I’m crazy about New Orleans in the summertime. I know it’s not Paris in the springtime or New England when the autumn leaves are turning; summer here is undeniably hot and humid and walking past the stench of a loaded Dumpster can almost knock you out. So when I say I’m “crazy about it,” I know it sounds … well … crazy. But I love it anyway.

Here are my Top 5 reasons that New Orleans in the summer is wonderful (at least up until we hit the thick of hurricane season in late August):

  • Summertime thunderstorms are the best. It seems like it rains almost every day in the summer and then clears up just as quickly. Sitting on my porch and smelling the particular New Orleans scent of rain hitting hot pavement makes me happy to live here. And even though my kids are now 10 and 15, we still have fun jumping in puddles.
  • Just like you’re never too old to have fun splashing along the sidewalk, you’re never too old to enjoy a snowball for dinner. These days, as a mostly responsible grown-up, I’m partial to the fresh strawberry from Lou-Lou’s or the sour watermelon from Pandora’s, easy on the syrup, but some days still call for a chocolate cream soaked in condensed milk from Sal’s, my childhood favorite.
  • All the Creole tomatoes, all the time. Fewer things are sadder than a pale, mealy tomato in January, but fewer things are more glorious than a perfect Creole tomato in New Orleans in June. Whether I’m feeling fancy enough to whip up a Caprese salad and dine al fresco (aka eat in my backyard) or lazy enough to eat a tomato sandwich (white bread, Blue Plate mayo, salt) at the kitchen sink, Creole tomatoes come through for me.
  • Summer fashion is actually the only kind of fashion I understand. I have never really had a sense of style or followed trends (beyond the pair of neon green L.A. Gears I begged for in 1989). I like comfortable clothes, which means that sundresses, loose linen pants, and flowy tops are all right in my sweet spot – and these are clearly the only acceptable things to wear in this swampy, soupy summer weather.  Plus, I have a deep and abiding love for a man in a seersucker suit. (What can I say? My daddy’s from North Carolina.)
  • Proximity to the beach. OK, to be fair, this one might be cheating. It does kind of feel like cheating to say what I love about New Orleans in the summertime is the ability to easily escape New Orleans in the summertime. But I have to admit it’s pretty great to be able to throw the kids, a few towels, and a tube of sunscreen in the car and be on some sort of beach in about an hour or a nice beach within three hours.

Summer in the city may have its downsides, but put a Pimm’s cup in my hand and set me down by Lake Pontchartrain at sunset, and there is truly no place I’d rather be.