Girls’ Weekend Guide to New Orleans
There’s nothing New Orleans lacks for when it comes to a weekend away with your best girlfriends. The Big Easy’s got it all: award-winning restaurants, sexy cocktail bars, stellar shopping, endless history, and hot new hotels with charm to spare. Consider this your ultimate guide to a girls-only weekend in the Crescent City.
James Beard Award-nominated chef Kelly Fields, who heads up lauded brunch staple Willa Jean, is the latest to emerge in a long line of successful female chefs that’ve come out of New Orleans. Despite the industrial stylings of this space in the Central Business District, the menu is as homey as it gets—think Southern classics like griddled banana bread, shrimp and grits, and Fields’ famous chocolate chip cookies, served alongside a mini pitcher of vanilla-infused milk and a cookie dough-covered beater.
This no-nonsense neighborhood seafood stop may look small and casual, but its food is nothing less than legendary. Bevi's secret? They source only the freshest, best seafood in town, and use it to its fullest potential in both smoked oyster and crawfish dishes as well as on their lauded Po-Boy menu. Go for The Peacemaker, stuffed with fried shrimp, Swiss cheese, and roast beef gravy. (Take the girls on the town the night before? The Cure—a calorie-laden hangover remedy packed with three sausage patties and over-easy eggs—does exactly as it’s intended.)
One of the greatest excuses for playing dress-up? Planning a fancy dinner with your besties. One of the oldest family-run restaurants in the country, Antoine’s has been serving elevated French-Creole cuisine in the French Quarter since 1840. (Oysters Rockefeller, now a New Orleans classic, was invented here.) Its elegant interiors are like a living museum: 14 separate dining rooms are decked out in gilded accents, low-hanging chandeliers, and portraits of famous past guests. Ask for a guided tour before or after your meal (we just hope you made reservations in advance).
Unlike the sleepless French Quarter, New Orleans’ Garden District is for those seeking laid-back beauty in spades. Everywhere you look, you’ll find rows of Greek Revival townhouses and cottages shaded by live-oak trees. Among them, a historic 1867 double-gallery mansion has been restored into a charming 18-room stay that features a delightful mix of old and new: secondhand saxophones hovering over custom iron beds, custom toile wallpaper featuring motifs like Mississippi riverboats, Surrealist portraiture from local artist Hayley Gaberlavage. Be sure to save an hour (or two) for the parlor bar, whose soaring ceilings and crown moldings set the scene for afternoon schmoozing over cocktails.
A 1920s Art Deco building in NOLA’s emerging Warehouse District is now one of the Crescent City’s buzziest new sleeps. If you know the brand, you know the drill: interiors are an artful blend of signature Ace details and classic New Orleans style, from the retro-inspired lobby and guest rooms (kitted out with hand-painted armoires and full-size SMEG refrigerators) to the two-story music venue and restaurant run by two James Beard Award-nominated chefs. Don't miss the rooftop pool and garden, which serves up Italian small plates and city views.
If you want to follow in the footsteps of Hollywood royalty, check right into the Pontchartrain Hotel. Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, and The Doors have all stayed here, though it was Tennessee Williams, who lived here while writing A Streetcar Named Desire, that first put the property on the map. Thanks to a recent revamp, the hotel’s historic romance has been fully restored—we’re talking Deep South antiques, rattan furniture, and banana leaf carpeting. After dining in the Caribbean Room and Bayou Bar, hop on the streetcar outside the hotel's front steps to start a night on the town off right.
RELATED: The 10 Best Hotels in New Orleans
To step inside the Beaux Arts-inspired Hotel Monteleone is to travel back in time, when ladies in drop-waist dresses and men sporting panama hats passed beneath the watch of the same 1909 mahogany grandfather clock to its now-iconic revolving Carousel Bar for a Sazerac or Mint Julep. Do like guests of past and present (literary giants Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams among them) and knock back a drink or two with your friends beneath the glittering fairground-themed décor—then, if the night’s still young, head up to the hotel’s heated rooftop pool, which looks out over the city skyline.
For next-level cocktails with views of Crescent City, Hot Tin, in the penthouse of the Pontchartrain Hotel, is the place to be. Its interior’s kitschy compendium of knickknacks and racy curtains make for great conversation starters; grab a seat on one of the vintage peacock chairs and order up a tipple or two (we’re partial to the Dibbity, made with bourbon, blueberry hibiscus tea, and ginger). If the weather’s nice, bring your drinks out onto the rooftop terrace to take in views that stretch as far as the Mississippi River.
Marfa-based boutique Freda has brought its boho vibes to the Ace Hotel, and we can’t get enough. You’ll find everything from straw tote bags and chunky jewelry to silk dresses and handcrafted dream catchers worthy of any high-desert Airbnb.
Looking to add some color to your wardrobe (or just add some pizzazz to your nighttime outfit)? Enter through the bright yellow door of this Lower Garden District accessories emporium and you’ll discover a fever dream of festive local fashion—think vibrant head wraps, vintage derby hats, tasseled jewelry, and statement clothing dripping in sequins and fringe hems.
Owners Katie Logan Leblanc and Jensen Killen hand-picked every product sold at their bright boutique in NOLA’s Lower Garden District as if decorating their own homes. You'll find handmade vases and local pottery alongside one-of-a-kind furniture pieces including vintage Victorian bookcases and rattan ottomans and beauty products (essential oils; spiced salts) by cult beauty brands like Byredo and Coqui Coqui. In town for a birthday or bachelorette weekend? They even have a build-your-own bouquet flower bar to fit whatever the occasion.
RELATED: The Best Vintage Stores in the U.S.
Live music is big in the birthplace of jazz, but while Preservation Hall and the Spotted Cat may be among the city’s most venerable music venues, sometimes all you need is some good wine with good friends without all the pretense. Visitors gather in Bacchanal’s shady courtyard for small-stage performances paired with chosen selections of wine alongside party platters spread with cheese, bread, and charcuterie. Not a huge fan of vino? Head to the indoor bar for a draft beer.
Also known as the Vieux Carré, NOLA's French Quarter is the oldest district in the city and one of the best spots for taking in the city’s history and culture. This is the home of the infamous Bourbon Street, but also Royal Street (home to art galleries, upscale shops, and landmark hotels), Chartres Street (line with preserved colonial-era architecture and cafés), and Jackson Square, where you’ll find live performances, tarot readers, and the iconic St. Louis Cathedral. Sign up for a walking tour, or rest your feet and see the sights by mule-drawn carriage. It may be cliché, but stopping at iconic Café du Monde for a café au lait and beignet has become a rite of passage.
While away a sunny afternoon with a stroll through this verdant 1,300-acre public park. City Park is one of the oldest of its kind in the country, drawing millions each year thanks to its storied oak trees and moss canopies and wide variety of outdoor fun. There’s something for everyone here: snap photos of perennials inside the Botanical Gardens, take turns rowing during a sail on Big Lake, ogle at the famous antique carousel, watch a Shakespeare performance in the sculpture garden, browse exhibits at the New Orleans Museum of Art, challenge each other to a round at the mini-golf course, or pack a picnic and head to the Couturie Forest, whose wooded pathways feel worlds away from civilization.
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