I’m one of those people that thought they were an introvert, but the pandemic hit and I started missing being out and about with people. In a time where everyone needs to stay six feet away, the perfect place to get out of the house and safely enjoy yourself resides between Marconi and Wisner: New Orleans City Park. This emerald gem is home to carousels and critters, and has plenty of history and fun that many might not know.
The obvious draw of City Park is all the chlorophyll hanging above your head. City Park is covered with beautiful (and oftentimes very old) trees that provide the perfect canopy for hot days that are becoming more frequent. Over 30,000 in the park trees provide amazing benefits. They keep rainwater out of our drainage system (you’re welcome, Sewerage and Water Board), pump fresh oxygen into the air, and provide a smoke spot to enjoy Dr. John on your phone.
Some of these trees are ancient (between 750 and 900 years old) and have seen quite a bit of history. The park officially opened in 1854, and has had several waves of development throughout the centuries like the Couturie Forest. Within the middle of City Park, Couturie Forest is a designated arboretum for the community. It started growing in 1939 when $50,000 was put forward to grow 6,000 trees. Who doesn’t love more trees?
“Bike Ride! Bike Ride!”
I got a bike trailer for my toddler recently, and her new favorite thing to do is to go on a bike ride on the Marconi path to see the horses at the stables. The newly upgraded bike lanes along the “south” portion of the park are one of the most comfortable bike lanes in the city, but don’t be scared to take them all the way towards the lake. Every bike ride reveals new places for people to spend time outdoors. We roll past people fishing along the waters separating the pedestrian/bike path from the stables & the golf course. Don’t be surprised if you see someone learning to ride a horse the same time you see a child learning to ride a bike. Turning onto Robert E Lee takes you along the northern border of the park, which happens to house plenty of cozy spots to swing in a hammock, dodge errant golf balls, and find a smoke spot to enjoy Sweet Crude on your phone.
While the perimeter of the park gives you a nice place to ride, the interior of the park is particularly bike & pedestrian friendly. In addition to the family-style shared bikes that you can rent, plenty of Blue Bikes can be found for those looking to have a leisurely ride to get some beignets. Wearing a face mask promotes good public health, and also works wonders at blocking out pollen. No more crying in public because the trees made you sneeze!
There’s a few places in the park that rarely make any listicles for things to do in our city. The Roosevelt Mall provides a quiet reprieve of the busier parts of the park, providing a shady stretch of road to the new Children’s Museum, NOMA, and the Sculpture Garden. The Mall runs to Marconi by the wildflowers near Tad Gormley Stadium - they’re in bloom, but please use the footpaths! This stretch of the park is a nice place to people-watch, relax, and find a smoke spot to enjoy Tank & The Bangaz on your phone.
For those looking to spend some alone time, the interesting layout of the park provides some separation from those looking to enjoy outdoor activities. The disc golf course offers both - plenty of space for solitude or enjoying a game that can break a sweat. It’s no substitute for a Pelicans game, but it’s fun to watch players throwing a wobbly disc of rubber around.
Parks & Rec
There are so many ways to enjoy yourself and your city with a trip to the park. Bring your dog, your ice chest, and your Jazz Fest chair to pop a squat somewhere green. Show your love for New Orleans while being safe. Listen to some good music, breathe in some fresh air, and remind yourself that you live in the best city on the planet.