Spring vacations in New Orleans
The festival of all festivals kicks off a New Orleans spring. A weekend of exciting street parades leads up to Fat Tuesday, when revelers don lavish costumes, colorful face paints and masks and take to the street for a final bash before Lent. A dozen or so parades roll down city streets, with participants throwing beads and trinkets from large floats while jazz and ragtime bands make music. Joining in the party is all part of the fun.
Picnic in the park
Get a picnic basket and fill it with a muffuletta or a po’boy sandwich, and head to a city park to catch the springtime blooms. Catfish jump in the calm lagoons of Audubon Park and the alligators’ dinner is a public display at Audubon Zoo. In City Park, you can wander among the moss-draped oaks and marvel at the azaleas in the New Orleans Botanical Gardens. A ride on the miniature train at Carousel Gardens enchants kids and adults.
A romantic Creole dinner
Reserve a candlelit table on a starlit night at one of the city’s elegant Creole restaurants. Treat yourself to a local specialty like crawfish and goat cheese crepes on the balcony at Muriel’s, overlooking Jackson Square. Try the zesty gumbo inside the cozy brick walls of K-Paul’s. Uptown, the smell of grilled veal wafts from the stately mansion that is Commander’s Palace, the grand dame of New Orleans restaurants.
A spring break in New Orleans brings a variety of high-energy festivals. The mansions and gardens of Garden District open their doors to visitors for a rare treat during the Spring Fiesta. Jazz quartets tempt dancers up at the French Quarter Festival. Literature buffs can join discussion panels at the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival. More bizarre entertainment at the festival comes in the form of the Stanley and Stella yelling match. Contestants recreate the famous angry scene from A Streetcar Named Desire.
Shopping and strolling
Spend a quiet spring day browsing the antique shops and art galleries on Royal Street. The Farmer’s Market along the riverfront sells fresh produce and Magazine Street in the Garden District showcases high-end fashion stores and street side cafes. These are the places for a soothing mint julep after shopping. Ride the St. Charles Avenue streetcar back downtown.
Jazz & Heritage Festival
A New Orleans spring closes on a festive note. Musicians, cooks, craftspeople and music fans gather at the Fair Grounds Race Track on the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May for a world-class celebration of Louisiana music, food and culture. The local sounds of Cajun, zydeco, jazz, gospel, soul and rhythm and blues performed on numerous stages get the joint bouncing. Between the weekends, local clubs keep the festival spirit rocking with intimate appearances by festival performers.
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