This post covers some of the best things to do in New Orleans in May, updated for 2024, including free, family-friendly fun, and nighttime events and attractions.
- Top 10
- Free Things to Do
- Things to Do at Night
- Family-Friendly Activities
- How's the Weather?
- Free Tours by Foot
Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.
Below is a Top 10 list of the most interesting things to do in New Orleans throughout the month of May.
Some of the best attractions to visit in this city are included for free with a New Orleans tourist pass.
For some of the most popular tours, we have the following articles:
For more ideas, see our post on things to do in NOLA all year long.
You can't help but think about music when you're in New Orleans.
The city is loaded with talented musicians, and you can find a performance just about anywhere in the city.
- New Orleans Jazz Fest | Weekend 2 | May 2nd-5th * see more below
- Daze Between New Orleans | April 30th-May 1st | held between the two weekends of Jazz Fest
Click here for a list of even more concerts in New Orleans in May.
Check our New Orleans live music calendar for even more places to see music this month.
2. Watch a Sporting Event
Sport-wise, it's fairly quiet in May. However, it is baseball season in NOLA.
Take a look at what other sporting events are on in New Orleans in May.
3. See a Musical or Stand-Up Comedy
If you’re in need of a good laugh or want to see something on the stage, there will be several opportunities to enjoy open mic stand-up comedy in New Orleans this month.
- Mrs. Doubtfire | New Orleans May 14th-19th
- Dracula | New Orleans Ballet at Orpheum Theatre | May 11th & 12th
- Sister Act | Rivertown Theatre Kenner | May 3rd-19th
- Comedy Gumbeaux | May 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th
Check our things to do at night section for even more fun activities you can enjoy after dark during the month of May.
4. Go on a Sightseeing Tour
May is sunny, warm, and dry, so it is one of the perfect times to do some sightseeing in New Orleans.
Here are a few of the pay-what-you-wish walking tours we currently offer in the city:
- French Quarter
- Garden District
- Frenchman Street
- Music, Arts & More
- Voodoo Tour
- Ghost Tour
- Treme Tour
If you’re looking for an even more in-depth tour, consider one of these extensive outings from Take Walks:
May is an ideal month to get out on the water and experience a view of the city from a riverboat cruise.
If it’s a particularly hot day, consider taking a nice, air-conditioned hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
5. Attend Jazz Fest
The annual New Orleans Jazz & Herigage Festiva , better known as “Jazz Fest” by locals, is an activity for music lovers.
You'll hear rhythm & blues, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, folk, rap, Afro-Caribbean, Latin, country, bluegrass, and of course lots of jazz!
The festival takes place Thursday-Sunday on April 25th-28th, and then May 2nd-5th in 2024.
You can expect to see the following artists:
- Rolling Stones
- Bonnie Raitt
- Trombone Short & Orleans Avenue
- Foo Fighters
- Neil Young
- Chris Stapleton
- The Killers
- Jon Batiste
- Queen Latifa
- Earth Wind and Fire
- The Beach Boys
- Greta Van Fleet
- and much more!!
In addition to all the music, you can also expect a variety of local food, drink, and art vendors to browse while attending this uniquely New Orleans Festival.
More information and tickets are here on StubHub.
6. Think About Getting a Tourist Pass
If you’re planning to visit more than a few popular attractions, you could save a lot of money with a New Orleans tourist pass.
These passes can save up to around 55% off of the retail prices of some of NOLA’s most popular tours and attractions.
Some of the attractions included are:
- Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
- Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour
- Mardi Gras World
- National WW2 Museum
- Paddlewheeler Cruise
- Oak Alley Plantation
- New Orleans Jazz Museum
- New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
- Audubon Zoo
- Audubon Aquarium
- Audubon Butterfly Garden
- Louisiana Children’s Museum
- The Cabildo
- And More!
For more details on this opportunity, please read our post covering New Orleans tourist passes.
7. Go on a Swamp/Plantation Tour
With the weather warming up, May is an excellent time to visit the swamps near New Orleans, as warm water brings its inhabitants to life.
There are several swamp boat tours available which will provide a leisurely look at the natural wildlife in the area.
Alternatively, you may also want to consider an airboat tour for a more exciting and speedy trip through the swamps.
Visitors who want to learn more about the history of Louisiana might also want to consider a trip to one of the nearby plantations.
If you’re planning to get a New Orleans tourist pass, some services include admission to a handful of locations such as Houmas House, Oak Alley, and more.
Don’t forget that there will also be swamp tours available after dark starting in the spring!
8. Go to Bayou Boogaloo
Enjoy the warm weather and the waterfront with a free concert with a great lineup!
The Bayou Boogaloo is a three-day event to celebrate what NOLA does best – music and food – located on the banks of Bayou St. John.
In 2024, the dates of the festival are May 17th-19th, 2024.
And it’s not just music! There's also a section with local artists selling stoneware, woodworking, and voodoo dolls!
Even though this event is free, donations at the door are accepted to keep this annual event happening.
You can learn more about this area of mid-city on our self-guided walking tour of Bayou St. John.
9. Take a Food Tour
New Orleans is known for its cuisine and while you are there, you will certainly want o sample some of the best dishes the city has to offer.
For an experience that includes both delicious food and fascinating history, look into taking one of our food tours.
Our French Quarter food tour is a great way to see one of the best parts of NOLA while sampling its renowned cuisine.
Our tour includes the chance to try foods like PoBoys, crawfish, pralines, beignets, muffulettas, and other dishes.
To see about other food tours in different neighborhoods, see our post on New Orleans food tours.
10. Attend the Greek Festival
Want to celebrate Greek culture, music, food, and dance? The New Orleans Greek Festival is the place to do it.
This spring festival provides authentic Greek entertainment and cuisine, showcasing their rich heritage and traditions.
The Greek Festival takes place for May 24th-26th at the Hellenic Cultural Center in the Bayou St. John neighborhood.
There's also a Greek Festival Run scheduled for May 25th
Here's a handful of free fun and interesting things you can do in May in New Orleans.
If you’re working with a budget, a New Orleans tourist pass is one of the best ways to save money on some of the best activities in the city.
For even more great ideas, make sure to read our full post covering free things to do in New Orleans.
Head to Wednesday at the Square
The spring series of Wednesday at the Square gives you three opportunities to enjoy live music for free.
The concerts are scheduled for the 1st and 8th of May.
They will begin at 5 pm and run until about 8 pm, making this an activity to enjoy after dark.
Since admission is free, all you have to do is visit Lafayette Square.
TIP: If you’re interested in hearing some free live music, don’t forget that there will be several opportunities to hear Jazz at the Ritz.
Go to a Free Art Gallery
There will be a few different art galleries to enjoy for free during the month of May. We recommend these three:
The Historic New Orleans Collection – This museum has a permanent exhibit that is always free to visit, and also has visiting exhibits.
Newcomb Art Museum – This museum also has a permanent exhibit that is always free to visit
Sculpture Garden - Outside of NOMA and no tickets are required for this outdoor exhibit! Perfect for a day in May!
Attend a Free Wine Tasting
Every Wednesday night from 5 pm - 7 pm, Faubourg Wines provides a free wine-tasting event that includes a few different wines to choose from.
If you’ve been interested in learning more about wine and/or trying out some new flavors, this is an excellent opportunity to broaden your horizons.
Reservations are not required for this event, so feel free to drop in and taste a few wines.
It is recommended to arrive before 6:30 pm if you want to make sure that you don’t miss out on anything.
NOTE: If you’re interested in learning more about the most popular drinks in this city, consider taking our New Orleans Cocktail tour.
Go on a Free Swamp Hike
Each location is free to visit and there are several great trails to walk.
There is also a small swamp in City Park that won’t cost a dime to explore.
Visitors who are up for more than just a hike can also enjoy activities such as bird watching, self-guided tours, and canoe trips.
While some of these ideas might not be free, they’re definitely fun and you won’t be charged a thing for access to the swamps.
Not quite confident in your ability to navigate the swamplands? Consider taking a professional swamp tour instead!
This section will cover some of the best activities you can enjoy in New Orleans after dark this May.
For even more great ideas, take a look at our full post covering things to do at night in New Orleans.
Take a Nighttime Sightseeing Tour
New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in the United States, so it makes sense that there are a lot of ghastly stories tied to its history.
If you want to learn about some of the supernatural tales that were born here, consider taking our pay-what-you-want French Quarter Ghost Tour.
This tour is available at 7:30 pm.
No matter how you want to experience the spooky history of New Orleans, there’s probably an outing available.
Go on an Evening Jazz Cruise
Each cruise service offered at night includes live jazz music, creating a wonderful atmosphere to enjoy the view or even do a bit of dancing.
You can also choose to get dinner while on your outing, as both major riverboats in the city offer a great buffet full of fantastic local foods.
- Tickets w/out Dinner: $55/Adults | $27.50/Children or With Dinner $102.50:/Adults | $51/Children
- Evening Cruise Hours: 7 pm - 9 pm
- Duration: 2-3 hours
TIP: This service is actually included with both major New Orleans tourist passes, which could save you a lot of money on the normal ticket prices.
For more nighttime fun, make sure to check our post on things to do at night in New Orleans.
The following section will include several activities and events that families might enjoy during the month of May in New Orleans.
If you’re looking for even more family-friendly ideas, make sure to read our full post covering things to do with kids in New Orleans.
Beat the Heat at Audubon Zoo
Spring marks the opening of Cool Zoo, a waterpark in Audubon Zoo which gives kids the opportunity to cool down after a long day looking at all the animals.
In addition to everything else you can do, there are usually at least one or two special activities planned for the month of May, especially for Mother's Day.
Check their events calendar to see what is happening and when.
Celebrate the Beginning of Sno-ball Season
With the weather warming up, this is the perfect time to grab a sno-ball at one of the many stands that will be opening up for the summer.
This is one of the most popular ways to beat the heat in New Orleans, and there are a lot of great flavor varieties to try.
In addition to being a surefire hit among children, this is also a very affordable activity.
Most sno-balls are around $5 or less, so it won’t cost much to grab a few for your kids.
Check this list of the best sno-ball stands to find a great location near you.
Spend Memorial Day at the WW2 Museum
There’s no better way to commemorate the sacrifice of our Veterans than to celebrate Memorial Day at the National WW2 Museum.
This is one of the best museums in the city, and it focuses on one of the most important wars in the history of the United States.
This museum typically holds a special ceremony or event in honor of Memorial Day, including music, speeches, presentations, and a moment of silence for our fallen heroes.
Admission is usually free for service members on this day and it is always free for WW2 veterans.
In addition to the zoo and the aquarium, the Audubon Nature Institute also has a Insectarium that your kids might enjoy.
This attraction is a great place for children to learn all about bugs from around the world.
The Insectarium includes exhibits covering monarch butterflies, ladybugs, honey bees, dung beetles, leafcutter ants, and more.
As the name implies, there is also an garden with thousands of butterflies freely fluttering around. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that CNN once voted this the top museum for you and your kids!
Admission is included with each major New Orleans tourist pass.
Celebrate National Shrimp Day
May 10th is National Shrimp Day, and New Orleans is the perfect place to celebrate this occasion.
One of the most popular ways and very affordable ways to eat shrimp in NOLA is on a Po-Boy.
If you’re interested, make sure to read our post on the best Po-Boys in New Orleans.
NOTE: We offer a pay-what-you-want French Quarter food tour that covers a variety of restaurants that serve seafood – including several dishes with shrimp.
Grab a Bite at the Crawfish Festival
This one-of-a-kind festival is a three-day spectacular featuring live music, beer, and of course plenty of crawfish!
This year’s lineup for the Crawfish Festival features a variety of artists and genres of music, assuring there’s something for all music lovers to enjoy.
The crawfish will be provided by none other than New Orleans's own’ Crawfish King, and the beer from local breweries like Port Orleans Brew Co.
With plenty of great food, music, and entertainment on hand, this is a great family activity.
If you’re looking for more events you can enjoy with your kids, make sure to check our section about family-friendly activities.
For even more great ideas, take a look at our full post covering things to do with kids in New Orleans.