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Best Local Things to Do

15 Things to Do in May in New Orleans

Bayou Boogaloo
The bayou comes alive with music, food, and culture during the Bayou Boogaloo festival in Mid-City May 15 -17, 2020. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Looking for things to do in New Orleans in May? “May” we suggest some ideas? Festival season is in full swing, and there is something new to discover every day with gorgeous weather and plenty on the agenda. Let’s go!

Jazz Fest (Photo: Paul Broussard)

1. Jam out at Jazz Fest

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, or Jazz Fest, is always magical, and this year the festival turns 51 years old. It has grown from a small neighborhood gathering to a two-weekend party with music, food, artisan tents, crafts for sale, and much more. The second weekend of Jazz Fest runs Thursday, April 30 to Sunday, May 3. For help navigating the weekend, check out our insider’s guide and a look inside the festival with our one-minute video.

2. Party at the zoo

Friday, May 1 brings an evening of food, drink, and music to the Audubon Zoo. This year’s Zoo-to-Do features samples from over 70 beloved New Orleans restaurants plus more than 40 specialty and full-service bars. The best part? Ticket proceeds benefit the Audubon Zoo.

Live music at Casa Borrega (Photo: Paul Broussard)

3. Sip a margarita in honor of Cinco de Mayo

There are lots of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the city, but we love a good frozen margarita from a local spot like Casa Borrega, El Gato Negro or El Pavo Real. See our complete guide to margaritas here. And you know what goes great with margaritas? Tacos.

4. Eat some shrimp

May 10 is National Shrimp Day and New Orleans is the perfect city to celebrate! Whether you’re in the mood for a chilled shrimp cocktail or a shrimp po-boy, Gulf Coast shrimp are hard to beat. For our favorite fried shrimp, check out Deanie’s or Katie’s! For some of our all-around favorite seafood picks, check our video with GoNOLA host, Fresh Johnson.

5. Find your zen with an outdoor yoga class

Somehow those planks and downward-facing dogs are more enjoyable when done outside, and May is the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy the weather. NOLA Tribe Yoga puts on outdoor yoga classes all over the city.

A New Orleans Crawfish Boil (Photo: Rebeccca Todd)

6. Peel some mudbugs at Crawfish Mambo

Spend Saturday, May 11 by Lake Pontchartrain, sampling dozens of crawfish boils cooked by teams competing for prizes and bragging rights. This year’s Crawfish Mambo will also feature a Crawfish Peel N’ Eat Competition, during which contestants from across the U.S. will compete by eating as much crawfish as they can in 10 minutes.

7. Enjoy the Spring weather at a local park

The weather is gorgeous in May, so spend a day reading a book or picnicking at a local park. There are beautiful green spaces all over the city – from large recreational spaces like City Park and Audubon Park to smaller neighborhood spots like Palmer Park and Coliseum Square.

Brennan’s on Royal Street (Photo: Paul Broussard)

8. Take mom to brunch for mother’s day

Your mom put up with a lot from you growing up, so doesn’t she deserve a special celebration…and maybe a brunch cocktail? We love the laid-back feel at Apolline, the classy decor at Brennan’s and of course… the pastries at Willa Jean!

9. View the expanded Besthoff Sculpture Garden

The New Orleans Museum of Art opened its doors to the newly-expanded Besthoff Sculpture Garden last May, and we’re still reveling in all of its beauty. The current site houses over 60 sculptures from renowned artists, and the six-acre addition includes 26 new works by primarily 21st century artists.

Bayou Boogaloo
Bayou Boogaloo (Photo Credit: Paul Broussard)

10. Boogie at Bayou Boogaloo

Bayou St. John fills up with local food, musicians, and artisans on May 15 16, and 17 for Bayou Boogaloo. This festival, located on the banks of Bayou St. John, is filled with leisurely locals in canoes and kayaks, swaying to the music on the water. Ticket prices start at $10.

11. Build your summer reading list

Independent bookstores are the best for creating that perfect summer reading list. Check out book shops like Octavia Books, Faulkner House Books, Tubby & Coo’s, Blue Cypress Books, and more. You’ll find everything from funky local cookbooks to national bestsellers.

12. Visit the National World War II Museum in honor of Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to visit the National World War II Museum, a must-see for all patriots and history lovers, which has been designated America’s official WWII Museum by the U.S. Congress. Through interactive exhibits, visitors learn about America’s role in the war and on the Home Front.

Greek Fest (Photo: Paul Broussard)

13. Have some Mediterranean treats at Greek Fest

From May 22 to 24, enjoy a celebration of Greek culture at the New Orleans Greek Festival, hosted at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral by its congregation. Sample delicious Greek food like goat burgers and feta fries, learn Greek dances and sample ouzo, a traditional Greek liquor.

14. Get scared at Overlook Film Festival

Love horror movies? You’ll enjoy watching some at the Overlook Film Festival from May 28 to May 31 in the French Quarter. This historic neighborhood is rumored to house ghosts, curses, and various spooky sightings and legends, and is the perfect backdrop for this horrifying festival.

Hansen’s Sno-Bliz (Photo: Paul Broussard)

15. Cool off with a Snowball

Grab a spoon, slurp through a straw, or rock the spoon and the straw — there is no wrong way to dive into this cool, icy, delicious treat. Locals have passionate debates over which stand has the most pillowy-soft ice. Try them all out and decide for yourself!

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