Best New Orleans Louisiana City Park Attractions 2024 1
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Best New Orleans Louisiana City Park Attractions 2024

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Greetings, Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel guide Get Lost, and welcome to the best New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions.

Many new visitors to New Orleans aren’t aware that the city has one of the best parks in the entire United States. (It’s much larger than the more famous Central Park in my hometown, New York City.)

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: New Orleans City Park

#1 TOP PICK

Best New Orleans Louisiana City Park Attractions 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
BUS TOUR
✔️ Stops in City Park
✔️ Beignets included!

#2 PICK

Best New Orleans Louisiana City Park Attractions 2024 3

AIRBOAT SWAMP TOUR
✔️ Unique experience
✔️ Airboats are cool

#3 PICK

Best New Orleans Louisiana City Park Attractions 2024 4

ALL OTHER NEW ORLEANS TOURS
✔️ Choose your favorite tour
✔️ Find the best deals

And as if a massive, Southern, oak-stuffed park weren’t enough for you, City Park is also home to a lovely botanical garden, one of the Big Easy’s finest museums, and arguably the best free attraction in the entire city.

Join me for a day of the best New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions, and I’ll help you find all the magic we can in this beautiful spot.

I’ll be taking you INSIDE the famous City Park attractions, like the museum and the gardens. Let’s hurry!

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

Morning: New Orleans Botanical Garden

One of my favorite New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions is the New Orleans Botanical Garden. This garden was built during the Depression by the Works Progress Administration, so if you’re into sculpture from the 1930s, this is the Botanical Garden for you.

Unlike City Park, admission isn’t free, but I think it’s worth the entry fee to see all the beautiful blooms. As with most botanical gardens, the best gardens to see will depend a bit on the seasons. (Although if you’re looking for amazing fall foliage, New Orleans is probably not the city for you.)

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

I can’t show you every single plant at the New Orleans Botanical Garden, but I can show you why I think it’s one of the best New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions with…

Three Fun Facts: New Orleans Botanical Garden

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions
1) What Are the Prettiest Plants?

I always recommend checking out the roses in any botanical garden, if they are in bloom, and the New Orleans Botanical Garden has quite a nice collection. It’s also a popular spot for events, like weddings or cotillions, so it’s very plausible that you will see tables and whatnot being set up as you peruse the roses.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

Of course, the most famous plant in City Park is its gorgeous oak trees, covered in Spanish moss. One sight of these babies, and I know I am in New Orleans. I can practically see a victim from an episode of True Detective being murdered behind that fountain.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

If you prefer your murder oaks with sculptures, check out the Enrique Alferez Sculpture Garden, which displays the work of a local Mexican-American artist.

A lot of his works are done in the Art Deco style, which fits in perfectly with the design of the Botanical Garden, but there are more contemporary pieces as well.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions
2) What are the most unusual parts of the gardens?

I think the two most interesting sections of the Botanical Garden are the Train Garden and the Japanese Garden. The Train Garden, which you can see in my photo above, is quite similar to the train show at the New York Botanical Garden, except it is a permanent display. (The one in New York only happens during the holiday season.)

My photo contains the replica of St. Louis Cathedral, but there’s also replicas of New Orleans’s famous shotgun houses and even City Park itself. If you have kids, just prepare them for the fact that the trains aren’t always running on weekdays. When I visited on a Wednesday, I met a very disappointed little boy who wanted to see the trains run.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

The Japanese garden is named after Yakumo Nihon, a famous writer who lived in New Orleans and Japan. (He is sometimes better known under the name Lafcadio Hearn.) It’s a peaceful place to get some shade and get away from the crowds.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions
3) What if it rains?

Well, that’s always a possibility in New Orleans! I suggest you head inside the Conservatory of the Two Sisters, where you can check out both prehistoric and tropical plants. If you’ve ever wanted to meet the plants that were besties with the dinosaurs, this is your best chance!

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

And, like any proper greenhouse, it is home to some orchids. These delicate beauties need a climate-controlled environment to survive or they wilt like a chamberlain.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

Afternoon: New Orleans Museum of Art

Now we come to what I think is the best of all the New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions: the New Orleans Museum of Art, aka NOMA.

Whenever I hear NOMA, I always think of Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch on Saturday Night Live playing those two obsessive Boston Red Sox fans because they were always talking about NOMA Garciaparra. But maybe that’s just me.

The New Orleans Museum of Art is a great place both because of its art collection and because you can come here to get out of the rain when it can and will rain during your time in the Crescent City.

I’m afraid it is quite impossible for me to show you every work of art inside this museum because we have a dinner engagement to get to later this evening.

However, I can show you…

Approximately Top 5: New Orleans Museum of Art

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions
1) Cafe NOMA

Just because we’re focusing on the best New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions doesn’t mean we can forget about the food. After all, this is New Orleans, cher! And we’re going to the cafe inside NOMA, which is run by Ralph Brennan, of the distinguished Brennan family of restauranteurs.

We’ll be going to a different Ralph restaurant in the neighborhood, so I guess he was bequeathed this territory in the great New Orleans restaurant wars. Cafe NOMA is a great place to go for a sandwich or a salad in the park. You don’t need to visit the museum to eat here, but I think you should.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

I also like this restaurant because when I ordered a cocktail, I got carded. Then when I showed my ID to the waitress, she yelled, “Good for you!” So I felt really good about myself after eating here.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions
2) St. Francis by El Greco

El Greco, who was a Greek painter working in Spain, is one of my favorite artists, and I strongly urge you to check out this powerful piece when you are in the museum. It has all my favorite El Greco features: long faces, long fingers, religious subject matters, muted tones, and references to death. El Greco was being emo way ahead of the trend.

Most people paint St. Francis happy and smiling with animals. But El Greco was not most people. I mean, most people’s parents didn’t name them El, for example.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions
3) Summer Flowers in a Wanli Kraak Porcelain Bowl by Jan Brueghel the Younger

Woah, first of all, that title is a mouthful, Jan! I think you might want to have an editor look at that. Summer Flowers seems much catchier to me. But this painting is a good introduction to NOMA’s excellent Dutch art collection.

Now, NOMA doesn’t have as much money as the Met or the Louvre or that Walmart Museum, so they’re not going to be able to afford a Rembrandt.

However, I think this stunning display of flowers and grapes in a whatever bowl is almost as good. It’s so realistic you almost want to reach out and eat a grape, but security will escort you out if you try.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions
4) Portrait of Estelle Musson Degas by Edgar Degas

Some of you might be wondering if there are any famous artists from New Orleans, aside from that guy who paints all those blue dogs. Well, Edgar Degas was born in Paris, but his mother was from New Orleans, and he spent time in the city, so I say he counts. Degas actually painted the portrait above while he was staying in New Orleans.

You might have noticed that the woman in the portrait has the last name Degas, and perhaps you are thinking she was related to the painter. Well, you are correct! She was both Edgar Degas’s cousin AND his sister-in-law. (Southern families can get complicated.)

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions
5) My Backyard by Georgia O’Keeffe

If you know anything about American art, you’ll be able to tell that the painting above is a Georgia O’Keeffe. Even if there are no Suspiciously Sensual Flowers in the painting, it’s still clearly done in O’Keeffe’s remarkable style.

If you’ve ever been to New Mexico, you’ll recognize that the fabulous colors in this painting are a reflection of New Mexico’s natural beauty. One of my favorite things about this painting is the title, My Backyard. It shows O’Keeffe’s strong personal connection to the landscape of New Mexico.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions
6) Grambling State University Drum Major 2 by Keith Duncan

The New Orleans Museum of Art isn’t a contemporary art museum, but they are expanding their collection of contemporary art.

My favorite more recent piece was the one you see in my photo above. Marching bands are such an important part of New Orleans culture. If you ever attend a Mardi Gras parade, you’ll see marching bands playing an important role.

This drum major is from the Bayou Classic Battle of the Bands, which sounds like a total Bucket List experience to me. He looks like he’s about to step right off the canvas and march through the museum.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

Late Afternoon: Besthoff Sculpture Garden

I think anyone familiar with New Orleans would tell you that the Besthoff Sculpture Garden is one of the best New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions. First of all, it’s free, and everyone likes free things. Second, it has beautiful art. Third, it’s a great place to go if you need shade from the Louisiana sun. (Always, my friend.)

The Besthoff Sculpture Garden is open even on days when the museum is closed, for all to enjoy. They have sculptures from some of the world’s most famous artists.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

Here’s one from one of my favorites, Cornish sculptor Barbara Hepworth. (I’ve been to her museum in St. Ives.)

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

Now we have a giant safety pin from Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. (It reminds me of their Spoonbridge and Cherry in Minneapolis, Minnesota.)

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

I was a little distracted by these alien people with metal cheeseheads, but they were pretty nice and left me alone.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

Of course, we have to have Rodrigue and his colorful dogs. He is most famous for his blue dogs, but I am showing you the yellow side because I am contrarian that way.

OK fine, I’ll let you see the blue side too.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

Happy now, Internet Stranger?

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: New Orleans City Park

#1 TOP PICK

Best New Orleans Louisiana City Park Attractions 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
BUS TOUR
✔️ Stops in City Park
✔️ Beignets included!

#2 PICK

Best New Orleans Louisiana City Park Attractions 2024 3

AIRBOAT SWAMP TOUR
✔️ Unique experience
✔️ Airboats are cool

#3 PICK

Best New Orleans Louisiana City Park Attractions 2024 4

ALL OTHER NEW ORLEANS TOURS
✔️ Choose your favorite tour
✔️ Find the best deals

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

Evening: Dinner at Ralph’s on the Park

Lucky for us, we don’t even need to leave City Park to get dinner. Well, technically we need to leave the park, but we’re just going across the street to a restaurant with amazing views of City Park. That’s right, I’m talking about Ralph’s on the Park.

Ralph’s on the Park is a farm-to-table restaurant, and it’s a great place to go for an elegant meal that isn’t stuffy. They always do a cocktail for a cause each month to raise money for Louisiana charities. (Mine was champagne with cranberry juice–very refreshing and appropriate for the holiday season.)

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

For my appetizer, I chose the wedge salad, which is a classic with a twist, like a lot of dishes at Ralph’s on the Park. This was made with cheddar cheese instead of blue cheese. That could have made the salad a little blander, but they added kick with some green onion dressing.

My favorite thing about this salad, however, was the addition of bacon fat croutons. In New Orleans, we know that bacon fat makes everything better.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

For my main course, I had the blackened fish of the day–in this case, it was trout. Blackened fish was popularized by the late Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme. It’s not burned; you just cook it in a ton of spices, which gives it almost a spice crust.

This dish is even more Louisiana than just a regular blackened fish because it’s served with bitter greens, sweet potatoes, and a spicy remoulade sauce. It’s so Louisiana, I half expect that blue dog to come back and ask for some in a doggy bag.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

Ralph’s has great desserts, so I suggest getting something like this bourbon pecan chocolate pie. See what I mean about a classic with a twist? Anyone can have an ordinary pecan pie, but not everyone can have a decadent version with chocolate and bourbon. That’s just for us and the blue dog.

new orleans guided tour day

Where to Stay?

New Orleans is the kind of city where you want to splurge a little on your hotel. After all, the motto is “laissez les bons temps rouler”, and nothing makes the good times roll faster than a little luxury. Plus it’s easier to take advantage of the New Orleans nightlife if you’re in a centrally located hotel, and those are a bit pricey.

I recommend the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. It’s located right in the French Quarter, but it’s not crazy expensive. The rooms are comfortable and beautiful. Plus, the hotel is haunted! What more could you want for a New Orleans guided tour day

If you want something a little less expensive, on the north end of the French Quarter, try the Homewood Suites by Hilton French Quarter. This hotel is a little bit more of a walk from the main attractions in the French Quarter, but the rooms are massive and comfy, and the price is definitely right.

Finally, I recommend the Le Pavilion Hotel. It’s got an amazing location in the Central Business District which is within walking distance of the French Quarter, but not as noisy. It’s in a gorgeous historic building. Plus they have a free peanut butter and jelly spread every night. What more could you want?

If you’d rather find great deals for tons of other hotels in New Orleans, go here.

This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your time in New Orleans. With hundreds of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

That’s the best New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

What do you think are the best New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in New Orleans right now? Should I be more worried about those cheesehead aliens? Email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just try here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should only enjoy the best New Orleans Louisiana City Park attractions

And if you’d rather add a day with the historic Treme neighborhood, add what to do in Treme New Orleans LA. You can also add a New Orleans in one day itinerary. You can also try the best food in the French Quarter New Orleans.

Go for the best walking tour of Garden District New Orleans. Get on the best New Orleans swamp and plantation tours. How about trying 24 hours in New Orleans? Fall for the best New Orleans food walking tours. And you can even follow the New Orleans schedule Saints travel tips.

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