New Orleans locals are constantly reminded of their proximity to one of the nation’s largest tourist attractions – between bike and bus tours, bead-wearers in business suits and backpack-toting streetcar riders, locals consistently encounter vacationers throughout the year. How fortunate we are though to be in a city so enchanting and full of life that people will spend days exploring its magnificent history and culture. New Orleans is a perfect location for the summer “staycation,” with its variety of experiences and offerings that can make even locals feel far from home.

Whether you’re looking for family fun, a weekend with friends or a romantic getaway, a number of French Quarter and CBD hotels offer a home away from home, even if home is just down the block. Between charming French Quarter courtyards, the welcoming waters of swimming pools or the free entertainment that comes with a street-view balcony, the one-of-a-kind atmosphere provided by area hotels can enhance a staycation.

“We have for many years seen our loyal clients coming back again and again to the French Quarter, and a surprising number are always local or from the Northshore during the summer,” says Craig Hulford, General Manager of the New Orleans Hotel Collection, which includes the famous Bourbon Orleans and the boutique Hotel Le Marais among other properties. “They have told us that they find it relaxing to take a ‘staycation’ as it has become known during the slower season to reconnect with the wonderful restaurants and cultural attractions of the French Quarter,” says Hulford.

Situated between the Marigny and French Quarter, the grand Melrose Mansion offers convenient access to a couple of the city’s liveliest neighborhoods.

Summer in the City
Melrose Mansion

“The grandeur of the historic main house, the tranquility of the private grounds and the singular poolside glimpse of Esplanade Avenue offers locals the sense of being somewhere else and somewhere familiar all at once,” says Kenny Marrs, General Manager of the French Quarter Hotel Collection. “Glad” to welcome locals year-round, the Melrose Mansion is offering readers a 10 percent discount with promo code GLAD.

With a location on the opposite side of the French Quarter, the Hampton Inn & Suites New Orleans Convention Center is just steps away from the World War II Museum, The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Harrah’s Casino, Fulton Alley, Entergy IMAX Theatre and The Shops/Theaters at Canal Place.

“The area we are located in is filled with new eateries and packed with museums and art galleries,” says Kiki Mannear, Marketing Support Manager. “The location allows you to see more than the French Quarter, which is just a short walk from our doors,” she says.

Things to do and places to see obviously abound across the city, but one particular compact area offers more than many locals may realize. The French Market District is appreciated by tourists for its reputation as a one-stop-shop for all things New Orleans, but it’s much more than souvenirs.

“We have wonderful free offerings pretty much every day, whether it’s a jazz piano concert, walking tour, cooking demonstration, children’s workshop or concert or farmers market,” says Amy Kirk, Marketing Director. This July, the 29th annual “Creole Tomato Festival” returns to the market with a new Abita Beer Main Stage located at the Old US Mint. In August, the Abita Springs Opry returns to the Farmers Market every Saturday that month.

Located centrally in the French Quarter, Martin Lawrence Galleries is a popular stop for art-loving tourists and certainly worthy of local attention as well.

“Locals who have not yet discovered Martin Lawrence Galleries may not know we exhibit and sell original fine art, including original Rembrandt, Picasso, Chagall, Warhol, Erté, Deyber, Murakami and more,” says Mary Coxe, Gallery Director. Additionally, the gallery hosts monthly exhibits of contemporary and modern artists, each with their own Artist Reception. This month, Martin Lawrence exhibits ‘New Modern Artist’ René Lalonde with a collection of works that spans from the psychedelic 1960s to today. (Artist Reception will be held Saturday, June 20, 6-8 p.m.)

If you’re planning a more family-oriented staycation and need to entertain the little ones, the Louisiana Children’s Museum presents an option for indoor, air-conditioned fun that comes with a healthy dose of learning.

“Our education team prepares and plans for new experiences each week of the year, ensuring that every visit to the Louisiana Children’s Museum builds on prior knowledge and sparks curiosity for future exploration and discovery,” says Julia Bland, CEO. With two floors of interactive exhibits and weekly programs, the museum also features some well-known New Orleans highlights: the Mississippi River and the Little Port of New Orleans, Jackson Square, and southern food at the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation Kids’ Café.

With kids in tow, another great local spot for fun and laughs is New Orleans City Park. With attractions such as the Ladybug Roller Coaster in the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park and mini-golf at City Putt, City Park is undeniably one of the city’s greatest assets for outdoor fun. According to John Hopper, Chief Development Officer, adults taking a staycation and looking to beat the heat while enjoying the park should check out the verdant and shade-filled Botanical Gardens.

Summer in the City
New Orleans City Park

“Stroll at a leisurely pace, rest a spell in one of the swings and take in all the beautiful plants. When you’re done, head over to Morning Call for an iced coffee,” he suggests.

Located on the edge of the park, Ralph’s on the Park is a convenient stop for dinner and drinks and boasts a relaxing atmosphere with its large windows overlooking the centuries-old oaks. This month, the restaurant revives its annual summer small plates promotion, which features three appetizers and a glass of wine for an enticing price.

Summer in the City
Ralph's on the Park

“It’s a light way to dine during the warm summer months and an exciting and easy way to sample all the options,” says Executive Chef Chip Flanagan. Sharing is encouraged and allows guests the ability to taste a number of small plates from Flanagan’s inventive menu.

A vacation isn’t complete without a leisurely summer brunch, and a staycation shouldn’t miss out on a boozy breakfast either. The good news for locals is that you don’t have to wait for the weekend at The Court of Two Sisters.

“Jazz Brunch is not just served on Sunday at The Court of Two Sisters, but seven days a week!” says Michelle Fein Morantez, Director of Marketing. Morantez recommends dining in the courtyard while listening to a jazz trio and enjoying a variety of traditional New Orleans dishes such as jambalaya, turtle soup, shrimp etouffée and grits and grillades. “Variety” is the key here, too, as Court of Two Sisters’ jazz brunch is an epic buffet full of both hot and cold dishes that change with the season and the time of day.

Indulging is the name of the game with a staycation, and don’t forget a little pampering as part of your locally sourced vacation. Located Uptown in the Riverbend area, Le Visage Day Spa is a great destination for rejuvenation of the body and mind. When you walk in, expect something special. Owners and skincare gurus Patricia Bereciartua and Marlen Mendares have eschewed standard services for personalization. Every client coming for facial, massage or nail service will have their treatment tailored to their specific needs for maximum benefit. As well as taking care of their loyal clienteles, they ensure that clients also benefit from products incorporating the latest technology and highest quality ingredients.  A well chosen retail section makes it hard to leave for clients to leave without picking a little something extra to go with their guaranteed glow.

In similar fashion, Waxing the City is another local business looking to build confidence and comfort in locals aiming to hit the town.

“Our goal is to make our clients feel confident and smooth in the skin they are in,” says Amanda Cannon, owner. “As we all know, summer in New Orleans is hot. Waxing is the perfect way to get ready for shorts, tanks, dresses, and swimsuits,” she says.

Waxing the City employs highly trained cerologists (estheticians) and uses a gentle wax exclusive to the company. The studio offers 50 percent off your first service, and according to Cannon, you will be hair-free for a minimum of 1-2 weeks, plenty of time to enjoy the city’s extensive vacation options.

Summer’s here, and so are you. Time to make the best of it! Stay and play – it’s as simple as that.

New Orleans Hotel Collection
(855) 798-6642 •

Melrose Mansion / French Quarter Hotel Collection
937 Esplanade Ave. • 944-2255 •

Hampton Inn & Suites New Orleans Convention Center
1201 Convention Center Blvd. • 566-9990

French Market Corporation
1008 N. Peters, 3rd Floor • 522-2621 •

Martin Lawrence Galleries
433 Royal St. • 299-9055 •

Louisiana Children’s Museum
420 Julia St. • 523-1357 •

New Orleans City Park
1 Palm Drive • 482-4888 •

Ralph’s on the Park
900 City Park Ave. • 488-1000 •

Court of Two Sisters
613 Royal St. • 522-7261 •

Le Visage Day Spa
8110 Hampson St. • 265-8018 •

Waxing the City
4121 Magazine St. • 899-1500 •