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Best Local Things to Do

15 Things to Do in August

The New Orleans Lakefront (Photo: Paul Broussard)

The dog days of summer have arrived. With them come summer showers, plenty of sunshine, and easy-going attitudes. Instead of dwelling on what you cannot control, focus on what you can—like your calendar. While the summer months used to be slow, they are now packed with art walks, festivals, food, and music. Read on for activities and events that you can add to your August calendar for a full, rich month of experiences.

1. Eat out during COOLinary Month

Every year during the month of August, local restaurants offer reasonably priced prix-fixe brunch, lunch, and dinner menus. This year’s COOLinary New Orleans Restaurant Month participants include restaurants from across the city. Make a reservation at an old classic like Arnaud’s or Antoine’s, or try a newer addition to the culinary landscape like Toups South or Cavan. COOLinary runs August 1-31.

2. Visit the Aquarium, Insectarium, Zoo, or Nature Center

August is a great month to stop by one of the four Audubon Nature Institute centers, all located in New Orleans. The Aquarium, Insectarium, Zoo, and Nature Center all offer educational programming and exhibits from across the globe. Learn more about each institution here, then plan your visit today.

satchmo fest
Satchmo SummerFest (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

3. Celebrate the birth of Louis Armstrong at Satchmo Summerfest

Satchmo Summerfest, presented by Chevron, takes over the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Mint from August 2-4 for a weekend of music, food, dancing, and lectures. Past performers have included Don Vappie & the Creole Jazz Serenaders, Bonerama, Soul Rebels, Topsy Chapman and Solid Harmony, Charmaine Neville, the Original Pinettes Brass Band, Robin Barnes and the Fiyabirds, and Big Chief Donald Harrison, Jr. Armstrong scholars will also present at lectures that take place throughout the weekend.

4. Bring out your finest linen for White Linen Night

On August 3, art galleries along Julia Street (300-700 blocks) open their doors for Hancock Whitney White Linen Night. The block party, which lasts from 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. is free admission, though food and drink from over two dozen establishments will be on sale. THis year, White Linen Night celebrates its 25th anniversary. Enjoy a night out in your most lightweight clothing perusing local galleries such as Octavia Art GalleryBrand New Orleans Art GalleryJonathan Ferrara GalleryBoyd SatelliteSasik GalleryOgden Museum of Southern Art, and Soren Christensen Gallery.

5. Learn a few spells at Hex Fest

Witches will converge on the city from August 9-11 with Hex Fest: A Weekend of Witchery in Old New Orleans. Organized like a conference, workshops include “Witching for Your Life,” “Drums of Voodoo: A Haunted Courtyard Experience,” and much more.

red dress run
Red Dress Run is scheduled for August 11. (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

6. Put on your red dress for Red Dress Run

A summer tradition, Red Dress Run provides an opportunity for all to throw on a red dress, drink beer, and get sweaty (running: optional). Organized by the New Orleans Hash House Harriers (a local “drinking club with a running problem”), the Red Dress Run is a fundraiser with 100% of proceeds going to local charities. This year’s run on August 10 starts at Crescent Park in the Marigny and continues to the French Quarter, runners drinking all the while. Register on the website as an official participant to enjoy music, beer, and lunch and to support local charities.

7. Pull out those white linens again for Dirty Linen Night

If you made it out to White Linen Night, you may have to dig your white linens out of your laundry basket for Dirty Linen Night. Now in its 18th year, Dirty Linen began as something of a play on White Linen Night in order to attract people to Royal Street galleries in the French Quarter during the hot summer. Dirty Linen takes place on August 10 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but “passports” can be purchased here for $20 or $50 (for VIP, which includes an after party) and includes drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

Commander’s Palace (Photo: Paul Broussard)

8. Refine your taste buds at a Commander’s Palace wine tasting

Commander’s Palace partners with Swirl Wine Bar & Market for Sips of Summer, a wine tasting event. The August 21 tasting will feature over 40 different wines along with snacks from the kitchen. Tickets are $49.

9. Make a splash at Cool Zoo

Cool Zoo is Audubon Park’s splash park designed specifically with kids in mind. The splash park is animal-themed with an alligator water slide, spider monkey soakers, and the Gator Run, a 750 foot-long lazy river. The Cool Zoo is open daily through August 4, after which it is open on weekends through September 2.

10. Groove at Tipitina’s Foundation Free Fridays

Tipitina’s has been a local music hot spot since 1977. Its programming arm, Tipitina’s Foundation, puts on Foundation Free Fridays at Tipitina’s each summer. Every Friday through August 30, Tipitina’s offers free concerts for patrons ages 21 and up. Doors open at 9 p.m. with the shows beginning at 10 p.m. August shows include Naughty Professor (August 2), Corey Henry & the Tremé Funktet (August 9), The Low End Theory Players (August 16), Big Sam’s Funky Nation (August 23), and Cowboy Mouth (August 30).

The New Orleans Jazz Museum (Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Jazz Museum)

11. Get cultured during Museum Month

During the month of August, members of participating local museums receive free admission to all other participating institutions. This local initiative is known as Museum Month. If you aren’t already a member, simply purchase a membership at one museum and then enjoy the benefits all month long. Participating museums include the National World War II Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

12. Head indoors to one of these spots

Keep it cool this August by heading indoors to the movies, a cooking class, a museum, a food hall, a brewery, shopping, a fitness class, and more. The options for staying cool are endless here in New Orleans, and with so much to do, there’s something for everyone. Read here for even more ideas.

The perfect po-boy picnic on the Lakefront, cast in the shadow of sunset (Photo: Paul Broussard)

13. Catch a sunset on the Lakefront

As summertime comes to a close, there’s no better way to enjoy a long summer evening than with a picnic on the New Orleans Lakefront. Grab some po-boys, choose your spot, and set up for sunset. The Lakefront includes shelters with tables for picnics as well as playgrounds for children, a bike lane, and benches along the water for optimal sunset viewing.

14. Cool off with a snowball

Snowball stand windows are open all summer long. Snowballs, not to be confused with snow cones, are almost vital to survival in the summer heat. Locals are quite loyal to their favorite snowball stands, most of them part of the neighborhood fabric (like Hansen’s and Plum Street Snowballs). Bring some cash to your favorite snowball stand (many don’t take credit cards) and order one of the dozens of flavors. Popular flavors include strawberry and bubble gum, but more complex flavors are emerging (my current favorite is Pandora’s praline cream with condensed milk).

Southern Decadence
A colorful group at Southern Decadence. (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

15. Get Decadent at Southern Decadence

Southern Decadence (sometimes called Gay Mardi Gras) begins August 29 this year and runs through September 2 over Labor Day weekend. Now in its 48th year, Decadence includes costume contests, parades, and block parties in the French Quarter. Most of Southern Decadence is free and open to the public, though a weekend pass provides admission to the Bourbon Pub and the Parade. VIP weekend passes are also available.

Emily Ramírez Hernández is the child of New Orleans natives whose families have been in the city for generations. Emily's earliest memories of New Orleans include joyful car rides over bumpy streets, eating dripping roast beef po-boys at Domilise's, and catching bouncy balls during Mardi Gras parades with cousins. An urban planner by day and freelance writer by night, when she is off the clock she enjoys biking around town, belly dancing, and catching nerdlesque shows.

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Summer Satchmo Fest

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