New Orleans is a geographical anomaly. Built in the heart of Louisiana swampland, and up to six feet below sea level in some areas, the Crescent City has one of the most interesting landscapes to investigate if you have a chance to do so while you’re in town for ONA’s annual conference. Here are five different ways to experience the outdoors in New Orleans.
Explore the city by bike, with tours that take you through different neighborhoods of New Orleans. Get some exercise while getting to know the Garden District, with its gorgeous centuries-old mansions, the eclectic Marigny and the famous Tremé. See the above-ground cemeteries, the double shotgun houses and many other historical and architectural riches. Some of these tours can last two or more hours, so plan accordingly. Cost: Varies by tour.
Note: If you prefer walking over biking, consider the guided walks ONA is offering through partnerships with local tour companies.
This park along the bank of the Mississippi River is just a short walk from the Sheraton and Intercontinental hotels. From this scenic point, you can watch the boats traveling down the river, or check out the many different sculptures that line the walking paths. If you walk the whole length of the park along the riverbank, you’ll end up on the other side of the French Quarter, close to the 200-year-old French Market (open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Cost: Free.
The New Orleans ferry, in service since the early 1800s, connects the business district with Algiers Point, a historic neighborhood on the other bank of the Mississippi River. Experience some of the most beautiful views of the city and the river during this boat ride, which departs a quarter past and three-quarters past every hour, and lasts about 30 minutes per leg. Cost: $2 one way.
If you’re interested in leaving the urban areas and exploring the region’s swamps, there are a number of tour operators with whom you can book an adventure to see alligators and other wildlife. Your options range from tours traveling by airboat to guided experiences via kayaks and canoes. Find the tours that include transportation to and from spots in the French Quarter and Central Business District. With travel, these trips usually take up an entire morning or afternoon. Cost: Varies by tour.
This 1300-acre green space is nearer Lake Pontchartrain than the Mississippi River, but it’s well worth a visit if you’re looking for a spot to relax outdoors under giant, sprawling live oak trees. City Park also houses a small amusement park, many different walking trails, botanical gardens, a mini golf complex and bayous that you can explore with rented paddle boats and kayaks. Cost: Free to enter park. Prices for attractions/rentals vary.
Diya Chacko is an Audience Engagement Editor for the Los Angeles Times. A New Orleans native, Diya graduated with a dual master’s degree from Columbia University’s Earth and Environmental Science Journalism program in 2010. She tends to geek out over dogs, horror movies and journalists learning to code.