A flaming fountain, inviting pool and "Dive-In Movies" make the W French Quarter a summer hot spot. (©W French Quarter)
No pool at your hotel? No need to get all hot and bothered about it. There are a number of cool venues around the city that offer summertime visitors welcome relief from New Orleans’ trademark heat and humidity.
In the Bywater neighborhood, The Country Club has served as a popular destination for Crescent City sun seekers for more than four decades. Recently renovated, both indoors and out, the sophisticated space draws big weekend crowds with its wildly popular drag brunch and lushly landscaped saltwater pool. Public access is offered daily ($10 Mon.-Wed.; $15 Thur.-Sun.), along with great poolside dining.
Spend $20 on food or drinks at the rooftop Alto bar and restaurant at the Ace Hotel in the Central Business District, and wade on in. Great city views are coupled with killer cocktails (try the “Mayon Mule”), summery small plates (pimento cheese with bagel chips, hot dogs on pretzel buns) and one of the hippest pool scenes in the city.
At the W French Quarter $30 secures a place poolside on Sundays, from Memorial Day through Labor Day (except July 2), and goes toward your food and beverage tab while there. Located in the hotel’s central courtyard, the W’s pool also plays host to monthly Dive-In Movies. Munch on complimentary popcorn while bobbing around watching free screenings. How cool is that?
Splashy cabana rentals ($175-$350) are offered daily at the ritzy Roosevelt Hotel. Accommodating up to six people, cabanas come with a pool attendant, stocked cooler and fruit plate. Or double your pleasure with an appointment at the elegant, in-house Waldorf Astoria Spa, which allows you to access the rooftop pool afterward.
Poolside cabana rentals ($350) are also available at Le Méridien, and include a bottle of booze (vodka, tequila or rum), mixers, water, fruit and chips/salsa. Or you can suit up and sip on a complimentary cocktail of the day, beer or wine for just $15 on weekends, from 11 am-6 pm (except July 1-2). Did we mention the live DJ on Sundays? Reservations are required; space is limited to a set number of tickets per day.
Traveling with children? Head for the Audubon Zoo, where the animal-themed Cool Zoo splash park brings a bit of the beach to the heart of the city. Water-spitting snakes, spider monkey soakers, lion-head water cannons; the big attraction is a giant alligator slide that dumps 400 gallons of water at regular intervals. Up the cool quotient even further at the adjacent Gator Run, where live elephants look on as kids tube around the 750-ft. “lazy river” ride.