New Orleans City Park offers something for everyone and is a must visit for visitors to the city. Visitors to the park will find that it offers a wide range of both free and paid attractions and activities. At a mile wide and three miles long (1,300 acres), New Orleans’ historic City Park, consists of several lagoons, large open lawns, the world’s largest stand of mature live oaks, and areas of dense growth. These attributes along with the parks attractions and activities make city park the 6th-largest and 7th-most-visited urban public park in the United States. City Park attractions include: Sculpture Gardens, Botanical Gardens, Model Train Garden, City Putt Putt, Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, Storyland, Morning Call Café au Lait and Beignets, and New Orleans Museum of Art. Park activities include: Birding, Boating, Biking, Tennis, Disc Golf, Fishing, Golf, Playgrounds, Picnic areas, walking trails and bike trails. New Orleans City Park is only five miles from the French Quarter and is accessible by the Canal Street Streetcar if you take the Carrollton Avenue spur.
City Putt in City Park * 36-hole mini golf course
Are you looking for a safe, clean, fun family activity for a reasonable price? The New Orleans City Park’s City Putt is a two-acre miniature golf complex with a pair of 18-hole courses. One is the Louisiana Course and it is all about themes and cities from around the state. The second is the New Orleans Course and is all about New Orleans streets and icons. You will find water everywhere at City Putt. It flows through channels, shoots up through fountains and on the hotter days it even cools through water misters throughout the course. The City Park putt putt complex includes a concession area, restrooms and a birthday party room. In the City Putt concession area they sell hot dogs, chips, soda, water and beer but remember no food is allowed on the course. Parking is available and City Putt is 100 percent ADA accessible. Be sure to check the City Putt Website for hours of operation.
The Botanical Gardens in New Orleans City Park houses over 2,000 varieties of plants set among the nation’s largest stand of mature live oaks. The 12 acre site contains a water lily pond, and several themed gardens; Rose Garden, Azalea Garden, Camellia Garden, Butterfly Garden and horticultural gardens. My favorite theme garden is the Historic New Orleans Train Garden; it is the largest G-scale garden railroad layout in the Gulf South with a layout approximating the layout of the city itself. In the Train Garden visitors walk on a pathway representing the water surrounding New Orleans. Don’t miss the Tropical Rain Forest and Living Fossils exhibits in the Conservatory of the Two Sisters. The Botanical Garden is located at 1 Palm Drive in New Orleans City Park abd is sure to delight everyone who visits. By Admission; Guided Tours available; for information call 504-288-6444. The Botanical Garden in City Park is a multitude of beautiful things to do in New Orleans.
City Park Boat Rentals * Pedal Boats * Kayaks * Jon Boats
For you water lovers there is no better way to explore New Orleans City Park than boating through its historic bayous and lagoons. Spend a lazy afternoon floating in the company of ducks, swans, geese and other aquatic wildlife as you pedal/paddle under bridges and moss draped oaks. City Park rentals on Big Lake offer a wide array of vessels to choose from. Including pedal boats, kayaks, stand up paddle boards and small Jon boats. The boats are available on a first come first serve basis. Lifejackets are provided free with rental. No reservations are taken. You must present a valid driver's license or state ID and be a minimum of 18 years old to rent a boat. Life preservers must be worn at all times. The pedal boat dock is located on the North side of Big Lake (the right side when facing the New Orleans Museum of Art).
City Park Bike Rentals
Explore New Orleans City Park on wheels! A large selection of bikes can be rented from the City Park rentals Boat House on Big Lake. Adventurers can rent a range of vehicles, including Surreys or specialty cycles such as a chopper, quad sport, or Deuce Coupe. Once you've selected your bike, you’re free to explore the 1,300 acres that make up New Orleans City Park. You will enjoy the many bike friendly streets that take you past the Botanical Gardens, the Sculpture Gardens, Morning Call, and through vast stands of moss draped Oak Tress. City Park also has four miles of bike paths and trails around Big Lake and the Festival Grounds. For bike rentals you must be 18 years of age and possess a photo ID.
Besthoff Sculpture Garden of City Park
The public is invited to relax and walk along the meandering footpaths of the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park, which is home to more than sixty sculptures by artists from around the world. The Sculpture Garden is comprised of five acres where these incredible works of art are nestled along meandering footpaths, reflecting lagoons, and 200-year-old live oaks. Visiting the garden is FREE to the public and open 7 days a week but closed on all legal holidays. NOMA has launched its first audio tour of the Sculpture Garden. The guide, which is accessible through visitors' cell phones, highlights twenty of the sculptures in the Garden. The tour is available free of charge. Dogs, bicycles, rollerblades, skateboards and picnicking are not allowed in the Sculpture Garden.
Morning Call Coffee and beignets in City Park
Stop by Morning Call which is located in the Casino Building on Dreyfous Avenue in City Park. This New Orleans favorite serves classic café au lait and beignets 24 hours a day. In addition to beignets and café au lait, the City Park Morning Call serves gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, alligator sausage, red beans and rice, ice cream, popcorn, beer, Irish coffee and soft drinks. Because of the relative security of the location, it also offers a great place for that late night or very early morning coffee fix. Morning Call has tables inside and outside which offer views of the playground, a lagoon, Popp Bandstand and the Peristyle for locals and tourists alike. Morning Call currently accepts Cash Only. HISTORY: The Morning Call was first opened in 1870 in the French Market, where for more than 100 years it served coffee and beignets and competed with Café du Monde. Click picture to see Morning Call Menu.
Storyland Adventure in City Park
The entrance gates to Storyland in New Orleans City Park set the tone for a story book adventure, a child’s dream come true! Storyland is filled with 25 larger-than-life storybook sculptures featuring classic fairytale characters where fairy tales and fantasy come to life. While my son’s were growing up my wife used to bring them to StoryLand all the time. Here they would entertain themselves for hours climbing aboard Captain Hook’s pirate ship, following Pinocchio into the mouth of a whale or scampering up Jack & Jill’s Hill! Yep its true, in StoryLand your children will NOT find the all too common signs of “Do Not Climb on Exhibits”. So bring you young children to Storyland where they will find mother goose and a host of different characters from your favorite childrens story books. Storyland for children where plenty of laughing, climbing and sliding is to be had. Be sure to check the Storyland Website for hours of operation.
Carousel Garden Amusement Park in City Park
The Carousel Gardens Amusement Park in City Park is a great family stop while visiting New Orleans. Carousel Gardens Amusement Park is aimed towards younger children with some family rides thrown in. When you arrive it is like a trip back in time. It is inexpensive and kids of all ages can enjoy the rides and other fun attractions including its name sake the authentic wooden carousel. The carousel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it is one of only 100 wooden carousels left in the country. Elsewhere in the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park are other rides including Tilt-a-Whirl, Musik Express, Bumper Cars, Slime Buckets, Coney Tower, Fun Slide, Scrambler, Wacky Shack, Rockin’ Tug, Construction Zone, Red Baron, Umbrella Cars, Monkey Jump and a Ferris Wheel and Train ride too. Be sure to check the Carousel Gardens Website for hours of operation.
City Park / Pepsi Tennis Center
The City Park / Pepsi Tennis Center is one of the best tennis complexes in the state, the facility offers 26 lighted courts (16 hard courts, 10 clay courts), a practice court with two backboards. The 3,500-square-foot clubhouse includes locker rooms, restrooms, a meeting room, and front and back porches, with the latter offering a view of center court. The facility also has about 100 paved parking spots and room for more cars on a grassy area nearby. The City Park Tennis Center is located at 951 Marconi Meadows in City Park. Be sure to check the City Park / Pepsi Tennis Center Website for hours of operation.
World-class fishing in City Park lagooons
City Park offers a world-class fishing opportunity for New Orleans residents and visitors alike. Bass, catfish, perch and other fish can be found in the park’s 11 miles of lagoons. The ample shoreline along the lagoons is angler-friendly, and City Park also has two fishing piers that I know of. The department of Wildlife and Fisheries began stocking the 110-acre lagoon complex in 1999. Since 2009, more than 18,000 bluegill fingerlings, 204 channel catfish fingerlings and 256 Florida bass pre-spawn adults have been brought in to improve urban fishing. These stocking efforts have produced City Park bass weighing over 9 pounds. Every spring, City Park hosts the Big Bass Fishing Rodeo and Fishtival, a one-day event featuring music, exhibits, a casting contest and demonstration, and of course, plenty of bass fishing. To fish in City Park, you need a valid freshwater fishing license from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Picnicking * Additional City Park attractions and activities * Playground
There are many more attractions and activities at New Orleans City Park than just those detailed above. Have a picnic: Scattered throughout City Park you will find dozens of picnic tables. Some under the canopy of huge moss draped Oaks and others dotted along the lagoons of City Park. Relax and swing a while: Just across the street from Storyland you will find a landscaped area complete with fountains, bubbling water and swings, just for your relaxation and enjoyment. Take your children to a playground: Next to Morning Call and along one of the lagoons you will find a playground where your children can run, swing, climb, and slide for hours. Take a Urban Forest hike: There is plenty of walking to be had at City Park but much of Scout Island has been converted into a urban forest with awesome hiking trails.
A short history of New Orleans City Park
New Orleans City Park was established in the mid-19th century on a tract of land donated to the City of New Orleans by John McDonogh, and formerly the site of the Allard Plantation. The park originally extended only a short distance back from City Park Avenue, as swampland covered most of the landscape between Bayou Metairie and the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain. This area, to the north of the original park, was actually platted for streets by city planners, though none were ever realized.
City Park would not be the place it is today without President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) efforts during the Great Depression. More than 20,000 men and women were employed to build bridges, roads, fountains, the Botanical Garden and Tad Gormley stadium, and to dig more 11 miles of lagoons - work all done by hand.
Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage to the park, with winds toppling an estimated 1,000 trees and damaging many more. The subsequent failure of multiple floodwalls brought about the inundation of much of the city, and almost the entire park was flooded with 1 to 10 feet of water that remained for two to four weeks, damaging all buildings, amusement rides, maintenance equipment, electrical systems and vehicles, and causing the death of more trees and landscaping - including nearly the entire plant collection in the New Orleans Botanical Garden.
Post-Katrina restoration and improvements in the park are the most extensive since the WPA era. The park is now better than ever, having repaired old attractions and adding new ones as well. Most facilities have reopened, including Storyland, the stadiums, the Botanical Garden, and Carousel Gardens. A dedicated bikeway was added between Wisner Boulevard and Bayou St. John for the length of the parkway, another was installed between Bayou St. John and Marconi Drive along the park's northern boundary, and a third was introduced alongside Harrison Avenue. Most recently, a landscaped walk debuted surrounding Big Lake, adjacent to the New Orleans Museum of Art. This new amenity, called for in the park's 2005 master plan, has realized the long-held wish of surrounding neighborhoods for a pedestrian- and bicycle-only scenic walk akin to the popular facility long offered in Audubon Park, Uptown.