New Orleans is known for its subtropical climate but these suggestions will help you beat the heat. Often referred to as an American outpost of the Caribbean, New Orleans is distinguished by flowers blooming in December and people melting in August. Here are some things to do in The Big Easy when faced with one of those 100 degree Fahrenheit / 100% humidity kind of days.
When you’re overheated one of the best feelings is cool water. Southern summers are often punctuated with afternoon showers which can bring a welcome respite to the sultry days. In the meantime there are other ways to find the same relief.
The zoo can seem an unlikely spot to take a dip, but Audubon Zoo hosts a lot more than just animals. Inside you’ll find Cool Zoo: a water park with slides, misters, and a lazy river for tubing. Another section of the zoo has Monkey Hill, with a wading area and a gentle waterfall for kids and adults to climb
Just outside the zoo gates is a hidden gem most people don’t know about. Sara Lavinia Hyams died in 1915 and bequeathed her jewels to the city of New Orleans. Her request was that the proceeds from their sale be used to purchase two fountains “Given to the little children of New Orleans.” One of these fountains is at City Park inside the Carousel Gardens. The other hides down a dirt path, in a small, lesser used area of Audubon Park. The Hyams Fountain at Audubon Park is now frequented more by dogs than humans, but all are welcome. It fell into disrepair for awhile but is now renovated and well maintained by the city. Shaded by ancient oak trees, it is the perfect place to read a book while dangling your feet in the water.
If you’re downtown there is another place to splash right on the shore of the Mississippi River. Woldenberg Park is a perfect place to picnic while you watch the boats go by. Within the park, just outside the Aquarium of the Americas, is a splash pad for the young or young at heart to zip through and wash away the heat.
Another great way to cool off is with an icy treat. New Orleans rarely sees actual snow (and then only a flurry) so it may seem strange that the city is home to the best “sno balls” in the world. In 1939 Ernest Hansen invented his ice shaving machine and started a craze. These are not cones of chipped ice found in other areas of the world. New Orleans style sno balls are as smooth as the finest powder at a ski resort, and during the summer sno ball shacks pop up all over the city, with every New Orleanian having their own personal favorite. Try one at the original Hansen’s Sno Bliz, still operated by the same family.
If sno balls aren’t your thing, then maybe ice cream is. The Creole Creamery serves artisanal ice cream made in house with flavors such as buttermilk lemon pie, red velvet cake and Mexican hot chocolate. Can’t decide? Try the sampler platter with four mini scoops for a bit of variety.
Gelato provides a third option, and the Brocato family has been serving it here for over 100 years. Angelo Brocato’s Original Italian Ice Cream Parlor serves gelato and Italian ices in an old world style cafe. The perfect place to relax over a sweet, frozen treat.
If you can’t take the heat it may be a good idea to cool off inside. Luckily New Orleans has lots of places to keep you entertained while enjoying the air conditioning.
If you don’t want to get wet at the zoo (or maybe you forgot your bathing suit) the Audubon Institute has two other options, both downtown and both indoors. At the Aquarium of the Americas you can stroll through two floors of exhibits from sharks to penguins to otters. Just a few blocks away you will find the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. There you can watch a 4D movie to learn about the world of bugs or just sit quietly in a Japanese style garden surrounded by butterflies.
New Orleans is also home to many museums where you can get in out of the heat. One of the favorites is the National WWII Museum. Located downtown on a 6-acre campus, the museum opened in 2000 and has quickly become one of the city’s most popular attractions. It includes 250,000 artifacts, over 9,000 oral histories, as well as immersive exhibits, multimedia experiences, good food and live shows. That’s enough indoor entertainment to keep you occupied for days.
Sometimes the best way to cool off is with a movie. New Orleans used to be home to over 100 neighborhood movie theaters. Unfortunately almost all of them have disappeared. The Prytania Theatre remains a remnant of days gone by. Go watch a new release or check out their classic film series.
No matter what your preference, don’t let the heat scare you away from one of the oldest cities in the country. New Orleans is set to celebrate its 300th anniversary. That’s a lot of generations of people all of whom found enough to love to keep them here, no matter the weather.
Y’all come on down and laissez les bon temps rouler!