Once the conference day is done, attendees want to let loose and have some fun. There’s no better place than Louisiana, which features a host of charming, historical cities and famous nightlife venues. From the Cajun and Zydeco music of Lafayette and Lake Charles to the brewing talents of Shreveport, the party life of Baton Rouge’s Third Street and the famed regions of New Orleans’ French Quarter, there’s always somewhere to go when the sun goes down in Louisiana.
New Orleans/Jefferson Parish
Mention New Orleans and nightlife in the same sentence and attendees will gift you with huge smiles in return.
“New Orleans is home to some of the best nightlife in the world,” said Cara Banasch, senior vice president of business development and strategy for the New Orleans CVB. “The venues here provide a unique setting for special event gatherings, private parties and meetings of all sizes. With sprawling bars, late-night eateries, tours and more, there’s never a dull moment when it comes to the Big Easy.”
The best known region is the French Quarter, or Vieux Carre. Attendees will imagine classic hotels with wrought-iron terraces, free-flowing music and plenty of places to let their hair down. Groups can enjoy the famed clubs and restaurants on Bourbon Street and Royal Street, and the House of Blues is legendary for hosting musical acts such as Fats Domino and Eric Clapton.
But there’s more to New Orleans than Bourbon Street; planners can arrange a dinner jazz cruise aboard the Steamboat Natchez, or indulge in some chicory coffee and a beignet at the historic Cafe Du Monde, which is open 24 hours a day. Shake off those calories with some dance moves at Snug Harbor or Spotted Cat, or shop for locally made treasures at the Frenchmen Art Market, an outdoor marketplace mingled in with the music clubs on Frenchmen Street. The market stays open until 1 a.m.
“The city may be beautiful during the day, but the true magic of New Orleans comes alive at night,” Banasch said.
“Groups can learn about the history of New Orleans on tours led throughout various neighborhoods and cemeteries. New Orleans also has a reputation as one of the most haunted cities in America. To see, feel and experience these paranormal nocturnal phenomena, several walking tours are offered by experienced guides.”
Tours come in a variety of flavors, from purely historic to paranormal or voodoo. Best known is the St. Louis Cemetery #1, which contains the public tomb of Marie Laveau, but others are also mesmerizing, such as the Lafayette Cemetery or St. Louis Cemetery #2. Tours can also encompass the history and hair-raising stories of the French Quarter on foot, Segway or by old-fashioned carriage.
Outside of the New Orleans metro area, Jefferson Parish also has plenty of options once the sun goes down. For gaming and entertainment, the area’s casinos feature a festive atmosphere and give attendees a chance to unwind with drinks and good company. Boomtown Casino is known for its nightclub as well as the gaming floors; there’s no cover charge for live entertainment. At Treasure Chest Casino, groups can enjoy live entertainment from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. without an admission fee.
For something completely different, planners can arrange a nighttime volleyball tournament at the Coconut Beach Sand Volleyball Complex. With 22 courts and 100,000 square feet of manmade beach, the facility gives attendees a chance to stretch out those muscles after a day in a conference—and spike a few balls.
“The historical Third Street corridor is the nightlife hub of downtown Baton Rouge,” said Paul Arrigo, president and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge. “The lively street is within walking distance from the Raising Cane’s River Center (performance and exhibition space), making it a perfect destination for fun after a day of work.”
Aside from live music along the corridor, Dyson Street Listening Room presents a calendar of concerts in a 100-year-old family home and the Shaw Center for the Arts theater and arts complex is open to groups.
Another popular option for groups includes the area casinos. From the Belle of Baton Rouge in downtown to the Paragon Casino Resort located just north of the city, casinos are an excellent option for off-site events or unstructured downtime. The Paragon Casino Resort not only offers a dedicated poker room and off-track betting parlor, but also a three-screen cinema, golf courses and indoor tropical pool. Meanwhile, L’auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge offers views of the Mississippi River.
The famed Myrtles Plantation, an 18th century home with a haunted past, offers a special nighttime treat for small groups; guided evening mystery tours are available by reservation and focus on the drama, intrigue and spooky happenings witnessed on the grounds through the years.
With a rich musical heritage and college town atmosphere, Lafayette has nighttime fun for all the senses.
“While many cities have great meeting space, and certainly Lafayette Parish does as well, not every city is known as the ‘Happiest City in America,’ Rand McNally and USA Today’s ‘Best Food City,’ Southern Living’s ‘Tastiest Town of the South,’ and Travel & Leisure magazine’s ‘No. 2 College Town in America,’” said Ben Berthelot, president and CEO of the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission. “As the birthplace of Cajun and Zydeco music, and home to the world’s best Cajun and Creole cuisine, we know that meeting attendees will love getting immersed in the Cajun and Creole cultures.”
Attendees can enjoy live Cajun and Zydeco music every night of the week in Lafayette, with live entertainment at hot spots like the Blue Moon Saloon, Randol’s Cajun Restaurant and Prejean’s Restaurant, which holds the record for most medals won by a Southern culinary team. Groups can delight their taste buds with blackened catfish etoufee or eggplant pirogue Louis.
Live music and boiled crawfish are part of downtown Lafayette’s charm during Downtown Alive! , a Friday night party throughout the spring months in the city’s downtown parks; the weekly event is an excellent way to enjoy downtime and be involved in the vibrant local culture. Also located in downtown Lafayette is a wide array of clubs, bars, dance halls, restaurants, shops and art galleries for attendees to explore.
Attendees visiting Shreveport and Bossier City can raise a glass to the area’s nightlife, thanks to a booming craft brewery business. Events can be scheduled at Great Raft Brewing, which is Shreveport’s first brewery opened since the Prohibition years. Groups can take a tour, enjoy a tasting or grab a brew from the bar and enjoy a quick meal from the various food trucks that park in the brewery lot each evening.
At Red River Brewing Company, the tasting room has more than just drinks; it also offers ping-pong tables so attendees can unwind with a quick game. For those who prefer wine, planners can arrange a wine and chocolate tasting at the Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City. The tasting includes instruction about flavor profiles, varieties of wine and how to pair up the perfect chocolate and wine platter at home.
Groups can also arrange a concert or event in the historic Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, which was the home of the Louisiana Hayride show and introduced Elvis Presley to the world. The auditorium is also featured on the Historic Haunts of Shreveport evening ghost tour, along with many other reportedly haunted spots like the Calanthean Temple, which hosted African-American musical legends such as Count Basie and Cab Calloway.
Located in the southwest region of the state, Lake Charles thrums with the beat of live music. Cajun and Zydeco swamp pop music reflect the area’s soul. In addition to the city’s namesake, Lake Charles is also located by the Prien Lake and the Calcasieu River, and there are numerous outdoor music festivals throughout the year, from Live @ the Lakefront in March to Downtown at Sundown in summer.
Several restaurants in the downtown area also feature live music. In addition, breweries such as Crying Eagle Brewing Co. offer private event space.
Casinos, including L’Auberge Casino Resort and Isle of Capri Casino Hotel, provide a different option, with bars, clubs and eateries all conveniently located in one spot.