Spring has sprung up. And in New Orleans, it tends to move quickly – especially in terms of the weather. So enjoy it while you can.
Big spring events such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival have been pushed back to the fall, but there are still plenty of ways to enjoy what is typically a great season in and around the city. If you want to get outside, listen to live music while having a picnic in a lush garden or take a walk in nature. For family fun, play miniature golf or go camping on the North Shore.
But whatever you choose to do, be sure to check out the relevant websites to learn more about the changing COVID-19 restrictions and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Life in New Orleans is always ‘different’, of course, but luckily this spring seems a little more normal than the last.
Nothing says spring like a beautiful garden, teeming with a kaleidoscopic collection of lush flowers and foliage. Surround yourself with seasonal flowers at City Park Botanical Gardens while enjoying live music or a fresh gourmet meal. On Wednesday evenings, local chefs prepare dinner in the outdoor kitchen. On Thursdays at 6 p.m., musicians perform in the Pavillon des Deux Sœurs. Food and drink, such as mint juleps, are available for purchase. Admission: $ 10. neworleanscitypark.com/botanical-garden.
History Longue Vue House and Gardens The estate is home to a museum and 8 acres of gardens, including an interactive Discovery Garden for children. The Longue Vue gardens are open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours of the house are offered daily and start at $ 20. On Sundays, Louisiana families enter for free and enjoy a half-price home tour.
Visit Longue Vue for its Dusk at Spyglass series, which takes place the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Musicians from across town stage outdoor concerts as guests enjoy a picnic and stroll through the gardens. Admission: $ 10; free for Garden Pass holders and members.
On May 8, Longue Vue will host a “wreath of flowers” workshop, from 10 am to 11:30 am Tickets start at $ 15. 7 Bamboo Road; longuevue.com.
Have fun in the sun
If you have children who are agitated by spring fever, take them to Storyland, where they can slide slides and run alongside larger-than-life sculptures of classic fairy-tale characters. Board the minitrain for a 15-minute ride through City Park. A $ 5 train ticket includes play time at Storyland. Enter through the Tolmas Visitor Center. 5 Victory Ave .; neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/storyland.
Across the street, start a round of miniature golf. City Putt’s two scenic courses are open Wednesday through Sunday until 10 p.m. Neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/city-putt.
Head to Uptown and spend an afternoon with animals from around the world at the Audubon Zoo. Start near lions in the African savannah, then walk through the swamp, where a white alligator resides. Enjoy lunch outdoors before delving into Mayan ruins guarded by leopards, then following a path that leads to Asian elephants. Don’t forget to walk past the primates. The zoo is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 6500 Magazine St.; audubonnatureinstitute.org/zoo.
Jump on a bike
Savor the spring breeze with a bike ride. In New Orleans, you can enjoy an extended excursion, with some interruptions, along the Lafitte Greenway; the sea wall near the Mississippi River; and by the lake. Or head to the North Rim and learn about Tammany Trace. The 31 mile scenic trail stretches from downtown Covington to Slidell. When you’re ready for a break, refuel at one of the many restaurants nearby. Although there are several entry points for Tammany Trace, the official trailhead is located on Koop Drive off La. 59. It has an information center, restrooms, picnic tables and games. Rental bikes are available along the route. tammanytrace.org.
To take a walk
With a trip to Couturie forest in the city park, you can enjoy nature without leaving the city. The 60-acre forest is dense with different types of trees, calm streams, and wildlife, such as turtles, fish, and birds. The entrance to Couturie Forest is on Harrison Avenue. Enter through the gates and park on the gravel lot. neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/couturie-forest.
Just outside Marrero, the Barataria Reserve has 26,000 acres of bayous, swamps, marshes and forests – all interspersed with boardwalks and dirt trails. Keep your eyes peeled for alligators, over 200 species of birds, and seasonal foliage. The educational reception center is open from Friday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Trails on both sides of La. 45 are open except for Plantation Trail Loop A and Ring Levee Trail. Browse the trail options at nps.gov/jela/barataria-preserve.htm. Free entry.
The great outdoors
Go camping (or glamping) in Fontainebleau State Park, which is partially bordered by three bodies of water: Lake Pontchartrain, Bayou Cane and Bayou Castine. Campsites, from the most primitive to the fanciest, start at $ 18 a night. During your stay, relax on the beach or have fun in a water playground. The park also offers opportunities for fishing, kayaking and hiking, among other activities. The park is open every day. Admission: $ 3. lastateparks.com/parks-preserves/fontainebleau-state-park.
The art of spring
Waltz through the Sidney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art, which presents more than 80 sculptures, shaded under majestic living oaks. It is open Wednesday to Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: $ 5; members enter for free. A Collins C. Diboll circle, city park; noma.org/besthoff-sculpture-garden.
While there, explore JAMNOLA’s iconic exhibits – including “Bling Bayou,” “Crawfish Boil” and “Mermaids of the Mississippi” – which celebrate New Orleans culture in the most whimsical way. Admission: $ 29 for adults; $ 20 for children over 2 years old. Reservation required. Buy tickets at jamnola.com. 2832, rue Royal
Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur writes about New Orleans. Contact her at [email protected]