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Best Local Things to Do

Go Green at These New Orleans Gardens

New Orleans gardens abound, from botanical gardens to parterre gardens to beer gardens and more in each and every neighborhood.

We could all use a little more oxygen in our lungs from time to time. From botanical gardens to parterre gardens to beer gardens, there are gardens all over the city. Take advantage of springtime in New Orleans, while the sun is out and the humidity is low, to visit a few.

The Green Outdoors

City Park Botanical Garden (photo courtesy of New Orleans City Park)
New Orleans Botanical Garden. (Photo courtesy of New Orleans City Park)

New Orleans offers many ways to reconnect with Mother Nature. Interested in a scenic stroll? Take a walk along Bayou St. John, along the Couturie Forest Trail, or enjoy some time among the oak trees of Audubon Park.

The crown jewel of the city’s outdoor spaces is City Park. One of its many treasures is the New Orleans Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden is one of the last remaining public garden designs from the Works Progress Administration, and it features over 2,000 plant species. The Botanical Garden’s Japanese Garden is a peaceful garden sanctuary with traditional Japanese garden characteristics.

Urban Farms & Local Nurseries

American Aquatic Gardens (photo via American Aquatic Gardens Facebook)
American Aquatic Gardens. (Photo via American Aquatic Gardens on Facebook)

Other than for aesthetics, some local gardens serve commercial purposes as well. Local urban farm Paradigm Gardens supplies its produce to many New Orleans restaurants. Their spring concert series offers tastes from restaurants like Primitivo and Coquette, tunes by local musicians, and drinks from Courtyard Brewery.

American Aquatic Gardens in the Marigny is a favorite tourist destination with peaceful ponds of waterlilies and unique gifts. This is the type of place that inspires home landscaping. Take a stroll through the gardens if you are in the neighborhood.

Home & Garden

Longue Vue House & Gardens (photo credit: George Long)
Longue Vue House & Gardens. (Photo: George Long)

Mix some local history in with a garden visit at historic homes Longue Vue House and Gardens and the Pitot House. Longue Vue’s formal gardens were first created in 1935 by Ellen Biddle Shipman, a leading female landscape architect. Today, the carefully planned garden has flowers in bloom like the Mexican primrose, Confederate jasmine, and poppy.

The Pitot House, located on the banks of Bayou St. John, features a parterre garden, a formal, French-style garden marked by geometric patterns and symmetry. Grounded by two grapefruit trees, the Pitot House’s garden also boasts native plants. Interestingly, as the house was originally located just a little farther along the bayou, the original parterre garden was carefully documented and recreated when the house was moved in 1964 to save it from demolition.

Other historic house museums with gardens to check out are the Beauregard-Keyes House & Garden, the Hermann-Grima House, and the Old Ursulines Convent — all located in the French Quarter.

Sculpture Garden (photo courtesy of New Orleans City Park)
Sculpture Garden (photo courtesy of New Orleans City Park)

Alternative Gardens

In addition to green gardens, New Orleans also has plenty of other gardens. The Garden District, famous for its gorgeous mansions and massive oaks, offers excellent opportunities from walking tours, to restaurants like Commander’s Palace, to the historic Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.

Some local gardens are even watering holes of sorts. Bayou Beer Garden in Mid-City is a popular bar with a large outdoor space, including an outdoor bar. Bayou Wine Garden, the younger sibling of Bayou Beer Garden, just came onto the New Orleans scene. Pull up a chair on a warm day or night to enjoy both the outdoors and a beer or wine.

No garden roundup could be complete without City Park’s Sculpture Garden. Surrounded by mossy trees and the plants of City Park, the true stars of this garden are its dozens of sculptures. Start and end your garden visits in City Park, breathing in that fresh oxygen.

Emily Ramírez Hernández is the child of New Orleans natives whose families have been in the city for generations. Emily's earliest memories of New Orleans include joyful car rides over bumpy streets, eating dripping roast beef po-boys at Domilise's, and catching bouncy balls during Mardi Gras parades with cousins. An urban planner by day and freelance writer by night, when she is off the clock she enjoys biking around town, belly dancing, and catching nerdlesque shows.

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StudioBE Ephemeral Eternal (photo credit Emily Ramirez Hernandez)

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