What to Do in February in New Orleans
This post covers things to do in February in New Orleans, including a top 10 list, some free activities, things to do at night as well as with kids. February has Mardi Gras and Carnival Season, so parades, parades, parades. But that’s not all. If you are coming at the start or end of the month, then you might want to read our January and March guides.
This list features some of the most exciting and entertaining activities that you’ll find in NOLA during the month of February. We will mention if an item in the top 10 is also free, family-friendly or part or a good nighttime option, but you could also click on these options at the top of the page to take you to these sections for more ideas. For tips on the most popular activities in New Orleans, check out our ghost, swamp, plantation, and riverboat tour posts.
1. Mardi Gras
It’s hardly a question that February is the most exciting month to visit New Orleans, as the carnival season is in full gear this month featuring a slew of festivities. The Krewe of Cork (February 2nd) is the first parade you can catch this month, one of many “micro-krewe” parades devoted to niche interest and characterized by a uniqueness not seen in the “super-krewes”. There are countless parades to catch between the 2nd and 13th of February so be sure to check out the complete schedule. Check out our Q+A on Mardi Gras.
If you are traveling with children you’ll want to visit some of the many parades designed with kids in mind. Complete with high-tech LED lighting and 3D figures amongst massive floats, including the Pontchartrain Beach float featuring 250 riders, there are lineups in downtown, uptown, and Metairie that the little ones will take joy in. Here’s a great resource for Mardi Gras with kids.
Dog lovers will definitely want to catch the only Mardi Gras krewe created for dogs, the Krewe of Barkus. This one of a kind lineup features dogs dressed in festive costumes that is just too cute to miss. The Presbytère museum located in the French Quarter occupies a permanent exhibit: Mardi Gras, It’s Carnival Time In Louisiana, offering a look into the annual celebration. In addition to the festive costumes on display, there are floats which visitors are welcome to climb atop and Mardi Gras records on display.
2. New Orleans Pelicans
A great family-friendly option to consider in the evenings is attending a home game of the NBA, New Orleans Pelicans. Located in the Smoothie King Center, home games for the Pelicans take place several times this month.
3. Black History Month
There are plenty of great things to do to celebrate Black History Month in New Orleans. Whitney Plantation, located on the famous River Road just outside the city offers visitors a unique look into the lives of colored people in the antebellum south. The plantation serves as a museum featuring artwork, narratives and restored buildings that capture the conditions of the slaves who worked on the plantation. While the Whitney is the only plantation that focuses solely on the experience of enslaved people, each area plantation takes on this subject with care. Read our full post comparing the different plantations in the New Orleans area.
In addition, there are several other museums to consider, such as the New Orleans African American Museum and Le Musse de F.P.C. You’ll also find several different events and special programming throughout the city, which are well worth attending. For those looking for live music, the Audubon Zoo hosts an annual special event towards the end of the month, “Get Yah Praise On”. This event is a gospel showcase featuring performers from throughout the region.
4. Prospect 4 Lotus Fest
Prospect New Orleans is a citywide art exhibit that occurs every 3 years. This year’s theme, “Prospect 4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp” celebrates the natural environment of New Orleans and its relationship with jazz music, customs, food, religion and the people of New Orleans. The exhibits are spread all throughout the city and represent artists from all over the world. This fundraising event will continue through the end of February, so take advantage of the many opportunities to see the different interpretations of this year’s theme.
5. Valentine’s Day
New Orleans is a great place to be during Valentine’s Day as the city boasts plenty of romance throughout the charming French Quarter to the Garden District and City Park. In addition to the many restaurants that line the coziest areas in the city, New Orleans is one of the few U.S. destinations where you can visit authentic French bakeries. There are plenty of romantic spots to take a stroll along the riverfront, shop for custom jewelry along Royal St, and you could always consider a moonlight ride on a paddlewheel steamboat.
6. Church in the Crescent
The Church in the Crescent is an exhibit exploring the Catholic Church’s three centuries in the crescent city. Held at the Old Ursuline Convent, this showcase focuses on the St. Louis Cathedral from its beginnings as a small wooden church to its present-day structure. In addition to uncovering the history of Catholicism in New Orleans, this exhibit features records and artifacts dating back to the late 1700’s. Visitors will also learn of the importance of the Ursulines Sisters and their contribution to education in New Orleans.
View their website for more information.
7. Kayak on Bayou St. John
Located in the city, Bayou St John is one of the oldest neighborhoods in New Orleans. The bayou once served as an early settlement for French colonist and even more famously as a ceremonial ground for Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. A stroll by kayak offers the visitor a unique perspective of the neighborhoods many historic homes and landmarks as well as City Park.
TIP: Visit our blog post Esplanade Avenue & Bayou St. John as well as the section on kayak rental and tour companies in our comparison post of New Orleans Riverboats, Paddleboats and Cruises, for more info.
8. Visit the Garden District
The Garden District is a must-see neighborhood in New Orleans most notable for its historic mansions. We offer a free self-guided tour of the district that is a great activity to consider for families. Your tour will begin at The Rink, before being led through Lafayette Cemetery #1, the third oldest cemetery in New Orleans. The Garden District is home to some of the most architecturally stunning homes and mansions in the city, many of which you will see on the tour.
TIP: Join us on our guided tour of the Garden District with Lafayette Cemetery to get the most out of this historic district. Our tour runs daily, sometimes twice a day.
9. Bourbon Street
Located in the famous French Quarter, Bourbon Street is the biggest tourist destination in New Orleans. There are bars, burlesque clubs and live music venues that extend 11 blocks, but there is also a rich history of Bourbon that extends back to the 18th century. You’ll find no shortage of activities to do in this area especially during the beginning of the month as the Mardi Gras celebrations are well underway. Iconic bars and spots include Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and the Old Absinthe House. Of course, there is no shortage of live jazz to be heard, but perhaps the most popular takes place in a 200-year-old building, Fritzel’s European Jazz Club.
Read our post on things to do on Bourbon Street.
10. Watch the Harlem Globetrotters
Always a great option for families, the Harlem Globetrotters will be in the Crescent city February 17th at the Smoothie King Center. If you’ve never attended a Harlem Globetrotters game before this is a great opportunity to take advantage of. A combination of basketball, theatre, and comedy this exhibition is unlike any other.
There is no need to spend an abundance of money while visiting the Crescent City this month. There are plenty of free things to take advantage of that range from live music to visiting some of New Orleans most popular attractions. Several items listed in our top 10, family-friendly, and nighttime event sections, such as Mardi Gras Parades, art markets, Family Gras, or just strolling around the Garden District are also free of charge. We offer a wide range of free, self-guided walking tours that you’ll want to consider, including tours of the French Quarter, the Garden District, and a few cemeteries.
Check out our post on the Best Free (and almost free) Things to do in New Orleans for even more ideas.
Bayou Sauvage Swamp
Spanning across 24,000 acres, Bayou Sauvage is a National Wildlife Refuge just 15 minutes from the French Quarter. There is an abundance of wildlife and plant life to observe including alligators, snakes and indigenous marsh grasses. The refuge contains a variety of different habitats including lagoons, canals, freshwater and brackish marshes. This is a great activity to consider if you’re interested in getting off the beaten path and viewing the swamplands up close by foot, canoe or kayak. In addition to Bayou Sauvage, Jean Lafitte National Park is also a free swamp experience, though you will need a vehicle to get to both.
For a more organized tour and a boat ride of area wetlands, be sure to read our post on choosing a swamp tour in New Orleans.
DIY Katrina Tour
If you’re interested in visiting the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina and the revitalization of those areas since the storm came through the city, then consider our Hurricane Katrina self-guided tour. Our tour is set up in such a way that it can be done in 2-3 hours by car and 5 hours by bike. There are 15 stops that cover everything from the Presbytere (which holds a permanent exhibit dedicated to Hurricane Katrina) to St. Claude Ave.
Be sure to check out our other self-guided tours of New Orleans.
Historic New Orleans Collection
Located in the 1792 Merieult House at 533 Royal Street, the Louisiana History Galleries offers visitors a comprehensive introduction to the city and its rich history. This permanent exhibition features documents and artifacts that date back to pre-colonial times and extend through Hurricane Katrina. There are 13 galleries set up in chronological order where visitors will see rare items such as the coded letter about negotiations of the Louisiana Purchase from France sent to Thomas Jefferson by a US agent. There is also audiovisual content including clips of music from a 1736 manuscript collection of songs used by Ursuline nuns.
TIP: There are plenty of other museums to visit in New Orleans that have free days or hours including The Old U.S. Mint and Newcomb Art Gallery.
As the sun goes down in NOLA and the temperatures cool, it’s time to take advantage of the city’s exciting nightlife. There are plenty of things to do in the evenings especially during the beginning of the month as the carnival season will still be underway. From the provocative bars and burlesque clubs on Bourbon Street to romantic dinner cruises, you’ll find no shortage of activities to keep you bustling throughout the night. A few things mentioned in our top 10 section, such as attending a Pelicans basketball game or dinner on Valentine’s Day are also great night options.
Check out our post on 16 Things to do in New Orleans at Night for even more ideas.
See a Mardi Gras Parade
Many of the Mardi Gras (Carnival) parades begin in the evenings, lighting up the streets for hundreds of onlookers to enjoy. There are parades as early as February 5th that begin at night including super-krewes like the Orpheus and Bacchus. Between the 5th and 13th, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to catch these spectacles in Uptown, Metairie, Mandeville, and Covington. See the complete schedule to be sure not to miss out.
Check out our Q+A on Mardi Gras.
Night Arts Markets
Located on Frenchmen Street in the heart of Marigny, the Palace Market is a unique, open-air art exhibit featuring the works of hundreds of locals. String lights line a path full of colorful canvases and handmade art where visitors can meet and buy from the artist themselves. The market stays open until 12 am and is free to attend. Alternatively, on St. Claude Ave, The Art Garage offers visitors a similar experience. Both spaces have events from time to time that range from live art to paint workshops.
TIP: Visit our New Orleans, Frenchman Street post for great places to hear live music in the popular area.
Nola City Light’s
A truly unique way to explore New Orleans, Nola City Light’s puts participants on candy-colored, LED lit-up bikes complete with Bluetooth speakers to connect their favorite tunes. You’ll be guided through some of the main attractions in the downtown area before exploring the French Quarter. There will also be quite a bit of bar hopping and a chance to take in the music scene at some of New Orleans most popular spots. Learn more on their website.
Dinner Cruise on Mississippi
Another great activity to consider doing at night is a combination of fun and enjoying a bite to eat. There are evening jazz cruises that combine a ride on a steamboat with live music and delicious food. The Steamboat Natchez is a great option that offers skyline views of the French Quarter and can be enjoyed by couples and families alike. There are even discounts for children aged 6 – 12.
TIP: Visit our New Orleans Riverboats, Paddleboats and Cruises post to compare the different options.
Located on St. Peter Street in the French Quarter, Preservation Hall is dedicated to bringing audiences authentic, traditional New Orleans Jazz music in an acoustic performing space. There are plenty of opportunities to catch a jazz show this month, check out the calendar to get tickets to a show.
Read our post on Preservation Hall for more information on tickets and schedule.
Bust Out Burlesque
Located on Bourbon Street, Bustout Burlesque features authentic, 1950’s style striptease performance accompanied by a live band. There are a few shows slated for February all taking place at the famous House of Blues. This is a variety show like none other and features award-winning acts including Miss Stormy Gayle (Queen of Burlesque 2015) and Ginger Valentine (Queen of Burlesque 2011).
Below you’ll find a few ideas for things to do with kids in February. Many of the ideas listed in our top 10 section are kid-friendly including some of the parades during Mardi Gras and attending one of the Pelican basketball games. We also have a guide to New Orleans with kids for more family-friendly ideas for any time of year. We offer many walking tours that the kids will enjoy that you can check out here.
Family-Friendly Mardi Gras Parades
The beginning of the month is commanded by parades almost every day throughout the city. There are super-krewes and micro-krewes with lineups in both the mornings and evenings. Several of these parades are designed with children in mind, featuring huge 3D figures and lots of LED lights. You’ll find no shortage of lineups in uptown, downtown, and Metairie. Check out the complete schedule of kid-friendly parades.
This year Family Gras falls on Friday (February 2nd) and Saturday (February 3rd). This is a great activity for families to enjoy that is also free. There will be plenty of festive foods, artwork from locals and live music. This event takes place in Metairie, so you’ll also have the opportunity to catch one of the many parades going through this area.
Ride the Streetcar
In New Orleans, trolleys are called streetcars and they are quintessential to the Crescent City. This activity is great for families looking for a leisurely way to explore New Orleans. There are currently 5 streetcar routes that cover everything from City Park to the Garden District. Each route has its own special highlights to consider before embarking. TIP: Visit our blog post on New Orleans Streetcars for information on how to ride and highlights from each route.
Now, we think our pay-what-you-like tours are great for families. However, there are other ways to tour the city with kids. One is to explore the board a double-decker bus. There is only one traditional hop-on, hop-off bus service in the city that makes a total of 10 stops. You’ll visit places like the French Market, Bourbon Street, Jackson Square and even the Superdome. There’s a wide range of both history and mystery to be uncovered that is enjoyable for all ages. Check out our post for Hop-On, Hop-Off New Orleans Bus Tours for more information.
There are also tours of the French Quarter designed especially for kids! You’ll find a uniquely designed tour for different age groups like the “Spooky Tour” for ages 5 – 10 years and tween and teen tour. Check out the schedule here.
We also have a guide to New Orleans with kids for more family-friendly ideas for any time of year.