This year’s polar vortices threw us all for a loop, but down South we can still take comfort in the fact that the joys of spring (mild temps, blooming buds, bountiful produce) come early. Here, 15 ways to make the most of the sweet months to come.
1. Eat crawfish. About now is when mudbugs get real big and delicious. Recently opened Bevi Seafood Co. in Metairie (just outside New Orleans) serves up some of the best in the area. Not only does the owner get his stash fresh daily, he is also meticulous in cleaning the crawfish and uses a special citrusy/just-spicy-enough blend to flavor his broth. Or host your own boil, and be sure to invite us.
2. Get planting. “Now is a great time to plant many of the Southern classics such as azaleas, gardenias, French hydrangeas, camellias, banana shrubs, any and all magnolias, redbuds, and crepe myrtles.” —Rebecca Bull Reed, Garden Editor
3. Pack a picnic. “The Food Department is beyond excited that it’s finally picnic weather. We would love to hang out at Birmingham’s Railroad Park with our dream spread including: Pimiento cheese, biscuits with Benton’s Country Ham, our recipe for Ginger and Lime Marinated Melon, and this portable Cucumber-and-Sugar Snap Salad that shows off springtime veggies.” — Hannah Hayes, Assistant Food Editor
4. Find your perfect sundress. The beauty of spring fashion is in its simplicity—sandals, a crossover bag, and a cute dress does the trick every time. We rounded up 20 of our favorite dresses for the season.
5. Take a garden tour. “I love both the Virginia Historic Garden Week and the Historic Charleston Foundation tours because of the quality of gardens and the inspirational architecture. You’ll come away with a wealth of design-and-plant-combo ideas for small and large spaces. Leave time to hit a few of the local garden and antique shops.” — Rebecca Bull Reed, Garden Editor
6. Load up on strawberries. The berries peak in April, so head to your local farmers’ market and stock up on enough to make our desserts and still have plenty leftover to eat fresh.
8. Spruce up your porch. “You’ll be spending a lot more time on your porch, so you want it to look good. I love two things about a porch: An outdoor rug that feels good under my feet and low-fuss container flowers. Right now, I’m planting blue hydrangeas in over-sized, but super simple terra cotta pots.” —Zoe Gowen, Associate Homes Editor
9. Read a book outside. Our resident book expert, Patricia Shannon, has some suggestions for titles to pick up: “Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun, is releasing her memoir, Under Magnolia, April 1. It’s full of nostalgic details of Southern childhood shenanigans and peppered with the Georgia native’s generous wit. Another page-turner we’ve got our nose in is The Professor by Alabamian The Professor by Alabamian Robert Bailey. Fans of authors like John Grisham won’t be able to put down this new thriller. Spoiler alert: there’s a cameo by University of Alabama coach Bear Bryant.”
10. Make a Spring Pilgrimage. Plan a trip on Georgia’s Antebellum Trail to see breathtaking mansions, tour gardens, and stay in a Victorian-era B&B.
12. Go to a music festival. The big outdoor shows kick off later this season. A few not to miss: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage (April 25-May 4), Shaky Knees in Atlanta (May 9-11) and The Hangout in Orange Beach, Alabama (May 16-18).
13. Identify your pool friends. And lake friends, and beach friends. Summer is right around the corner and you need to know which friends you’ll be able to crash with for a hot-day respite. Of course you’ll remember to take a hostess gift and write the perfect thank-you note.
14. Do the Derby. Celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, the Kentucky Derby (May 3) is still one of the biggest events in horse racing. If you can’t make it to Louisville, look into attending a steeplechase event, such as Atlanta Steeplechase (April 19) or Iroquois in Nashville (May 10). At the very least, you can host your own stellar Derby party.
15. Get in on the Easter egg fun. Host your own egg hunt or head to the capital for the First Family’s 136th annual Easter Egg Roll (April 21), in which hundreds of families descend on the White House Lawn to race colorfully decorated eggs down the hill.
What’s on your bucket list for this spring?