9 Fantastic Things To Do on US Gulf Coast in May 2023

From the hundreds of things to do on US Gulf Coast in May 2023 we narrowed our suggestions down to the following nine fun and tasty events. Cool, happy, and fun events that you expect to find on the Gulf Coast and from US Gulf Coast Travel.

May on the Gulf Coast means Spring Break is over but the real summer has not yet begun. Until Memorial Day weekend at least. See our Favorite Gulf Coast Spring Break Destinations and, to skip the crowds, Florida Hidden Gems.

Happy Mother’s Day to all US Gulf Coast moms. They are the best in thee world!

Enjoy our Sensational Things To Do on US Gulf Coast in May. Let us know of other fun and cool events.

McCool Travel note: the first weekend of May kicks off with the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz Fest, which was covered in our Things To Do on US Gulf Coast in April but also below.

Prepare for next month and kick off your Gulf Coast summer with our Things to Do on Gulf Coast in June.

53rd Annual New Orleans Jazz Fest, April 28-May 7, 2023

The 2023 edition of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival hosts 400,000 guests from around the world over two weekends. Thousands of musicians, craft artisans, cooks and chefs, and volunteers entertain, support, sell crafts, and feed the souls of attendees.

2023 New Orleans Jazz Fest performers include Buddy Guy, Gary Clark Jr., Carlos Santana, Lizzo, Ludacris, Ed Sheeran, Tom Jones, and so many more amazing musical acts. New Orleans is always a top place for music lovers but especially during Jazz Fest!

Visit the fest website for more information and our recommended Day Trips From New Orleans.

live jazz at Maison Bourbon
see live jazz in New Orleans

Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival, Foley AL, May 4-6, 2023

South Baldwin County is the spot for high-flying adventure and family fun at the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival. Enjoy entertainment, arts and crafts displays and more at the festival site at OWA Parks & Resort in Foley, South Baldwin County. Balloon flights, glows and tethered rides (weather permitting) add to the fun at dawn and dusk.

Visit the festival website for more information and our Gulf Shores Tips.

Louisiana Pirate Festival, Lake Charles LA, May 4-12, 2023

Louisiana Pirate Festival Costume Ball is a fun thing to do on US Gulf Coast
Fun at the Louisiana Pirate Festival Costume Ball in Lake Charles LA

Celebrate Southwest Louisiana’s quality of life and joie de vivre at the 2023 Louisiana Pirate Festival. Enjoy the carnival, music, food, and the best pirate party this side of Gasparilla.

Visit the fest website for more information and our recommended place to stay there L’Auberge Lake Charles.

Mud Bug Boil-Off, Thibodaux LA, May 13, 2023

Crawfish in Lake Charles LA

Any all-you-can-eat crawfish event will score high on our list. Join the fun family friendly Mud Bug Boil-Off in historic downtown Thibodaux. Enjoy live music, a live auction, festival funness, and all the scrumptious crawfish you can possibly handle.

Visit the event website for more information and see our Day Trips From New Orleans

Emerald Coast Open, Destin FL, May 19-21, 2023


Over 20,000 invasive lionfish are expected to be removed from the Gulf waters during Emerald Coast Open 2023. Hundreds of tournament participants vie for prizes by removing the most lionfish—by diving or fishing. Local Destin restaurants serve creative lionfish dishes during ECO22 Lionfish Restaurant Week from May 8-14. And the official Emerald Coast Open Lionfish Tournament and Festival takes place May 14-16, and raises awareness about the harmful impact of the invasive lionfish.

Visit the event website for more information and check out our favorite Destin Florida Rentals.

emerald water on Florida Panhandle beach
emerald green ocean water on Florida Panhandle Gulf Coast

Blessing of the Fleet, Panama City FL, May 20, 2023

Spring Break is over but Panama City locals celebrate the official start of the warmer weather with the Blessing of the Fleet. While the highlight is the noon boat parade with everyone wishing safe passage for the boaters and vessels, other events are a lot of fun. Listen to live music while joining the Sock Burning (will not need them again for six months) and $10 a plate fish fry.

Visit the event website for more information and our suggested Secret Spots on Florida Panhandle.

World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, Boca Grande FL, May 17-18, 2023

The World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament begun in the early 80s in Boca Grande, the Tarpon Capital of the World. It started as a weight tournament but has evolved into an all-release event focused on Conservation, Sportsmanship, and Education. It is traditional live-bait only, honoring the history of tarpon fishing in Boca Grande Pass and focusing on the importance of conservation to ensure a healthy fishery for generations to come.

Visit the tournament website for more information and our tips for what to do in Punta Gorda.

Pirate Day in the Bay, Bay St Louis MS, May 19-20, 2023

Bay St Louis Bridge
Bay St Louis Bridge

Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse hosts all pirates and pirate lovers for a jolly good fest at the Pirate Day in the Bay. A Bay St Louis pub crawl kicks off the event on Friday night, followed by a full slate of parades, cruises, and buccaneer funness the next day.

Visit the event website for more information and our favorite Mississippi Gulf Coast Hidden Gems.

Memorial Day Fireworks, South Padre Island TX, May 28, 2023

Celebrate Memorial Day weekend on South Padre Island! Enjoy the summer kick of fireworks extravaganza over the bay on Sunday night. For the best viewing spots checkout the restaurants and bars on the Entertainment District!

Visit the event website for more information and our favorite South Padre Island Restaurants.

Of course many other US Gulf Coast destinations will also host fireworks events over the Memorial Day weekend. Do you have a favorite US Gulf Coast destination for fireworks?


Please let us know of other happy, fun, and cool US Gulf Coast events in May. Or any month!

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