This guide is all about things to do in New Orleans in the summer, updated for 2021.
We include a Top 10 list, loads of free things to do, concerts, sports, family-friendly activities, festivals, special events, and more!
Let's get started.
- Top 10 Things to Do in Summer in New Orleans
- Free Things to Do
- What to Pack
- How's the Weather
This is a Top 10 list of things to do in New Orleans in summer.
For those on a budget, you'll appreciate the many free activities from outdoor festivals, concerts, and movies, theater, and more.
Some of the best things to do in summer in New Orleans do charge a fee, so you might want to consider looking into buying a tourist discount pass.
These passes include free entry to popular attractions and activities that are perfect for a summer trip.
Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.
Be sure to check out our master post, Things to Do in New Orleans, for year-round activities.
1. Take a Sightseeing tour
One of the easiest and most affordable options is to take one of our pay-what-you-want walking tours.
We currently offer the following outings:
- French Quarter Tour
- Garden District
- St. Louis Cemetery #1
- New Orleans Ghost Tour
- French Quarter Food Tours
- Voodoo Tour
- Frenchman Street and the Marigny
- Music, Arts, and More Tour
- Cocktail Tour
- Treme Tour
2. Listen to Live Music
Live music is everywhere in New Orleans. You can find it on the streets, in parks, in bars and restaurants, basically, everywhere.
We produced our live music guide to help you find and experience one of the world’s great music cities.
It includes tips on the best jazz brunches, tips on the best areas of the city for music (for example, Frenchman Street).
And as you might have expected, we have a guided tour for music lovers as well called the New Orleans Music and Arts Tour, which generally runs on Fridays and Saturdays with other days sprinkled in by season.
3. Go on a Bus Tour
With the summer heat and humidity, a bus tour is a great way to see the city with air-conditioning!
There are a few different hop-on-hop-off options that allow you to explore at your own pace.
You can also take a full-service tour that takes you to the major landmarks of the city while a live guide provides commentary.
Find out about the various tours available from our post on New Orleans bus tours.
4. Go Out to the Swamps
Just embrace the swampy weather and go to the actual swamps.
During the summer months, local tour companies offer a very special and rare chance to tour the swamplands at night.
This service is only available for a few months, so you may want to take advantage of the opportunity to see what life is like in the swamp after the sun goes down.
These tours typically begin at about 7:30 pm and run for about 90 minutes. Tour guides will use a high-powered lamp to shed some light on the wildlife surrounding you.
For more details, make sure to read our post covering New Orleans swamp tours.
If a night on the swamp doesn’t sound appealing, take a look at our section on things to do at night for more nighttime activities.
5. Go to a Baseball Game
Summer means baseball and New Orleans is home to a Triple-A MiLB team known as the Baby Cakes.
There are many home games in the summer.
Almost all of these games will include special promotions. There will also be an opportunity for kids to run the bases on every Sunday game.
This makes for a great family activity. For more things to do with kids, read our family-friendly activities section.
6. See a Concert
Whether you’re a fan of classic rock, alternative rock, or even hip-hop, chances are that you’ll want to attend at least one of the many concerts being offered this month.
Find more great things to do in the evening in our nighttime activities section below!
7. Learn about Hurricane Katrina
It has been over a decade since Hurricane Katrina first touched ground in New Orleans, but the impact of this catastrophic event can still be felt throughout several neighborhoods in the city.
If you’re visiting in late August, you may want to consider honoring the victims of this tragedy, by visiting the Hurricane Katrina Memorial.
Alternatively, you could also head to the Presbytère to see their exhibit about the disaster.
In addition to these activities, you could also take our free, self-guided Hurricane Katrina Tour.
8. Go to the Audubon Zoo
The Audubon Zoo might be one of the best places to visit in New Orleans during the summer.
Not only will you have the chance to see a lot of wonderful animals, but you can also cool off at their Cool Zoo water park.
Audubon Zoo also offers Dinner and a ZOOvie during the summer, allowing kids and their families to enjoy a film at the park.
Visitors who purchase a ticket to this event for $6 can also get into Cool Zoo for the 2 hours before the movie starts for an additional $6. Here is the schedule for Summer 2019:
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom | June 14
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse | June 21
- Captain Marvel | July 12th
- How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World | July 26th
There will also be an opportunity to see a movie at the National WW2 Museum.
9. See a Free Museum
Cool off inside at one of the many of the fantastic New Orleans museums that are available for free on a specific (or every) day of the month!
The Historic New Orleans Collection is always free to go in and see the permanent exhibits at the Royal Street and Chartres Street locations.
And if you’ve seen the HBO series Treme, you’ll want to see the House of Dance and Feathers, a museum dedicated to the artwork and culture of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians, Skull & Bones Gangs, and Baby Dolls.
We provide a list below in the next section.
10. Look into Getting a Tourist Attraction Discount Pass
Summer is one of the best times to visit a lot of the most popular attractions in New Orleans. If you’re looking for discounts on general admission costs, a tourist pass can be one of the easiest ways to save money.
Here are some of the more interesting locations and activities you can enjoy with these services:
- Audubon Zoo
- Audubon Aquarium
- Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
- Houmas House Plantation
- Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour
- Mardi Gras World
- National WWII Museum
- Creole Queen Cruise
- Oak Alley Plantation
- 2-Hour Bike Rental
Depending on how you use these passes, you could save 50% or more on regular ticket prices. For more details, make sure to read our full post covering how to choose the right New Orleans Tourist Pass for your needs.
Summer offers even more opportunities to enjoy all sorts of entertainment FOR FREE!
For even more suggestions, take a look at our post on What to Do for Free in New Orleans.
See a Free Jazz Show at the Ritz
If you’re interested in seeing a live musical performance, it’s worth noting that Jeremy Davenport performs jazz at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans several days every week.
We recommend bringing some money along for refreshments, but it isn’t required.
- Wed-Thur | 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
- Fri-Sat | 9 pm – 1 pm
TIP: The New Orleans Jazz Museum also offers a free show every Tuesday afternoon at 2 pm. If you’re in the area at the time, it’s definitely worth popping in to see the performance!
Go to a Free Museum
In addition to the fact that August is Museum Month in New Orleans, there are also several museums in the city that you can visit for free either on certain days of the month or every day of the week.
- The Historic New Orleans Collection
- Free exhibits every day
- New Orleans Museum of Art
- Free for LA residents every Wednesday
- National WW2 Museum
- Free for Veterans every day
- Arnaud’s Mardi Gras Museum
- Free every day
- NOMA Sculpture Garden
- Free every day
- Madame John’s Legacy
- Free every day
Take a Self-Guided Tour
While our pay-what-you-want walking tours are very affordable, you can save even more money by simply taking our free self-guided tours.
We offer several self-guided excursions in New Orleans that you might want to consider.
Kids will love New Orleans in the summer! You can keep them entertained with boat or bike rides, playgrounds, and visiting attractions that are kid-friendly.
Below is just a fraction of things to do in the summer with children in the city. For a full list, see our post covering things to do with kids in New Orleans
Go to the Audubon Aquarium and Zoo
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas has very exciting exhibits including sharks, a replica of the Amazon rainforest, Parakeet Pointe, and penguins. For an extra cost you can actually get up close and personal with the little tuxedo guys!
The Insectarium across the street from the aquarium on Canal St. may not be for the squeamish, but the brave get the opportunity to dine on bugs. If that is not your thing you can always try to calm yourself in the butterfly sanctuary.
The Cool Zoo is where it is at though. It is an interactive water playscape in Audobon Zoo that the under 12 set loves on those hot Summer Days. It is refreshing for adults too! The website outlines costs and rules and stipulations. You can do all three of these experiences in a package price and save some cash.
Take a Riverboat Cruise on the Mississippi
There are many riverboat cruises that will get your kids excited. Some have live Dixie Jazz aboard and serve lunch and dinner. There are also historical cruises, and one visits a historic battlefield.
For those on a budget, you could take the Algiers Ferry across the Mississippi for just $2.
Take a Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour
In the summer when temperatures can be high, bus tours are a great way for everyone to cool off while still seeing the city.
Since Hop-on, hop-off bus tours stop at the popular attraction locations, you can see the sights without wearing out the little ones in your family.
See our post about Hop-on-Hop-off bus tours to see if one of these buses is right for you.
Romp Around in a Playground
There are many excellent public playgrounds where you can take your kids.
Many are close to some of the most popular sights in the city so you can combine your activities in one afternoon.
Find out about other family-fun activities from our post on fun places for kids in New Orleans.
One of the best things to do in New Orleans in the summer is to go to a festival or celebration.
There are music festivals, food festivals, art festivals, festivals for kids, and more. Below is a list of some of the best festivals.
For more things to do in the summer, just click on the link of the month of your trip.
- Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival
- Oyster Festival
- Big Top Cake & Pastry Competition
- 32nd Creole Tomato Festival
- New Orleans Pride Festival
- Party for the Planet
- National Black Restaurant Week
- NOLA Caribbean Festival
Packing for New Orleans for summer is about being comfortable in humidity and enjoying the festive vibe of the city.
Comfortable shoes! You will be doing a lot of walking, especially in the French Quarter.
An umbrella. Rain showers are frequent and pop up unexpectedly sometimes.
Bring sunscreen. Even on an overcast day, the UV rays can be strong.
Going Out Outfit. Nightlife is a big part of New Orleans, from jazz clubs to nice dinners, you'll want to be prepared.
Sweater/Light Jacket. Yes, we've mentioned how steamy and hot it can get but that outside. Be sure that museums and restaurants will have the A/C turned up!