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See & Do

The Great Indoors: A Guide to Indoor Activities in New Orleans

Stay cool in the Crescent City with these indoor activities, perfect for a hot or rainy day.

Take in the wonders at the Audubon Aquarium. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

New Orleans is a hot summer destination. Literally. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to experience the city without melting, including exploring all the fun indoor activities New Orleans has to offer.

Stay Cool! Indoor Activities in New Orleans

Learn to make impressive dishes like shrimp en papillote at Langlois. (Photo: Lorin Gaudin)

Take a cooking class.

Everyone loves New Orleans food, and though you may eat a lot of it while you’re here, most people don’t know how to recreate it at home. Local cooking classes can give you one of the best souvenirs: a New Orleans recipe you can make over and over for your friends. Langlois Culinary Crossroads and New Orleans School of Cooking both offer great options.

New Orleans Museum of Art. (Photo: Anna-Marie Babington)

Visit a museum.

New Orleans has tons of great museums. If you’re into art, try the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, or the Contemporary Arts Center. If you’re more of a history buff, check out the National World War II Museum or the Historic New Orleans Collection.

A Nectar Cream Soda at the popular ice cream shop, Creole Creamery. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Indulge in a cool, sweet treat.

Although snowballs are a tasty way to cool down, many stands are outside, not air-conditioned, and may involve standing in lines under the sun. Avoid the heat by visiting a local ice cream shop instead like Creole CreamerySucreAngelo Brocato, or Bakery Bar.

The Shops at Canal Place. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

Shop ’til you drop.

French Quarter window-shopping can get a little toasty on summer days, but you can enjoy some comfortable indoor shopping at the Shops at Canal Place or the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk. Riverwalk also features an indoor Cafe du Monde location so you can try a beignet in air-conditioned comfort.

Harrah’s Casino. (Courtesy photo)

Hit the casino.

Try your hand at blackjack or the slot machines at Harrah’s Casino. It’s centrally located and houses nine delicious restaurants so you won’t have to face the heat all day!

The Prytania Theater. (Courtesy photo)

See a movie.

Going to the movies is a tried-and-true way to beat the summer heat. Check out the Theatres at Canal Place for a special movie-watching setting, complete with a full food menu and adult beverages. If you’re looking for more of a traditional movie experience, check out the Prytania Theatre’s Classic Movie Series, with showings on Sundays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. The more recently opened Broad Theater features four screens, buttery popcorn, and a bar with happy hour pricing Monday to Wednesday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. On select Mondays during the summer, you can also catch a free flick at The Orpheum Theater.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Hang out with critters.

The zoo may be too hot for a summer day, but the Audubon Aquarium and the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium are both indoors and just as fun. For an extra adventure, splurge on the Backstage Penguin Pass or check out the IMAX Theater at the Aquarium.

Relax at a spa.

Indulge in a pedicure, facial, or massage on a hot day at one of New Orleans’s many day spas. Live in luxury or at the Winsdor Court or Ritz Carlton spas, or check out out a neighborhood spot like Belladonna on Magazine Street.

A look inside at Mardi Gras World. (Photo courtesy Mardi Gras World)

Tour Mardi Gras World.

Not Carnival Season? No problem. Get your Mardi Gras fix (complete with a slice of king cake) at Mardi Gras World, a sprawling complex along the Mississippi River that’s also home to Kern Studios, the artist collective that designs those famous, hulking floats.

Play a round of Clue Carre.

Consider this “live escape game” a team-building activity for you, your friends, and family. No cell phones allowed as you find clues, solve puzzles, and crack codes to get out of a room (don’t worry, it’s air-conditioned) in 60 minutes or less.

The colorful climbing wall at NOBL. (Photo via New Orleans Boulder Lounge on Facebook)

Get NOBL.

New Orleans Boulder Lounge in the Lower Garden District features a candy-colored rock-climbing wall plus yoga and an on-site cafe. It’s a great way to cool off while still staying active.

Coast Roast in St. Roch Market. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

Grab a bite or beverage.

Make an outing by checking out one of the newly opened urban markets/food courts. St. Roch Market, a revitalized public market space in the Marigny, features multiple food kiosks as well as a bar in a light and airy space. There is also sometimes casual music. Dryades Public Market, on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, functions as a grocery store and also has a hot food bar and a regular bar. Roux Carre, just up the street, is an incubator for local food entrepreneurs currently featuring Jamaican and Latin American cuisine.

Head brewer Karl Menzer pitches the yeast on the brewery’s first batch at Second Line Brewing.

Tour a local brewery/distillery.

The local brewing scene has exploded in recent years with a brewery in every neighborhood. NOLA Brewing offers free brewery tours on Fridays from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Urban South Brewery offers free tours Thursdays to Mondays at 5:00 p.m. The taproom is also kid-friendly. Second Line Brewing in Mid-City has tours on Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and Sundays at 4:00 p.m. The creator of Old New Orleans Rum, Old New Orleans Rum/Celebration Distillery, provides several tours daily accompanied with cocktail. Book a tour online today.

Author Jeff Schiffman side-planks it out at Reyn Yoga Studios on Magazine Street. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Schiffman)

Work out.

There are plenty of exercise classes across the city. Check out Dancing Grounds for some bounce or hip hop, Reyn Studios for yoga at various skill levels, or Romney Studios for pilates, barre, or bootcamp workouts. With locations in both Mid-City and downtown, Higherpower’s schedule is comprised of cycling and yoga workouts.

The Saenger Theatre is home to Broadway in New Orleans. (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Enjoy an evening at the theater.

Many of New Orleans’ historic performance venues are recently renovated and reopened, including the Saenger Theater, the Orpheum Theater, and the Joy Theater. Catch a Broadway musical, a comedy show, or a musical act in an old-school venue any night of the week.

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