Elizabeth Runnels knows that visiting an indoor skating rink is one of the best ways to escape New Orleans’ summer heat while staying active.

“It’s a fad that never died out,” said Runnels, manager of Airline Skate Center. “All ages from as young as 3 come and skate. We play Top 40 and old-school music, and we have a game arcade. There’s something for everyone.”

Whether it’s strapping on a pair of skates or gazing upon aquatic friends, everyone has a go-to place when the temperatures soar.

“When we need to escape indoors, we have our staples like the aquarium and the Children’s Museum for the kids. We like the indoor places where kids can work off a lot of energy,” said Elizabeth Ahlquist, owner of Blue Cypress Books and mother of three.

“The art museum is the big one for us,” she added, referring to the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park. Admission is free for children younger than 6, and it’s free on Wednesday, she said. “With kids, it’s super fun. Just don’t try to cover too much.”

With exhibits and regular programming that appeals to a variety of audiences, NOMA is fun to explore at any age.

“We have a consistent program every Friday. We have music from local musicians, a cash bar and art activities for every age,” said Allison Gouaux, communications and marketing manager at New Orleans Museum of Art.

“We also have a part of the program that changes, so we will have a lecture that coincides with an exhibition that we have on, or we will be showing a movie. Sometime we have gallery talks or tours,” Gouaux said.


The air conditioning always seems colder in a bowling alley, a traditional indoor gathering place.

A New Orleans institution, Rock ’n’ Bowl (3000 S. Carrollton Ave.), has everyone knocking down pins. Call ahead for lane availability at (504) 861-1700. Check online at www.rocknbowl.com for a full schedule of events. The alley opens at 11:30 a.m. on weekdays, and shoes are free until 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Lane hire is $24 an hour per lane with a maximum of six bowlers.

Downtown, Fulton Alley, 600 Fulton St., offers bowling for all ages from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. Parking at Harrah’s is validated, and during happy hour (5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and all day Friday) the first half-hour of bowling is free and the shoes are on the house. Daytime bowling is $30 an hour. For all events, go to www.fultonalley.com or call (504) 208-5569.

And at Colonial Bowling Center, 6601 Jefferson Highway, Harahan, 24 wood lanes beckon families, leagues and casual bowlers alike. Hourly rental is $25 per hour per lane, and the center is open all day.

Call (504) 737-2400 or visit www.colonialbowling.net.


Novice and seasoned skaters can get rolling to Top 40 music at Airline Skate Center, 6711 Airline Drive, Metairie. A variety of themed events, including disco nights, are held weekly — catering to everyone of all ages. $5 from 12:45 p.m., and $6 from 7 p.m. Skates are free.

Check online for a full schedule of events at www.airlineskatecenternola.com or call (504) 733-2248 for public skating availability and family skate times.

On the West Bank, Skate Country, 11 Terry Parkway, has a special summer schedule. The center holds special skate times for kids younger than 10, families, ladies, and adults who want to glide to R&B sounds. Prices and times vary; go to www.skatecountrywb.com or call (504) 392-2227.

And Skater’s Paradise in Slidell offers something for everyone, from lessons for beginners to speed-skating sessions. Prices are $4 to $6 an hour, and regular skates are for rent for $1. Skater’s Paradise is located at 1421 Gause Boulevard West; call (985) 643-0839 or go to www.skateslidell.com.

Get the bugs out

If your like bugs, you’ll love Tuesdays. Through the end of this year, Louisiana residents can visit the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, 423 Canal St., for just $2 every Tuesday.

Explore the museum, see bugs up close, and visit Bug Appetit for cooking demos and tastings of insects — an important food source in other parts of the world. Less adventurous (noninsect) treats are offered at the Tiny Termite Cafe.

Then, step into the butterfly garden, where hundreds of colorful butterflies flutter over koi ponds and among tropical plants.

The Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week throughout summer.

Regular admission is $16.50 for adults and $12.50 for children 2 to 12 years old. Call (504) 524-2847 or visit www.auduboninstitute.org/visit/insectarium for more information.


In March, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas opened the Great Maya Reef, which transformed the aquarium’s tunnel entrance into a watery arch of faux Mayan ruins, populated by real reef-dwelling sea creatures.

The interactive Geaux Fish highlights Louisiana’s fishing industry with interactive and hands-on activities such as casting a virtual reel and climbing on a fishing boat. Penguins and Gulf feeding times are always popular. Check online at www.auduboninstitute.org/visit/aquarium or call (504) 565-3033 for chat and feeding times. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week throughout summer. The aquarium is located at 1 Canal St. Ask about ticket packages when combining the aquarium with the insectarium.

Art after hours

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., offers art enthusiasts a chance to learn more about Southern art and music at Ogden After Hours. Live musical performances will prelude a discussion between a guest journalist and a musician. Plus there are art activities for the younger audience members to get into.

The Ogden Museum is free to Louisiana residents 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Thursday. Ogden After Hours is held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Thursday and is $5 per person. Call (504) 539-9650 or visit www.ogdenmuseum.org for more details.

New Orleans Museum of Art, 1 Collins C. Diboll Circle, City Park, continues to host its Friday Nights at NOMA throughout the summer, with Spanish-themed cooking demonstrations to coincide with its current exhibit, “Behind Closed Doors: Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492-1898.”

The Friday Nights at NOMA weekly program runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. It is included in the museum’s admission fee: $10 for adults and $6 for children 7 to 17 years old. Children younger than 6 enter free. Call (504) 658-4100 or visit www.noma.org for more information about exhibits and weekly programming.