A Stroll Through City Park

00:00 May 02, 2011
By: Kristal Blue
city park
[Courtesy of Gary LoVerde]

A recent run through City Park reveals that spring is indeed in bloom. The green canopies of live oaks shadow the sidewalks, children toss bread to the ducks waddling near a lagoon, and a bride languidly poses for her wedding portraits. On any given sunny day - especially weekends - the park is full of locals and visitors eager to get a burst of fresh air, physical activity, or just plain fun. It's hard to believe that a little more than five years ago, much of this area was in ruins because of Katrina. But thanks to The Friends of City Park, an active surrounding community, and volunteer groups such as the Mow-Rons, the grounds have become a state of the art site for spring festivities and feel good activities.

Paddle Boat or Gondola
Enjoy the scenery of City Park by taking an aquatic journey through its winding waterways. Whether you want to drift along the lagoons on a gondola, or pick up the pace by pedal boat, the park provides different options to suit your preference. But since row boats and pedal boats are only available on a first come first serve basis, make sure you arrive early. For a magical experience, step aboard the Bella Mae, a Venetian gondola that sails through City Park, seating two to six people. The mystical cruise comes complete with cheese, crackers, chocolate, and Italian music. If you really want to turn up the romance factor, be sure to bring your own champagne or wine.

Run or Rollerblade
If you like a daily dose of cardio, City Park provides a picturesque a space for your workout. Lose yourself in the leaf-scattered lanes or make loops around the track that circles a large pond. The track is dotted with park benches, water fountains, and a sprinkler that sprays a refreshing mist on exercisers. When it heats up outside, thirsty exercisers can grab a snoball from the stand that's set up on the side of the track. Strap on some rollerblades and practice your stride on the empty back roads and sidewalks tucked inside the park. If you prefer a group activity, set up a volleyball match on the grassy grounds in front of the art museum.

Get into the swing of things by striking up a tennis match with a friend. One of the largest public tennis facilities in the South, the City Park Tennis Center has been named one of the top 25 municipal tennis facilities in the country by Tennis magazine. The park offers 16 hard courts and 10 clay courts for tennis players.

Carousel Gardens Amusement Park
Spend a day inside the amusement park, where you are free to act like a kid again. Such rides as the Musik Express, Rockin' Tug, Coney Tower, and the Lady Bug offer whirlwinds of fun. Get bad driving habits out of your system with a spin on the Bumper Cars, or take it easy on the miniature train ride and enjoy a relaxing ride through the park. After spinning and swirling, step into Storyland for some magic and adventure. Full of Disney characters and figures from your favorite books, Storyland offers a romping trip down memory lane.

Grab a bite to eat at Parkview Café. From salads, to burgers and fries, this casual eatery offers wide array of fare for hungry park-goers. Diners are welcome to sit outside under the moss-covered trees or enjoy the cool air inside. Another option is to pack your own lunch and set up a picnic on the expansive grounds available throughout the park.

Where Y'ART
For some culture, stop by the New Orleans Museum of Art and admire the variety of paintings and photography, or take a stroll through the sculpture garden. The New Orleans Museum of Art boasts a collection of more than 40,000 objects. After a walk through the museum, visitors are welcome to amble along the footpaths in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden to see the sculptures on display. To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the museum now hosts Where y'ART. On Friday nights, the museum invites art lovers of all ages to enjoy an evening of music and art. The event, which is held from 5 to 9 pm, is free to museum members but open to public for a small admission fee.

New Orleans Botanical Gardens
What began as the City Park Rose Garden in 1936 as New Orleans' first public classical garden now boasts a collection of more than 2,000 varieties of plants from all over the world. The exotic flora and fauna is set among the nation's largest stand of mature live oaks. Encompassing the Pavilion of the Two Sisters, the Garden Study Center, and the Lath House, the themed gardens include the Conservatory of the Two Sisters, the New Orleans Historic Train Garden, and the Yakumo Nihon Teien Japanese Garden. Although Katrina flooded the area for a couple of weeks and caused serious tree damage, the gardens have been returned to splendor.

City Bark
Spend an afternoon with your canine companion in NOLA City Bark. Located behind Popp Fountain, this gated grassy park features rolling hills and small pools where pets can cool off on hot days. The park also features a spot for owners to wash their dogs. Whether owners are playing with their pets or mingling with others, taking a trip to NOLA City Bark is a wonderful way to enjoy the spring weather. Be sure to check nolacitybark.org for information on obtaining a permit, and for park hours.

Sign Up!