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
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, the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, and New Orleans School of Cooking all offer great options for cooking classes.
Visit a museum.
New Orleans has tons of must-see museums. If you’re into art, check out 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.
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, Sucre, 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 try a beignet in air-conditioned comfort.
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!
See a movie.
Going to the movies is a tried-and-true way to beat the summer heat. Check out the Cinebarre Canal Place 9 Theatres 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. Check out the Broad Theater in Tremé 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.
Hang out with critters.
The zoo may be too hot for a summer day, but the Audubon Aquarium of the Americans 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.
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.
New Orleans Boulder Lounge features a candy-colored rock-climbing wall plus yoga and an on-site cafe. With locations both Uptown and in the Bywater, it’s a great way to cool off while still staying active.
Grab a bite or beverage.
Make an outing by checking out one of the newly-opened urban markets/food courts. 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. Roux Carré, just up the street, is an incubator for local food entrepreneurs currently featuring Jamaican and Latin American cuisine.
Tour a local brewery/distillery.
The local brewing scene has exploded in recent years with a new 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 Fridays at 5 and 7 p.m., Saturdays at 3, 5, and 7 p.m., and Sundays at 2 and 4 p.m. The taproom is also kid-friendly.
There are plenty of exercise classes across the city. Check out 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.
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 an old-school venue any night of the week.