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Video: Urban Zen at City Park

1,300 acres are yours to explore at City Park, offering some of the world’s oldest oak trees, a lauded art museum, an iconic beignet stand, and much more.

oak tree
An ancient oak tree in City Park. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

As one of the oldest and largest urban parks in the country, City Park is one of the best ways to soak in NOLA’s outdoor sights. Since 1854, this 1,300-acre space has been a recreational mecca for New Orleanians. Along with its endless amount of trails and gardens, the park is home to the world’s largest stand of live oak trees, the oldest one dating back almost 800 years. City Park is so treasured that its supporters have helped it survive (and thrive) following the Great Depression and Hurricane Katrina.

The park is home to the world’s largest stand of live oak trees, the oldest one dating back almost 800 years.

Unlike your typical neighborhood green space, City Park hosts an entire world of unique attractions within its own boundaries. You can start your day (or evening) off with the iconic beignets and chicory coffee at Morning Call. This 24-hour, cash-only café has been a New Orleans tradition for more than 140 years.

From there you can spend the entire day exploring by land or water. There are 11 lagoons around the park with bass, catfish and perch for leisurely fishing. Many locals head straight to Big Lake to rent bikes or a paddleboat and enjoy the nature.

The park’s beautiful 18-hole golf course and 26 tennis courts are a great way to enjoy affordable recreational sport. And for the little ones, mini golf is the preferred option at City Putt.

Just steps away from the peaceful Botanical Garden are two other kid-friendly favorites: Storyland, the fairy tale theme park with larger-than-life exhibits from your favorite childhood tales, and Carousel Gardens, where kids can ride on the flying horses of City Park’s antique wooden carousel.

Perhaps the most fascinating destination of them all is NOMA (the New Orleans Museum of Art; admission required). NOMA is the city’s oldest fine arts institution, featuring the finest in French and American art, photography, glass, and Japanese works.

Right outside, the free Besthoff Sculpture Garden brings you through a scenic trail of works from multiple time periods, artists, and places, allowing you to take a relaxing stroll through the park as you gaze upon these thought-provoking pieces.

And if you need an excuse to grab your friends and bring the whole pack to the park, City Park hosts some of the biggest festivals and seasonal events in NOLA, like Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in October, Celebration in the Oaks in November and December, Easter egg hunts in spring, and so much more. Check out the park’s website for details on all events and attractions.

City Park Video Transcript

Fresh Johnson: With all of the activities to experience here in New Orleans, it’s easy to forget that the city also holds one of the largest and most beautiful urban parks in the country. City Park’s 1,300 acres of green space stretches from the streetcar line in MidCity all the way to the base of Lake Pontchartrain. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s start here at Morning Call with some New Orleans fuel: coffee and beignets, served 24 hours a day. But heads up — they’re cash only. 

Johnson: With miles of beautiful trails for walking biking and jogging, you can be sure to find your perfect pace in City Park’s Couturie Forest. The live oaks and swamp cypress bring the bayou right into the city. It’s an ideal place for boaters, birders, and nature lovers of all kinds. 

Johnson: There are endless outdoor activities to enjoy here from golf courses to tennis courts to a gorgeous botanical garden. Storyland is also a family favorite. This children’s amusement park features characters from classic fairy tales that will be sure to make imaginations run wild. 

Johnson: Just off of Esplanade Avenue at the base of City Park, you’ll find the New Orleans Museum of Art; NOMA for short. It’s the oldest fine arts institution in the city and home to a huge collection of over 40,000 pieces. And the grounds around the museum make up the beautiful Besthoff Sculpture Garden so you can enjoy the amazing artwork indoors and out.

Johnson: With all of these events and activities to choose from, it’s a good idea to check out a park map before planning your day. With another episode of GoNOLA TV, I’m Fresh Johnson. Later!