New Orleans’ stifling heat and swampy demeanor can make its outdoor attractions slightly less appealing in the steamy summer months, but don’t let that deter you. Here are six of the best indoor activities in New Orleans that will keep you cool on your summer vacation.
1. Immerse Yourself in Local Art and History
It’s no surprise that a city like New Orleans would be replete with museums celebrating its rich local culture and unique contributions to US history. The renowned National World War II Museum is a must-see for history buffs, while The Cabildo and Historic New Orleans Collection also offer deep-dives into the nation’s history and the Big Easy’s role in it.
Looking for something more centered on local culture itself? Mardi Gras World along the Mississippi River offers a behind-the-scenes look at one of the world’s most visible carnival celebrations. Continue exploring authentic examples of local history and culture at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, Backstreet Cultural Museum, and New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.
Art aficionados can visit the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and Contemporary Arts Center for some of the largest and best-known art exhibits citywide. But don’t miss the inimitable local art on display at various galleries up and down Julia, Royal, and Magazine streets, in addition to Dr. Bob Folk Art in the Bywater neighborhood.
2. Learn the Secrets Behind New Orleans Cusine
While the TSA probably won’t let you bring the leftovers from your favorite New Orleans restaurant back to your hometown, you can still take some of that flavor with you by taking a local cooking or mixology class.
Cooking classes offered at venues like the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, New Orleans School of Cooking, Langlois Culinary Crossroads, and Crescent City Cooks! feed attendees’ minds, bodies, and recipe books with ingredients lists, instructions, and techniques handed down between Cajun and Creole cooks for centuries. Similarly, visitors can recreate their favorite drinking memories – or hangovers – by learning classic New Orleans cocktail recipes from mixologists stationed at New Orleans Drink Lab, The Maison on Frenchmen Street, and Revel Café and Bar.
3. Revel in Nature’s Beauty
Part of the city’s beauty is in its natural flora and fauna, much of which can be more difficult to enjoy in the swampy summer heat. Luckily, the Audubon Nature Institute offers a cooler option with the indoor Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. Both facilities offer family-friendly interactive exhibits to help you and your little ones discover the local wildlife.
4. Catch Some Culture
Music, films, comedy, and theatrical performances abound at both larger, mainstream and smaller, off-the-grid theaters across New Orleans. If you’re staying within a taxi or streetcar ride from downtown (such as at the Hilton St. Charles), revel in the diverse programming offered at venues like the Saenger Theater, Orpheum Theater, Joy Theater, Civic Theatre, or Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts.
Film buffs can find a range of cinematic adventures throughout the week at the Prytania Theatre or Cinnebarre Canal Place 9 Theatre. But with a little additional planning, you can find other alternative and local indoor film options at the summer afternoon evening film series at the Orpheum Theater, the Friday Nights at NOMA Series featuring Movies in the Garden (in the museum’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden), and at the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center.
5. Shop ‘Til You Drop (But Not From The Heat)
Whether you prefer high fashion, antiques, or the gumbo of consumables in between, New Orleans has your shopping destinations covered. Browse in typical mall fashion at The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk or Shops at Canal Place – both within walking distance of Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Various pockets of Magazine Street also offer all manner of wares, from thrift stores to high-end boutiques.
And for the audiophiles in town, New Orleans is never short on music, vinyl, CDs, etc. to bring back home with you. Flip through the extensive catalogs at Louisiana Music Factory, Euclid Records, or NOLA Mix Records if you’re closer to downtown, or Peaches Records, Disko Obscura, or Mushroom New Orleans if you find yourself Uptown.
6. Tour a Local Brewery or Distillery
New Orleans has no shortage of bars and restaurants with commendable drink menus, but the city is also home to a growing number of breweries and distilleries. These establishments offer another layer of local flair to explore while on tours of the breweries themselves, or flights of beers and spirits from locally based masters. Consider NOLA Brewing, Urban South Brewery, Second Line Brewing, and Old New Orleans Rum Distillery, to name a few.
No matter what the weather might bring, you can enjoy your next trip or staycation in New Orleans. Book your New Orleans accommodations and get special offers around the city.