If you're ever spent summer in New Orleans, you know that it's HOT.
Don't let the steamy weather ruin your fun ... here are 25 ways to beat the heat, from events to foods to museums and so much more!
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I live in a state where summers are pretty darn hot. But there's hot, and then there's New Orleans hot. It's like a whole other level of heat and humidity ... don't get me started on that humidity!
There's no getting around it, if you visit New Orleans in summer, you'll feel that sweltering weather the minute you step out outside. It envelopes you. It's inescapable.
If I'm totally honest, summer is not my favorite time to visit NOLA. The weather is kind of miserable. But sometimes you gotta go when you can, right? And if you plan ahead, the weather won't ruin your trip.
25 Ways to Beat the Heat in New Orleans
If you're looking for ways to stay cool in New Orleans, then these tips are for you!
I'm sharing 25 creative ways to help you beat the heat, from must have drinks to fun festivals to places you can soak up the air conditioning. This New Orleans summer travel guide has you covered no matter what kind of activities you enjoy.
And make sure to read all the way to the end, because I'm sharing tips for staying fresh (even if you're sweating like crazy) and for what to wear during a New Orleans summer.
Treat yourself to a Snowball
Get your chill on with an iconic New Orleans treat, the snowball (or sno-ball).
Have you ever had one? A snowball is a mound of shaved ice topped with flavored syrup ... they come in all sorts of sweet flavors.
You can find snowballs all over the Crescent City, but for a taste of the original, head to Hansen's Sno-Bliz. It's been around since 1939. Plum Street Snowball is another popular spot that's been serving the frosty treat since 1945.
Find a Shady Spot in Jackson Square
The French Quarter is on everyone's New Orleans bucket list, but it gets hot (and to be honest, stinky) when the sun is beating down.
When you just can't take it anymore, grab a bottle of water and head to Jackson Square. (There's a Walgreens nearby at the corner of Decatur and Wilkinson.)
The benches around the edge of the square are usually shaded from the sun. It's the perfect place to cool off and do a little people watching.
Cool Off with an Ice Cold Cocktail
One of the benefits to visiting New Orleans in the summer is that you can carry a cool cocktail around with you ... it's like instant air conditioning!
There are bars on seemingly every corner in the French Quarter (and throughout the rest of the city, too), so take advantage. In terms of classic New Orleans drinks, you can't do much better than an ice-filled Hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s.
Want to enjoy a beautiful sunset along with your cocktail? Head to the Hot Tin Rooftop Bar at the Pontchartrain Hotel in the Garden District for panoramic views of the city.
Love bowling? Then, beat the heat at one of my favorite places in New Orleans ... Rock ‘n’ Bowl!
My husband and I got married in NOLA, and we had our rehearsal dinner here, so it holds lots of good memories. And with bowling, food, drinks, and live music, you are sure to have a great time here, too!
Visit a Museum
Museums are notorious for cranking the A/C, so why not take advantage?
New Orleans is home to a number of world class museums, from the classic to the kooky. Here are a few of my faves:
- Mardi Gras World - See colorful Mardi Gras props and floats being built up close, then try a slice of King Cake.
- Ogden Museum of Southern Art - This museum showcases a diverse array of works created by southern artists. Pair it with a visit to the nearby WWII Museum.
- New Orleans Pharmacy Museum - A must see museum in the French Quarter. Make sure to time your visit to catch the daily tour.
- The National WWII Museum - This is the second most popular museum in the US, and for good reason: it's amazing. Planning on spending about half a day here (at least).
- New Orleans Museum of Art - Enjoy the wide-ranging exhibits at this popular museum, then check out the sculpture garden and City Park when you're done.
Planning to visit a few museums? August in New Orleans is Museum Month. If you purchase a membership at a participating museum, you can get free admission for two people to all other participating museums ... it's a total bargain for art lovers!
Perk Up with an Iced Coffee
I can't start my day without a little pick-me-up, and New Orleans has the BEST ice coffee!
You can get an iced coffee at pretty much any coffee shop, of course, but here are a few of my faves:
- French Truck Coffee - Their NOLA Iced Coffee is perfection!
- Cafe Du Monde - Pair a pile of sugary beignets with an Iced Cafe Au Lait ... so good.
- Coast Roast Coffee & Tea - Cool off with a delicious orange-flavored Iced Coffee!
Catch a Movie
Want to be entertained and air conditioned? Go to a movie!
Love vintage movie theaters and saving money? Then check out The Orpheum, a gorgeous Beaux Arts-style venue in the Central Business District. Movies in their Summer Series are free.
Another option with old school charm is the Prytania Theatre. This single screen theater has been in business for over 100 years.
Ride a Streetcar
So you want to see the sights, but can't bear to walk around in that New Orleans summer heat? Catch a streetcar.
Riding a streetcar is one of the best things to do in New Orleans! So grab a seat by a window and enjoy the breeze (some streetcars are air conditioned and some aren't).
- St. Charles Streetcar: ride this popular line through the Garden District and Uptown ... along the way, you'll pass historic mansions, Loyola University, Audubon Park, and more. Hop off before you get too far and take my Garden District walking tour or visit Lafayette Cemetery No. 1!
- Canal Streetcar: passes through the Central Business District, Mid-City, and Bayou St. John, ending at City Park.
- Riverfront Streetcar: runs along the edge of the French Quarter, passing by Woldenberg Park, the Aquarium of the Americas, Canal Place Mall, Harrah’s Casino, and the Riverwalk Marketplace, ending at the Convention Center in the CBD (which is near Mardi Gras World).
- Rampart Streetcar: this is the newest NOLA streetcar. It runs from the Union Passenger Terminal to Elysian Fields Ave, passing by modern buildings, classic New Orleans architecture, and Louis Armstrong Park along the way. Get off at the end and explore the Faubourg Marigny and St. Roch neighborhoods.
Ride costs $1.25 each way ($2.50 round trip). Save yourself the trouble of digging up exact change though and download the RTA GoMobile app ... a one day pass only costs $2.50, and it's good for 24-hours (a total bargain!).
Take a Brewery or Distillery Tour
A tour is a great way to kill a few hours during a hot summer in New Orleans, especially when you can cool down with a few drinks in the process!
Stop by Nola Brewing Company for a tour on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
If beer isn’t your thing, take a distillery tour at Old New Orleans Rum! You can hop on the free shuttle at the French Market.
Listen to Live Music
One of the best ways to beat the heat in NOLA is by listening to music! Jazz, brass, R&B, soul ... the options are practically endless.
You'll find live music almost everywhere, but start by taking a walk down Frenchmen Street. All you have to do is wander in somewhere and grab a stool. You probably won’t be disappointed!
Start Your Day Early ... or Late
It's almost inevitable that you'll be uncomfortably hot when visiting New Orleans in summer. It doesn't hurt to be a little strategic when planning your day though.
Plan your outdoor activities for the morning, late afternoon, or evening ... basically anytime the sun won't be directly overhead. And stick to the shady side of the street!
One of my favorite New Orleans summer activities is shopping ... it's the perfect way to escape the heat!
You'll find shops throughout the city, but here are a few favorite spots to get you started:
- Royal Street: The French Quarter is full of shops. Many are super cheesy and full of touristy junk though. For better luck, head down beautiful Royal Street, where you’ll find everything from antiques to art to cute boutiques.
- Magazine Street: Head to Magazine Street for unique shops selling home decor, clothes, antiques, gifts, and so much more! Take the #11 bus or the St. Charles Streetcar to get there from the French Quarter.
- French Market: A visit to NOLA isn’t complete with a stroll through the French Market. It stretches for six blocks along the edge of the French Quarter, and you’ll find everything from candy to souvenirs to clothes, as well as daily flea and farmers markets.
- Mall: Looking for a quiet escape from the French Quarter? Head to Canal Place, an upscale mall located on (you guessed it) Canal Street. It's filled with the types of stores you'd find in any mall, but the air conditioning can't be beat.
Take a Cooking Class
Want to learn more about New Orleans food? Take a cooking class!
Book a hands-on or demo class at the New Orleans School of Cooking, located in the French Quarter. You'll learn how to make classic dishes like jumbalaya, bananas foster, bread pudding, and more.
They also have a cute gift shop that's worth checking out, even if you don't have time for a class.
Hit the Pool
A dip in the pool is the perfect way to relax and cool off on a hot New Orleans day, and many hotels have their own pool.
If you're still looking for a NOLA hotel, consider the Chateau LeMoyne. I love their pool, which is nestled in a pretty courtyard.
Are you staying at an Airbnb or somewhere that doesn't have a pool? You can access a number of hotel pools by paying a day fee or a membership fee. Here are some options:
- Ace Hotel (Warehouse District)
- The Drifter (Mid City)
- Le Meridien (Central Business District)
- The Roosevelt (Central Business District)
- W Hotel (French Quarter)
Also worth mentioning is The Country Club (Bywater). It's not a hotel, but you can purchase a day pass to use the pool.
Hotel pools tend to be 21+. If you're traveling with kids, visit a public pool instead:
Enjoy a Bite of Frozen History
For a sweet treat, that has lots of history behind it, stop into Angelo Brocato.
This Italian ice cream parlor has been serving up delicious gelato, cannoli, and other pastries for over 100 years. It's hard to go wrong here, but a scoop of gelato or granita, or a slice of spumoni is the perfect way to beat the New Orleans heat.
Angelo Brocato is located in Mid City, near City Park. You can take the Canal Streetcar there if you don't have a car.
Attend a New Orleans Summer Festival
You probably won't stay too cool attending an outdoor festival, but you'll be having so much fun that you may forget all about that crazy humidity. Or maybe not, but at least everyone else will be sweating, too!
Here's a list of annual festivals worth checking out:
- New Orleans Oyster Festival: Oyster lovers won't want to miss this culinary event.
- Pride: Celebrate LGBTQ+ culture through food, parties, a parade, and more.
- French Market Creole Tomato Festival: Creole tomatoes are an essential ingredient in many New Orleans dishes, and this event celebrates them with music, food, a Bloody Mary market, and more.
- Festigals: This annual festival empowers, celebrates, and supports women of all backgrounds and features a variety of New Orleans-themed activities, speakers, seminars, and more, designed for women and by women.
- Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival: Enjoy Cajun country's best music and food.
- Essence Festival: This celebration of Black culture and music features some of the biggest names out there.
- Running of the Bulls: Celebrate Spain's famous running of the bulls New Orleans style ... instead of being chased by bulls, you'll be running from a roller derby team.
- Bastille Day Fête: Toast New Orleans' French culture with music, food, and drinks.
- Satchmo Summerfest: Listen to some of NOLA's top musicians, many of whom will be paying tribute to Louis. Plus, enjoy food, drinks, and Satchmo Seminars.
- White Linen Night: Put on your fave white linen outfit, then head to Julia Street for an evening of gallery hopping, art shopping, food, and drink.
- Dirty Linen Night: Enjoy dirty martinis and dirty rice while strolling Royal Street. And make sure to wear those linen clothes you might have dirtied the weekend before during White Linen Night.
- Southern Decadence: This celebration of LGBTQ+ culture has has been nicknamed Gay Mardi Gras. Enjoy drag shows, contests, DJs, music, a parade, and other events.
Pop into a Gallery
Gallery hopping is the perfect way to spend a steamy day!
Beat the heat in New Orleans by popping in and out of galleries along Julia Street in the Arts District or Royal Street in the French Quarter. You'll also find galleries along Magazine Street in the Garden District and St. Claude in Marigny / Bywater.
Ride a Bike
If you're going to be outside exploring anyway, why not create your own breeze by riding a bike?
Look for Blue Bikes located at stations throughout the city. You can rent the bikes by the hour. I had fun riding one through City Park recently.
A number of local companies also offer guided bike tours. Free Wheelin' Bike Tours gets great ratings!
Go Gambling at Harrah's
Feeling lucky? Step onto the casino floor at Harrah's.
I have to admit that I've only been to Harrah's once in all the times I've been to New Orleans ... there is just sooo much else to do. If you're feeling a little more flush than I usually am though, it wouldn't be the worst place to kill a few hours, enjoy a few drinks, and most importantly, cool off!
Take a Riverboat Cruise
Feel the breeze on your face as you cruise down the Mississippi on Steamboat Natchez. You'll feel like you're stepping back in time ... it's definitely one of the best New Orleans summer activities.
You can choose from a number of cruises, both day and night, with a meal included or not. And whatever cruise you take, you'll be treated to live jazz music.
Sip a Glass of Wine or Bubbles
Sometimes a cold glass of wine is the perfect antidote to a hot day.
I love St. James Cheese Company ... they serve great wine and mouthwatering pimiento cheese (among other dishes). You could also head to Bacchanal Wine and relax in the backyard (or stick to the inside bar), or enjoy bubbles and a snack at Effervescence.
Looking for a more DIY method to enjoy your wine? Head to Rouses Market which as a few New Orleans locations. I like the Warehouse District store ... it has a great selection of rosé, plus there's a wine chiller, which I tested out on my last visit (loved it!). You can quick-chill your wine in there while you shop for snacks to go with your bottle.
Keep the Kids Cool
Are you traveling with children? Cut down on the wining about the heat with a fun kid-friendly activity.
The Louisiana Children's Museum is full of creative exhibits to keep them entertained, like a kid-sized grocery store and a working art studio. Or check out the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and immerse your family in an underwater world. Once you're done at the aquarium, head next door to the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium to explore the world of bugs.
Spending the day at the Audubon Zoo? After checking out the animals, get wet at the Cool Zoo splash park. You'll find a Gator Run, jumping water spouts, a huge alligator water slide, spider monkey soakers, water-spitting snakes, and more!
Learn about New Orleans History
Want to discover a little New Orleans history? Pop into the Visit Jean Lafitte's French Quarter Visitor Center.
This petite visitors center is great for kids and adults. Check out maps, images, and interactive exhibits that share the Louisiana delta's history while you soak up the A/C. Kids can earn a badge through the junior rangers program, and there's even a cute gift shop.
Cool Off at a Yummy Restaurant
When you plan your visit around great restaurants, you'll be cool and well fed!
One of my favorite spots, The Daily Beet, serves light, healthy salads, grain bowls, and fresh juices ... all perfect for hot summer days in New Orleans! They have a couple locations, one in the CBD (my fave) and one at the St. Roch Market, another awesome foodie find.
I could spend all day eating my way through the St. Roch Market, but some of my faves are the iced coffee from Coast Roast, the mushroom tofu fritai from Fritai, the falafel sandwich and mint lemonade from Torshi ... and of course, any bowl from The Daily Beet.
Looking for some other options? Here are a few spots I keep going back to:
- Po-Boys: I love Killer Po-Boys in the French Quarter. They have options that will keep both meat eaters and vegans happy, which is not easy to find in NOLA!
- Muffaletta: You can’t beat Central Grocery in the French Quarter, but make sure to stop by early, because they often run out. If you ask nicely, they’ll make you a vegetarian muffaletta. You can't eat here, so grab your sandwich and some drinks, then find a shady spot along the Mississippi River to enjoy it.
- Beignets: Get in line for a table at Cafe Du Monde, then order a big plate of beignets to share (or not) and an iced cafe au lait to wash it all down. See if you can get a spot in the indoor section if you're especially hot.
- Upscale: Blow your budget at Commander’s Palace, Galatoire’s, Jacques-Imo’s, or one of the many other iconic New Orleans restaurants.
- Something Different: Stop by District Donuts, N 7, Carmo, Juan’s Flying Burrito, Red’s Chinese, or Green Goddess.
Looking for more plant based ideas? Check out my list of Vegetarian Friendly New Orleans Restaurants!
Ride the Ferry to Algiers
Want to escape the French Quarter for a while?
Catch the ferry at the foot of Canal Street and cross the Mississippi to Algiers Point. This charming, quiet neighborhood feels totally removed from the bustle of the French Quarter.
When you arrive, head to one of the bars and restaurants just steps from the ferry terminal. Once you're fortified, check out the cute houses lining the quiet streets. Is the sun starting to go down? Head up the levee path to watch it set over the city.
Check out my guide to Algiers Point for more tips on exploring this picturesque neighborhood.
Tour the City on a Hop On Hop Off Bus
Want to see all the sights in New Orleans, but don't want to do a lot of walking in the sweltering weather? Jump on a Hop On Hop Off Bus.
You'll enjoy a breeze on the open-top bus as you're guided around the French Quarter and the Garden District. Hop off at numerous spots to do more exploring, or stay on for the whole ride. It's up to you ... just make sure to wear a hat to avoid a sunburn.
More Tips for Beating the Heat in New Orleans
I hope you enjoyed this New Orleans summer travel guide and are ready to start planning your trip!
Here are some other tips for enjoying your visit:
- Stay Hydrated: No matter what your itinerary holds, remember to make time to drink lots of water and other cool drinks. Don't wait until you feel thirsty ... grab a bottle whenever you pass a drugstore or buy one from a street vendor. And remember to balance out all those cocktails (they'll make you more dehydrated in the long run) with plenty of water, too.
- Slather on the Sunscreen: Don't leave your hotel without applying sunblock. Most likely you're going to be exposed to the sun quite a bit, and you will burn. I alternate between Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Sunscreen and Sun Bum SPF 50 (which is vegan / reef friendly) for my face, and this Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch, Lotion Sunscreen Ultra Radiance SPF 30 (it smells like a tropical vacation).
- Keep Fresh: Unless you are that rare, special person that never overheats, you are probably going to sweat ... a lot. Everyone around you is probably sweating, too, so it's nothing to be embarrassed about. You'll want to stay fresh though by carrying around some wipes, a mini deodorant, and maybe a small scented lotion.
- Pack an Umbrella: New Orleans' summers are hot, humid, and rainy. In fact, June is the wettest month of the year. Watch the weather and make sure to carry an umbrella on those rainy days.
- What to Wear: New Orleans is pretty casual (unless you're dining in an upscale restaurant), so you can wear almost anything. I like to look pulled together though, which means lightweight dresses and tailored shorts with flowy tank tops and blouses. Jeans are kind of miserable in NOLA's hot, humid weather, as is anything too tight. Choose a pair of lightweight capris instead. A pair of comfortable sandals and a hat (to protect from the sun) are a must. Guys will be most comfortable in shorts and a light button down. Choose clothes that won't show sweat (like patterned fabrics), breathable cotton and linen fabrics, and pack a few extra outfits so you can change into fresh clothes at night.
Planning Your Visit
Before your trip, make sure to check out my New Orleans Travel Guide ... it has everything you need to know to plan your trip! And you may also want to ready my guide to my favorite free things to do in New Orleans.
Where to Stay
Need somewhere to stay during your summertime visit to New Orleans? Here are some of my faves:
- Astor Crowne Plaza French Quarter – This hotel has a convenient location on Canal Street, just around the corner from (but thankfully, not on) Bourbon Street. One thing to note: valet parking gets very busy here on Sundays during check-out time. If you’re checking out on a Sunday, consider leaving well before check-out time, otherwise you may face a long wait.
- Chateau LeMoyne French Quarter – This is a Holiday Inn, but it feels like a boutique hotel. The rooms have many unique elements, and there’s a pretty pool area with a turtle pond. It’s located on a quieter street, yet the French Quarter is just outside its doors.
- Hotel Indigo Garden District – Want to escape the craziness of the French Quarter? Stay in the beautiful Garden District instead. This hotel is steps from the St. Charles Streetcar, making it a super convenient starting point for exploring the Garden District, French Quarter, and Uptown.
- Kimpton Hotel Fortenot - This super stylish hotel is located in the CBD, and it's super convenient for walking to all the sights in the French Quarter, as well as Warehouse Arts District museums and galleries.
What is your favorite tip for staying cool on summer vacation?