New Orleans in August is sweltering under oppressive heat and humidity that make it hard to do much of anything outside except sit on porches and sip frosty drinks. Wait…that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
With hotel prices at their lowest and month-long COOLinary New Orleans discounts running at dozens of the best restaurants in town, August is actually a great (and money-saving) time to visit. Just prepare to spend a lot of time doing indoorsy things like having long, luxurious lunches; taking strolls through the city’s exceptional museums; hearing live music at night, and perhaps doing a bit of shopping.
Average highs in the afternoon are 89 degrees Fahrenheit, and that is pretty much constant every day, sometimes only reaching the mid-80s but also topping out in the mid-90s on some days. The worst news: the humidity. The chance of high humidity levels is close to 100 percent virtually every day in August, and that means it's oppressive and miserable. Nighttime lows average 78 degrees, and it rarely falls below 74. Silver lining: It's plenty warm enough to sit outside at bars in the French Quarter well into the middle of the night. The chances of rain on any given day is relatively high, nearly 60 percent at the beginning of the month and 46 percent by the end. But a storm won't cool things off for long; it just adds to the muggy factor.
What to Pack
You’ll obviously want comfortable, loose-fitting, summery clothes, but remember that Gulf Coasters like to cool their indoor spaces to Arctic levels, so bring a layer of some sort (cardigan, pashmina, light jacket) for restaurants, museums, and the like.
If you plan on eating in one of the old-line restaurants that require men to be in pants and jackets, know that the restrictions are not typically lifted during the summer months; you’ll still need these pieces of clothing if you plan on that kind of dining. And who would want to go to New Orleans and miss Commander's Palace, Brennan's, Antoine's, or other notable restaurants?
Women should also have appropriate clothes for upscale dining.
Since summer in New Orleans is known for frequent afternoon rain showers, a small folding umbrella isn’t a bad idea. And if you were clever or lucky enough to get a hotel with a swimming pool, don’t forget your swimsuit.
Annual August Event Highlights
These events occur annually in August.
COOLinary New Orleans (all of August): This promotion sees special discounted prix-fixe menus pop up at participating restaurants all over the city, including many old-line restaurants.
Satchmo Summerfest. This multi-stage event takes place throughout the French Quarter and features jazz and other music in the spirit of Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong.
Whitney White Linen Night. Revelers don all-white clothing to drink, dine, and stroll the contemporary art galleries of Julia Street, as well as the nearby museums, to a soundtrack of live music.
Dirty Linen Night. A lowbrow version of White Linen night brings people to the eat, sip, and stroll through the art and antique stores of Royal Street, ostensibly in their red-wine-stained clothes from 11 days before.
Red Dress Run. Hosted by the New Orleans Hash Hound Harriers — “a drinking club with a running problem” — this outrageous event sees hundreds of people, men and women alike, bedecked in red dresses and running through Crescent Park on the Mississippi Riverfront to raise money for charity.
Outside of Town
The rest of Louisiana is also fairly sleepy in August, perhaps even more so than New Orleans proper, but there is one particularly fabulous event worth making a day-trip for: the Delcambre Shrimp Festival(Aug. 16 to Aug. 20).
Delcambre (pronounced DEL-kum) is small shrimping community southeast of Lafayette that celebrates the town's most abundant export during this annual festival. Events include live music, a midway, a shrimp cook-off, and the annual "Blessing of the Fleet," a cherished Louisiana tradition that sees the local priest blessing the shrimping boats and the fishermen who ride them, wishing them abundant harvest and safe sailing.