Cool ways to enjoy New Orleans in the summer.
Jennifer Mckenzie Frazier

Cool. You either are or you aren’t. James Dean was. John Travolta strutting in Saturday Night Fever--definitely. Summer in the South? Not so much. That doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. We’ve uncovered some ultra-chill spots that’ll have you grabbing for a sweater. Check out our picks.

1. Belladonna Day Spa
It’s difficult to say what’s cooler here--the awesome spa treatments or the unique shopping. Either way, you win. Known as one of the top spas in the world, this Japanese-style day spa offers all kinds of pampering from a traditional warm stone massage to a Thai foot ritual. Allow time for shopping in the boutique in the front where you’ll discover some one-of-a-kind finds, such as cosmetics, jewelry, greeting cards, table settings, and even dog clothing. 2900 Magazine Street; belladonnadayspa.com or (504) 891-4393.

2. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
This is the next best thing to being underwater. The plus side is you don’t have to hold your breath. Displaying more than 1 million gallons of fresh- and saltwater tanks, this amazing aquarium offers some impressive marine experiences including a seahorse breeding program and stingray feeding time. Look for Buck and Emma, the famous sea otters, and Spots, the white alligator, while you’re there. 1 Canal Street; auduboninstitute.org or (504) 581-4629.

3. Hotel Monteleone
When it’s this hot outside, you want a refreshing pool. Here’s one. This New Orleans hotel, a legend in the French Quarter since 1886, was recently renovated and its rooftop pool is most impressive. Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., hotel guests can stay all day at the pool, which overlooks Canal Street. Make sure you also enjoy the famous revolving Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge. It’s an actual carousel that turns (no, it’s not the drinks). 214 Rue Royale; hotelmonteleone.com or (504) 523-3341.

4. Monkey Hill
This is the hottest spot in New Orleans right now. The good news is that it is oh-so-chill and quite dark. So dark, in fact, you might need a mini-flashlight to navigate your way around. Go for one of the many specialty martinis: sour apple, pomegranate, raspberry chocolate, Key lime, peach, or espresso. 6100 Magazine Street; (504) 899-4800.

5. Angelo Brocato’s
A New Orleans staple since 1905, this no-frills family joint is locally famous for its Italian ice cream (in the summer, look for watermelon, pineapple, strawberry, and melon), pastries, cannoli, and cookies--all original recipes from Sicily. “Katrina dumped 5 feet of water on us and we were looking to relocate to Baton Rouge. In the nick of time we were able to get the store up and running again,” says Jolie Brocato, who owns the business with her husband, Arthur. We are so thankful. 214 North Carrollton Avenue; angelobrocatoicecream.com or (504) 486-0078.

"Cool Spots in NOLA" is from the July 2008 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.