May in New Orleans is the best of both worlds: gorgeous spring weather with a touch of summertime sun. Make the most of it by spending time outdoors strolling Magazine Street, exploring Bayou St. John and celebrating mom on Mother’s Day. Tune into WWOZ’s Festing in Place and get your favorite festival foods in celebration of Jazz Fest. Here are our top 10 things to do this May in New Orleans.
This time of year, we’d typically be suiting up in our festival gear and heading out to the fairgrounds for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which is traditionally held in the spring. While the festival has been rescheduled for October 2021, Thanks to WWOZ, we can still recreate the best of the fest from our own backyards, balconies and front porches. Tune into the radio station for the second weekend of live music rebroadcasts from April 29-May 2. On Friday and Saturday of that weekend, head over to Press Street Station and JAMNOLA for the chance to grab some of your favorite festival foods, including crawfish bread, crawfish pasta and rose-mint iced tea. Check out the food lineup here.
This year Cinco de Mayo falls on a Wednesday, even more of a reason to indulge in mid-week tacos and margaritas. Plenty of spots around town offer delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine. Check out our top spots for outdoor tacos and margaritas here.
Whether you’re celebrating your mom, grandma, aunt or friend, honor the special mom in your life on Mother’s Day, May 9. Take mom out to Sunday brunch at one of these spots, and enjoy the beautiful spring weather afterwards with a walk in the park. Better yet, let mom have the day to herself to relax at the spa. From 2-5 p.m. on Mother's Day, enjoy live music and mocktails in Coliseum Square Park with Preservation Brass and Mockly.
Sip, shop and stroll Magazine Street, a six-mile stretch of Uptown New Orleans that’s beloved for its bustling food, beverage and shopping scene. From May 7-9, businesses will offer sales, specials, extended hours in addition to free champagne. Remember to drink responsibly and remain socially distant from others. For more information on participating businesses, see here.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the US. Celebrate the contributions of Asian Americans by supporting local Asian owned businesses. New Orleans is known for its traditional Creole and Cajun dishes, but locals know that the city is also home to many great, authentic Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and Thai restaurants, and that’s just scratching the surface. Browse the restaurants and businesses here and enjoy supporting them all month long.
In lieu of Bayou Boogaloo, a festival traditionally held each year in mid-May, Bayou St. John will be primed for exploring this spring. Running throughout Mid-City, the bayou offers plenty of greenspace to relax and picnic, trails to walk, bike and run, plus various in-bayou activities, including kayaking and paddle boarding. Explore all that the bayou has to offer here, and be on the lookout for the rescheduled Bayou Boogaloo festival date.
Support Black artists and vendors at the New Orleans African American Museum’s monthly market. Hosted outdoors on the third Saturday of every month, the market showcases everything from jewelry and soaps to clothing and cosmetics. Stop by on May 15 and receive free admission to the museum as well.
Birdfoot Festival is an international chamber music fest held every May in New Orleans, and this spring it returns with a series of virtual music events, keeping the spirit of the festival alive and well. Tune on May 16 for a tribute to Beethoven from the Borromeo String Quartet and May 23 for a deep dive into Brahms featuring a trio of musicians. Learn more about the Birdfoot Festival here.
Enjoy the city on long Memorial Day weekend. There’s plenty to do in tribute to our troops, including visits to the National WWII Museum, where WWII veterans receive free admission and visitors with military ID receive discounted admission. Additionally, Memorial Day weekend is seen as the unofficial kickoff to summer, so pack the sunscreen and head out for a sno-ball, or enjoy a delicious meal outdoors in NOLA.
It may still technically be spring, but the sun is certainly out during May in New Orleans, making staying cool a priority on those days with spiking temperatures. Enjoy a lazy day poolside at your hotel or seek out a hotel with a visitor pass program for an impromptu pool day. The Ace Hotel, Drifter and NOPSI all offer hip spaces for non-hotel guests to enjoy the pool (call the hotels for more information).