New Orleans is a cultural mecca. No matter who you are, or where you come from, it is a place where you can be yourself – a place where everyone is welcome. Here, you can dress up in costume any night of the week. You can listen to music that feeds your soul as much as the cuisine. In New Orleans, you can discover a different part of yourself – the one that’s a little adventurous, a little bawdy, and even a little romantic. Whenever you’re ready, here’s our guide to get you started.
Year Round Drinking Spots
If I had to describe one place as quintessential New Orleans, I think it would be Mimi’s in the Marigny. Where else can you find a dive bar that doubles as a dance bar upstairs and also serves mouthwatering tapas? Be sure to also check out Mimi’s regularly-hosted drag queen bingo and pool tournament.
Friendly’s Bar is another Marigny hot spot that’s the perfect casual weeknight hangout or a great start to a girl’s night out. The bar’s a little gritty, but that’s half the reason we love it. The other half is that you can enjoy well-priced domestic beers and Friendly’s famous pudding shots as you mingle with locals.
A queer-owned wine bar nestled in the beautiful neighborhood of Bayou St. John, Swirl offers a wonderful selection of wines including reds, whites, blends, and sparkling wine. Swirl serves some small plates including a cheese board, but you can also order off the nearby Thousand Figs menu, which has some of the best Mediterranean-inspired cuisine in town. The bar is home to ‘Club Swirl,’ a free membership program that gives you access to special events like wine markets and free Fridays.
What opened as a casual meet up for queer women returning to the city after hurricane Katrina, GrrlSpot has become the city’s de facto lesbian bar. Opting not to adopt a static location, GrrlSpot stages large scale takeovers of popular bars and performance venues through the city. Their monthly dance parties feature local queer entertainers and large, eclectic crowds. GrrlSpot’s biggest events of the year take place during Pride Weekend and the Southern Decadence festival. You can always find the next spot via GrrlSpot’s Facebook and Instagram feeds.
Must Try Local Eats
Blue Oak BBQ tops our list of lesbian hot spots because of their inclusion efforts and outreach to the LGBT community. This Bayou St. John joint will satisfy your BBQ cravings. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, head over early and get the brisket croissant sandwich before they’re gone. You can also enjoy tons of other crispy sandwiches and meat plates that are served all day.
Stop by Arrow Cafe on Rampart and fill your belly with Four Barrel coffee shipped in from San Francisco. Arrow Cafe was a stop on the award-winning Internet mini-series “One Time in New Orleans” with Varla Jean Merman. The video showcases local music sensation Deepa Soul showing legendary drag queen Varla Jean Merman her favorite off-the-beaten-path locations. After you get your coffee fix, explore historic Armstrong Park directly across the street.
One of the most vibrant brunch places you’ll ever lay eyes on, Jack Rose is a hidden gem inside the Pontchartrain Hotel. From the staple of chicken and waffles to the Mile High Pie and bottomless mimosas, dining here is truly an experience. Some may call it extra, but that’s part of the fun.
Fly in for These Events
Are you ready to yell “Stella!!” at the top of your lungs? Of course you are. But seriously, you can during the Stella and Stanley shouting contest at the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. As one of the best lit fests in the country, you’ll connect with local artists, authors, and musicians who share the same passion as you. The festival also features a spin off event, called Saints and Sinners, which is a literary event solely dedicated to LGBT artists and the LGBT genre.
The annual festival of LGBT Pride takes on a completely different energy in New Orleans. While our parade is still very much a serious event as it’s a march for LGBT rights, the event is more vibrant and colorful than anywhere else. Held during Pride month, beautifully adorned Mardi Gras style floats pass through the French Quarter as lucky riders throw coveted beads to onlookers. Pride also rivals Decadence for the number of girl parties.
If you have a keen appreciation for the arts, then Whitney White Linen Night is definitely for you. Simply put, on a warm August night, you dress in your best white clothing and head down to Julia Street. From there, you stroll in and out of the local fine art galleries throughout the Arts District. Event goers will socialize and have a good time, but there’s also the opportunity to purchase tons of unique and special art pieces.
For years, the Southern Decadence weekend dance card was almost entirely filled with events for boys. In 2011, GrrlSpot and friends changed that by creating a separate calendar of events, which came to be known as Dykeadance. While the lineup and location of Dykeadance’s events may be as fluid as everything else in NOLA, GrrlSpot’s “Fleurt!” is always held on the Saturday of the festival weekend. Fleurt! combines beautiful venues and unique performances to create an experience that should be on everyone’s short list of must-sees for queer women in the South.
This year, GrrlSpot is curating a slate of three different events for women during the SoDec weekend. As mentioned above, you can stay up-to-date on all things GrrlSpot, via their social media feeds on Facebook and Instagram.
You can count on plenty of incredible DJs and crowds of travel savvy girls from all over the world descending on New Orleans for the festival. If you’re looking for a few days of fun in the French Quarter or want to explore more of what New Orleans has to offer – we’re there for that, too! See our itinerary here.