We hear a lot about Colorado being the healthiest state in the Union. Presumably this means physically healthiest, since no sane person powerwalks up an oxygen-free hillside after a “hearty” breakfast of pureed arugula garnished with raw kale. We get it, Colorado. You’re thin, you’re energetic, you can ride a fixed-gear bicycle up a mountainside without breaking a sweat. Their fitness shall be put to the test this Sunday, October 28 when the New Orleans Saints take on the Denver Broncos.
We in Louisiana are dualists. Taking care of the body is important, but so is taking care of the soul. What Colorado’s leafy greens and brisk walks are for the vascular system, New Orleans’ culture is for the (metaphorical) heart.
One of the best places in the city to visit just to feel better about everything is City Park, a 1300-acre park in the heart of town. (For reference, Central Park is about 850 acres. And full of Yankees.) City Park is crammed full of fun. Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, for children and hyperactive adults, offers many rides and the eponymous antique wooden carousel, fully and beautifully renovated and preserved. Really, the carousel should be enough to tempt you, but there’s also bumper cars.
City Park is also home to the New Orleans Museum of Art and the associated (and free) Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, featuring 60 sculptures by internationally renowned artists (including, for those of us who don’t follow sculpture as closely as football, works by the love guy and the clothespin guy.) Here’s my advice: study up on the art on the sculpture garden’s Web site, then bring a date. If it turns out your date also studied up on the art so they could impress you, it’s meant to be, and you can marry in the park.
If you actually came to the park to look at plants, stop by the New Orleans Botanical Garden. The garden is home to over 2,000 varieties of plants from all around the world – and as a bonus, is situated within the largest stand of live oaks in the entire country. Their Web site features a “What’s In Bloom?” page, and you’ll note that even in October there are flowers worth seeing.
And, you know, you can also rent bikes for the trails, rent boats to explore the lagoons, hire a gondola to go gondola-ing, or – if all else pales – golf. If you don’t have fun during a day at City Park, we give up.
For more on the history of City Park, check out this post from the archives.