What to do now in New Orleans

3 National Parks to See When Visiting New Orleans

Chalmette Battlefield in New Orleans (©Shawn Fink)
(©Shawn Fink) Chalmette Battlefield hosts live reenactments of the Battle of New Orleans each January.

 Celebrate the city's tricentennial throughout the year with a visit to one of New Orleans’ three national treasures. 

Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery

Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery, just downriver from the French Quarter, is where pirate Jean Lafitte and Gen. Andrew Jackson joined forces to outwit the British during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. The visitor center offers a video overview of the historic conflict, along with interactive exhibits. The adjacent cemetery was established in 1864 for Union soldiers who died in Louisiana during the Civil War. The 14,000 headstones also pay tribute to veterans of the War of 1812, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II and Vietnam War. A six-mile drive puts you there fast, or take a more leisurely route aboard the Creole Queen, which docks on site daily. 

Chalmette National Cemetery in New Orleans

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Battle of New Orleans buffs will also want to explore the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, where the smuggler-turned-war hero once hid out. The 23,000-acre Barataria Preserve on the city’s Westbank is home to more than 200 species of birds, along with alligators, nutria and other local wildlife. Wooden boardwalks allow you to delve deep into the wetlands on your own (call 504.799.0802 for a free audio tour). Along the Bayou Coquille Trail, you’ll discover a Native American shell mound and 600-year-old cypress tree. Word to wise: Bring bug spray and bottled water.

Barataria Preserve in New Orleans

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park

More into music history? Tune in at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. Currently housed in the Louisiana State Museums' Old U.S Mint, the only national park devoted to jazz will soon return to its former location at 916 N. Peters Street (now undergoing renovations). Free, ranger-led walking tours of the nearby French Market and Mississippi riverfront examine the evolution of the genre, and point visitors to other areas of musical interest, such as Armstrong Park, where jazz is said to have originated. Live performances, a jazz exhibit and jazz-accompanied yoga and pilates sessions are also featured.

Armstrong Park in New Orleans

For for more information on New Orleans' national parks, visit the Jean Lafitte French Quarter Visitor Center.

A Crescent City celebration of the National Park Service centennial.

Where to Satisfy Your Crawfish Cravings In New Orleans

New Orleans Crawfish Boil (©Shawn Fink)
(©Shawn Fink) In addition to crawfish, boils can include everything from corn and potatoes to mushrooms and Brussels sprouts.


It starts in early February along Mardi Gras parade routes, and lingers long into May. You’ll catch a whiff of it wafting out of French Quarter bars and bubbling up from backyards in the Bywater. Ahh…the distinctive smell of spicy crawfish permeating the New Orleans springtime air.

New Orleans Crawfish Boil (©Shawn Fink)

By March crawfish season comes to a full boil, with the mighty mudbug taking its annual star turn on area restaurant menus. Locals line up to load up on steaming crawdads fresh from the pot at Melba's, Bevi Seafood Co.Clesi's, NOLA Brewing and Rouses, which serves up thousands of pounds of them during April’s annual French Quarter Festival, where Muriel's crawfish-and-goat cheese crepes are always a crowd pleaser.

Boiled beauties are also devoured at Deanie's, along with fried crawfish tails, crawfish etouffée and crawfish bisque. Elegant Restaurant R'evolution elevates humble mudbugs to fine-dining status with its crawfish-stuffed redfish Napoleon, as does Arnaud's, where they’re baked in a brandy-infused Creole tomato sauce, while Commander's Palace takes the standard croque madame sandwich to a whole new level with crawfish, escargot and crawfish-boiled mozzarella and Gruyeré.

Restaurant R'evolution New Orleans

At the tony Ritz-Carlton guests are schooled in the art of the peel (“suck on the crawfish tail while pushing from the bottom, and it comes right out”) by a dedicated “crawfish concierge.” The hotel hosts boils in its courtyard—with live music and champagne—from March through May; call 504.262.5048 for reservations.

Then there are the crawfish fetes that start up in earnest each April and spill into May. Crawfish bread, crawfish pie, crawfish po’ boys, crawfish pizza, crawfish pasta, crawfish eggrolls, crawfish quesadillas, crawfish-smothered catfish; the Louisiana Crawfish Festival in Chalmette offers a taste of it all and then some. There’s even a Crawfish Queen! Hot mudbugs and cold beer is a quintessential combo, which makes the NOLA Crawfish Fest, with its specialty brews, a no-brainer. Sandwiched between Jazzfest weekends, the three-day affair also spotlights a gumbo of local music acts.

Louisiana Crawfish Festival (©Louisiana Crawfish Festival)

The University of New Orleans gets in on the act with the Crawfish Mambo along Lake Pontchartrain, while Tulane University weighs in with its annual Crawfest, which serves up 20,000-plus pounds of freshwater crustaceans at its Uptown campus. True devotees go the distance, making the two-hour trek to the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, a big-time, small-town affair that draws huge crowds to Cajun country.

Grown men can get as excited as little boys when it comes to crawfish boils. And now kids can safely take part in the adult fun with the Lil Bit Crawfish Boil Set, complete with plastic pot, strainer, stirring paddle, mudbugs, veggies and seasoning. You’ll find them at Dirty CoastFleurty Girl and other area gift shops.

’Tis the season, so get out and get peelin’!

Kid's Crawfish Boil Set / Dirty Coast (©Shawn Fink)


A guide to springtime mudbug madness.

New Orleans Food Festivals to Keep You Sated Year-Round

Oak Street Po'boy Festival (©Shawn Fink)
(©Shawn Fink) One of dozens of delicious offerings at October's Oak Street Po'boy Festival.

New Orleans boasts more than 130 annual festivals, many of them food-focused. Alligator, oysters, gumbo, mirliton—if it’s edible, we’ll celebrate it. Here, we’ve mapped out the best the city’s food fetes month-by-month. Dig in, y'all!


King Cake Festival: A Mardi Gras must-have, king cake comes in a variety of flavors, both sweet and savory. Local bakeries serve up their signature takes on the Crescent City confection during this Carnival season celebration at Champions Square.

Randazzo's King Cake


Soul Fest: New Orleans’ African-American influences are highlighted during this annual Audubon Zoo affair, which features a number of Creole and soul food vendors. Pork chop po'boys? Yes, please. 

Soul Fest New Orleans


Top Taco New Orleans: This offshoot of the popular Top Taco Denver nods to NOLA's growing number of Mexican eateries. Chefs compete in a variety of categories (most creative, most traditional, fan favorite), while area bartenders battle it out for top margarita.

New Orleans Bourbon Festival: Brown liquor lovers, this one's for you. Delve deep into the wonderful world of whiskey during a weekend packed with boozy seminars, top-shelf tastings and bourbon-paired dinners.

New Orleans Bourbon Fest 


Louisiana Crawfish Festival: Mudbugs are the star attraction of this annual affair in nearby Chalmette. Crawfish pie, crawfish cake, crawfish bread, crawfish pizza, crawfish eggrolls; all hail the Crawfish Queen!

Crawfish (©Shawn Fink)

Hogs for the Cause: What began as a small cook-off among friends has morphed into a wildly popular pork-a-thon. Close to 100 award-worthy barbecue teams compete while you pig out on the results.

Hogs for the Cause New Orleans

NOLA FoodFest: Regional specialties from around the nation (Philly cheesesteak, Memphis barbecue) join with local faves (gumbo, jambalaya) in this two-day chow fest. Save room for the beignet-eating contest.

French Quarter Fest and Jazzfest: Most New Orleans food fetes incorporate music—and vice versa. But the two receive near-equal billing at the French Quarter Festival and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. French Quarter Fest claims “the World’s Largest Jazz Brunch,” while Jazzfest counts 70-plus must-try food vendors.

Jazzfest New Orleans


New Orleans Wine & Food Experience: More than 1,000 vintages from world-renowned wineries, award-worthy cuisine by leading local chefs and dozens of restaurants offering vino-paired menus—that’s the recipe for success behind this foodie fantasy.

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (©Shawn Fink)

New Orleans Greek Festival: The oldest Greek Orthodox congregation in the U.S. mounts this celebration of the city’s Greek culture. Stuffed grape leaves, fried calamari, souvlaki, goat burgers, feta fries and homemade pastries...Opa! 


New Orleans Oyster Festival: Bivalve lovers, come out of your shells. The city’s leading seafood restaurants serve up incredible oyster dishes while live acts perform along the Mississippi riverfront during this annual ode to ersters.

New Orleans Oyster Festival


Tales of the Cocktail: Bartenders and distillers from around the globe take part in this annual booze fest. But you don’t have to be in the industry to get into the spirit of things; restaurants join in the fun with special “spirited” menus.

Tales of the Cocktail New Orleans


COOLinary New Orleans: With dozens of eateries offering specially priced prix-fixe menus throughout the month, this way-cool summertime dining promotion makes the dog days bearable.


Daiquiri Season New Orleans: This Tales of the Cocktail offshoot offers sweet relief from end-of-summer heat, with city bars and restaurants serving kicked-up versions of the frozen concoction.

Daiguiri Season New Orleans

We Live to Eat Restaurant Week: Hungry for a great dining deal? You’re in the right town at the right time. Numerous fine-dining venues offer budget-minded, two-course lunch and three-course dinner menus. Never eaten at Antoine’s? Here’s your chance.

Louisiana Seafood Festival: Seafood fans get their fill during this salute to the glories of the Gulf and the state’s waterways. From alligator and oysters to crab and shrimp, get a taste of it all while chefs conduct demos and live bands perform.

Louisiana Seafood Festival (©Shawn Fink)

National Fried Chicken Festival: Eateries from far and wide weigh in with their trademark takes on this deep-fried classic. Bone up for the chicken wing eating contest.


Crescent City Blues and BBQ Fest: This annual celebration of two Southern staples spotlights regional blues legends and local pit masters.

Oak Street Po-Boy Festival: Established in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in an effort to “preserve the po'boy,” this homespun happening draws thousands to Oak Street, where dozens of vendors vie for top honors.Grande Isle restaurant New Orleans


Boudin Bourbon & Beer: Emeril Lagasse, local James Beard Award winners Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski and other top chefs from around the nation pay homage to the state's signature sausage with this perennially packed pork-out.

Boudin, Bourbon and Beer Fest New Orleans

Carnivale du Vin: Named one of the Top 10 charity wine auctions by Wine Spectator, this tony affair, a fundraiser for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, pairs world-famous vintners with top-notch national chefs.

Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival: All gumbos great and small are the focus of this deliciously fun event conducted by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. Warm up and get down to live bands in Armstrong Park.


Beignet Fest: Can’t get enough of New Orleans signature pastry? This ones for you. A variety of vendors serve up both sweet (bananas Foster) and savory (bacon and cheddar with chipolte creama) versions while local bands perform.

Beignet New Orleans (©Zack Smith)

Reveillon Dinners: During the 1800s, locals would gather for multicourse meals following Christmas Eve Mass. Now they’re served throughout December at restaurants citywide. Restaurant bars make things even merrier with holiday drink specials.

Toddy Season: Tales of the Cocktail’s wintery offspring, Tales of the Toddy, is all grown up. What was a one-night affair has become so popular it now lasts the entire month, with bars and boozeries nationwide participating with holly jolly cocktail menus. 

A 12-month Crescent City culinary calendar.

Where to Spend New Year's Eve in New Orleans

New Year's Eve New Orleans (©Shawn Fink)
(©Shawn Fink) New Year's noisemakers: Fireworks light up the Crescent City skyline.

Move over, Manhattan. In recent years New Orleans has positioned itself as one to the nation's top New Years Eve destinations. Even The New York Times counts it among “Four Cities That Celebrate New Year’s Eve in a Big Way.” Just how big? The Big Easy’s year-end celebration has grown so popular that now New York comes to New Orleans, with Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest broadcasting live from Jackson Square.

From Bourbon Street to the riverfront, Preservation Hall to Audubon Zoo, you’ll find 2018 kickoff parties all over town all day long.

Kid-Friendly Events

Louisiana Children's Museum and Audubon Zoo: Think New Year’s Eve is only for adults? Not in New Orleans. The small-fry big fun gets going early at the Louisiana Children’s Museum (9:30 am) and Audubon Zoo (10:30 am). Both cater to kids with a variety of games and activities before ringing in 2018 at noon. 

Louisiana Children's Museum (©Louisiana Children's Museum)


Allstate Sugar Bowl Fan Fest and Parade: For 84 years the nation’s second-oldest college bowl game has played out here, and over the past decade the free fan fest preceding the annual Allstate Sugar Bowl has morphed into a giant NYE pre-party. Things get rolling at 2:30 pm with a parade along Decatur Street, followed by top-tier music acts (Imagine Dragons, Walk the Moon) in the JAX Brewery parking lot, beginning at 9 pm.

Jackson Square: The Crescent City Countdown Club’s annual NOLA New Year’s Eve celebration culminates at midnight with the dropping of the fleur-de-lis (hey, it’s New Orleans) from the top of JAX Brewery and fireworks over the Mississippi.

NOLA New Year's Eve (©Shawn Fink)

Woldenberg Park and Crescent Park: Searching for the perfect perch for viewing the big bang? Join the thousands of others who line the banks of the river along Woldenberg Park. Too crowded? Nearby Crescent Park also offers riverfront access, along with room to spread out.

Riverboat Cruises

You can’t get much closer to the fireworks action than in the middle of the Mississippi aboard the Steamboat Natchez or Creole Queen Paddlewheeler. Both offer New Years Eve cruises with dinner, dancing and plenty of bubbly.

Steam Boat Natchez (©Shawn Fink)

Hotels and Special-Event Venues

Hyatt Regency Hotel: Billed as “the biggest and best New Years celebration anywhere,” the Hyatt’s Big Night New Orleans is part of Big Night America, the largest New Year’s Eve series in the nation. Numerous dance floors and party spaces, nine bands (including Big Sam's Funky Nation and Cowboy Mouth) and DJs, cool party favors…did we mention the all-night open bar?

Westin Canal Place Hotel: With sweeping views of the river and two floors of entertainment (the Bucktown All-Stars in the ballroom, DJs in the Plimsoll Club), the Westin’s year-end blowout ranks as one of the city’s best. The tony affair features incredible edibles, a premium open bar and separate VIP rooms for an extra-special experience.

Riverview Room: Located in the “Times Square of the South” (aka JAX Brewery), this spectacular space is a prime spot for viewing the fireworks and festivities, both indoors and out. A full buffet, open bar and live entertainment help seal the deal.

Marché: The riverfront’s newest NYE venue puts on one of the city’s most opulent parties, with gourmet food stations (crab beignets, beef tenderloin with black truffle sauce, fresh Gulf seafood), free-flowing champagne, live entertainment and killer views.

Stage Door Canteen: Swing back to the 1940s at the National WWII Museum. The retro-themed fun includes Big Band music by Victory Swing Orchestra, a five-course seated dinner with complimentary wine and beer and a midnight chocolate buffet.

Stage Door Canteen (©National WWII Museum)

Bourbon Vieux: Take in the fireworks and the revelry below from the largest balcony on Bourbon Street. The place to bead during Mardi Gras, this special-events space adds a bit of Carnival atmosphere to the evening.

Clubs and Theaters

House of Blues: The popular French Quarter club takes on a decidely Italian accent for Bella Notte: An Italian Night Extravaganza. The Yat Pat and DJ Jammin Jorge perform while guests are treated to champagne, a four-course, Italian-inspired meal and a commeorative photo with the band.

The Jazz Playhouse: This swanky venue tucked inside the Royal Sonesta Hotel blows out 2017 with an open bar, a top-notch buffet and a noisey send-off by the Brass-A-Holics. 

Joy Theater: It’s been a big, breakout year for Tank and the Bangas, the hard-to-peg New Orleans group that won the 2017 NPR Tiny Desk Contest. Celebrate with them as they ring in 2018 with up-and-coming indie rockers Sweet Crude and others.

Tank and the Bangas

The Orpheum Theater: Last year New Year's Eve performance by The Revivalists, named by Rolling Stone as one of 2016’s “10 Bands You Need to Know,” proved so popular that this year the party spreads out over three full days.  

Preservation Hall: Hot jazz and cool cocktails are the draw of Hall Lang Syne, the venerable venue’s annual “narrowly elegant affair.”

Mahalia Jackson Theater: Funny lady Amy Schumer leaves 2017 laughing. Catch the award-winning actress and comedian, when she joins forces with special guest Ani DeFranco.

Check out our roundup of hot happenings and great views this New Year's Eve.

The New Orleans Naughty List: Dec. 2-22, 2017

Running of the Santas
(©Running of the Santas) Red-nosed reindeer hydrate in preparation for the Running of the Santas.

Christmas may be all about children ... but won’t somebody please think of the adults?! These big-kid events celebrate the season outside the traditional holiday box.

Naughty “Nutcracker”

The Fleur de Tease burlesque troupe puts a sexy spin on the classic ballet Dec. 2 and 3 at One Eyed Jacks, incorporating aerialists, magicians and scantily clad performers to help flesh things out.  

Running of the Santas New Orleans 

Running of the Santas

Thousands of studly St. Nicks, risqué reindeer and inebriated elves take to the streets of the Central Business District Dec. 9 for “the world’s naughtiest pub crawl.” The nog gets flowing at 3 pm at Manning’s, where the booze-fueled run kicks off at 6 pm. The post-party includes a costume contest and live music. 

Very Bad Santa Crawl & Krewe of Kringle Parade

Yes, Virginia, there’s more than one soused Santa event in town. A second round pours into the French Quarter Dec. 9 at 5 pm, followed by another at 8:30 pm. Consider yourself warned.

A Drag Queen Christmas

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, but what about Latrice and Eureka and Sasha and Chi Chi? Contestants from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” hit the Civic Theater with full-on holiday fierceness Dec. 13.

Big Freedia New Orleans

Big Freedia’s Holiday Bounce Around the Block Party

New Orleans’ Queen of Bounce leads a booty-popping procession along St. Claude Avenue Dec. 16, with stops the Art Garage, AllWays Lounge, Siberia and more. Live performances at each venue. 

Naked Sushi Christmas Party

Christmas comes early on Bourbon Street with the Penthouse Club’s annual holiday hoedown, featuring an open bar and nyotaimori (aka body sushi). Sharpen up your chopstick skills Dec. 21, from 8 to 11 pm.

Air Sex Championships Holiday Special

This isn’t your grandma’s pantomime. Think you’ve seen it all? Think again Dec. 22 at One Eyed Jacks.

Adult-minded holiday events worth the coal in your stocking.

Cheers to New Orleans' Beer Gardens

Aline Street Beer Garden, New Orleans
(©Shawn Fink) "Getting the boot" takes on new meaning at the Aline Street Beer Garden.

There’s nothing like a good beer and conversation at one of New Orleans’ beer gardens, which (as the following guide illustrates) have been sprouting up like clover lately. For the purposes of this list, a beer garden is a bar that serves great beer and at which a significant amount of the seating is outdoors. Some are more traditional than others, but all will help you pass a good time.

Avenue Pub: This renowned beer bar has always been well known for its upstairs outdoor balcony space overlooking St. Charles Avenue. But recently the management has transformed its back patio into a larger and greener space to enjoy. 

Bayou Beer Garden: One of the first bona fide beer gardens in New Orleans. Bayou's huge patio has an outdoor bar with plenty of seating and greenery. The beer list is extensive with more than 100 choices on draft and in the bottle or can. 

Bayou Beer Garden in New Orleans

Aline Street Beer Garden: A Munich-style urban biergarten with long orange tables, oom-pah music on the jukebox and a healthy selection of beer. Check out the bottled list for lesser-known but high-quality beer from Germany’s smaller breweries. 

Second Line Brewing: Second Line’s weekend beer garden is a great place to hang out outdoors, try the taproom-only beers and enjoy offerings from local food trucks. 

Bulldog Mid-City: This Mid City pub’s dog-friendly courtyard is a beer garden in all ways except in name. Located at the end of the Canal/Cemeteries streetcar line, the long tables, fountain, camaraderie and delicious food and beer all lend to a lovely New Orleans night.

The Bulldog bar in New Orleans

Courtyard Brewery: With the word “courtyard” in its name, it’s no surprise that this nanobrewery has most of its seating outdoors. While the vibe is very DIY—cable-spool tables, folding chairs—the beer is fantastic, and there’s always a really happy crowd. 

Tchoup Yard: Squirreled away in the Irish Channel near the river, you’ll recognize this block-wide space by the colorful lights that illuminate its outdoor tables. Craft and national beers are the draw, along with a large selection of frozen cocktails. Can’t decide? Order a “Beergarita,” which combines the two.

Evangeline: Step into the back courtyard here, and the city feels miles away. One of the French Quarter’s best-kept secrets, Evangeline also has a great beer selection and food menu, both locally focused. 

Evangeline restaurant in New Orleans

Ale: Right off the St. Charles streetcar line, Ale has a tiny, modern interior with 30 beers on tap. But head outside to the bar’s courtyard (shared with sister wine bar Oak) to enjoy fresh air and watch the world go by.

Bacchanal: Although this Bywater venue is best known in New Orleans for wine and live music, it also serves a great selection of bottled and canned beer. Pair that with a cheese plate and sit under the twinkling lights listening to local bands; it doesn’t get much better than this.

A Map of the Best Beer Gardens in New Orleans

10 top spots for drinking in the great outdoors.

Snoballs: New Orleans' Cure for the Summertime Heat

Pouring on a rainbow blend at Pandora's in Mid-City.
(©Shawn Fink) Pouring on a rainbow blend at Pandora's in Mid-City.

It snows in New Orleans in spring. Seriously. March heralds the re-opening of many popular snoball stands closed since September, and the businesses are back in full swing by May. By now, locals have moved past their snoball season kickoff flavor and are eager to try something new. Traditionalists keep it simple and classic, but just as king cake has evolved in recent years beyond plain brioche with colored sugar to rings filled with everything from bananas and bacon to muffuletta fixings, so too have snoballs rolled wild. Nowadays, the crazier the combo, the bigger the audience.

Hansen's Sno-Bliz New Orleans

Uptown, Hansen’s Sno-Bliz is known for clever gourmet culinary flavors including bananas Foster and thai-basil; but go old-school with the sweet-tart “Mary’s Own.” Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls also has some cool cream flavors; try the half “Chicory Cream”/ half “Cereal Cream,” lovingly dubbed “Breakfast Snow.” At SnoWizard, retro flavors such as “Dreamsicle Cream” are offered, along with unusual syrups such as “Wine Cooler” and “Chamoy” (chiles, apricot, lime and mixed fruit).

Imperial Woodpecker Snoballs in New Orleans

After a stroll through City Park, brave the long line at Mid-City’s Pandora’s for a snoball that mimics a frozen petit four—a layer of shaved ice with “Wedding Cake” syrup, soft-serve in the middle and more ice topped with “Buttercream Cream.” Wild sno is worth going the distance for. A Lakeview trek rewards with “Chocolate Sno-Cream” snoballs (frozen chocolate syrup scooped like ice cream) at NolaSnow, while Sno-La is renowned for its “Peanut Butter Cream” snoball, stuffed with peanut butter cheesecake and topped with either strawberry or grape syrup. 

To get the scoop on New Orleans’ sno(ball) storm, pick up a copy of Crescent City Snow, Where New Orleans contributor Megan Braden-Perry’s “ultimate guide” to snoball stands, snoballs, syrup flavors, toppings and more. Perry adds history and her personal connection to the local shaved-ice treat, along with tasting notes and tips to deliciously navigate the cool world of the city’s iconic seasonal dessert.

Summer’s heat is a long stretch; good thing there’s plenty of snow. Have a ball.

Chill out with a Crescent City classic.

Rooftop Dining in New Orleans

Hot Tin Bar in New Orleans
(©Pontchartrain Hotel) A room with a killer view: the Pontchartrain Hotel's Hot Tin bar.

Forget staying grounded; what’s happening in food and drinks is up on the roof. The views are stunning and Instagramable, the dining and drinking is divine and, at this time of year, the weather is perfect for lovely days and sultry evenings under bright blue skies that fade to dark blue-black dappled with city lights.

Atop the beautifully restored Pontchartrain Hotel is Hot Tin, a rooftop bar with a name that alludes to playwright Tennessee Williams, who once resided at the property. The stunning 270-degree view of downtown New Orleans and the Mississippi River makes a great backdrop for cocktailing. The interior design has notable (and naughty) flourishes to discover while sipping a couple of fingers of bourbon, a bit of bubbly or a frivolous and fantastic “Pineapple Upside-Down Daiq.”

Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans

The Troubadour Hotel’s 17th floor is home to Monkey Board, a rooftop hangout with modern, street-graphics style. The full renovation of the historic Rault Building is dramatic, as are the views. There’s a full bar and food truck-style eats. Order a gin-and-lime “Alpine Slush” to slurp, and carb-load with a “Big Ass Pretzel” (beer cheese fondue for dunking) and the crunchy fried chicken sandwich with tart house pickles and mayo. At brunch, add a slow-cooked egg to the “Mojo Pork,” black beans and rice, then seal the deal with a fat slice of rainbow sprinkles-covered confetti cake.

Troubadour Hotel New Orleans

A dipping pool, rooftop garden, 10-seat full bar and deck, all with a pretty view best describes Alto at the Ace Hotel. Recently appointed chef Nathan Adams cycles dishes on his menu, depending on the season. As summer approaches the food offerings trend lighter, and include grilled shrimp with a green garlic vinaigrette, avocado, cucumber and radish. Obvious poolside bites, such as burgers, hot dogs and wings, sit alongside Gulf fish tacos and a bright, herbaceous “Lemongrass Pie” with graham cracker crust and spiced whipped cream.

Alto at the New Orleans Ace Hotel

The Catahoula Hotel has a super-cool rooftop terrace, where chilling out to live music, catching a movie (yes, they screen films up there!), sipping smart cocktails or wines and eating contemporary Peruvian-inspired snacks is the thing. Causas (chilled whipped potatoes stacked with shiitake mushrooms) and salchipapas (fries with wild boar sausage) are listed, along with chilled salads, hefty sandwiches and raw seafood. Also on site are a Peruvian café, a coffee shop serving New Zealand’s Acme coffee and a hip cocktail space called the Pisco Bar, where the pisco sours are frothy, tart and divine.

Catahoula Hotel New Orleans

Head upstairs for dinner and a show.

Summery Sipping in New Orleans

SoBou New Orleans
(©Shawn Fink) Kombucha makes a guest appearance in SoBou's "Iridescent Gods."

New Orleans is a fun place to eat and drink. In early May James Beard Awards were given to stellar chefs Rebecca Wilcomb (Herbsaint) and Zachary Engel (Shaya), and there was a long overdue nod to the city’s cocktail culture with a win for Arnaud’s French 75, helmed by star barman Chris Hannah. Continue to debate whether the cocktail was born here, but do so over a drink, please. The summer sipping scene is packed full of fizzy options, with and without booze.

On the soda side there’s Big Easy Bucha, a local business that bottles fermented tea in various flavors. You’ll find it tucked into drink cases at The BulldogPoke Loa, St. Roch Market, Green Fork and more. From the Vietnamese drinks canon comes “Soda Chanh,” a sparkly limeade made by mixing muddled fresh lime juice and sugar with a small bottle of club soda. Try one at Pho Cam Ly, Lily's Café or Magasin.

Big Easy Bucha

Restaurants are keen on creating their own sodas, which can be “corrected” with spirits, or not. Kebab has a sweet-tart beet-citrus soda to drink plain over ice or with a shot of vodka or gin. At Shaya there are seasonal sodas to drink as is, or order the “Birth of Athena,” a fizzy blend of sloe gin, cider beer and rosé.

Liquored-up beet-citrus slushy

Spritizers are back in a big way, with bars/restaurants taking effervescent drinks to the next level using locally distilled spirits, housemade shrubs, syrups and sodas. At Lula Restaurant Distillery they use their own vodka. Try the “Basil Smash” (lemon, basil, cane sugar and bubbles) or a “Cucumber Collins” (cucumber, lemon, cane sugar and soda).

Cocktail goddess Laura Bellucci’s “Iridescent Gods” at SoBou is a smoky-fruity composition that gets a smidge of heat from ginger and fizz from elderflower kombucha. Or go with a “Roffignac” (cognac, homemade raspberry shrub and soda) at Bakery Bar.

At Arnaud’s French 75, order the “Candelabra” (Singani 63, Sancerre, pomegranate syrup, lime and club soda). At Café Henri its all about the tart and intriguing “Venetian Spritz,” made with Cappelletti Aperitivo, soda, Champagne, olive, black pepper and lemon, while Cure quenches summertime thirsts with “The Love Below,” which features Louisiana strawberry shrub, thyme and sparkling wine.

Cafe Henri (©Shawn Fink)

How to beat the heat? Grab a spritzer.

In the Swim: New Orleans Pools You Should Dip Into

W French Quarter Hotel New Orleans
(©W French Quarter) A flaming fountain, inviting pool and "Dive-In Movies" make the W French Quarter a summer hot spot.

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.

The Country Club New Orleans (©Romney Caruso)

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, 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.

Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans

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. 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.

Audubon Zoo Cool Zoo New Orleans

Six cool ways to combat summer's swelter.