

Other hot spots for live music definitely worth stumbling in and out include: Vaughn’s Lounge, *Mother-in-Law Lounge, Siberia, Saturn Bar, Ooh-Poo-Pah-Doo Lounge, Le Bon Ton Roulet and Maple Leaf.*

Raiding the Racks

Domino Sound Record ShackDomino Sound Record Shack

2557 Bayou Rd.

504-309-0871

With it’s small shack-like façade, Domino Sound’s modest and cozy shop has managed to pack every nook and cranny with a robust mix of everything to whet the palette for any record collector since they opened their doors in 2007. While everything from punk, blues, jazz, soul, hip-hop, and rock and be found, it’s their noteworthy collection of reggae the shop brags as being the largest in the South. They also claim they’re not a museum — in other words, records are priced to move, but leave your credit card at home because Domino only takes cash!

Euclid RecordsEuclid Records

3401 Chartres St.

504-947-4348

Euclid Records opened its flagship store in 1981 in St. Louis and this New Orleans “outpost” in 2010. In 2014, Euclid Records expanded to two floors in the Bywater neighborhood in the 9th ward and is conveniently located next to the popular Pizza Delicious. Euclid’s 4,000 square foot space hosts in-stores and meet and greets among its massive selection of new and used records, CDs, books and rotating stock of vintage cassettes.

Louisiana Music FactoryLouisiana Music Factory

421 Frenchman St.

504-586-1094

Jazz collectors need not venture too far in the French Quarter to get their hands on some juicy gems. Since 1992, the Louisiana Music Factory prides itself on specializing in all forms of traditional and new New Orleans music and carries a variety of  blues, R&B, gospel and rock, LMF has won awards as the best music shop in several high-profile local polls. There’s the standard fare of new and used records, CDs and DVDs as well as vintage 78s, T-shirts, art, and even musical instruments.

Want to hit all of the city’s record stores? There are plenty of more spots to check out: Captain’s Vinyl, The Iron Rail at Hey! Cafe, Juan-Le-Ger Record Shop and Art Gallery, The Mushroom, PeachesandSkully’z.

Best Eats

Johnny's Po-Boy
A shrimp po-boy from Johnny’s
Johnny’s Po-Boy

511 Saint Louis St.

504-524-8129

A French Quarter landmark started in 1950, Johnny’s offers the greatest variety of Po-Boys, the traditional New Orleans sandwich. Whatever it takes to make the famously huge sandwich bigger, Johnny’s has seemed to mastered it. Most New Orleans natives think Alligator Sausage Po-Boys are for tourists and the restaurant offers those, but if there’s any other kind of Po-Boy to be had, Johnny’s can deliver. Try the catfish, bacon and eggs, chicken, crab cakes, crawfish, hamburger or even a hot dog Po-Boy.

Lil' Dizzy's
Trout Baquet at Lil Dizzy’s is served with cornbread dressing and yams. (Photo: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
Lil Dizzy’s Cafe

1500 Esplanade Ave.

504-569-8997

You don’t have to know what authentic Creole soul food is to understand how amazing Lil’ Dizzy’s is. Owner Wayne Baquet follows the family tradition and uses his father’s recipes from the ‘40s (his dad owned the beloved Eddie’s) and the restaurant boasts a menu that’s “always hot and straight from the pot.” Baquet has cultivated a dazzling menu of mouth-watering fried chicken, shrimp gumbo, grits, and red beans and rice — better yet, they even serve breakfast.  

Willie Mae Seaton
Willie Mae Seaton with a plate of her award-winning fried chicken.
Willie Mae’s Scotch House

2401 Saint Ann St.

504-822-9503

Willie Mae’s may be small and humble but they know a thing or two about Southern cooking and have been around since 1957. Willie Mae Seaton won a James Beard award for “America’s Classic Restaurant for the Southern Region” in 2005. When the restaurant was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, locals rallied to help them reopen in 2007. Featured on the Food Network and Travel Channel, Willie Mae’s became internationally recognized.

Still hungry? There’s so much food in New Orleans, the options are limitless but you might want to check out: Antoines, Cochon, Commander’s Palace, Cafe Du Monde, Dick & Jenny’s, Atchafalaya.