Spring is arguably the best time of year to explore New Orleans, and April is the highlight. With local festivals like French Quarter Fest and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival taking center stage, there’s so much to do this month. As the days lengthen, spending time outside becomes easier and the city is bursting at the seams with things to do. Allow us to recommend some of our favorites for April.
1. New Orleans Wine and Food Experience
The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE) brings special dinners and tasting events to downtown New Orleans during the first week of April, combining the city’s most celebrated restaurants with fine wines from around the world. Over 250 wineries and over 100 restaurants will be represented at this year’s event. NOWFE is perhaps best known for the Royal Street Stroll, a lively promenade down the French Quarter’s most beautiful street. Patrons can browse Royal Street’s art galleries and antique markets while stopping for wine tastings and food offerings along the way.
2. Take over Freret Street at the Freret Street Festival
It’s the biggest block party of the spring: this year’s Freret Street Festival takes place on Sat., April 6 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The fest will feature three music stages, 200 vendors, and plenty of food, beverages, and crafts. For those looking to add a new member to the family, Zeus’ Place will be on-site doing pet adoptions. The festival also includes a kids area for those looking for all-ages fun.
3. Chill out on a weeknight at Wednesday at the Square
The free downtown concert series known as Wednesday at the Square, kicks off in March and continues throughout the month of April with four more evenings of music: April 3, 10, 17, and 24. The musicians scheduled for the month of April include Irma Thomas with Johnny Sansone, Eric Lindell with Deltaphonic, Kermit Ruffins with Space & Harmony, and Marc Broussard with The Iceman Special. The 12-week concert series, which runs from 5-8 p.m., is free, but vendor booths offer food, drinks, and art for sale. Wednesday at the Square is a popular way for locals to unwind after a day at the office and for tourists to get acquainted with some of the city’s many beloved musicians.
4. Smell the roses at the Spring Garden Show
City Park’s Botanical Garden hosts the Spring Garden Show on Sat., April 6 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sun., April 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. While plants will of course be for sale, the show will also present lectures, more than 50 horticultural exhibits, live music, and a Children’s Discovery Zone. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children between the ages of 5 and 12 (children under 5 years old are free).
5. Sip local craft beer
The craft beer scene in New Orleans has exploded in the past few years, led by NOLA Brewing and Urban South, which boast famous local beers like Hopitoulas and Charming Wit. There are also small breweries in nearly every neighborhood, from Parleaux Beer Lab in the Bywater to Miel Brewery in the Irish Channel and Second Line Brewing in Mid-City. Most spots are dog-friendly and have pop-ups or food trucks for when you get hungry. As if you needed an excuse, April 7 is National Beer Day, so go ahead and pour a cold one.
6. Say hello to the animals at the Audubon Zoo
You’ve hear the song… “I went on down to the Audubon Zoo and they all asked for you!” Springtime is the perfect time to visit the monkeys, tigers, elephants, and alligators while you’re in New Orleans. Made up of 58 acres of animals in their natural habitats, Audubon Zoo ranks as one of the top zoos in the country. Favorite attractions include the sea lion pool, Monkey Hill (the disputed “highest point” in New Orleans), a Cajun houseboat, and the iconic white alligators.
7. Jam out with locals at French Quarter Fest
Arguably the most favorite free, local festival in the city, French Quarter Festival runs from April 11-14, 2019. What began in 1984 as a way to draw residents back into the Quarter following the World’s Fair and infrastructure improvements, French Quarter Fest now has over 20 music stages throughout the French Quarter and features local artists in genres as diverse as New Orleans Funk, Zydeco, traditional and contemporary jazz, brass band, and gospel. The festival is free to attend, but there are plenty of food and drink vendors throughout which support the festival.
8. Go for a bike ride
Enjoy the beautiful springtime weather and participate in Bike Easy’s Bike to Work Day 2019 on April 10. Don’t have a bike? No problem— rent a Blue Bike or go for a bike tour. Bike meetups will be held throughout the city before congregating in the Central Business District for coffee, food, and bike tune-ups from 7:30-9 a.m. If you don’t have to go into work after, enjoy some of the more than 100 miles of bike ways in the city, such as the Lafitte Greenway.
9. Run the Crescent City Classic
Springtime in New Orleans means more sunshine, longer days, and a chance to get out and enjoy the outdoors. A walk or run below an oak canopy or along the river are great ways to welcome spring. The city has numerous scenic trails, including the Couturie Forest in City Park, Crescent Park in the Marigny and Bywater, and the Lafitte Greenway. Put on a pair of running shoes and spend a morning or afternoon enjoying the outdoors. If you’re up for an organized run, sign up for the Crescent City Classic, a 10K run on April 20, which will show you some of the most beautiful parts of New Orleans.
10. Taste some Eggs Benedict at brunch
April 16 is National Eggs Benedict Day, so why not use this an an excuse to sample some of the best brunch spots in New Orleans, and more specifically, the best spots for Eggs Benedict in New Orleans. With locations all over the city, The Ruby Slipper is known for its wide selection of Eggs Benedict, including Eggs Cochon and Shrimp Boogaloo Benedict. For an extra-fancy Benedict, try Brennan’s Restaurant.
11. Grab a paddle board and explore Bayou St. John
This spring, rent a kayak or paddle board from one of several companies, such as Kayak-Iti-Yak, Bayou Paddlesports, or Massey’s for a paddle up and down Bayou St. John. Along Bayou St. John, paddlers can catch sights such as the historic Magnolia Bridge, the Pitot House, City Park, and maybe even a pelican. Don’t forget the sunscreen.
12. Don your Easter bonnet for the parades
New Orleans can hardly celebrate a holiday without a parade. Easter is no different. The Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade, put on by the multi-faceted entertainer who rides as the parade’s grand duchess, rolls through the French Quarter on April 21 at 1 p.m. The Gay Easter Parade, complete with drag, rolls at 4:30 p.m. The parades feature floats, horse-drawn carriages, marching groups, and trinkets. Everyone will be in their Easter best — or at least their interpretation of it.
13. Hit the golf course for the Zurich Classic
Every year the Zurich Golf Classic brings together some of the best in the sport of golf to compete for the title of Zurich Classic Champion. This annual leg of the PGA Tour is played in mid-spring, just 25 minutes outside of New Orleans in Avondale, La. at TPC of Louisiana. Sponsored by Zurich Insurance Group and organized by the Fore!Kids Foundation, this year’s Zurich Classic takes place April 22-28, 2019.
14. Don’t forget your chair for Jazz Fest
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, or Jazz Fest, is a highlight of every spring in New Orleans, but this year the festival celebrates 50 years. From its humble beginnings in 1970, Jazz Fest has grown into an eight day, two-weekend extravaganza with music, a large food market, artisan tents, crafts for sale, and more. While Jazz Fest organizers bring in big name performers (like this year’s Earth, Wind & Fire, Dave Matthews Band, and Katy Perry), arguably the most enjoyable way to spend a day at the Fair Grounds is listening to local musicians (try the Gospel or Blues tents, the Gentilly stage, the Jazz & Heritage stage, or the Fais Do-Do stage).
15. Peel some tails at NOLA Crawfish Festival
NOLA Crawfish Festival, which runs from April 29 to May 1 at Central City BBQ, is a relative newcomer to the local festival scene. Though the festival features both a crawfish cook-off and a crawfish eating contest, it is about more than just the food. Live music by Neville Jacobs, The Iceman Special, Samantha Fish, Anders Osborne, and several others provide some pretty solid entertainment while you suck the heads. Local brews will also be on sale to soothe lips burning from the spices.