10 Things to Do in New Orleans in Summer

The warm weather that comes with summer and the celebration of various cultural activities make New Orleans one of the most interesting American cities to visit.

Jhonfrank  Sánchez

Jhonfrank Sánchez

11 min read

10 Things to Do in New Orleans in Summer

Sunset in New Orleans | See1,Do1,Teach1

In the summer, the cultural mix that New Orleans is a product of can be celebrated by seeing or doing all that this city has to offer- check out the best ones here! At this time of year, the city's connection to Spain is felt at the Running of the Bulls, a race that adapts (more safely) Spanish bullfights.

Between July and August, African-American culture in New Orleans is celebrated at two events: Essence Fest and Satchmo Summerfest. But if you're looking to cool off, a trip to the World War II Museum on the Fourth of July or a dip in the Cool Zoo pools are just two of the options you can enjoy. Don't miss out on what summer brings!

1. San Fermin in New Orleans: take part in this peculiar party, where attendees must run away... but from girls on roller skates armed with plastic bats!

Participating in the Running of the Bulls| ©Mark Gstohl
Participating in the Running of the Bulls| ©Mark Gstohl

If you like to do sports in summer, the San Fermin in New Orleans or Running of the Bulls, as it is known in English, is for you.

It is an event that adapts the traditional Pamplona running of the bulls to a less dangerous but just as fun format.

This event is held during the first days of July, that is, at the beginning of the summer. Those who wish to participate can purchase a ticket starting at 28 euros. Spectators pay nothing.

During the event two sides are formed. One is the 'bull-girls', who chase the members of the other group; these girls wear a completely red outfit, skates, fake horns on their heads and at least one plastic bat, which they use to 'gore' the runners.

The other side is made up of the runners, who always wear white, with a red accessory, and can be both men and women.

Participants of the San Fermin in New Orleans must walk on the street at all times, as the sidewalk is reserved for adults and children who wish to observe the event.

For more information about the rules of this bullfight or the different ticket prices, check here the official website of the event.

Details of interest

  • Price: the ticket is available from 28 euros through the official website of the event.

  • Place: the race traditionally starts at the Sugar Mill in New Orleans.

  • Date: Early July.

2. Essence Fest: celebrates the African-American roots of New Orleans

At the Essence Fest| ©Nicole Mumphrey
At the Essence Fest| ©Nicole Mumphrey

To enjoy the different musical rhythms of African-American culture in New Orleans in the summer, you have no better option than to attend the Essence Culture Festival, or Essence Fest, as it is also known in English.

If you want to get your tickets for this event, which takes place the weekend of July 4th, you can do so through the festival's official website.

Participants of this event will have the opportunity to listen to live concerts of the best exponents of R & B, jazz, blues, hip hop, gospel, and funk of the moment. During this weekend you can also try different traditional foods or buy a souvenir at the artisan street market, another attraction of the festival.

Throughout the Essence Fest multiple conferences are also held, with the purpose of discussing the role that African traditions have played in the formation of the culture of New Orleans. This is a great option if you are interested in history and civic movements for the rights of racial minorities.

Details of interest

  • Price: the price of tickets for the festival concerts can be obtained from 70 euros.

  • Venue: the festival decides where it will be held each year. To find out the venue go to the event's website.

  • Date: it takes place during the weekend of July 4th.

3. Visit the WWII Museum during the 4th of July and enjoy the special activities of that day

Exterior of the WWII Museum| ©Chanse Arrington
Exterior of the WWII Museum| ©Chanse Arrington

In the summer, the World War II Museum is the perfect destination in New Orleans for those who want to learn more about American history.

But if your visit falls on July 4 (America's Independence Day), you'll also have the option of attending the museum's special Fourth of July activities free of charge.

From hearing America's most popular patriotic songs performed by the official New Orleans concert band to outdoor commemorative lectures, there are several surprises in store for you on this day of national rejoicing at the museum.

A tour of the museum's permanent exhibits

During the 4th of July, the Museum also offers discounts to visit its four permanent exhibitions ('The Arsenal of Democracy', 'Infamy: Remembering Pearl Harbor', 'Road to Tokyo', and 'Road to Berlin'), which tell the story of the United States' involvement in World War II from different perspectives.

The tour of the exhibits can take between two and three hours, depending on the amount of information you stop to read. The good thing is that the museum's indoor facilities are air-conditioned, so once inside you won't have to worry about the summer heat.

Details of interest

  • Price: around 28 €.
  • Location: 945 Magazine St.
  • Date: around July 4th.

Book your tickets for the World War II Museum of New Orleans

4. Attend the Tales of the Cocktail festival and discover the experience of tasting some of the most innovative cocktails of the moment

Tasting Cocktails| ©Helena Yankovska
Tasting Cocktails| ©Helena Yankovska

If your summer vacation in New Orleans is at the end of July, you will have the opportunity to attend the Tales of the Cocktail festival, the event that rewards the best of the cocktail industry worldwide.

At this festival, which is held annually, you will be able to taste a wide variety of original cocktails. You can purchase your ticket for this event here.

But the experience offered by Tales of the Cocktail goes beyond just drinking, as throughout the festival there are also several informative lectures that talk about the history of various famous cocktails, the methods of preparation of the most popular cocktails of the moment, and the bars that prepare them.

Interesting details

  • Price: the bracelet to enter the event is available from 170 euros.

  • Tickets: you can buy your bracelet directly from the festival's website.

  • Venue: traditionally this festival is held in the French Quarter (at the Hotel Monteleone). But I recommend you to check on the festival website, to be sure of the location of the event.

  • Date: end of July.

5. Participate in Whitney White Linen Night

Whitney White Linen Night| ©Gary Burke
Whitney White Linen Night| ©Gary Burke

Held every year during the first weekend of August, Whitney White Linen Night is one of the New Orleans cultural attractions you won't want to miss.

For this event, attendees, dressed in white (the ideal color to alleviate the summer heat), gather on Julia Street to stroll through the city' s main art galleries and enjoy a night of outdoor concerts and food tasting.

During this night you can participate in different artistic performances, ranging from urban theater performances to the creation of collective murals, in which each visitor can pick up a paintbrush to leave their personal mark.

All this within a party atmosphere animated by the most popular musical talents of the city.

For this event several of the most important restaurants in New Orleans also set up their food stalls in the street, offering free tastings and selling delicious local dishes and drinks.

This is an option not to be missed for those interested in taking the best food tours in New Orleans.

Details of interest

  • Price: Free to the public but some special concerts may require admission.

  • Venue: Warehouse District of New Orleans.

  • Date: First weekend in August.

Book a culinary tour of New Orleans

6. Enjoy an unforgettable night of jazz while celebrating the legacy of Louis Armstrong at Satchmo Summerfest

Satchmo Summerfest| ©Francesco
Satchmo Summerfest| ©Francesco

One of the most attractive tourist options in New Orleans during the summer, and one that you will surely want to visit if you are a jazz lover, is the Satchmo Summerfest.

This is a festival held every year at the beginning of August to commemorate the musical legacy of the legendary trumpeter Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong. Tickets for adults are available from 7 euros, while children under 12 get in free.

The program of this event includes everything from open-air concerts to commemorative lectures, which are held inside the New Orleans Jazz Museum (the festival's headquarters).

During the two-day Satchmo Summerfest you can enjoy classic jazz bands, contemporary jazz, and jazz fusion, among other subgenres.

Additionally, one of the stages is dedicated exclusively to children who wish to improvise or play a song. This is a great option for those looking for things to do in New Orleans with kids.

In addition to the music, another attraction of this festival is the food. Those who come to Satchmo Summerfest will be able to indulge their palate with some traditional dishes from the city, such as crawfish crawfish pie, shrimp in remoulade sauce, and chicken in sweet sauce, among others.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 7 euros you can buy tickets.

  • Tickets: can be purchased directly on the festival's website.

  • Venue: The venue of the event is in and around the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

  • Date: Held on the weekend coinciding with or following August 4 (Louis Armstrong's birthday).

7. Red Dress Run in New Orleans: have fun participating in this unique race

Participating in the Red Dress Run in New Orleans| ©Kim
Participating in the Red Dress Run in New Orleans| ©Kim

The unlikely combination of alcoholic beverages, red dresses and a race is what makes the Red Dress Run one of the most popular summer events in New Orleans.

Sponsored by the Hash House Harriers, an organization that bills itself as "a club for problem drinkers with a racing problem," this colorful competition is held the second Saturday of every August. Registering for the race costs just over €60.

To enter this race you need to be at least 21 years old, a red dress (men too!), and a glass for your drink.

The race route, which covers almost 5 kilometers, starts in Crescent Park, then heads into the French Quarter of New Orleans. Along the route you'll find multiple beer vendors to quench your thirst. If you qualify for the Red Dress Run, you can register here.

The event starts in the morning and ends in the afternoon, so you'll be happy to know that at several points along the route there are food stands waiting for runners or spectators who want to take a lunch break.

Another interesting fact is that all the money raised by the creators of the race is donated to New Orleans charities.

Details of interest

  • Price: Starting at 60 euros.

  • Tickets: can be purchased on the event's website.

  • Place: the race starts at the entrance of Cescent Park.

  • Date: held the second Saturday of every August.

8. Take a cruise on the Mississippi River and get to know New Orleans from a unique perspective, with a typical meal and jazz in the background

On the Mississippi| ©dennis dahn
On the Mississippi| ©dennis dahn

The weather in New Orleans during the summer is perfect for a cruise on the Mississippi River on a traditional paddlewheel steamboat. All members of the family can participate in this two-hour river tour. Tickets are available from 37 euros.

In addition to appreciating New Orleans from the river, these cruises offer other attractions, such as lunch or dinner on the waters of the Mississippi, tasting some of the dishes and cocktails typical of the city.

During these tours you can also enjoy jazz concerts or steam piano (better known as calliope ).

Book your cruise tour in New Orleans

9. Tour the Houmas House Plantation and discover what life was like inside this sugar plantation complex during the 19th century

Houmas House and Gardens| ©Frank Kovalchek
Houmas House and Gardens| ©Frank Kovalchek

During the summer, most tourists tour the interior of New Orleans, while the attractions on the outskirts of the city are less crowded.

So, if you want to visit an attraction free of crowds at this time of year, one of the best options is to visit the Houmas House Plantation, a plantation less than an hour from New Orleans.

It is a sugar complex, which includes a French-style mansion, gardens, 4 hectares of land for growing sugar cane and more than three sugar refining mills. Tickets for this impressive historical tour are available starting at 27 euros.

This historical tour is designed to entertain all members of the family. During your tour, your guide will take you inside the mansion, where a collection of everyday objects as well as some rare 18th century relics await you, all in excellent condition.

You'll also tour the property's elegant gardens, which are the natural jewel of the plantation and an ideal space for photo opportunities.

An interesting detail is that some of the staff at Houma House Plantation are dressed in pre-Civil War clothing. This helps tourists get a better idea of what life was like inside the plantation during the early decades of the 19th century.

Book your Houmas House Plantation Tour

10. Visit the Cool Zoo, New Orleans' most popular water park (plus, there are dedicated areas just for kids!)

At Cool Zoo| ©MJLope
At Cool Zoo| ©MJLope

In New Orleans, there's no better place to cool off from the summer heat than Cool Zoo, the water park for young and old located adjacent to the Audubun Zoo.

Tickets start at 23 euros and can be purchased directly on the park's website.

Inside the Cool Zoo you will find a water slide in the shape of a giant white crocodile (from whose mouth a water cannon shoots out), swimming pools (some dedicated exclusively to children), and an artificial river, whose slow riverbed is an excellent option for visitors who want to spend a moment of calm.

Those who want even more tranquility can reserve one of the cabins located on the Cool Zoo's artificial beaches, another of the park's magical attractions.

The Cool Zoo also has a restaurant and a candy store, where you can go to satisfy your hunger when it's time to eat.

New Orleans summer temperatures

Touring New Orleans| ©sprusak
Touring New Orleans| ©sprusak

Summer in New Orleans is the hottest time of the year, with an average high of 32.6°C (90°F) and an average low of 23.6°C (73°F). This means that if you travel to New Orleans at this time of the year you should make sure to stay well hydrated during your stay.

Due to the high temperatures, summer in New Orleans is considered part of the off-season in the city. For this reason, if you want to get to know New Orleans more calmly and free of crowds, summer may be the ideal time to do so.

What to pack to visit New Orleans in summer?

Preparing your luggage| ©Marissa Grootes
Preparing your luggage| ©Marissa Grootes

One thing you should not forget, if you want to visit New Orleans this summer, is that the high temperatures can make you sunburn, especially if you come from a place with a much less warm climate.

Having said that, the three essential items you should bring with you when visiting New Orleans in summer are sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat or cap to protect your head.