Discover 7 things to do in New Orleans’ City Park
During a recent trip to Louisiana we spent a few days in the City Park neighborhood of New Orleans. It was a lot calmer than the downtown riverfront/French Quarter area that is so popular for tourists. There is a lot to do in New Orleans’ City Park and these are our top seven:
#1 New Orleans Botanic Garden
The Botanic Garden is a beautiful and tranquil oasis located right in City Park (which is one of the oldest urban parks in the United States). The garden features a wide variety of plants and flowers, including many native to Louisiana, as well as several beautiful gardens, including a rose garden, a butterfly garden, and a Japanese garden.
The highlight of the garden is the Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden, which features sculptures by local artist Enrique Alférez. The sculptures are made of cast stone and bronze and include a variety of figures, animals and abstract forms. The garden also features a lily pond and a bridge that connects the two halves of the garden.
The New Orleans Botanic Garden also offers a variety of educational programs for visitors of all ages. These include guided tours, gardening classes, and a summer camp for children. Visitors can also take part in special events such as flower shows, plant sales, and festivals throughout the year.
#2 Big Lake
New Orleans City Park Big Lake covers an area of approximately 150 acres and is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and picnicking. The lake is home to a variety of fish species, including largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, and sac-a-lait. The lake is also home to a number of bird species, making it a popular spot for birdwatching. (Click here for details on fishing in New Orleans’ City Park.)
The lake is surrounded by a walking trail that is popular with joggers, walkers, and cyclists. There are also several picnic areas, playgrounds, and a golf course located near the lake. Visitors can also rent boats, including paddle boats and canoes, to explore the lake.
The lake is open year-round and is free to the public. However, there is a fee for renting boats and fishing equipment. Overall, New Orleans City Park Big Lake is a great place to spend a day outdoors, whether you’re fishing, boating, picnicking or simply enjoying the natural beauty of the area.
#3 Singing Oak
This one we found on Atlas Obscura and it was for sure worth a walk by. It is an oak tree that has been fitted with a series of chimes and bells that are played by the wind. The tree was created and designed by local artist Jim Hart as part of the “Big Lake Project.” The chimes are made of aluminum and bronze and are tuned to play a variety of musical scales.
The tree is a popular spot for park visitors, and many enjoy listening to the soothing and melodic sounds it creates. The Singing Oak is a unique and enchanting feature of the park, and a must-see for anyone visiting New Orleans City Park. A plaque at the base of the tree reads: “Let the wind bring you a melody, a smile and a sense of peace and nature”.
#4 Besthoff Sculpture Garden
The Besthoff Sculpture Garden is a 5-acre outdoor sculpture garden that is located within City Park. The garden features over 60 sculptures by artists from around the world, and is considered one of the most significant sculpture gardens in the United States. The garden is open to the public year-round and is free to visit.
The garden was established in 2003 and is named after philanthropist Sydney and Walda Besthoff, who donated the sculptures and provided funding for the garden’s creation. The sculptures in the garden are arranged in a park-like setting, with paths winding through the trees and around the lake. The sculptures are made of a variety of materials including bronze, steel, and stone.
The sculpture garden is a perfect place for art lovers and nature enthusiasts to enjoy a peaceful stroll. The garden is also a popular spot for picnics, and visitors are welcome to bring a blanket and enjoy a meal on the lawn. The Garden also hosts events, lectures and guided tours throughout the year.
#5 St. Louis Cemetery #3
St. Louis Cemetery #3 is located just outside of City Park and is one of the city’s oldest cemeteries, dating back to 1854. The cemetery is known for its above-ground tombs, a common feature in New Orleans due to the high water table in the area. These tombs are made of brick or stone and are stacked on top of each other, creating a unique and picturesque landscape.
#6 Couturie Forest
The Couturie Forest is a nature preserve connected to City Park and is part of the much larger Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. The forest covers an area of over 100 acres and is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, including a variety of hardwood trees, such as oak and cypress, as well as a wide array of birds, reptiles, and mammals.
The forest is named after the Couturie family, who were early settlers of the area. The family donated the land to the city of New Orleans in the 1960s, and it has since been managed and maintained as a nature preserve. The forest is open to the public and offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, bird watching, and picnicking.
The Couturie Forest is also an important educational resource, as it serves as an outdoor classroom for students of all ages. The forest is home to several educational programs, including guided tours, bird watching workshops, and nature walks. These programs are designed to teach visitors about the local ecosystem and the importance of conservation.
The Couturie Forest is also home to a number of cultural and historical sites, including the historic Palm Garden, which is a remnant of a 19th-century Palm Garden, and the Couturie Forest Nature Center, which features interactive exhibits and educational programs.
Couturie Forest is an important natural and cultural resource for the city of New Orleans, offering visitors a chance to experience the city’s natural beauty and learn about its rich history and culture.
#7 Cafe Du Monde City Park
Cafe Du Monde City Park is a great place to experience the iconic café without the crowds. It is known for its traditional New Orleans-style coffee and beignets, which are deep-fried doughnuts dusted with powdered sugar (heavily dusted).
New Orleans is a great city to explore and we hope this helps you if you are looking for a few attractions often overlooked by tourists. These 7 things in no way cover all there is to do in City Park. All total the park encompasses 1,300 acres so there is a lot to explore. Here some other interesting things you’ll find there.
- an amusement park
- two football stadiums
- an art museum
- two golf courses
- twenty-six tennis courts
- the largest grove of live oaks in the world, some over 800 years old