How to Keep Your Cool in New Orleans

A survival guide to summer in a subtropical city

During February we couldn’t stop fantasizing about summer. Now in the thick of it, we can’t seem to find enough shade. Such is life in “the northernmost Caribbean city.” Where to chill when temperatures soar? Follow us.

The Eliza Jane Hotel New Orleans

Let’s All Go to the Lobby

Get out of your hotel room…and hang in the lobby. Not much happening where you’re staying? Head to the Eliza Jane, where you can spend an entire afternoon people watching and moving from one chic setting to the next. The Press Room Lounge—with its leather furnishings, velvet drapes and cozy living room feel—is ideal for curling up with a good read or a game of Scrabble. At the Ace Hotel, retro club chairs, deco lighting and dark tones impart a vintage train-station vibe. Settle in with a Sazerac at the front-and-center bar or a Cold Shot from adjacent Stumptown Coffee. International House visitors will find the lobby outfitted in “summer dress,” with winter rugs replaced by sisal and furnishings draped in white slipcovers. Check out the cool Banksy street art, while savoring rum-punched, summer-fruit granitas (think adult snoballs) from the hotel’s LOA bar.

Historic New Orleans Collection

Museum Meandering

The 19th-century Southern ritual of “summer dress” is also on display at the circa-1857 Gallier House, where chandeliers, gilded mirrors and beds are covered in bug-resistant netting and heavy draperies are packed away in favor lacy window coverings. The Historic New Orleans Collection’s free French Quarter Galleries also offer insight into local customs through three centuries of rare art and artifacts. The tandem “Art of the City: Postmodern to Post-Katrina” exhibit views things from a contemporary perspective. 

Audubon Aquriaum New Orleans

Star Attractions

Escape the heat by escaping reality for a few hours at the movies. For big family fun, head to the Entergy Giant Screen Theater at the Audubon Aquarium. Included in general admission, the aptly named, five-story facility offers daily screenings of the new 3D feature “Hidden Pacific,” in addition to others. At the Broad Theater in Mid-City there are four screens, reclining seats, an in-house bar and concessions ranging from popcorn and Junior Mints to chicken adobo, sisig rice bowls and other Filipino fare. Traveling with infants? During Thursday-morning BYOB (bring your own baby) screenings, sushi is the order. Old-school cool is the draw at the century-old Prytania Theatre, which mixes current releases with celluloid classics.

Hansen's Sno-Bliz

Have a Ball, Y’all

Boutique bowling is the name of the game at Fulton Alley, where the weekday happy hour (4 to 7 pm) helps players loosen up before rolling out. You can dance in the lanes at Rock ’n’ Bowl, where live bands perform most nights of the week; Wednesdays are devoted to swing music, Thursdays to zydeco. Mystery-room junkies will find their fix at Escape My Room, while foodies will want to dig into the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute’s fun and informative Enthusiast Courses. And what’s summer in New Orleans without a syrup-soaked snoball? At Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, (counted among “America’s Classics” by the James Beard Foundation), Ashley Hansen continues the sweet tradition her grandparents started during the 1930s.


Douglas Brantley
About the author

Doug serves as the New Orleans editor for Where. He has lived ...