New Orleans’ best rooftop bars

New Orleans (CNN)As New Orleans steadies itself for Carnival season’s final bacchanal, Fat Tuesday on February 28, an estimated 1 million visitors will fall upon the city, nearly tripling its actual populace. Fun? No doubt. Debauched? You got ‘dat right.

Claustrophobic? Jarring? Maddening? For many, the experience down on the ground in the boozy thick of it — particularly the French Quarter and its infamous Bourbon Street — can prove daunting. A retreat for a breather is needed.
If you want to be above it all, as it were, while still experiencing the sensory overload at a distance, New Orleans now provides more than a dozen rooftop bars and lounges.
The majority of them have opened in just the past year on hotel rooftops of distinction, each providing its own singularly awe-inducing view and local color.
A few favorites:

Hot Tin at the Pontchartrain Hotel

For locals, the most anticipated venue to open outside the Vieux Carre fray has been the Pontchartrain Hotel, the circa-1927 Garden District gem, which underwent a $10 million renovation, while recruiting James Beard Award-winning chef John Besh to revive and modernize its classic Bayou Bar and fine dining Caribbean Room.
But the real draw has been the rooftop bar and lounge Hot Tin — the name a nod to onetime hotel resident Tennessee Williams — which is open to the public, featuring a separate elevator to transport locals and visitors up to the 14th floor.
At sunset it’s a full-on after-work party. Truman Capote, once a Pontchartrain regular, would have approved. While the enclosed main room packs in a dressy set, romantics nab a Sazerac and go directly to the outdoor fringes, which provide sweeping views of the Mississippi River and the New Orleans Saints’ illuminated Superdome.
Even from this perch, you can hear the music and revelers a mile away. For a more intimate experience, there’s a smaller balcony in a back corner where onlookers can gaze upon the Uptown skyline.
Located directly on the city’s most cinematic and expansive streetcar line, during Carnival season some of the most established and fantastical krewe flotillas and parades overtake St. Charles Avenue at night, making for photo-op eye candy only seen in New Orleans.


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