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What to Do in July in New Orleans

Updated: May 12, 2023

This post covers things to do in July 2023 in New Orleans.

We’ll start things off with our top 10 attractions/events, but we also have sections devoted to free activities, things to do at night, and family-friendly ideas.


TOP 10 ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACTIONS

This section will focus on the top 10 things to do in July in New Orleans.

For tips on the most popular activities in New Orleans, check out our posts on:

Many of these items are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.


1. Visit a Swamp After Dark

During the summer months, some swamp tour companies offer outings after dark. This is a very limited opportunity that is only available for a few months each year.

While you’re out on the water, your tour guides will use high-powered lamps to shine a light on some of the wildlife in the area.

If you’ve ever wondered what life is like for swamp animals after the sun goes down, this is an excellent chance to see for yourself!

Even if you don’t want to go on a trip after dark, you may still want to consider taking a swamp tour during the day.

There are also free trails to hike and other activities to enjoy which won’t cost you a thing!

For more fun things to do when the sun goes down, check our section covering things to do at night in New Orleans this July.


2. Celebrate American Independence Day

There are several fun activities to enjoy on the 4th of July in New Orleans.

One of the most popular events is Go 4th on the River, a free, annual fireworks show on the Mississippi River.

One popular choice is to schedule a riverboat cruise during the show and see it take place from the water.

You can also try to catch the fireworks while traveling across the river on the Algiers Point Ferry.

Another excellent alternative is to visit one of the parks along the river. Woldenberg Park is just north of the Audubon Aquarium which offers a discount to all visitors on July 4th.

For more great kid-friendly events, check our family-friendly activities section.

You can also find a lot of great attractions to enjoy after dark in our section about things to do at night.


3. Go on a Sightseeing Tour

Summer is the perfect time to go on a New Orleans sightseeing tour, and there are several different services to consider.

One of the most affordable and popular options is a pay-what-you-wish walking tour. During the month of July, we will be offering the following tours in NOLA:

We also have several GPS-enabled audio tours you can take whenever you want.

Alternatively, you may also want to consider going on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour or a Segway tour. These tours will take you to all of the major sites in the city.

There are also riverboat tours that will take you down the Mississippi River.

This is also one of the best times to take a swamp tour and see some of the natural wildlife that lives in the area.


4. 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.

There's also the chance for kids to explore the zoo at night with "Nature at Night". The hours are 6 pm to 9 pm and the event is "kid-only", for ages 6-12 years old.

If you’re looking for more kid-friendly attractions to visit, make sure to read our section about family-friendly activities in New Orleans this July.


5. Consider Getting a Tourist Pass

If you’re trying to save money on some of the best summer attractions in New Orleans, a discount pass could be just the ticket.

Many popular locations are included with the top passes, and you can save 50% or more off regular admission prices.

In addition to the discounts, tourist passes usually include skip-the-line tickets which can save you a lot of time.

Here are some of the most notable sites included with these services:

  • Audubon Zoo
  • Audubon Aquarium
  • Audubon Insectarium
  • Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
  • Mardi Gras World
  • Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour
  • National WW2 Museum
  • Riverboat Cruise
  • Houmas House Plantation
  • Oak Alley Plantation
  • Louisiana Children’s Museum

These are just a handful of the activities you can enjoy. For more details, make sure to read our full post about New Orleans tourist passes.


6. Attend a Concert

New Orleans is a city rich with musical history, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they attract a lot of musicians throughout the year.

It's a quiet month when it comes to musicians visiting NOLA. Here are the artists coming to town:

Also, the Essence Music Festival takes place at the Superdome from June 30-July 2nd.

The lineup hasn't been announced as of the time of this post, but they've said "you don’t want to miss the heat that we are serving up this year while celebrating 50 years of Hip-Hop."

If you’re looking for more opportunities to hear live music, consider going in search of some of the free live music you'll find on the streets of New Orleans.


7. Attend a Comedy or Musical

Although there are usually a few musicals, ballets, or operas to attend in New Orleans, most theaters aren't hosting much in July.

Here is what's on tap for July:

Musicals

Comedy


8. Check Out the Bastille Day Block Party

Due to its French roots, New Orleans likes to celebrate Bastille Day in a big way.

They celebrate with an annual block party on the closest Saturday preceding July 14th every year.

The block party takes place in the 3100 block of Ponce de Leon Street in the city’s historic Faubourg St. John neighborhood and includes live music, food and drinks, games, arts & crafts, and other family-friendly activities.

Although the event itself is free to attend, you can probably expect to pay for food, drinks, and other things from various vendors.

Note that on July 14th itself, the Alliance Francaise will have a Bastille Day Fête.

For more activities that won’t cost a dime, make sure to read our section covering free things to do in New Orleans this July.


9. Running of the Bulls

You don’t have to visit Spain to enjoy this classic event, because New Orleans also celebrates the Running of the Bulls.

Unlike the Spanish festival, no bulls are involved. RollerBulls (roller derby skaters with horns on their helmets) acts as the bulls.

This event is free to watch, but there is a cost to take part in the festivities.

If you intend to be a part of the show, make sure to wear red and white so that the “bulls” know who to target.

Events take place July 14th-16th, 2023. You can visit the NOLA Bulls website for tickets and additional information.


10. Attend the Monster Jam

If you're a fan of motorsport and like big trucks, this event is for you.

At the Jam you can watch Monster trucks compete in various races and in freestyle competitions.

Before the event, there are driver interviews, behind-the-scenes info with the Pit Crew, an opening ceremony, and more.

Events take place at Caesars Superdome on July 8th.

Tickets can be purchased here.


FREE THINGS TO DO IN JULY

In the following section, we will provide details about some of the best activities you can enjoy for free in New Orleans this July.

Don’t forget to take a look at our other sections for even more fun things to do that won’t cost a dime, such as a trip to the Sculpture Garden, the Bastille Day Block Party, Go 4th On the River, Running of the Bulls, and more.

For even more great ideas, check out our full post covering things to do for free in New Orleans.


Go on a Swamp Hike

There are a few different swamps you can visit in New Orleans without paying a dime, and each location offers a variety of fun activities for free.

The Barataria Preserve is protected by the National Park Service, and they have free trail maps you can use to take a self-guided tour.

bayou-sauvage-national

In conjunction with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bayou Sauvage also provides similar trail maps that can be used to hike through the area.

Alternatively, if you don’t feel like traveling very far, you can go to City Park to experience the Couturie Forest.

No matter which location you choose to visit, you’ll have the opportunity to see a wide range of wildlife including alligators, turtles, and over 200 different species of birds.

For more details, check our post covering swamp hikes in and around New Orleans.


Visit the House of Dance & Feathers

This museum features cultural artifacts related to the Mardis Gras Indians and other similar subjects.

Director Ronald W. Lewis welcomes visitors to experience a side of Mardis Gras's history that brings the community together.

Although they do accept donations, general admission is entirely free. 

It is also a stop on our self-guided Hurricane Katrina Tour.


Experience a Free Art Show

There are some great art exhibitions and galleries to see in New Orleans this July.

In addition to their permanent exhibits in the Louisiana History Galleries, the Historic New Orleans Collection will also have several limited exhibitions this month.

One of their most interesting shows is called "Yet She is Advancing": New Orleans Women and the Right to Vote 1878-1970.

There is also American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith which runs until October 2023.

NOTE: The permanent exhibits of The Historic New Orleans Collection are always free to visit, and admission to the National WW2 Museum is included with most New Orleans tourist passes.


Laugh it up at an Open Mic Night

There are several great venues in New Orleans that offer open-mic comedy shows every month. Some locations even provide a weekly show!

Open mic performances are usually free for all visitors, which means you don’t have to pay anything to get in and enjoy the laughs.

Even though you won’t have to worry about a cover charge, you might want to consider bringing some extra cash for tips and/or drinks.

You will find a full list of locations where you can enjoy free open mic shows in our post about free and cheap things to do in New Orleans.


Enjoy Live Music

Jazz fans won’t have much trouble finding live performances in New Orleans, but many of them will set you back a few bucks.

Thankfully, even if you’re running low on cash, there are performances that won’t cost you a thing!

Street performance has a long history in New Orleans, and many of the city's greatest musicians cut their teeth in the outdoors.

Typically, this scene is concentrated in the French Quarter - Jackson Square, Royal Street, and to a lesser degree Bourbon Street - but you'll also find some on Frenchmen Street.

You'll hear a mix of traditional jazz, jam bands, African instruments, brass bands, cover bands, singer/songwriters, solo violinists, and more.

Additionally, the Crescent City Farmer's Market offers free, live music 4 days a week, with the market taking place on Wednesdays at the French Market in the French Quarter. 

A daytime tour of the French Quarter is also a great way to encounter some street music alongside some history and sightseeing, and we offer several name-your-own-price French Quarter tours per day.


Go to a Free Wine Tasting

If you’re interested in trying out some new wines, drop into Faubourg Wines on Wednesday nights from 5 pm - 7 pm for their free wine-tasting event.

During this weekly activity, 3-4 different wines are selected and visitors are given the chance to taste all of them.

It is recommended to arrive before 6:30 pm if you want to have the opportunity to try all of the different flavors available.

No reservation is required, all you need to do is show up and participate in the activity!


THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT IN JULY

This section will cover some of the more interesting activities you can enjoy after dark in New Orleans this July.

Take a look at our other sections for more ideas such as free jazz music, Open Mic comedy shows, Go 4th on the River, ghost tours, concerts, and more.

You can find even more great things to do after the sun goes down in our full post about what to do in New Orleans at night.


Take an Evening Cruise

One of the best ways to see New Orleans is with a cruise on the Mississippi River, and there are a few different options available after dark.

Both of the major riverboat cruise companies in this city offer evening cruises with live jazz performances.

If you’re looking to make this a date night, you can also go on a dinner cruise and have a nice meal while listening to live jazz and enjoying the view.

Best of all, this service is actually included with both of the major New Orleans discount passes, allowing you to save a lot of money on tickets.

For more details on this activity, make sure to read our post about riverboat cruises in New Orleans.


Go on a Ghost Tour

New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in the United States, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there have been a lot of hauntings reported here.

In addition to potential supernatural activity, there have also been notable crimes and other creepy happenings in Louisiana throughout the years.

If you want to learn more about these subjects, we offer a pay-what-you-wish French Quarter ghost tour that covers a variety of interesting paranormal and crime stories.

We also have a pay-what-you-wish voodoo tour which covers the history of this religion in Louisiana.

In addition to these options, you’ll find several cemetery tours, pub crawls, and even vampire tours on our post covering haunted New Orleans tours.


Attend the Slidell Heritage Festival

Held in Slidell, just outside NOLA, the festival offers traditional Louisiana foods, family-friendly activities, and fireworks!

At the core of the festival is music. You'll hear blues, country, rock, and more - all live.

The Slidell Heritage Festival takes place July 1st at Heritage Park.

Gates open at 4 pm, music begins at 5:30 pm, fireworks are at 9 pm, and things close down at 11 pm.


Go 4th on the River

Celebrate the 4th of July downtown along the waterfront.

Enjoy free live music and a spectacular fireworks show shot off from dueling barges on the Mississippi.

There are no admissions and the show begins at 9 pm.


FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES IN JULY

This section will go into detail about some of the more kid-friendly attractions and events taking place in New Orleans this July.

Our other sections contain even more great activities for families such as Go 4th on the River, July 3rd celebrations, Audubon Zoo, the Bastille Day Block Party, swamp hikes, evening cruises, and more.

For even more ideas, make sure to read our post covering things to do with kids in New Orleans.


Visit a Plantation

The summer is an excellent time to visit one of the historic plantations in the New Orleans area.

These locations are kind of like museums, providing a look at what life was like during a different time in American history.

In addition to all of the things you can learn from visiting a plantation, these beautiful areas are full of natural flora and fauna that families will enjoy.

There are several different plantation tours you can take, and many of them are actually included with New Orleans tourist passes.

If you want to learn more about this opportunity, make sure to read our post about Louisiana plantation tours.


Grab a Sno-ball

When the weather gets hot, there’s nothing like a nice sno-ball to cool you down.

There are a lot of great places to get sno-balls in New Orleans, and they all provide a wonderful and delicious service during the summer months.

Check out this list of the best sno-ball stands in NOLA to find the closest location.

Although sno-balls are a great idea for families, other visitors may want to consider a more adult alternative.

Frozen Daiquiris are absolutely amazing, and you can find them at restaurants and bars all over New Orleans.

Check this list of the best places to get a Frozen Daiquiri in New Orleans.


Take the Kids to BB’s Stage Door Canteen

BB’s Stage Door Canteen at the National WW2 Museum holds “Kids Canteen" for children aged 5-13.

Kids are invited to take part in some hands-on crafting.

They'll also receive a selection of theatre snacks, and watch a kid-friendly WWII-themed movie.

For more information visit the Kids Canteen page.

Note that tickets to the National WW2 Museum are included with more than one New Orleans tourist pass.


Visit the Sculpture Garden

Located near the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park is the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. This is family-friendly, free, and open to the public.

Summer is one of the best times to visit this location, as you won’t have to worry about bad weather ruining your trip.

There are a variety of interesting sculptures and statues to see in this area, and they have expanded to include 26 works!

This sculpture garden will be open from 10:00 am - 6 pm every day.


Visit the Children's Museum

The Louisiana Children's Museum is a place that will keep your children entertained for hours.

There are a lot of hands-on activities that encourage learning, both indoors and out.

There are water activities. an edible garden, spinning chairs, toddler-focused exhibits arts and crafts, and so much more.

Visit their website for hours and to purchase tickets.


Go to a Plant Sale at City Park

Every month, the Botanical Garden holds a plant sale at the Pelican Greenhouse in City Park.

This time around, the event will be held on July 14th & 15th from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm, and admission will be entirely free.

Even if you don’t feel like buying any plants, this is a great opportunity to see a lot of flowers and other greenery with the kids.

Since it’s near the Botanical Garden, you may also want to stop by there and take a stroll through the area.

For even more fun activities while you’re here, check out our post about things to do in City Park.

About The Author

Sarah Hester

Sarah first moved to New Orleans in 2001 to work for the American Red Cross of Southeast Louisiana. While working in the communities of New Orleans she fell in love with the unique culture of the Big Easy; it's food, music, architecture, wildlife, and most of all history. Read More... Sarah began her career with FTBF, first as a guide, then as an owner/operator. She believes every day is a good day if she gets to impart her love of her beloved New Orleans with Free Tours By Foot guests. She especially likes to convert new Who Dat Saints Fans!
Updated: May 12th, 2023
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