Remember when your grandmother told you to wait 30 minutes after eating before jumping in the pool? And you wondered why she had just made you eat every last bite of that sauerkraut and liver sandwich if she was just going to make you wait to jump in the pool? Yeah, well, those rules are out the window this summer. This list of the best summer swim spots in New Orleans features hotels with poolside eateries, state parks perfect for a weekend getaway, and public watering holes where New Orleans’s unique culture is put on full display.
Photo from Ace Hotel's website
Remember Birdman’s 2002 hit “Do That” and the accompanying video? The video features one of the most lit pool parties I’ve ever seen, and the pool at Ace Hotel is kind of like that (minus P. Diddy riding a jet ski). Beautiful people, expensive drinks, and lots of water. I’ve got bad news for you, though: entry to the pool is free, but you have to spend at least $20 at the hotel’s restaurant or bar to gain entry to the pool. I’m sorry, did I say bad news? Because I meant great news. You finally have a reason to spend your hard-earned Andrew Jacksons on $15 mimosas! The pool is first-come, first-served, and priority is given to hotel guests, so non-guests should arrive early in the day to ensure entry.
Location: 600 Carondelet St.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Cost: $20 minimum drink or food purchase.
Contact: 504-900-1180; acehotel.com/neworleans
Don’t miss: After taking a dip in the pool, stick around for an evening music performance at the hotel’s venue, 3 Keys.
The Roosevelt Hotel
The Roosevelt is known for its Sazerac Bar, but just a few floors up from the legendary bar sits the hotel’s rooftop pool. The hotel offers cabana reservations for up to six guests, and that grants access to the pool, a whirlpool tub, and the rooftop sundeck. The hotel’s rooftop bar also serves pool guests everything from cocktails to short rib hot dogs, whatever those are.
Location: 130 Roosevelt Way
Hours: Thursday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $75 (weekday rooftop private terrace rental), $150 (weekend private terrace rental), $175 (weekday cabana rental for six), $360 (weekend cabana rental for six)
Contact: 504-648-1200; therooseveltneworleans.com
Don’t miss: Post-pool drinks at the Sazerac Bar and a bite to eat at Domenica, the hotel’s Italian restaurant that fuses classic and modern flavors in a decidedly contemporary space.
Options abound at Le Meridien’s rooftop pool. Splash around in the pool or chill in a lounge chair with a cocktail by your side. If you’ve got a big party or just want some semblance of privacy during your visit, you can rent a cabana for $350 per day that can accommodate up to six people. Each cabana is equipped with a television and can be upgraded to include a bottle of liquor, mixers, fresh fruit, chips, and salsa.
Location: 333 Poydras St.
Cost: $10 (Monday-Thursday), $15 (Friday-Sunday), $350 (cabana rental)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact: 504-525-9444; lemeridienneworleanshotel.com
Don’t miss: Le Meridien is in the middle of all the action that most locals pass over—Harrah’s Casino, the Audubon Aquarium, and other attractions—but if you’re looking for a touristy day or day-long staycation, check out some of the nearby attractions.
The Country Club
For $15, guests at the Country Club get access to the restaurant’s pool, hot tub, and sauna. Get ready to show your ID, though: the Country Club’s pool is reserved for drinking-age adults. Happy Hour runs each day from 4 to 7 p.m., when all well drinks are $3. Cheap cocktails and a pool? What could go wrong? Towels and lockers are available to rent for $2 each.
Location: 634 Louisa St.
Hours: Monday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Contact: 504-945-0742; thecountryclubneworleans.com
Don’t miss: Check out brunch at Elizabeth’s Restaurant, three blocks away on Gallier Street. The restaurant’s duck waffle is the stuff of comfort food legends.
Omni Royal Orleans
The Omni Royal Orleans offers year-long pool memberships for $1,200. That gets members access to the heated outdoor rooftop pool as well as showers and lockers. Is this the kind of spot where you can turn a pool noodle into a beer bong? We probably would advise against it, but for a little more than $3 per day over the course of the year, the Omni Royal Orleans is a great option for those looking to fit some pool time into their schedule.
Location: 621 St. Louis St.
Cost: $1,200 (annual membership)
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday
Contact: 504-529-7023; omnihotels.com/hotels/new-orleans-royal-orleans
Don’t miss: The hotel’s Riviera poolside bar is open on weekends in March, daily April thru October, and as weather permits the rest of the year. Cozy up with a post-dip cocktail while taking in the view that looks out over the French Quarter.
Windsor Court Hotel
Okay, so entry to the Windsor Court Hotel pool is $75. Are you still with me? If you haven’t skipped down to find a cheaper entry on this list, here’s the good news: that fee covers access to the pool, steam room, sauna, fitness center, and spa. If you’re in need of a treat-yoself day, this may be just the spot for you. Restaurant and bar service is also available to guests at the pool. Those interested are encouraged to call ahead to confirm availability.
Location: 300 Gravier St.
Cost: $75 per person, per day
Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Contact: 504-596-4736, windsorcourthotel.com
Don’t miss: Before your dip, check out brunch and live jazz in the Grill Room every Sunday.
The Drifter Hotel
A short drive on I-10 from the French Quarter will bring you to Mid-City’s oasis of cocktails, highly curated décor, and general hipness: The Drifter Hotel. The Drifter advertises itself as “an action and reaction to our culture to harbor the contemporary traveler and the disruptive innovator.”
Location: 3522 Tulane Ave.
Cost: $5 (Sunday-Thursday), $10 (Friday-Saturday)
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (Sunday-Friday), 11 a.m.-midnight (Saturday)
Contact: 504-605-4644; thedrifterhotel.com
Don’t miss: Weekly events, such as donation-based poolside yoga, are typically complemented by $3 mimosas and free entry to the pool. Check the hotel’s website or Facebook page for details on upcoming events.
The Hilton Riverside offers a variety of membership packages for as little as $85 per month. These memberships grant access to the pool and fitness area, or, for a higher rate, the racket club. The hotel features a riverside pool overlooking the Mississippi River, as well as an indoor pool. Members can also access the hotel’s dry sauna for a steam after your soak. If you’ve got a spouse and children in tow, family memberships are available starting at $125.
Location: 2 Poydras St.
Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. (Riverside pool), and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (indoor pool)
Cost: $85-$155 (varies, based on membership package)
Don’t miss: Catch the sunset on the Mississippi River at the Riverside pool, and when you’ve finished swimming, change out of your swim gear and head down to Public Belt, the hotel’s upscale cocktail bar.
Free (or close to free)
If paying $350 for a poolside cabana would require you to skip rent next month, have no fear. New Orleans also has swimming options that will not break your bank. This list features city-operated pools as well as fitness clubs and weekend getaways that will have you splashing through the great outdoors in no time.
Whitney Young Pool
If catching some rays by the pool with a cocktail in hand is not your scene, try the more family-friendly and affordable (read: free) Whitney Young Pool on Magazine Street. The facility is pretty straightforward: none of the fancy bells or whistles available at Ace Hotel, the Roosevelt, or elsewhere, but New Orleans’s public pools offer a communal and diverse feel you’re not likely to find at a swimming spot charging $20 for entry. Check out the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission for a full listing of public pools.
Location: 6500 Tea Room Dr.
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday 2-6 p.m.
Contact: 504-864-1416; nordc.org/parks/whitneyyoung
Don’t miss: The Audubon Zoo is located across the street, so when you’re done swimming, check out the internationally renowned zoo’s exhibits, or grab a meal at the nearby restaurants on Magazine Street.
If you were lucky enough to venture to Silver Creek in mid-June, you had the opportunity to witness (or participate in) the Redneck Cajun Olympics. They’re held every Father’s Day weekend in June and might be the only place in Louisiana where you can enjoy toilet racing, lawn mower racing, live crawfish-bobbing, and toilet-lid discus-throwing. In addition to the Olympics, Silver Creek is home to a man-made pool, natural pond, and creek. Renee Britt, who helps manage the family-owned and -operated park, said guests should call ahead to make reservations at Silver Creek.
Location: 37323 LA-1055, Mt. Hermon
Hours: Open year-round
Cost: $7 per person per day (day entry); $25 (overnight tent camping without electricity or water for up to four people), $30 (overnight tent camping with electricity and water for up to four people). RV camping and cabins also available. Cash only.
Contact: 985-877-4256; silvercreekcamp.com
Don’t miss: The Redneck Cajun Olympics. Duh.
The Dryades YMCA features a six-lane, 75-foot-long pool for lap swimming, water aerobics, and other activities, but it comes loaded with all kinds of perks. Entrance to the pool costs $10 for a day pass, and also grants access to the facility’s state-of-the-art fitness equipment.
Location: 2220 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-noon, 1-4 p.m., closed Sunday.
Cost: $10 (day pass), memberships range from $10-$49
Contact: 504-522-8811; dryadesymca.org
Don’t miss: Water aerobics classes. If lazing by the pool with some fruity drink is not your idea of a fun aquatic activity, maybe you’d prefer water-based endurance, cardio, and flexibility training. In that case, the Dryades Y has you covered.
Bogue Chitto features a water playground that is open from April 1 until October 31. The water features at the park offer the perfect escape from the Louisiana heat and humidity. Tube, kayak, and canoe rentals are also available for $15 to $35, depending on the size of the craft. For those seeking a non-aquatic adventure, the park also features 14 miles of equestrian trails, a seven-mile nature trail, and disc golf course.
Location: 17049 State Park Blvd., Franklinton
Hours: Tue.-Sun. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (water playground)
Cost: Free (seniors and children 3 and younger), $3 (day entry, ages 4-65)
Contact: 985-839-5707; crt.state.la.us/louisiana-state-parks/parks/bogue-chitto-state-park
Don’t miss: The seven-mile nature trail can be a great precursor to a dip in one of the park’s water features. Bogue Chitto features a variety of landscapes, including cypress tupelo swamps and hardwood and upland forests.
UNO Aquatic Center
Seeing as Lake Pontchartrain is, shall we say, not fit for human recreation, the University of New Orleans’s Aquatic Center is a great lakeside alternative. The facility features a 50-meter-long heated indoor pool with eight lanes and a 25-meter-long heated outdoor pool with six lanes.
Location: 6801 Franklin Ave.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $10 (day passes), $15 (monthly membership), $200-$250 (party rental)
Don’t miss: If you time it just right, you can swim the entire day at the aquatic center and take a stroll down Lakeshore Drive to watch the sun set over Lake Pontchartrain.