In a cultural mecca like New Orleans, people from all walks of life can show up as they are and feel not only welcomed, but celebrated. 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 embrace every part of yourself – the adventurous, the romantic, the bawdy – and even discover new parts. The city is already home to a vibrant culture for queer women, so whenever you’re ready, here’s our guide to get you started.
Year-Round Drinking Spots
A cozy gay dive bar located Uptown, QiQi’s friendly bartenders serve delicious craft beers and offer daily happy hour specials. With the bar's rustic and unique decor, the scene is perfect for striking up a conversation with a local or friend. One of the only gay bars outside of the French Quarter, QiQi is a great place to go if you want a drink in a chill setting.
The Friendly Bar is a Marigny hot spot that’s perfect for a casual weeknight hangout or kicking off a girl’s night out. The bar’s gritty yet timeless style is 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 wines to satiate any palate. Swirl serves small plates including veggie and cheese boards, but you can also order off the nearby 1000 Figs menu, which has some of the best Mediterranean-inspired cuisine in town. Swirl is home to a weekly Friday Night Wine School that gives you the opportunity to taste and learn about four different wines from around the world.
What started as a casual meet up for queer women returning to the city after Hurricane Katrina has evolved into one of the city’s most popular queer-specific dance parties. 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.
Located in New Orleans East, this brewhouse and taproom features a sprawling outdoor green space and flavorful, locally-crafted beers. Faubourg also hosts community events including live music performances, weekend brunches, fitness programs, and Faubourg Pride Fest. This is a great space to unwind and support inclusive business, as the brewery donates $1 to the community for every pint of Faubourg lager poured from their flagship brewhouse.
Must Try Local Eats
Blue Oak BBQ tops our list of inclusive eateries because of their efforts and outreach to the LGBTQ community. This Bayou St. John joint will satisfy your BBQ cravings with everything from ribs to smoked turkey. Early birds can head over for a brisket croissant sandwich before they’re gone, but a wide selection of specialty sandwiches and BBQ plates are served all day.
Stop by Willa Jean for a delicious, soul-nourishing southern breakfast – but make sure to save room for their James Beard Award-winning desserts! Founded by lesbian Chef Kelly Fields in 2015, Willa Jean has quickly become a New Orleans staple. From their iconic shrimp toast to their chicken sandwiches, you’ll definitely be coming back for more.
Floral chandeliers, wallpapered ceilings and a glittery Lil Wayne portrait make Jack Rose one of the most vibrant brunch places you’ll ever lay eyes on. This hidden gem, located inside the Pontchartrain Hotel, serves staples like chicken and waffles and delicacies like Poisson en Papillote. Of course, bottomless mimosas at brunch make dining here a truly unforgettable 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 just that during the Stella and Stanley shouting contest at the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. As one of the best literary fests in the country, you’ll connect with local artists, authors and musicians who share the same passion for creativity and the written word. The festival also features a spin off event, Saints and Sinners, which is a literary event dedicated to LGBTQ artists and LGBTQ literature.
Held at Cafe Istanbul, this monthly zodiac-inspired dance party is an infusion of soulful music, visual art, spiritual practices, and communal affirmation. Ascendance centers a safe and inclusive experience, welcoming all ethnic, gender, and sexual identities while centering Black and Brown cultures. A night at Ascendance will leave you feeling euphoric, celebrated, and inspired.
If you have a keen appreciation for the arts and the romantic, White Linen Night is for you. Held annually on the first Saturday of August, White Linen night invites you to dress in your best white clothing and stroll down Julia Street, where you can experience the local fine art galleries throughout the Arts District. This is the place to socialize, have a good time and find those must-have art pieces created by local talent.
For years, the Southern Decadence weekend dance card was almost entirely filled with events for queer men. 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.
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.