Not exactly what you think of when you think Big Easy—it’s not Yellowstone, after all. But there are some surprisingly wonderful outdoorsy things to do here that will only enhance the vacation you envisioned. Besides, it can’t all be about dark bars and decadent meals. Oh wait, it’s New Orleans. Yes, it can. Still . . . these experiences provide a fine counterpoint and a different perspective.
- Kayak Bayou St. John: A guided kayak tour of placid, pretty Bayou St. John is an entrancing way to see this historically significant waterway—and maybe work off a few bites of fried shrimp po’ boy.
- City Park it: Whatever your outdoor thing, it’s probably doable somewhere in the glorious, 1,300-acre City Park, from pedal-boating to picnicking, birding to bicycling, golfing (mini or big) to art-gazing. It’s great for a morning run, as is Uptown’s Audubon Park. Laffitte Greenway and Crescent Park, two new, smaller parks, offer interesting and different perspectives of the city.
- Tour the Swamps: The swamps are eerie, serene, and fascinating. The gators are spellbinding, and most guides are knowledgeable naturalists who will open your eyes to every flora and fauna in this unique ecoculture.
- Ferry Cross the Mississippi: It’s not quite Huck Finn, but a brief “cruise” on the ferry to the historic Algiers neighborhood is an easy way to roll on the river and take in a different view.
- See the City from Two Wheels (or Three): Whether you rent a bike, take a guided bike tour, or roll through on a Segway, seeing the flat, compact city via two wheels makes for a sweet ride.
- Dine Alfresco: We didn’t say the best of active outdoor New Orleans, did we? A languid, courtyard dinner under the Southern stars (or lunch under an umbrella) at Bayona, Café Amelie, Bacchanal, Green Goddess, Avo, Brennan’s, Tableau, Sucré in the Quarter or Napoleon House is an experience to be savored.
- Yoga in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden: We can’t think of a more sublime way to start a Saturday—especially when it’s followed by beignets and coffee (just steps away at Morning Call cafe). A little yin, a little yang. It's Saturdays at 8am in City Park (504/482-4888).
- Walk. Walk. And Walk Some More: This city is made for walking. It’s truly the best way to take in the captivating sights, appreciate the silken air, and ogle (or join) the goings-on you will undoubtedly encounter. We won’t bring up the c-word benefits (calories—oops, drat . . . sorry). No texting while walking, though—these buckling old sidewalks require your full attention.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.