Crescent Park (Photo: City of New Orleans)
Think a city famous for booze, food, late-night music and the all-out madness of Carnival is a wash for the fitness-conscious traveler? Sure, it could be. But if you look for them, opportunities abound to dig into local culture and stay healthy at the same time.
Walk the Crescent
For fresh air and a great view, check out Crescent Park. This new 20-acre park extends 1.4 miles, from the downtown end of the French Quarter through the trendy Bywater neighborhood to the edge of the Lower Ninth Ward. Get started by hiking up the steps of the Piety Street Arch, a huge iron pedestrian bridge that crosses active railroad tracks and deposits park visitors steps from Euclid Records, a hip used-vinyl emporium. Walk, run or ride a bike along paths and wharves jutting out into the Mississippi. You’ll be rewarded with spectacular, unique views of the Mississippi, the New Orleans skyline and Algiers. You’ll also find Pizza Delicious, voted New Orleans’ best pizza by readers of Eater.com; a sno-ball stand that uses fresh, local fruit to make its icy treats; and, on the second Saturday of the month, the funky Piety Street Flea Market.
Pedal Past History
New Orleans is almost completely flat, meaning even infrequent cyclists can enjoy a two-wheeled take on the city without breathing too hard. The Confederacy of Cruisers offers group tours on comfy, fat-tired cruiser bikes through various locations, including the Bywater, French Quarter and Marigny neighborhoods. Some are pegged to local history, others to dining and cocktailing. If you’d like to be your own guide, they also offer bike rentals.
Louisiana produces a bounty of seafood, fresh fruits and veggies: Ponchatoula strawberries, Gulf shrimp, Creole tomatoes, pecans, satsumas (a southern mandarin) and mirlitons (a pear-shaped gourd) are all regional specialties. The Go Green NOLA and Crescent City Farmers Market sites offer guides to markets all around town; a great one for visitors is located in the historic French Market at the edge of the French Quarter, also home to lots of local food stands and a flea market.