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Best Local Things to Do

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

Stay cool and beat the rain with these indoor activities.

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

New Orleans is a hot (and rainy) summer destination. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to experience the city and stay cool, including exploring tons of fun indoor activities. We took the liberty of rounding up a few for you, so you can just keep it cool while you’re here.

Indoor Activities in New Orleans

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Visit a museum

New Orleans has a handful of must-see museums. If you love art as much as we do, visit 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.

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 family and friends. Langlois Culinary Crossroads, the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, and New Orleans School of Cooking all offer great options for cooking classes.

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

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. The Riverwalk also features an indoor Café du Monde location so you can have beignets with the comfort of air-condition.

Harrah's Casino New Orleans
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 there’s something for all your tastebuds.

Catch a movie

Going to the movies is a tried-and-true way to beat the summer heat. If you love traditional movie experiences, check out the Prytania Theatre’s Classic Movie Series, with shows on Sundays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Head to the Broad Theater in Mid-City for the hottest movies of the moment paired with buttery popcorn and a bar. On select days during the summer, you can also catch a flick at The Orpheum Theater.

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

See Wildlife

The zoo may be too hot for a summer day, but the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas 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 at the Winsdor Court or Ritz Carlton spas, or check out out a neighborhood spot like Belladonna on Magazine Street.

Mardi Gras World (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

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.

Stay Active

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

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

Get a Taste of NOLA Food Markets

Enjoy one of the newly-opened urban markets/food courts in Nola. Auction House Market features multiple food kiosks in a light and airy space and is sister to St. Roch Market in the Bywater. Dryades Public Market, on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, functions as a grocery store and also has a hot food bar and a regular bar.

Tour a local brewery/distillery

The local brewing scene in New Orleans has exploded in recent years with a new brewery in almost every neighborhood. NOLA Brewing offers free brewery tours on Fridays from 2:00 p.m to 3:00 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Urban South Brewery offers free tours Fridays at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m, 5p.m. , and 7 p.m., and Sundays at  2p.m. and 4 p.m. The taproom is also kid-friendly.

Get Fit

There are plenty of exercise classes across the city. Some of our favorites include Dancing Grounds for some bounce or hip hop dance, 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 Theater (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Enjoy an evening at the theater

Many of New Orleans’ historic performance venues have jam-packed schedules featuring year-round performances, including the Saenger Theater, the Orpheum Theater, the Joy Theater, and the Civic Theater. Catch a Broadway musical, a comedy show, or a musical act in a gorgeous, old-school venue any night of the week.

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