With its charming boulevards, its French-inspired architecture, thriving music scene, and enviable cuisine, New Orleans is a sought-after destination for many travelers. While often distilled down to nothing more than a party city for its famed Mardi Grad celebration, there is so much more to this southern hotspot.
Many people tend to think of New Orleans as nothing more than Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras beads, but beyond the cliché tourist traps is a community where strong women are leading the food and travel industries, running businesses, and even wear pink bustiers and fishnets to charity balls. New Orleans has its own brand of feminism, and these women-owned business and monuments—named for the city’s heroines—are well worth a visit on your next trip to the ‘Big Easy.
Celebrate the Warrior Woman of New Orleans
The Maid of Orleans statue was donated to the City of New Orleans from the people of France in 1972, in honor of the famed female warrior, Joan of Arc. Visit her in all her gilded glory on Decatur Street near the French Market. If you are lucky enough to be in the city for Epiphany—the parade held each year in her honor—you’ll find hundreds of people dressed as the city’s unofficial patron saint.
Visit this Important Woman-Owned Gallery
Owned by Dr. Stella Jones, this gallery showcases African American, contemporary, and Caribbean artwork and has become known as an important cultural heritage site in the city.
A Theatre Named After the Queen of Gospel
Originally opened in the 1970s and beautifully restored after Hurricane Katrina, this landmark theatre in Armstrong Park is named after the Queen of Gospel and native New Orleans civil rights activist Mahalia Jackson.
Women’s Mardi Gras Krewes
Mardi Gras may have begun with all male krewes—local organizations that put on a parade or ball—but female krewes have become some of the biggest and most beloved parades in the city. The city’s first all-female krewe began way back in 1922, but didn’t begin parading until the late 1950s. After Katrina however, a surge of female Mardi Gras krewes emerged, led by Muses and their coveted glittered shoes. New Orleans now home several all-female parading krewes and dozens of women’s walking krewes, with tongue-in-cheek names like the Bearded Oysters and Pussyfooters.
Fleurty Girl, a Store Started by a Single Mother
Started by a single mother using a $2,000 tax refund, Fleurty Girl has grown from one single store on Oak Street (which doubled as her family’s home) to six stores throughout the New Orleans area carrying amazing New Orleans inspired gifts, shirts, and artwork.
Celebrate Women’s Beauty with Trashy Diva
Opened by the original Trashy Diva, Candice Gwinn, as a vintage clothing store, Trashy Diva now sells incredible original vintage-inspired dresses, lingerie, swimwear, and accessories. Their dresses are unmistakable, and the brand embraces the beauty of women of all shapes, sizes, and styles.
Renowned local Chef Susan Spicer’s flagship restaurant, Bayona, is located in a 200-year-old Creole cottage in the French Quarter and features a slow-food menu. Chef Spicer’s cuisine pulls inspiration from the Mediterranean, Asia, North Africa, France, Spain, Italy, and areas around the United States. As one of the pioneers of the ‘Slow Food Movement,’ Chef Spicer is one of New Orlean’s 300 for 300.
French for “Brother Rabbit”, Nina Compton of Top Chef runs this Warehouse District restaurant located in The Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery, which features an award-winning Caribbean and Creole menu. Originally from Saint Lucia, Chef Compton won a James Beard Award in 2018 and was named one of FOOD & WINE magazine’s Best New Chefs in 2017.
Paggy Lee, a former Grand Marshall and founding member of the female Krewe of Nyx, owns this family-run local favorite situated on Carrollton Avenue. Frequented by New Orleanians for business lunches and special occasions, this New Orleans institution is a great place to dine like a local. Five Happiness was selected as the Best Chinese Restaurant by New Orleans Magazine and for good reason. With dishes like house-baked duck and shrimp with honey roasted pecans, this is not your ordinary Chinese restaurant.
This iconic restaurant was opened in 1941 and is now run by Chef Leah Chase. Host to the likes of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Beyonce and Jay-Z, Dooky Chase is more famously known as being the meeting place for Civil Rights leaders like Thurgood Marshall, Oretha Castle Haley, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Dooky Chase is arguably the most significant culinary destination in the city, and Leah Chase one of its most respected chefs. Leah Chase is known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine and is an advocate for both African art and Creole cooking. Now age 95, Chef Chase has been recognized for a Lifetime Achievement Award and James Beard Award.
Budget: Balcony Guest House
Located near Frenchmen Street at St. Roch and Royal, Balcony Guest House is an adorable family-run B&B that will only feel like a budget hotel when you’re paying your bill.
Named for the New Orleans Public Service Incorporated building the hotel occupies, this boutique luxury hotel is owned by Salamander Hotels and Resorts, whose CEO is Shelia Johnson, the Co-Founder of BET and the first African-American woman billionaire. Freshly opened in 2017 but keeping many of the building’s original features—like the early 20th-century terrazzo floors and beautiful crown moldings—this hotel is an architecture aficionado’s dream.
Bonus: Road Trip to the Southern Hotel
An hour north of New Orleans is the Southern Hotel in Covington, which was meticulously restored by preservationist Lisa Condrey Ward and reopened in 2014, 107 years after its original opening. The hotel is now an Instagrammer’s dream, featuring stunning murals and careful touches at every corner. In four years it has racked up award after award, including being named one of the top five hotels in the South by Southern Living magazine.