Jazz Travel Guide: 25 U.S. Venues You Must Visit

Jazz music can be enjoyed anywhere, but there’s nothing like hearing it live. Candles flicker, glasses clink, and the musical interaction that is at the heart of the music takes on a life of its own. A good jazz venue can illuminate that sense of magic — either through excellent acoustics, transportive decor, great food and cocktails or simply the ghosts of jazz past. Great venues can create a sense of hallowed ground.

Such is the case for the 25 jazz clubs below, which should be on the bucket list of any serious jazz traveler. The clubs are organized by geographic region and listed by state, making it easy for jazz fans across the U.S. to plan your next evening outing — or maybe a cross-country trip. Consider this your jazz roadmap. 

NORTHEAST

New York

Village Vanguard
178 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014
villagevanguard.com

Jazz history emanates from every corner of this intimate jazz club. It was founded in 1935 by jazz impresario Max Gordon and continues to stand strong in its original location, offering the highest caliber jazz seven nights a week. Having historically played host to jazz legends — Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans and Cannonball Adderley all recorded live albums there — the Vanguard remains America’s premier destination for jazz. The Vanguard Orchestra has been playing every Monday at the club since 1966, and current icons like Ambrose Akinmusire, Mary Halvorson and Fred Hersch regularly hold court on its hallowed stage.

Smoke Jazz and Supper Club
2751 Broadway, New York, NY 10025
smokejazz.com

Smoke Jazz and Supper Club is the gem of the Upper Manhattan jazz scene, a chic and intimate venue offering world-class jazz seven nights a week, with a stable of regular performers that includes the piano legend Harold Mabern, organ maestro Mike LeDonne and drum guru Joe Farnsworth. With candlelit tables, velvet banquets and vintage chandeliers, Smoke Sessions cuts the perfect figure of a jazz club. It doesn’t hurt that it also offers a mouthwatering menu of classic American cuisine and a historic full-length bar.

Smalls
183 W 10th St, New York, NY 10014
smallslive.com

Photo by Nejat Ozu

Tiny in size but mighty in reputation, Smalls is one of New York’s most exciting jazz venues. Owned and operated by club veteran Mitchell Border and jazz pianist Spike Wilner, Smalls provides nightly jazz showcases in a trendy, up-close-and-personal setting. What’s more, the club streams each show live on their website, where users from around the world can tune in to catch amazing acts like saxophonist J.D. Allen, guitarist Peter Bernstein, and trumpeter Joe Magnerelli.

Jazz Standard
116 E 27th St, New York, NY 10016
jazzstandard.com

Jazz Standard is a favorite of New York jazz fans in the know, heralded around the city — and the world — for its superb acoustics, clean sight-lines, friendly staff, and award-winning Southern cuisine. The club hosts both legendary artists of today and bright stars of tomorrow, and is also home to the Mingus Big Band, which performs every Monday. (This year, the ensemble celebrates its 10th anniversary.) Plus, the bandleader Maria Schneider holds an annual weeklong residency at the club every Thanksgiving.

Blue Note Jazz Club
131 W 3rd St, New York, NY 10012
bluenotejazz.com

Since its founding in 1981, Blue Note Jazz Club has upheld its commitment to serving as a place where “progression and innovation — the foundations of jazz — are encouraged and practiced on a nightly basis.” The club, which offers music every night at 8 and 10:30 p.m., is a must-stop destination for the biggest names in jazz — Chick Corea, Joe Lovano, Chris Botti and John McLaughlin all hold regular residencies there. But the close-knit and comfortable club also features today’s up-and-coming artists, and is a noted hangout for jazz-loving pop stars.

Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola Jazz at Lincoln Center
10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019
jazz.org/dizzys

Situated five stories above New York’s Columbus Circle, Dizzy’s Club is Jazz at Lincoln Center’s intimate late-night jazz club, offering superb views of the city and even better music. With live shows nightly, Dizzy’s Club welcomes locals and visitors alike to enjoy the city’s best jazz, Southern-inspired American food and craft cocktails. The club regularly features marquee acts during their 7:30 and 9:30 shows, but stop by for an 11:15 after-hours set and you might catch a Juilliard student on the rise or a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra woodshedding some new material.

New Jersey

Trumpets
6 Depot Square, Montclair, NJ 07042
trumpetsjazz.com

Trumpets Jazz Club & Restaurant, located in the heart of Montclair, New Jersey, rivals the top jazz clubs across the river in NYC. The club regularly features marquee acts from the Big Apple, like Wynton Marsalis, as well as touring artists that make New Jersey home. With a menu specializing in gourmet Italian fare, a sizeable wine selection and a can’t-miss Sunday brunch, Trumpets is among the best spots to hear jazz in the Garden State.   

Connecticut

Firehouse 12
45 Crown St, New Haven, CT 06510
firehouse12.com

Nestled in a hip corner of New Haven, Connecticut, Firehouse 12 is home to a much-lauded jazz series that runs for 12 weeks during the spring and fall. The intimate, 75-seat venue is also home to Firehouse Records, a recording studio and label that specializes in experimental and avant-garde jazz. If listening to some of the best, most progressive music in the Northeast isn’t enough, patrons can also dine at Firehouse 12’s on-site restaurant, which features a changing selection of seasonal specials, small plates and Italian piadina flatbread sandwiches.

The Side Door Jazz Club
85 Lyme St, Old Lyme, CT 06371
thesidedoorjazz.com

Accessed through a literal “side door” at the Old Lyme Inn, this Connecticut jazz club opened in 2013 and is now among the most well-regarded venues in the Tri-State area, attracting flocks of top-tier acts and jazz-savvy visitors into its cozy confines. Guests can enjoy a pre-show dinner and drinks at the Old Lyme Inn restaurant, then slide in through the side door for a night of unparalleled jazz. It’s the best of both worlds: big city music and dining with small town charm and hospitality.  

Pennsylvania

Deer Head Inn
5 Main St, Delaware Water Gap, PA 18327
deerheadinn.com

The Deer Head Inn in Deleware Water Gap, Pennsylvania, lays claim to being the oldest continually operated jazz club in the country. A historic, 19th-century building tucked away in the Pocono Mountains, it also happens to be a premier destination for jazz-minded vacationers, offering eight tastefully decorated rooms and two suites. Evening fare includes a variety of sumptuous offerings – whether choosing from the full entree menu or lighter fare, and local brews are available on tap, as well as extensive wine and bottled beer selections. Live music is held from 8 – 11 p.m.

Massachusetts

Regattabar
1 Bennett St, Cambridge, MA 02138
regattabarjazz.com

The Regattabar opened its doors to the public in 1985. Since then, it has become one of the leading jazz clubs in New England. The sizeable yet intimate 220-seat venue is located on the third floor of The Charles Hotel at One Bennett Street in Cambridge, and also serves as home to an annual jazz fest. Boston-area jazz fans love its diverse jazz offerings, which range from New England locals and Berklee grads to internationally touring artists like Mike Stern and Avishai Cohen.

Scullers Jazz Club
400 Soldiers Field Rd, Boston, MA 02134
scullersjazz.com

Since opening its doors in October 1989, Scullers Jazz Club has become a Boston landmark for locals and visitors alike. Scullers has hosted some of the very best musical artists in the business, including Cecile McLorant Salvant, Brad Mehldau, Harry Connick Jr., Chris Botti, Jamie Cullam, Dee Dee Bridgwater, Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, David Sanborn, Michael Buble, Arturo Sandoval and Wynton Marsalis, to name a few. Located on the ground floor of The DoubleTree Suites, the club is renowned throughout the area for its unrivaled sound system, robust cocktail menu and tantalizing food and dessert selections.  

SOUTHEAST

Washington, D.C.

Blues Alley
1073 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007
bluesalley.com

Dubbed “the nation’s finest jazz and supper club” by the New York Times, Blues Alley has a history of showcasing internationally renowned artists such as Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan. Today, the club regularly hosts artists of equal acclaim, including Wynton Marsalis and Kevin Eubanks. The intimate venue, located in the heart of Washington’s historic Georgetown, is housed in an 18th-century red brick carriage house, offering patrons a unique ambiance reminiscent of the jazz clubs of the 1920s and ’30s. The club is open seven days a week and serves up authentic Creole cuisine, steak and seafood dishes.

South Carolina

Jazz Corner
1000 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
thejazzcorner.com

Celebrating 20 years in 2019, the Jazz Corner is a  Hilton Head landmark offering superb jazz music and gourmet food in a chic yet charming venue amid the natural beauty of South Carolina’s low country. A dream of the late Jazz musician and historian, Bob Masteller, the 99-seat Jazz Corner is an ideal setting to enjoy an evening of world-class entertainment enhanced by innovative Southern-inspired dishes and delicious cocktails.

Florida

The Arts Garage
94 NE 2nd Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33444
artsgarage.org

Delray Beach’s Arts Garage provides enriching visual and performing arts experiences — as well as arts education courses — to the South Florida community. A highlight of the venue’s annual programming is its jazz series, which brings artists like Stanley Jordan, Bria Skonberg, Emmet Cohen and Tito Puente Jr. to its stage. The goal of Arts Garage is to present a diversity of cultures and experiences — from Latin jazz to klezmer to bluegrass. Visitors can listen to some of South Florida’s most noteworthy musicians while perusing paintings, sculptures and other works by local artists.

Louisiana

Preservation Hall
726 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116
preservationhall.com

Preservation Hall was established in 1961 to honor traditional New Orleans jazz. Situated in the heart of the French Quarter on St. Peter Street, the Preservation Hall venue presents intimate, acoustic New Orleans Jazz concerts over 350 nights a year, featuring ensembles from a current collection of more than 100 local musicians. The charmingly bare-bones room offers multiple 45-minute performances per night, giving visitors plenty of opportunities to commune with the spirits of New Orleans’ jazz past.

Snug Harbor
626 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116
snugjazz.com

For over 30 years, Snug Harbor has provided great jazz and mouthwatering Crescent City cooking at reasonable prices. The chic yet intimate brick-walled space is located in three rooms of a renovated 19th-century storefront located in the Faubourg Mariginy, just outside the French Quarter. For a night of easy entertaining, the options are plentiful: Guests can dine at the restaurant, enjoy a few cocktails at the bar, or take in music by local legends like Ellis Marsalis in the listening room.

Tennessee

Rudy’s Jazz Room
809 Gleaves St, Nashville, TN 37203
rudysjazzroom.com

Rudy’s Jazz Room offers an authentic jazz experience in Music City. With jazz seven nights a week and a menu featuring Southern classics from chef and co-owner Michael Braden, the room has become the epicenter of Nashville’s jazz scene, a magnet for players and visitors alike. The venue is renowned throughout the region for its superb acoustics, which were crafted in meticulous detail by sound designer Michael Cronin. But just as is its eclectic music lineup, which features everything from trad-jazz and bebop to Latin jazz and Golden Age swing.

Texas

Scat Jazz Lounge
11 W 4th St # 11, Fort Worth, TX 76102
scatjazzlounge.com

Set in the basement of the historic Woolworth building, Scat provides top-notch jazz in a dark and swanky atmosphere that is also supremely comfortable, with a venue that combines rich wood accents and deco curves with pillowy red curtains and glistening glassware. “There are no TVs and no beer signs,” claims Scat, “ just a great hideaway from every other place.” Located in the heart of downtown Ft. Worth’s Sundance Square, Scat showcases some of the best local, regional, and national talent with a primary focus on straightahead jazz.

MIDWEST

Illinois

The Jazz Showcase
806 S Plymouth Ct, Chicago, IL 60605
jazzshowcase.com

Photo by Mark PoKempner

The Jazz Showcase is the oldest historic jazz club in Chicago, Illinois, founded in 1947 by jazz impresario Joe Segal (and now owned and operated by Joe’s son, Wayne). Some of the greatest names in jazz have played at the Showcase, including trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who for years held a New Year’s Day residency at the club. (Ahmad Jamal recorded his trio album Chicago Revisited there in 1992.) Today, the Jazz showcase continues to be a thriving Jazz club in Chicago, presenting live music seven nights a week. The club even has a 4 p.m. Sunday matinee geared towards families, with free admission for kids 12 and under.

The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
4802 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640
greenmilljazz.com

The Green Mill is a blast from the past, a timelessly sophisticated jazz club founded in 1907 and containing all the trappings of the Jazz Age. Adorned with art deco/art nouveau décor and a full polished-wood bar, the club rings with the ghosts of jazz’s past — rumor has it that Al Capone’s had a regular booth in the middle of the floor so that he and his henchmen could keep an eye on the door. Today, the Green Mill offers a mix of down-to-earth friendliness and class, offering music seven days a week and a poetry slam on Sunday evenings.

Constellation
3111 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
constellation-chicago.com

Constellation was founded in 2013 by drummer Mike Reed as a place to present progressive performance and forward-thinking music with a focus on jazz, improvisation and contemporary classical. Left-of-center jazz figures that have appeared at the club include trumpeter Avishai Cohen, drummer Dave King and pianists Kris Davis and Craig Taborn. To accommodate this ambitious programming, Constellation has transformed the 7,000-square-foot site that was once the Viaduct Theater to offer two performance spaces (seating 50-75 and 100-150), as well as a full bar.

Michigan

The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe
97 Kercheval Ave, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236
dirtydogjazz.com

Opened in 2008, The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe is one of the premier destinations in the Midwest — and the world — for jazz and classic bistro cuisine. Founded by Detroit jazz luminary Gretchen Valade (owner of Mack Avenue Records), the club combines intimacy, meticulous attention to detail, and hospitality with the charm of an English-style pub. The venue regularly plays host to jazz legends, current stars, and future greats from around the U.S., all while offering a menu of upscale American classics from executive chef Andrei Neimanis.

Minneapolis

Dakota Jazz Club
1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403
dakotacooks.com

The Dakota Jazz Club is the go-to spot for jazz in the Twin Cities, showcasing world-renowned artists in jazz and pop in a hip, multi-level venue. The club also offers exquisite farm-to-table cuisine with a menu that changes every season. The Dakota proudly supports locally owned, sustainably operated farms, serving hormone-free meat and locally sourced seafood. Jazz stars regularly make this club a stop on their Midwest tours, and future patrons can check out who’s going to appear at their club via the Coming Up at the Dakota playlist on Spotify.

Missouri

Ferring Jazz Bistro
3536 Washington Ave, St. Louis, MO 63103
jazzstl.org

For more than 20 years, Jazz St. Louis has been the foremost presenter of jazz in St. Louis and throughout the region. Hundreds of locally and nationally renowned musicians have graced the stage each year as part of their performance season, including Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, Harry Connick, Jr. and Al Jarreau. The organization’s recently renovated, state-of-the-art Ferring Jazz Bistro is a marvel of design and acoustics, called “the best room in the planet” by Grammy-nominated saxophonist Bob Mintzer. If that doesn’t win you over, the venue also offers a full-course menu with upscale American dishes.

Colorado

Dazzle
1512 Curtis Street, Denver, CO 80202
dazzledenver.com

Photo by Seth A. McConnell, YourHub

Rated as Denver’s Best Jazz club by Westword Magazine for 15 years running, Dazzle is a live music and culinary staple in the Denver arts scene. Now located in the historic Baur’s building, Dazzle’s history is combined with one of Denver’s oldest iconic landmarks. The club’s Executive Chef, Mario Godoy, brings creative culinary comfort with the help of Dazzle’s long-standing veteran Chef’s, BJ Erickson and Daron Edgar, offering dining for all ages for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and desserts. In between bites, guests can browse the venue’s curated vinyl collection, which includes classic and modern records at affordable prices.

WEST

California

Yoshi’s
510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, CA 94607
yoshis.com

Yoshi’s began in 1972 as a small sushi bar owned by founder and namesake Yoshie Akiba and her two best friends. Over the next 40 years, Yoshi’s built itself into one of the world’s most respected jazz venues, earning a reputation as the Bay Area’s premier location for great Japanese cuisine and jazz music. Today, Yoshi’s is an award-winning 310-seat live performance venue with a state-of-the-art sound system and design, occupying 17,000 square feet in the heart of Oakland’s Jack London Square. The menu features traditional Japanese and fusion style cuisine, a full-bar and featured cocktails.

Bluewhale
123 Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka St #301, Los Angeles, CA 90012
bluewhalemusic.com

Opened in December of 2009, bluewhale is a live jazz club, art gallery and bar located in the heart of Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. The brainchild of jazz vocalist Joon Lee, bluewhale has become the go-to venue for the best creative musicians, young as well as established, to showcase their latest projects. Helped by the uniquely designed tilting boxes in the ceiling, the acoustics of the room have been praised by musicians and fans alike. The bar offers a great selection of drinks, including hand-selected small batch bourbons, whiskeys, scotch, classic as well as modern cocktails and rotating craft beers on tap.

Catalina Jazz Bar & Grill
6725 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
catalinajazzclub.com

Catalina Bar & Grill’s slogan is “Nothing But The Best In Jazz,” and the venue certainly lives up to that slogan. Historically, the club has presented some of the biggest names in jazz, including Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey and Ray Brown. Today, the club continues to combine Old World charm and a warm, inviting environment with fantastic jazz and a superb dinner menu. Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea and other L.A. music celebrities have been spotted in the audience — and on stage. 

The Baked Potato
3787 Cahuenga Blvd, Studio City, CA 9160
thebakedpotato.com

The Baked Potato Jazz Club has been bringing great musicians to its stage since 1970, attracting artists and listeners from around the world with its unbeatable combination of stellar music and great food. Concerts take place nightly, featuring music from across the jazz spectrum. And then there’s the menu, which highlights the club’s namesake spud. Patrons can order baked potatoes any number of ways, including one with maple ham, corn and pineapple.

Washington

The Triple Door
216 Union St, Seattle, WA 98101
thetripledoor.com

The historic Mann building that houses The Triple Door was originally home to the Embassy Theatre, a vaudeville house that opened in 1926. When Rick and Ann Yoder bought the historic building in 1999, their renovation plan was simple: to create an intimate, comfortable space that would connect performers to their audience. Today, the club is a beacon in the Seattle jazz scene, renowned throughout the area for its sound, lighting, atmosphere and hospitality. Its menu features award-winning Southeast Asian dishes from the club’s sister restaurant, Wild Ginger, which prioritizes local ingredients and fresh Pacific Northwest seafood.

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