Photo courtesy of the New Orleans City Park Archives
The Green Easy
New Orleans' green spaces run the gamut from City Park, which spans 1,300 acres and is the 6th largest urban park in the United States, to the city block-sized Jackson Square, a French Quarter gathering point for artists, musicians, and street performers. The former has walking trails, botanical gardens, and an open-air sculpture garden, plus tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, and a mini-golf course, but most come to see the world's oldest grove of mature live oaks. Uptown's Audubon Park is frequented by walkers, joggers, and cyclists who make their way around the park's 1.8 mile loop—and it's also home to the Audubon Zoo.
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Who needs Venice?
A genuine gondola is hard to find in America. According to our gondalier there are less than twenty in the US. My boyfriend and I enjoyed a romantic gondola ride around City Park at sunset. We saw a real black swan, enjoyed strawberries, and wrote our names in chalk underneath a bridge. If you want to go to NOLA and not be stranded on Bourbon Street, go here!
When it comes to festivals, Mardi Gras get all the glory—and there's a reason for that: The weeklong celebration is non-stop action, with plenty of parades and parties, beads and booze. Still, lesser known fests like the Voodoo Music + Art Experience, a multi-day music event in City Park with acts from Rebirth Brass Band to Pearl Jam, and Satchmo Summerfest, a tribute to native son Louis Armstrong, are, dare we say, even more fun. Plan your trip around the New Orleans Film Festival and catch local flicks like Bayou Maharajah, plus Steve McQueen's brutal depiction of slavery, 12 Years a Slave. Or rub elbows with the likes of Emeril Lagasse, Donald Link, and Mario Batali who recently co-chaired the city's third annual boudin and beer fest—and added bourbon to the already tempting lineup of meat, music, and suds.