Bourbon Street, New Orleans.
Undoubtedly the most famous party street in the world, Bourbon Street needs no introduction. Once populated by peepshows and whore houses the current iteration of the legendary watering hole has been accused of Disneyfication and while an afternoon stroll might support such thoughts they go right out the window when the sun goes down. With over 40 bars and dance floors spilling onto the streets Bourbon Street knows how to entertain and while Mardi Gras is the time to experience Bourbon to its fullest any given weekend night is full of spice.
Bourbon Street by Craig Stanfill (Flickr)
Yes there are beads and yes there are boobs but despite many a dive bar and bible belter letting loose after crossing the Mississippi there’s plenty of elegance to be found in the French Quarter. If you want some fine dining and smooth jazz that wont be a problem but if you want to get utterly demolished and awake in the gutter Bourbon Street will certainly provide the ammunition. It’s quite easy to trap yourself on a balcony watching the carnage down below but Bourbon is best experienced on the move, bouncing from bar to bar. No doubt you’ll quickly find yourself adorned with beads and lugging around sticky souvenir cups but that’s all part of the charm. Just don’t make any elaborate sightseeing plans for early the next morning.
Duval Street, Key West.
Only one of the three hasn’t been pedestrianized and that is at the very bottom of the US, Duval Street. There’s many things that set Duval Street apart starting with its history as a drunken thoroughfare from the age of Pirates to Hemmingway and beyond. Running North to South across the island from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, Duval ends where America ends at the Southern Most point in the contiguous United States. Barely a hundred miles from Havana the Cuban influence in quite apparent in the islands fondness for coffee, cigars and rum. At one time the sheer abundance of cigar stores on Duval earned Key West the nickname “Cigar City USA”. These days the booze takes center stage with a vast array of over 40 drinking establishments establishing the legendary Duval Pub Crawl as a heroic feat only to be attempted by the most seasoned of livers.
Fantasy Fest on Duval Street by bomazi (Wikimedia commons)
During the day Duval is awash with a standard array of cruise ship tourists with bulging waistlines, ill fitting clothes and fanny packs. Thankfully this pestilence only lasts a few hours before they clamor back up the gangway leaving the party to kick off and what a party it is. Descending upon the Victorian mansions that line the streets is a remarkable assortment of people crossing every conceivable background. Motorcycle gangs from Alabama mingle with stockbrokers from New York and fashionistas from Miami. While any particular night on Duval is likely to give you a hangover for the ages nothing can compare to the unrivaled debauchery of Fantasy Fest a ten day street party where standard attire is body paint. In a tropical town where open container laws are strictly ignored Duval Stands proud as a place where your troubles melt away after a few Pina Coladas. Provided they don’t get you into even more trouble.
Freemont Street, Las Vegas.
While the Vegas strip is a sight to behold Freemont Street in downtown Las Vegas might as well be a different planet entirely. Nestled under a massive canopy, Freemont is the old heart of Las Vegas featuring some of her most iconic casinos such as the Golden Nugget and the 4 Queens. As Freemont suffered with the relentless expansion of the new Vegas strip a major effort tool shape to rejuvenate the area this resulted in the Freemont Street Experience. In 2004 the Freemont canopy was adorned with 12 million LED lamps turning it into the World’s largest electric sign. As the screen above puts on the greatest light show in existence and zipliners hurtle above the street itself becomes essentially one massive party.
Freemont Street by Matthew Straubmuller (Flickr)
From 9pm to 4am on the first Friday of each month access is restricted anyone under the age of 21 and insanity beckons. With three separate concert stages and an abundance of booze there’s something for everyone and best of all it’s free. Not that a typical day and night on Freemont should be ignored but First Friday is where it really kicks off. With a far more casual atmosphere compared to the strip Freemont offers a very different take on Vegas. One that is best experienced with little or no inhibitions. It’s a quick Uber up from the strip and a long ride back depending on how much has been consumed but for those falling out of love with the cost and attitude on the New Strip a trip down memory lane is worth its weight in chips.