The Best Things to do in New Orleans in May

The 11 Best Things to Do in New Orleans in May (2024)

There’s really no bad time to visit New Orleans, but May really is one of the best. Not only are you avoiding the chilly winter months and the hot and humid summer months, but visit New Orleans in May, and you’ll have the chance to attend some of the city’s best annual festivals and events. 

Plus, the food and beverage scene is second to none in New Orleans, which means you’ll get to spend your trip sampling all the seasonal creations dreamed up by New Orleans’ best chefs and mixologists!

Planning a trip to New Orleans in May? To help you get the most out of your spring trip, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in New Orleans in May for you. Pick your favorite spring activities from this list, and you’re bound to have an amazing May vacation to the Big Easy.

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 11 Best Things to Do in New Orleans in May

The 11 Best Things to Do in New Orleans in May 

1. Sample Seasonal Beignets at NOLA Brunch and Beignets 

Best Things to do in New Orleans in May: Nola Brunch and Beignets

Eating all the beignets is a must whenever you’re in NOLA. But if you’re visiting New Orleans in May, be sure to add the beignets at NOLA Brunch and Beignets to your “things to eat” list. 

Each month, they offer a “seasonal beignet flavor,” and while the flavors change every year, past May flavors have included a Mangonada Beignet and a Peach Cobbler Beignet with a spiced peach and cream filling topped with peaches, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

Much more than just beignets, this is also an excellent place to have an alfresco brunch.

2. Let Loose at Bayou Boogaloo

If you’re planning to be in New Orleans in mid-May, attending the Bayou Boogaloo festival is easily one of the most fun things to do in New Orleans in May. This annual festival takes place in Mid-City on the banks of Bayou St. John. Expect live music on four stages, over 30 food and drink vendors, an arts market, a family village, and more.

Because of the festival’s location on Bayou St. John, this is a sort of a half-land, half-water party, and many festival-goers take to the water in their paddle boats and kayaks! In years past, Bayou Boogaloo has attracted over 30,000 attendees and has cost $25 for a single-day pass and $45 for a weekend pass. Proceeds are reinvested in the Bayou St. John community.

3. Eat Asian for AAPI Heritage Month

Cool Things to do in New Orleans in May: AAPI Heritage Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, so what better way to celebrate than eating your way through some of the best AAPI restaurants in NOLA?

It might come as a surprise to some but Vietnamese food plays a huge role in New Orleans’ food scene. To dig into some of the city’s best, try the pho at Lilly’s Cafe, get a Vietnamese-Cajun seafood boil at Mukbang Seafood and Bar or BOIL Seafood House, or grab a banh mi at Le’s Baguette Banh Mi Café.

Not in the mood for Vietnamese? Go to Dian Xin for Chinese, visit LUVI Restaurant for Japanese-Chinese fusion, grab Indian at James Beard-nominated Saffron, or do Thai at SukhoThai. When it comes to outstanding Asian restaurants, New Orleans has got you covered!

4. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Unique Things to do in New Orleans in May: Cinco de Mayo

Planning to be in New Orleans on Cinco de Mayo and wondering where to celebrate? Well, there are plenty of Mexican food restaurants around town serving up tacos and tequila for the occasion. But if you want to go all out, get tickets for Los Jefes Grill’s annual Cinco de Mayo Fest

Held at Fat City Park, this two-day festival features two stages with live music and DJs, 10+ food vendors, and a taco-eating contest with 20+ participants. Expect the margaritas and tequila to be flowing! Oh, and Los Jefes Grill will be dishing out their gourmet tacos if you need something to soak up all that booze.

5. Celebrate National Hamburger Day

Fun Things to do in New Orleans in May: National Hamburger Day

National Hamburger Day is on Friday, May 28. If you happen to be in New Orleans in late May, treat yourself to one of the best burgers in town at The Company Burger

What makes this place stand out from the rest is that they grind and form their own burger patties using all-natural hormone and antibiotic-free prime beef. They also make their own buns, pickles, mayo, onion rings, and hand-cut fries. 

The menu is simple with “The Company Burger” being a classic burger with two thin patties, B&B pickles, red onions, and American cheese with the option of adding a fried egg and/or bacon. Or, try something more unique like the Lamb Burger with feta, basil mayo, red onions, and a chili mint glaze! 

Plus, they’re always dreaming up creative burgers and boozy beverages, which they offer as weekly specials. No matter what you order, be sure to ask your server about the shake of the month.

6. Attend the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

One of the top events in New Orleans in May, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is a must. This massive 10-day festival usually starts at the end of April and continues into early May. It features multiple stages with legendary musicians and emerging talents. 

This festival is all about food, too. So expect over 70 vendors selling everything from crawfish beignets to alligator sausage po’ boys and muffulettas. There are also tons of craft vendors, as well as multiple parades.

7. Eat all the Mudbugs at the NOLA Crawfish Festival

New Orleans in May Bucket List: Crawfish Festival

Usually held at the very beginning of May, the NOLA Crawfish Festival is always a good time. The concept arose out of a way to spend time during the days between Jazzfest weekends, but attending the NOLA Crawfish Festival quickly turned into one of the best things to do in New Orleans in May.

The three-day fest is designed to create a “backyard boil feel,” complete with live music by local legends, a Crawfish Eatin’ Competition, a 20-team Crawfish Cook-Off judged by local celebrities, and plenty of arts and crafts vendors from across Louisiana. 

And, of course, the NOLA Crawfish King, Chris “Shaggy” Davis, will be serving up mountains of his Hot Boiled Crawfish, so come hungry!

8. Visit the National World War II Museum on Memorial Day 

Must do things in New Orleans in May: National World War II Museum

If you’re in New Orleans during the last Monday in May, what better way to honor Memorial Day than by visiting the National World War II Museum? Through the unique exhibits, you’ll have the chance to “experience the war through the eyes of the men and women who lived it.”  

After you’ve finished exploring, head across the street to Rosie’s on the Roof, where you can enjoy locally inspired eats and cocktails while taking in excellent views of the CBD. Be sure to order the Crab Beignets!

9. Go Greek at the New Orleans Greek Festival

What to do in New Orleans in May: Greek Festival

When it comes to events in New Orleans in May, there are a lot of festivals to choose from, including the New Orleans Greek Festival! This fun festival takes place every year over Memorial Day weekend at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral on the banks of Bayou St. John.

Come hungry because there will be tons of Greek eats, including gyros, Greek coffee and wine, goat burgers, dolmas, baklava, and loukoumades (beignets with honey). You can also expect Greek music, Hellenic dancers, and more family-friendly fun!

10. Sip Seasonal Spring Cocktails at Jewel of the South 

New Orleans in May Things to do: Jewel of the South

May in New Orleans means sampling all of the seasonal delights of the spring season – and that includes cocktails! Jewel of the South is not only one of the best bars in New Orleans, but it’s one of the “World’s 50 Best Bars.” This place is all about serving up expertly crafted seasonal dishes and cocktails. 

While the menu is constantly changing, past spring cocktails have included the Champagne Opportuni-tea (with strawberry black tea cordial, gin, lemon, and champagne), the Curried Banana Colada (with rum, curried banana coconut milk, turmeric, ginger, and honey), and the Chai Old Fashioned with Black is Beautiful Stout syrup, chai whiskey, and bitters).

11. Enjoy a Mother’s Day Brunch at Tujague’s

With so many May events in New Orleans, you may have forgotten that Mother’s Day is held on the second Sunday in May. But don’t worry – there are loads of excellent ways to celebrate Mother’s Day in New Orleans!

With so many incredible restaurants, New Orleans is the place to be on Mother’s Day. If you’re looking for a special spot to celebrate the moms in your life during your trip to NOLA, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

But for a taste of local history, make reservations at Tujague’s, a New Orleans institution that’s been serving locals since 1856. While their Mother’s Day menu changes every year, in years past, the multi-course Mother’s Day menu has featured dishes like Crawfish Cakes and Eggs, BBQ Shrimp and Grits, Grilled Filet Mignon, Louisiana Strawberry Shortcake, and Bread Pudding. 

There you have it! The 11 best things to do in New Orleans in May. What are your favorite May events in New Orleans? Let us know in the comments!



  • Justine Lopez

    Justine is a writer and editor who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust!

    In 2013, she left her hometown in California and set off on a yearlong round-the-world journey with her now-husband – they never looked back. Since then, she’s lived the expat life in Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Mexico, and now Dubai. Along the way, she's written and edited for magazines, newspapers, and websites in Asia and beyond.

    When she's not stoking her wanderlust by working on travel articles for Wandering Wheatleys, Justine is busy caring for her many foster cats in Dubai, seeking out all the delicious vegetarian food, and taking every chance she gets to explore a new corner of the world!

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