Why you should care
There’s much more to New Orleans than just Mardi Gras. And by much more we mean much less — clothes, that is.
Do you want to know how some New Orleanians judge whether or not they will become friends with you? They’ll ask you to join them at the Country Club — a clothing-optional pool bar — and note whether you squirm uncomfortably or take them up on their offer.
The Country Club is a cabana bar, pool, restaurant and lounge, located in a 19th-century mansion. The restaurant/bar is nestled two miles away from the French Quarter in the Bywater, a neighborhood that is currently gentrifying and becoming increasingly popular with the LGBT community and hipsters.
If you think the Country Club is a spring break, Girls Gone Wild situation, think again.
The restaurant receives praise for its food — particularly the brunch with bottomless mimosas — and locals often grab happy hour drinks on the front patio or in the back bar. Extra points: It’s happy hour anytime it rains.
But what really makes the Country Club unique is its clothing-optional backyard. Beyond the front porch, dining area and back inside bar, all of which require clothes, lies the outdoor saltwater pool, sauna and hot tub. The windows facing the pool area are frosted, and high walls and vegetation allow for privacy between the outside and inside areas. There’s a cabana bar near the pool, and guests can order food from the inside restaurant that is delivered while they sunbathe.
Non-members must pay a daily fee between $8 and $15 depending on the day and time. More locals than tourists frequent the backyard, many from the LGBT community. No photos — including selfies (sorry Weiner) — are allowed in the pool area.
We know what you are thinking: nudity, New Orleans, alcohol. What’s so shocking?
We know what you are thinking: nudity, New Orleans, alcohol. What’s so shocking? If you think it means the Country Club is a spring break, Girls Gone Wild situation, think again. The vibe at the bar is relaxed, inviting and respectful.
“It is very civilized,” says Katy Tackett, a local resident who’s visited the Country Club a few times. “I really love it; I thought it was great.” Tackett says some people choose to forego clothes, others don’t, but regardless people maintain a casual and chill atmosphere.
The next time you plan a trip to New Orleans, take a page out of the local guidebook, leave your prudishness at home and head on over to the Country Club. Bonus? You can pack light.